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A Different Side Of Puglia – Caves, Hill Towns, And History By The Sea


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Annabella Harty



When most people think of Italy, iconic cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice often come to mind. However, Italy is a diverse country with countless hidden gems waiting to be explored. One such gem is the region of Puglia, located in the southern part of the country. Puglia offers a unique and enchanting experience that showcases a different side of Italy – a side that is filled with caves, charming hill towns, and a rich history by the sea.


Puglia is known for its stunning landscapes, diverse architecture, and delicious cuisine. The region offers a myriad of activities for every type of traveler, whether you’re a history enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or a lover of art and culture. From cave exploration to strolling through picturesque hill towns, Puglia is a destination that will captivate your senses and leave you with lasting memories.


In this article, we will take you on a journey through Puglia, exploring its fascinating caves, discovering its charming hill towns, uncovering its rich history, and enjoying its breathtaking coastal beauty. Get ready to embark on a unique adventure that will show you a side of Italy like no other.


Exploring the Caves of Puglia

Puglia is home to some of the most fascinating caves in Italy, offering a glimpse into a hidden world beneath the surface. One of the most famous cave complexes is the Grotte di Castellana, located near the town of Castellana Grotte. This impressive underground network stretches for over 3 kilometers and features breathtaking stalactite and stalagmite formations. Guided tours allow visitors to explore the vast chambers and learn about the geological history of the caves.


Another must-visit cave in Puglia is the Grotta Zinzulusa, situated along the Adriatic coast near Castro. This cave is known for its stunning limestone formations and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Visitors can take boat tours and venture deep into the cave, marveling at the natural beauty that surrounds them.


If you’re feeling adventurous, make your way to the Grotta della Poesia near Roca Vecchia. This natural sinkhole has become a popular spot for cliff diving and snorkeling, with its crystal-clear waters and unique rock formations. Whether you’re diving into the deep blue or simply enjoying the view from the rocky cliffs, the Grotta della Poesia is a true natural wonder.


For an even more extraordinary experience, head to the Grotta dei Cervi in Porto Badisco. This cave is home to a collection of prehistoric rock paintings that date back thousands of years. These ancient artworks offer a glimpse into the lives of the people who inhabited this region long ago, making it a truly remarkable archaeological site.


Exploring the caves of Puglia is like stepping into another world. The hidden wonders and natural beauty found beneath the surface are sure to leave you in awe.


Discovering the Charming Hill Towns

Puglia is renowned for its picturesque hill towns that are perched high atop rolling hills, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. These towns are characterized by their narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and vibrant piazzas, creating a charming atmosphere that transports you back in time.


One of the most iconic hill towns in Puglia is Alberobello, famous for its unique trulli houses. These traditional dry stone huts with conical roofs create a fairytale-like setting that is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Take a stroll through the narrow lanes of Alberobello, marveling at the well-preserved trulli and immersing yourself in the town’s rich history.


Another must-visit hill town is Ostuni, often referred to as the “White City” due to its whitewashed buildings. The labyrinthine streets of Ostuni are a delight to explore, with surprises at every turn. Climb to the top of the town’s medieval cathedral for panoramic views of the Adriatic coastline and the surrounding olive groves.


Locorotondo is another gem that shouldn’t be missed. This hill town is known for its circular layout and charming historical center. As you wander through the winding streets, you’ll encounter picturesque views, vibrant flowers cascading over balconies, and traditional stone houses that create a serene and idyllic atmosphere.


Matera, although technically in the neighboring region of Basilicata, is another hill town that is worth a visit when exploring Puglia. This UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for its Sassi, ancient cave dwellings that were inhabited for centuries. Take a guided tour through the Sassi and discover the fascinating history and unique architecture of this extraordinary town.


Each hill town in Puglia has its own distinct charm and beauty. From the whimsical trulli houses of Alberobello to the maze-like streets of Ostuni, exploring these charming hill towns will transport you to a bygone era and leave you enchanted with the region’s cultural heritage.


Uncovering the Rich History of Puglia

Puglia is a treasure trove of historical sites and cultural landmarks that showcase its rich and diverse history. From ancient ruins to medieval castles, there are countless opportunities to delve deep into the region’s past.


One of the most well-preserved historical sites in Puglia is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Castel del Monte. This iconic medieval fortress, located near the town of Andria, is renowned for its unique octagonal shape and exquisite architectural details. Take a guided tour of the castle to learn about its fascinating history and marvel at the stunning panoramic views from its towers.


The city of Lecce is renowned for its Baroque architecture, earning it the nickname “Florence of the South.” Stroll through the streets of Lecce, and you’ll be mesmerized by the ornate facades of its churches and palaces. The Basilica di Santa Croce and the Piazza del Duomo are must-visit landmarks that showcase the city’s rich artistic heritage.


The archaeological park of Egnazia is another must-see attraction for history enthusiasts. This ancient Roman settlement near Monopoli offers a glimpse into the daily life of the Romans, with well-preserved ruins, an amphitheater, and a museum that displays artifacts discovered in the area.


Puglia is also home to numerous ancient Greek ruins, such as the ruins of the ancient city of Taranto and the Greek and Roman Theater in the city of Otranto. These sites provide a fascinating insight into the region’s past and the influence of ancient civilizations.


Whether wandering through the medieval streets of Bari’s Old Town, exploring ancient Roman ruins, or admiring the Baroque architecture of Lecce, uncovering the rich history of Puglia is like embarking on a journey through time. Immerse yourself in the region’s past and let the stories of its ancient civilizations come to life.


Enjoying the Coastal Beauty

Puglia is blessed with a stunning coastline that stretches for hundreds of kilometers, offering an abundance of beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking vistas. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on pristine sandy shores or looking for adventure in the water, Puglia has something to offer everyone.


The Gargano Peninsula, located in the northern part of Puglia, is a true coastal paradise. With its rugged cliffs, hidden coves, and shimmering turquoise waters, this area is perfect for those seeking a more adventurous beach experience. Explore the stunning beaches of Peschici and Vieste, and don’t miss the opportunity to visit the famous sea caves of the Gargano National Park, such as the Grotta delle Viole and the Grotta dei Pipistrelli.


If you prefer long stretches of sandy beaches, head to the Salento Peninsula in the southern part of Puglia. Here, you’ll find popular beach destinations like Santa Maria di Leuca, Gallipoli, and Porto Cesareo. Sink your toes into the soft sand, soak up the sun, and take a refreshing dip in the clear waters of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas.


The coastal town of Polignano a Mare is a must-visit for its dramatic cliffs and stunning views. Known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” this picturesque town offers a unique blend of natural beauty and charming streets. Relax on the pebble beach, explore the sea caves, or simply wander through the narrow alleys and soak in the laid-back atmosphere.


Puglia’s coast is also renowned for its delicious seafood. Indulge in freshly caught fish, succulent mussels, and delectable octopus dishes at the local restaurants and trattorias that line the coastal towns.


Whether you’re lounging on the beach, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or indulging in mouthwatering seafood delicacies, enjoying the coastal beauty of Puglia will leave you feeling rejuvenated and in awe of the region’s natural wonders.



Puglia is a captivating destination that offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers. From its mesmerizing caves to its charming hill towns, rich history, and breathtaking coastal beauty, Puglia has something to offer for everyone.


Exploring the caves of Puglia allows you to discover the hidden wonders beneath the surface. Whether it’s marveling at stalactite formations in the Grotte di Castellana or diving into the crystal-clear waters of the Grotta Zinzulusa, the caves of Puglia will leave you in awe of nature’s beauty.


Discovering the charming hill towns of Puglia is like stepping back in time. The quaint streets, whitewashed buildings, and unique architectural styles create a magical atmosphere that will transport you to a bygone era. From the trulli houses of Alberobello to the panoramic views of Ostuni, each hill town offers its own charm and allure.


Uncovering the rich history of Puglia is a journey through time. From medieval castles like Castel del Monte to ancient ruins and archaeological sites, the region’s past comes alive as you explore its historical landmarks and cultural treasures.


And let’s not forget the coastal beauty of Puglia. With its stunning beaches, clear waters, and breathtaking cliffs, the region’s coastline is a true paradise. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, the beaches and sea caves of Puglia offer endless opportunities for enjoyment.


In conclusion, Puglia is a destination that will captivate your senses and leave you with lifelong memories. Its caves, hill towns, rich history, and coastal beauty make it a truly remarkable place to explore. So pack your bags, immerse yourself in the wonders of Puglia, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.