Today’s featured recipe has been inspired by Puglia (also often spelled Apulia). Pugliese cuisine is incredibly simple, making the most of just one or two quality ingredients that are given the space to shine. Datterini tomatoes are a fine example of Puglia’s naturally flavoursome ingredients. This tomato variety is grown in the hot Puglian sun which ensures their sweetness and juiciness, before being carefully hand-picked by local farmers. If you want to explore the region of Puglia beyond its gourmet tomatoes then why not enjoy a tailor-made holiday with our friends at Citalia? For Italy Experts, look no further.
Citalia are offering an exclusive £50 off your booking* with the code PASTA50
Citalia have been delivering tailor-made holidays in Italy for over 90 years, and will create an itinerary based around your interests, promising competitive value, and exceptional experiences. There’s so much variety to choose from with a holiday in sun-soaked Puglia, which is located right at the heel of Italy’s boot. You could explore the idyllic countryside, laze on sandy beaches, browse historic cities and pretty villages that boast extravagant architecture - or do it all!
Wherever you go, it’s likely that fabulous cuisine will feature on your holiday as Puglia is known for its locally grown produce. You’ll find endless olive groves in the countryside, which provide Puglia with its distinctly Italian vibe. One amazing place to visit is the UNESCO World Heritage town of Alberobello. Often called Trulli Town, it’s home to quirky architecture with trulli - traditional limestone houses with conical roofs. Lining the town’s steep streets, these houses, many of which have been converted into trattorias, shops, hotels and wine bars, are very photo-worthy, especially when you wander up to a viewpoint and look from above the town.
About half an hour away from Alberobello you’ll find the postcard-worthy coast where limestone cliffs are dotted with caves, and which you can easily reach by swimming or kayaking. The popular summer resort town of Polignano a Mare offers panoramic terraces where you can watch cliff divers somersaulting into the water below, or visit the small beaches that zigzag through the coastline. You’re also a short drive from Itria Valley, where you’ll discover an extraordinary natural wonder: The Grottoes of Castellana. This is an underground system of limestone caves that span almost two miles and boast mesmerizing stalactite and stalagmite formations. Each cave is different, with a highlight being the delicate alabaster cave known as Grotto Bianca.
Similarly, photogenic is Ostuni, a hilltop town teeming with whitewashed buildings within a labyrinth of winding streets, which has given the town its reputation as Puglia’s White City. Enclosed within ancient fortress walls, you can see this dramatic town from miles away. There’s so much to explore in atmospheric Ostuni, which is only possible on foot. While the streets are steep, you can stop off for refreshments in a number of courtyard cafés. There are also plenty of trattorie (informal restaurants) hidden away just waiting to be found. The surrounding countryside of Ostuni offers you a glimpse into the region’s wine heritage, with ample local vineyards offering wine tours.
Citalia also invites you to take a cycling tour of Brindisi, an ancient port city on the Adriatic Sea. After riding through incredible landscapes and learning about the area’s history and culture, you can hop off your saddle and sample many of the regional treats. Along the Puglian coast lies the sleepy hidden gem of Torre Canne di Fasano. This small, traditional fishing village boasts many restaurants and bars that serve up the fresh catch of the day to amazing sweeping views over the sea. Savelletri di Fasano is another village that has wonderfully weekly markets and pretty beaches from where you can go snorkeling and diving. Both villages take their name from the nearby town of Fasano, which dates back to the Greco-Roman period and is filled with folklore, farmhouses and Italy’s most renowned olive oil museum, which is located in a former Benedictine monastery. In this area you can also visit a large zoo, marine and amusement park, which is a great day out if you’re planning to bring children with you.
If you travel further south, you’ll reach the Salento peninsula. Salento is well known for its regional snacks, including rustico (crispy puff pastry discs filled with mozzarella, béchamel and tangy tomato), orechiette (ear-shaped pasta) in aged ricotta sauce, pasticciotto (a sweet flaky pastry stuffed with patisserie cream) and paste di mandorla (small almond biscuits). This area is particularly fond of almonds and you’ll find them in both sweet and savoury dishes, as well as in drinks.
This particular peninsula is where you’ll come across Lecce, a baroque university city that’s nicknamed the Florence of the South and is believed to date back to the 3rd century BC. Lecce’s centro storico (historic centre) is home to a half-crumbling Roman amphitheatre, as well as a towering 12th century cathedral and fortress situated in the picturesque main square, Piazza del Duomo. These incredible buildings have all been forged out of the town’s own creamy stone, known as Pietra Leccese.
If you love to delve into history then you’ll want to visit Basilica di Santa Croce, an ornately decorated church that is arguably more spellbinding than it’s namesake found in Florence, and which took 200 years to construct. One hidden gem not to miss is the Museo Faggiano. The story goes that the family who lived in a private residence in Lecce went to fix a pipe and what burst out was actually over two thousand years of history. Today the residence is an esteemed archeological museum where you can explore many tombs, cisterns and underground escape routes, which were used by both the Romans and the somewhat mysterious Order of the Knights Templar.
Among the history, Lecce has a distinctly cosmopolitan Italian vibe. Go shopping in the many upmarket boutiques, jewellers, and artisan craft stores, or spend your evening hopping between the many cocktail bars and restaurants that serve both authentic and modern cuisine. Lecce is also an ideal place to try your hand at Pugliese cooking, as there are several cookery schools around the city.
Even further south of Lecce and right towards the bottom of Italy’s heel lies Otranto, a harbour town that breaks up the area’s many charming olive trees and vineyards. This coastal location is made all the more romantic with its fortified castle and promenade, and a perfect day here can include tucking into authentic Puglian food and wine at one of the many farmhouse restaurants.
If any of these destinations and experiences have whet your appetite, then speak to Citalia, who will be able to advise on the perfect itinerary, just for you. You’ll be assigned your own personal Italy Expert, who will be available to you around the clock before and during your holiday with support and the latest travel advice. All Citalia holidays are ATOL protected and hold a Travel with Confidence guarantee, which includes free amendments and cancellations.
*T&Cs: Discount applies to new package holiday bookings, for a minimum of 7 nights duration and for 2 adults. Book between 1 August 2021 and 30 September 2021 for travel between 1 September 2021 and 30 September 2022. Not redeemable online.
Make our Spaghetti with a Pugliese Datterini Tomato Sauce
One of Roberta’s favourite summer recipes to whip up is this delicious fresh datterini tomato sauce. Evocative of her homeland, the beautiful southern Italian region of Puglia, this recipe is a taste of her childhood and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can serve this pasta dish topped with fresh stracciatella, a delicious cheese made throughout local caseificio.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Calories per serving: 458kcal
- 400g fresh spaghetti (make your own following our fresh pasta making guide)
- 5tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
- 20g fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
- 400g fresh datterini tomatoes, washed and diced
- 2tsp sea salt flakes
- Bring a pot of generously salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, following the packet instructions. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.
- Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the lightly crushed garlic clove and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant, making sure it doesn’t burn. When the garlic turns golden brown, remove from the pan and discard.
- Add the basil leaves to the pan. Allow the basil to infuse in the oil for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes and sea salt flakes. Stir until well combined, then cover with a lid and cook for 5–6 minutes until the sauce is thick and glossy.
- Once the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan containing the tomato sauce, tossing it in the sauce until coated.
- Plate and serve immediately with a scattering of basil leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to garnish.