Puglia, the southern Italian region making up the heel of Italy’s boot, has yet to experience the surfeit of tourism of other Italian destinations. It is no longer the off-the-beaten-track destination it was 10 years ago. But Puglia is still a long way off suffering over-tourism.
Italophiles boast of the art and architecture of places such as Venice, Florence, Rome, Milan and Naples. The more adventurous travellers venture to Sicily. Puglia is where Italians choose to visit on vacation. The majority of visitors to Puglia are Italian. One of the reasons why Puglia still feels authentically Italian.
Even so, as we expect more from our annual vacation, visitors seek out different ways to add value to their holiday. That’s where Puglia Guides by the Puglia Guys come in. We love sharing our local knowledge so you can dig deeper for accessible immersive experiences. Our insider travel guides tell you what’s current, popular and trending. What not to miss.
With that in mind here are our 2024 Puglia Holiday Trends. Experiences to make your holiday in Puglia even more special.
Experience A Local Pizzica Night:
Participate in community events, festivals, or celebrations. Local gatherings provide a firsthand look at cultural traditions and the chance to celebrate alongside residents.
Puglia has the biggest festival in Italy. La Notte della Taranta is a celebration of pizzica – centuries old folk-music from Puglia’s Salento region. The festival is spread over several weeks and culminates with the mammoth La Notte della Taranta show in the small Salento town of Melpignano (30 km south of Lecce) which in 2024 will be held on 24 August.
But pizzica music can be heard on the streets of Salento all summer long. From Ostuni to Otranto and beyond. Free pizzica festivals, pizzica nights and events take place where residents participate, wholeheartedly. It’s such a joyous experience.
Insider tip | San Vito dei Normanni is at the heart of many pizzica celebrations. The Scuola di Pizzica di San Vito is based here. They organise free pizzica nights with musicians, singers and dancers. These events take place all summer long. Everyone is welcome. With Puglia’s World Music Academy they host the annual Coreutica festival with pizzica workshops and free concerts.
Insider tip | Strato bar in San Vito dei Normanni for free open air pizzica music and dancing (led by the dance instructors from the pizzica school). A popular and lively local haunt for aperitivi and to pass the evening.
Insider tip | Popular pizzica nights featuring local musicians with street dancing regularly take place (usually every 2nd Thursday night) at Antiko Cocktail Bar in San Vito dei Normanni. Another local favourite for aperitivi.
San Vito dei Normanni is 15km to the south of Ostuni, between Carovigno and Mesagne.
#EatPuglia | Local Cuisine:
Food is a gateway to cultural understanding, and indulging in local cuisine adds a flavourful layer to your journey. Explore the neighborhood markets, visit local eateries, and savour authentic dishes. Engage in a hands-on cooking experiences, and eat local.
Home cooking at home and beyond
There are more ways to experience authentic Puglia cuisine than just eating out at restaurants. From cooking classes, hiring a home cook for in-villa dining, buying home cooked food from the local baker or experiencing one of Puglia’s traditional sagre food festivals. This is how we #EatPuglia!
Insider tip | Luisa Tricca is a local chef and champion of regional cuisine. As well as running cooking classes, she also works as a private chef and home cook. In-villa dining (booking someone to come to the kitchen of your holiday home or vacation villa and cook typical local dishes with you or for you) is becoming ever more popular. Luisa is warm and generous and her cooking classes and home cooking experiences are beautifully curated.
Insider Tip | Eat where locals eat
Tripadvisor has its limits. The english language version has recommendations made by tourists for tourists, including many restaurants where locals would never go to eat.
We eat where locals eat. That’s why many of the restaurants that regularly top Tripadvisor and similar lists are not included in the Puglia Guys’ guide to Puglia’s best restaurants. In our opinion there are better (and better value) options.
Insider tip | Visit the panificio (local baker). They bake more than daily bread. From delicious local focaccia to parmigiana. Take-out or take-home a variety of home made dishes baked in their ovens. This isn’t processed take-out food, this is freshly home-made Puglia take-out food. We buy focaccia by the slice to take to the beach. On lazy days we buy oven baked parmigiana to eat at home.
It’s also a cheaper way to experience home cooking without having to eat out every meal-time.
Opt for locally-owned accommodations, such as boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, or even vacation rentals. This not only supports the local economy but also immerses you in the community atmosphere. Stray away from overly touristy areas for a slower pace of life that is typically Puglian.
Insider Tip | Head inland to smaller, less well known towns: think Nardò, Galatone or Galatina instead of Gallipoli or Maglie instead of Otranto, for starters. You will find better value accommodation – Puglia still offers incredible value, even when it comes to accommodation – sometimes only a few kilometres from the bigger tourist cities.
Insider Tip | Seek out places frequented by locals. No trip to Puglia is complete without a visit to Alberobello. But this is the most touristic and part of our region. In the main trulli zone, every other trullo is now a tourist shop or restaurant. Taranto’s historic old town is a complete contrast. Raw, gritty and authentic, nowhere else provides a more authentic experience. Don’t visit Alberobello without experiencing Taranto’s borgo antico. Stay at Hotel L’Arcangelo at the edge of Taranto’s borgo antico and for the best seafood in Puglia eat at any of these Taranto restaurants.
Spaghetti all’assassina, also known as spaghetti brucati (burnt spaghetti), is a pasta dish that is almost unique to the region. It comes from Bari and caused American actor and food writer Stanley Tucci to exclaim that the dish was out of this world:
“This goes against everything I know about pasta,” he remarked, effusive in his praise for the dish. “Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like that before… And I’ve been around, too!”
Discover Puglia with the Puglia Guys insider Puglia Guides. Local tips and information made in Puglia to add value to your Puglia experience.