Blessed with an average 300 days of sunshine per year, Puglia has a wonderful climate. The hilltop towns in the Valle d Itria always enjoy a breeze, even in the hottest months of the year and the humidity is generally minimal. It is a lovely dry heat that warms your very bones, either whilst sitting in a piazza enjoying an ice cream, or on the beach soaking up some rays before taking a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. Rainfall is scarce and generally concentrated in the winter months. Since there are no mountains in Puglia, the temperature is fairly constant from the coast to the inland areas. Clement weather in the autumn often permits swimming in the sea late into October.
With so many miles of coastline, Puglia does not lack great seafood. Mussels, prawns and clams abound in the many seafood restaurants and you are sure to find exquisite dishes of bream, cod and sea bass. Around February is the time of the ricci or sea anemones, treasured for the delicate red flesh and eaten either raw or cooked in a classic pasta dish using up to 50 anemones. Meat eaters need not worry, Italians love their red meat and Puglia is no exception. Lamb, young beef (vitello)and rabbit are especially common here and there is no shortage of flavoursome sausages and cured meats.
In 2007 the 17km stretch of coast belonging to the territory of Ostuni was awarded Blue Flag status for the fourth year running. This status attests to the purity of the water along this part of the Puglian coast and is an internationally recognised guarantee of the quality of the sea water. South of Otranto, the most easterly point of the Italian peninsula, the coast becomes rocky again, offering spectacular views toward Greece and Corfu. From here the Ionian Coast begins and on the west side of Puglia you can find wide beaches of pure white sand, some stretching unbroken for 18km.
Occupied by the ancient Greeks in the 7th century BC, Puglia has been colonised by extremely diverse cultures, from Romans, to the Byzantines, the Normans and the Bourbons. With crucial ports that served as gateways to the Holy Land for armies embarking on The Crusades, it has long seen an eclectic mix of eastern and western tradition. Evidence of this can still be seen in the Greek and Arabic architecture of the medieval hilltop towns, nestling alongside Norman churches and baroque cathedrals. Many of the towns and villages retain their old local dialects some of which have more in common with Greek than Italian. Just take a gentle wander around the historical centres of any town and you will see the rich outcome of centuries of civilisation in Puglia.