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Puglia is the region on the heel of Italy’s boot and it’s been getting a lot of attention lately. Bordered by the clear blue waters of the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to its South and West, this is an ancient region known for deep traditions and a tantalizing food culture. Lured by the sea, our guest Paola Bacchia from Italy on My Mind spent several months exploring Puglia, looking for recipes and inspiration for her cookbook Adriatico.
From the pristine Gargano coastline to the bustling cities of Bari, Lecce, and Brindisi and ancient countryside rituals, Puglia is a relatively unknown area of Italy that few tourists have spent much time in until recently. Pictures of the typical trulli houses in towns like Alberobello and the recent promotion of nearby Matera (in the Basilicata region) are inspiring trips to Puglia. But it’s the Adriatic Coast that Paola Bacchia loves best.
Here nonne (grandmas) roll their pasta while chatting on the phone, cooking smells waft out of open doorways and centuries-old traditions are maintained as part of the cycle of the seasons and life. Visit the markets to discover the fresh local produce and seafood that is essential to the region’s cuisine. Or head to the countryside in search of hand-thrown ceramics, 2000-year-old olive presses, and picturesque towns bathed in southern Italian light.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- Towns and places to see in Puglia
- All about some delicious Pugliese dishes to try when you are there
- Where to stay – favorite towns and styles of accommodation
- How to get around and tips on driving
- What is different about the pasta in Puglia
- Unique traditions and customs you’ll find in Puglia
- The surprising Pugliese town that Paola has not visited
About our guest – Paola Bacchia from Italy on my Mind
Paola Bacchia is an Italian-Australian cookbook writer, photographer and tour guide. She was born in Australia to Italian parents and travels to Italy every year (except 2020!) to reconnect with family and friends, run food tours and research her next cookbook.
She has written two cookbooks, Italian Street Food (2016) and Adriatico – recipes and stories from Italy’s Adriatic Coast (2018) and is just about to submit her third cookbook, about her father’s homeland on the Istrian peninsula, with Smith Street Books (to be published in late 2021).
She runs the Instagram page “Italy on my mind”, publishing food photos, recipes and cooking videos. Paola runs Italian cooking classes in her home in Melbourne, though recently because of restrictions brought on by the pandemic, has switched to online classes.
She hosted food workshops and tours in Italy: at the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily, food tour of Southern Puglia, focusing on the Adriatic Coast with Southern Visions Travel and a food tour of Trieste and its surrounds.
The next scheduled tour is for Puglia in October 2021.
You can find Paola on these channels:
Places mentioned in the show
- Bari – capital of Puglia with an enchanting old town. Has airport
- Brindisi – city in Puglia with airport
- Otranto – coastal town on the Adriatic Sea
- Ostuni – known as the white city
- Lecce – beautiful city in southern Puglia
- Salento – province encompassing the heel of the boot
- Gargagno – province on the spur of the boot where you’ll find towns Vieste, Peschici and Rodi
- Vieste – beach town popular with Italians
- Tremiti Islands – archipelago off the Gargano coast
- Polignano al Mare – famous sea side town with spectacular cliffs
- Grottaglie – village where they make unique ceramics
- Masserie – former fortified towns, now unique accommodation – Li Veli (winery), Potenti, Cinque Santi (cheese),
- Beautiful towns in Salento – Maglie, Tricase, Nardo, Castro, Casarano
What to eat in Puglia
- Orecchietti – famous pasta from Puglia that is said to be in the shape of an ear
- Tiella cozze e riso – rice baked with mussels
- Octopus panini – found at La Polperia (Otranto)
- Focaccia Barese – bread made with potatoes
- Panzerotti – fried pastry filled with cheese and tomato
- Rustico leccese – puff pastry with tomato and cheese
- Pasticciotto leccese – sweet pastry found in Lecce
- Fave e cicoria – broad beans and chicory – staple dish of Puglia
- Cime di rapa – Italian brocolli often served with orechietti
- Osteria di Chichibio – recommended restaurant in Polignano al Mare
- Read more in our Puglia guide and about other lesser-known places arond Italy in Hidden Gems in Italy and enjoy more of southern Italy – Best beaches in Calabria
- Listen: to more on Puglia in Episode #080 Picturesque towns of Puglia, for more of Southern Italy in Episode #24 – Getting to know Calabria – the other Italy and Episode #47 Basilicata – the ancient southern region of tradition and historyand hear from other food writers in and Episode 106 Beyond the Cinque Terre – Exploring Liguria and Episode 079 Maremma – Exploring Tuscany’s Undiscovered Coast
- How to plan a trip to Italy – our article that takes you step by step through trip planning so you can avoid our mistakes
- Driving in Italy – a practical guide
- Italy Travel Planning – the FREE Facebook group where you can ask questions and get inspiration for planning your trip
- Travel shop where you’ll find items mentioned in the show
Prefer to read along as you listen? You can download a PDF version of the full transcript of this episode.