ITS FOOD & DRINK
Troccoli, strascinati, mignuicchie, chiancarelle, fenescecchie and pestaluzze. The shapes and inflections of homemade pasta are endless, produced with both hard and soft wheat flours. Of all these shapes, however, the regional crown undoubtedly goes, in combination with exquisite broccoli shoots, to the mythical orecchietta, so-called for its rounded form so similar to that of an ear. Among other local specialities: gnemeridde (lamb entrails cut up into strips and spun into a spool) and hare with capers, as well as a myriad of seafood dishes, featuring mussels, oysters, lobster from the Tremiti, sea-urchins (among the very best in the Mediterranean), and fish dishes including amber-fish, mullet, sea-bass and angler-fish. Still more excellencies include: prosciutti and dairy products from Faeto, lampascioni (tiny bitter tasting wild onions), cardoncelli and paparuli mushrooms (with their peppery fragrance). Not to mention the bread of Altamura, the focacce and taralli in white wine. Finally, among desserts, the cauciuni (dough pouches with a chickpea, chocolate, candied fruit and cooked wine filling), gelato caldo (ice-cream, candied and dried fruit inserted between two slices of genoise cake and quickly passed in a hot oven) and carteddate (sweets made with a flaky pastry dough flavoured with honey and cinnamon).
Puglia is a truly fascinating region in every sense, in its nature, history, traditions, taste and spirituality, worth visiting all year round. Those looking for a holiday providing a blazing hot sun and uncontaminated beaches are faced with an embarrassment of riches in Puglia, as they can opt for the 'Pearls of the Gargano', in Vieste and Peschici; the 'Gem of Salento', in Gallipoli; Santa Maria di Leuca, where the Ionian and Adriatic Seas come together; Otranto, or the Tremiti Islands. Nature is the dominant player, both at the Grotte di Castellana (Bari), the site of a marvellous subterranean world marked by stalactites and stalagmites, and at the Safari Zoo at Fasano (Brindisi), Italy's largest animal park, where the giraffes, monkeys, zebras, tigers and lions live and roam around in absolute freedom. For a full immersion in tradition, on the other hand, Alberobello is a must stop, the home of the 'trulli' (ancient stone dwellings with characteristic conical roofs, rigorously built by hand and without the aid of cement); whereas the area of Salento is the capital of the 'taranta' and 'pizzica' (dances whose rhythm articulates the 'purification' rite after a tarantula bite). For the more devote, an inevitable stop is at San Giovanni Rotondo (Foggia), for a visit to the locality of San Pio da Pietrelcina: with the convent of the Capuchin friars of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the new church designed by Renzo Piano. We then take a detour then towards Bari, in the direction of the Basilica of San Nicola: a fascinating mixture of styles, erected around the year 1087, which also preserves the saint's relics.