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With a varied and interesting coastline of almost 800 km that is sometimes flat and sandy in appearance and sometimes rugged, Apulia is one of Italy's major seaside destinations. One of Europe's warmest places, the climate is mild all year round with a swimming season that starts in spring and extends right through to late autumn. Looking at the boot-shaped form of Italy, the most southern part of this region is on the bottom part of the heel. Two seas collide directly off the coast of Santa Maria di Leuca, which was referred to as "Finis Terrae" (the end of the world) by the Romans. The Adriatic and the Ionian Sea. The most beautiful stretches of coastline, however, are to be found in the far north of the region in the Gargano foothills and in the most southern part, the Salento peninsula.
Apulia is for the most part a gentle lowland area, called the "Tavoliere". Only a very small part of this region is mountainous. Following the Po region in the north, it is Italy's largest lowland area and has been the country's most important "bread basket" since the Roman era. This is because almost all Mediterranean plants thrive in its fertile soil. Indeed, in addition to fish a large number of vegetable varieties grown in this region form the foundations for its delicious cuisine. This also includes pasta such as Orecchiette ("little ears") and Troccoli, as well as the robust and aromatic Apulian wine. Lamb and venison specialities are firm favourites inland, as well as the regional cheese varieties of Ricotta, Scamorza and Cacioricotta. As Italy's most important producer of olive oil, Apulia is responsible for 70 percent of all its European exports.
People interested in art will also find Apulia, which is influenced by Italy's romantic style, an attractive place to visit. Impressive sacral buildings and filigree rosettes bear witness to the romantic period and can be found all around the capital and university city of Bari, which is also the main commercial centre of the region. Further to the south in the towns of Lecce and Gallipoli you will also find the "Castel del Monte" and the baroque residence belonging to Friedrich II, Holy Roman Emperor, who declared Apulia his adopted country.
In the white town of Ostuni, "the queen of Apulia", there is plenty of evidence of its turbulent history. The snow-white chalked exteriors of its cube-shaped houses and its narrow winding alleyways provide a trace of the orient. This region of Italy has also been conquered and influenced by a number of differing cultures over the years including the Greeks, Normans, Germanic peoples and Spanish. The harbour town of Otranto with its impressive Kastell is one of the most attractive in Apulia.
The large cities of Bari and Lecce are popular shopping destinations. Recommended sight-seeing destinations include the spectacular and extensive cave complex of Castellana with its stalactite and stalagmites, as well as the Trimiti Islands. Another characteristic feature of the region is the cone-shaped roof, which can be seen on the curious "Trulli" houses in Alberobello.
One of the things that is really noticeable in Apulia is the region's Mediterranean flair. It offers a long holiday season, varied food and drink and a Mediterranean feel. Prices here are a little more expensive than in other regions.
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