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Puglia Fuori Rotta, 5 unusual stops for a surprising itinerary

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There is more to Puglia than the classic tourist destinations, especially for those who love to explore and are looking for unusual itineraries. A trip "off the beaten track" is what is needed to say goodbye to monotony, get out of the routine and venture into the hidden heart of the Bel Paese.

This is how photojournalist Lorenzo Scaraggi discovered an undiscovered Puglia on board a camper van from the 1990s. Thus was born Puglia Fuori Rotta, a documentary centred on a 30-day journey that, thanks to little-trodden paths, reveals a region with a mysterious and surprising side.

Here are the five stages of Puglia Fuori Rotta, each to be experienced with all the senses.

Monti Dauni, ancient stories and wonderful villages

monti dauni

The journey begins in the north, in the Monti Dauni, characterised by wild nature, tiny villages and ancient fortresses that tell of a glorious past.
The first stop is the smallest town in Puglia, Celle San Vito: only 163 inhabitants and a rare language, the Franco-Provençal language imported by the Angevins. We then proceed to Sant'Agata di Puglia, with a breathtaking view of the Tavoliere and the many characteristic historical alleys.
It is impossible to miss a stop at Monte Cornacchia, the highest peak in Puglia. Those with a sweet tooth will be able to refresh themselves by savouring a typical product from Orsara di Puglia, the last stop in the area, unmissable for its typical bread with ancient sourdough starter baked in a straw oven. 

Gargano, salt water lakes, unique panoramas and a UNESCO World Heritage forest

Gargano, salt water lakes, unique panoramas and a UNESCO World Heritage forest

The second stage of the journey leads to the Gargano, a land of centuries-old devotion and pilgrims of unparalleled beauty. That is why a stop is planned in Cagnano Varano, with its famous cave housing an altar dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. A short distance away is the Varano Lake, joined by a thin strip of land to the Adriatic Sea and an ideal place to admire different species of birds, water lilies and relax in a kayak.
A plunge into the coolness and nature is provided by the Foresta Umbra, a rich UNESCO heritage site composed of ancient beech forests from which one can then reach the Eremi di Pulsano, lonely, perched places from which one can enjoy an astonishing panorama. 

From Bisceglie to Monopoli, historical boats and archaeological evidence of great value

bisceglie monopoli

Bisceglie is a fundamental stop for lovers of time travel: its floating Naval Museum will enchant you with the many boats that have made history here.
 The next stop is the Archaeological Park of San Leucio, rich in archaeological evidence of great value, including the remains of the largest early Christian basilica in Puglia dedicated to San Leucio.
The last stop in the area is Monopoli, a very popular destination and an ideal opportunity to admire the way in which gozzi are built, the classic coloured wooden boats that enliven the Apulian ports.

Murgia and Gravina, the charm of the inland area

murgia gravina

The Puglian countryside is as worthy of discovery as the coast. The tour continues to the Alta Murgia National Park, between expanses of steppe, barren pastures and karstic rocks that will immerse you in complete harmony with nature.

In Altamura and Gravina you will be fascinated by two of the largest karst sinkholes in the Murgia, the Pulo and the Pulicchio: curious chasms created by the underground erosion of rocks that create a unique landscape. On reaching Poggiorsini, you will discover the ruins of the Garagnone fortress, an imposing piece of rock from which to marvel at the flight of the kestrels.

Finally, a stop at Laterza is recommended to take a break in the open air and admire the limestone formations that have formed caves, sinkholes, pulas and ravines. Masserias, vineyards and oil mills in the area offer the ideal opportunity to sample the region's delicious flavours. 

The unique historical and cultural wealth of Salento

salento, cultural heritage

The tour continues, as we venture deep into the Itria valley, to Carovigno, where you can admire the majestic castle with its triangular floor plan. A few kilometres further on, it's vineyard territory, where you can wander through the rows of red grapes that produce the famous Primitivo di Manduria, before reaching the Cesine Nature Reserve, which is on the migration route used by the many birds flying from Northern Europe to Africa.
A must-see is Soleto, where you can stop to admire the Guglia di Raimondello, a remarkable example of Gothic architecture in the Salento area. Further downhill, another place to visit is Torrepaduli and its marvellous "Dance of the Knives", an ancient tradition performed by musicians and dancers and designed to ward off melancholy and negativity.
Puglia Off the Beaten Track ends at Punta Palascia, Italy's easternmost headland, with breathtaking panoramic views - truly a fitting end to this wonderful journey.

Itineraries like Puglia Fuori Rotta really bring out the true essence of Italy's beautiful and diverse regions, as they show you places and landscapes which are often less-visited and little known, but equally exciting and memorable. 

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