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Apulia

Apulia Fuori Rotta, 5 unusual stops for a surprising itinerary

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There is more to Apulia than the traditional tourist destinations, especially for those who love to explore and are looking for unusual itineraries. An off-the-beaten-track trip is what is needed to bid farewell to monotony, break out of your routine and venture into the hidden heart of the Bel Paese.

This is exactly how photojournalist Lorenzo Scaraggi found a previously undiscovered Apulia while travelling in a camper van from the 1990s. Thus was born Puglia Fuori Rotta (Apulia Off Route), 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 5 stages of Puglia Fuori Rotta, each to be explored with all the senses. 

Monti Dauni, ancient stories and marvellous villages

monti dauni

This journey begins in the north, in the Monti Dauni, characterised by wild nature, tiny villages and ancient fortresses that tell of a magnificent past.

The first stop is the smallest village in Apulia, Celle San Vito: only 163 inhabitants and a rare language, the Franco-Provençal dialect imported by the Angevins. We then proceed to Sant'Agata di Puglia, with a breathtaking view of the Tavoliere and its many quaint historic alleys.

A stop at Monte Cornacchia, the highest peak in Apulia, is not to be missed. Food lovers can indulge themselves by sampling 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, stretches of salt water, unique views and a UNESCO World Heritage forest

Gargano, stretches of salt water, unique views and a UNESCO World Heritage forest

The second stage of the trip takes you to the Gargano, a land of centuries-old devotion and pilgrims of unparalleled beauty. This is why a stop is planned in Cagnano Varano, with its famous cave that conserves the footprints of Saint Michael the Archangel. A short distance away is Lago di Varano, a saltwater lagoon where eels are fished and you can relax in a kayak.

A dip in the coolness and natural surroundings is ensured by the Foresta Umbra, a rich UNESCO heritage site composed of ancient beech groves. From here, you can reach the Eremi di Pulsano; lonely, secluded places from which to enjoy an astonishing panorama. 

From Bisceglie to Monopoli, historical boats and valuable archaeological sites

bisceglie monopoli

Bisceglie is an essential stop for those who love time travel: its Floating Nautical Museum will enchant you with the many boats that have shaped the history of the place.

The next stop is the San Leucio Archaeological Park, rich in precious archaeological artefacts, including the remains of the largest early Christian basilica in Apulia, dedicated to San Leucio.

The final destination in the area is Monopoli, a very popular spot and an ideal opportunity to admire the construction of gozzi, the classic coloured wooden boats that liven up the Apulian ports.

Murgia and Gravina, the charm of the hinterland

murgia gravina

The Apulian hinterland is just as deserving of exploration as the coast. The tour continues to the Alta Murgia National Park, amidst expanses of steppes, barren pastures and karst rocks that will connect you completely 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: intriguing chasms created by the underground erosion of rocks that create incomparable scenery. Then, on reaching Poggiorsini, you will discover the Rock of Garagnone, an imposing block of rock from which you can admire the flight of cricket hawks.

Finally, a stop in Laterza is recommended; here you can stretch out in the open air and marvel at the limestone formations that have formed caves, swallow holes, pulas and ravines. Farms, vineyards and oil mills offer the ideal opportunity to sample the irresistible flavours of the area.

Salento, unparalleled historical and cultural heritage

salento, cultural heritage

The tour continues into the heart of the Valle d'Itria, at Carovigno, where you will be captivated by the ramparts built by the Normans. A few kilometres further on, you can lose yourself in the red grape vines where the famous Primitivo di Manduria wine comes to life, before heading to the Cesine Nature Reserve, a passage route for many birds moving between northern Europe and Africa.

In Soleto, take a break to admire the Raimondello Spire, an admirable example of Gothic architecture in the Salento. Moving further down, it is worth visiting Torrepaduli, which offers the marvellous spectacle of the 'dance of the knives', an ancient tradition through which musicians and dancers, accompanied by tambourines, chase away negativity.

The Puglia Fuori Rotta tour ends at Punta Palascia, Italy's most easterly headland, with a panorama that takes one's breath away and fittingly brings to an end this awe-inspiring journey.

Itineraries such as Puglia Fuori Rotta enhance the authentic spirit of the regions of Italy, revealing hidden and little-known corners, places and landscapes that offer unforgettable emotions and adventures.

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