South-Italy has sub-tropic climate, with warm, dry summers and mild, moist winters. Apulia, on the Italian "heel", is Italy's most sunny region, and is sometimes referred to as the Italian Garden. Because of the rich soil, Apulia is the most wealthy of the South-Italian regions. They grow wheat, barley, oats and vegetables on the low-land in the north. Further south, where it is drier, they grow olives, grapes, almonds and figs. Around Lecce the also grow tobacco. The Adriatic Sea is rich in fish, shellfish, and mussels. Most of the Italian fish is caught in Apulia, and the region produces more olive-oil than the other 19 Italian regions together. The wines from Apulia are Italy's strongest. The Apulian kitchen uses first class raw material, which gives a delicious, tasty, simple diet consisting of seafood, fresh vegetables, pasta and the tasty apulian bread. Being together around the table is important, and in the middle of the day, the society is at stand-still, while everybody has their lunch.
Apulia has a changing landscape. Gargano in the north is "the spur" on the Italian boot. The cliffs at Gargano dives steeply to the sea-level, where there are beautiful, clean beaches. Inland there are pine- oak- and beech-forests. The Bari-province is the most important cultural-historical area in Apulia with churches, cloisters, old castles and fortified farms. The mysterious Castel del Monte, built by Frederic II is on UNESCO's world-heritage list. The regional capital Bari has a well conserved city-centre from the middle ages. The relics after St Nicolaus, the saint which is Father Christmas' heritage, is kept in the beautiful church San Nicola.
West of Monopoli, behind the
hilltop, towards Taranto is the valley Itria formed.
The Itria valley is
well-known for it's peculiar trullo-houses.
The town Alberobello, which is
also on the UNESCO's
world-heritage list, has whole areas in the town
covered by trulli. The splendid cave Castallana
Grotte is open all year around and offers guided
tours of 3 kilometres length.
South-Italy with its rich soil is situated strategically in the middle of the Middle-Ocean, and because of this unique placing, South-Italy has quite another history than North-Italy. Countless peoples has habituated the countryside. Apulian history, architecture, culture and food-traditions, are synthesis of the influence by different reigns around the Middle Ocean during the last 2500 years. The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, German and Spanish regimes have all ruled the region and left traces. Taranto was an important town in Magna Grecia, and the Arabs reached Bari.