Puglia is the Italian name for this region, though it is often referred to as Apulia in English. This long strip of land on the Adriatic comprising the “heel” of Italy has a unique landscape devoid of mountains and covered by plains and hills. Farms devoted to vineyards, olive trees and vegetables are separated by neatly constructed stone walls. The giant ancient olive trees, several feet in diameter, twisted and towering, are startling. The area surrounding Alberobello is dotted with trulli. These small conical buildings, first built in the 13th century, are created out of limestone and unique to Puglia. Puglia’s sandy beaches are a big draw; three-quarters of the region borders the sea. Puglia’s strategic location made it a target for conquering and colonization by Byzantines, Saracens, Greeks, Romans, Normans, Swabians, Turks and Spaniards, among others.

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