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By Mary Lou and Richard Gross

Stargazer Travel,Guilford,CT USA

Not knowing what to expect, we discoveredPugliato be a wonder of unique natural, historic and cultural gems, gastronomic treats, and warm, welcoming people. It is also 30% less expensive most of the rest ofItaly. This is truly a region ofItalynot to be missed.

FromNovember 13 to 19, 2011, we attended the tenth Italy Symposium, featuring the region ofPuglia. “Italy Symposium USA 2011” was organized by The Italian Government Tourist Board of North America (ENIT) in partnership with the Italian Travel Promotion Council (ITPC) and hosted by the region ofPugliaand the City ofBari. The objective of the symposium was to familiarize 250 travel professionals from theUnited Stateswith the region ofPuglia.

Puglia(pronounced “Pool‐ya”), also known in English asApulia, is the southeastern‐most region ofItaly. It is a dry, sunny, narrow strip of land with a 500 mile coastline on theAdriatic Seaand a considerably shorter coastline on theIonian Sea. It has 4 million inhabitants, and 50 million olive trees, some of the oldest dating back to the Middle Ages. Not surprisingly, olive oil production is the major crop; four different areas produce a distinguished DOP extra virgin olive oil. Grapes grow alongside the olive trees in many areas, and the region produces 25DOCwines, most fruity and full‐bodied. The region also produces vegetables, fruits and nuts.

Pugliahas an interesting history because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean. Its indiginous population was colonized first by the Greeks, then by the Romans, Byzantines, Lombards, Franks and Saracens. In the 11th century, the Normans occupied southern Italy as the Kingdom of Sicily, but later gave way successively to Swabian (Swabia was a medieval duchy in southwest Germany), Anjevin (from the House of Anjou in France) and Arragonese (from the province of Aragon in Spain), and in the 18th century, to the Bourbons of Spain. In 1860,Puglia was annexed to theKingdom ofItaly. The result of this colonization today is a number of rare and obscure dialects, eclectic cuisine, and a wide variety of architecture, all of which makesPuglia a wonderfully interesting place to visit.

We visited each of the six provinces ofPugliain five days, a tantalizing taste that makes us want to return to this surprising region to experience all that we were unable to see. What we did see (and taste) in five days was amazing.

 
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