Excellent restaurants in Puglia

In particular, in recent years the Apulian cuisine has become the fulcrum of its tourism, this has led to the birth of new restaurant formats that have followed a real star race in the Michelin Guide. This evolution has made it possible for the typical local cuisine to meet the gourmet concept from the haute hall.

We will recommend a few if you happen to be in our area and would like to try a high-level culinary experience.

Let's start immediately with Antonella Ricci & Vinor Sookar in Ceglie Messapica (BR).

It is a historic Michelin macaron, as it has been boasting it for about thirty years, it was created by Angelo Ricci in 1966, today managed by his daughter Antonella. The restaurant is set in a fabulous typically Apulian location, an elegant country villa, with a splendid veranda that is used according to the season. The kitchen is managed by the couple Antonella Ricci and Vinor Sookar, who have mixed their passion, thanks to the different palates in a modern key, without spoiling tradition. A real experience for those who choose this culinary journey, consisting largely of Apulian raw materials that meet the flavors of the East.

Moving but remaining in the area, we arrive in Savelletri (BR), where perhaps the most coveted destination of international VIPs in Puglia is located.

We are talking about Borgo Egnazia of course, an ancient village rebuilt and converted into a very high-level accommodation facility, consisting of luxurious and elegant villas and a starred restaurant.

We are talking about the Due Camini restaurant, which thanks to the audacity of chef Domingo Schingaro, has managed over the years to attract various international stars, who have become almost habits of this place. By focusing on international cuisine, you ask yourself? Absolutely not!

The various menus, among which the most famous "freehand" and "Mediterranean" stand out, aim entirely at bringing tradition and typical Apulian products to the table.

Instead, we land in Magna Graecia, in Manduria (TA) where we find the novelty that surprised us in 2020, we are talking about the Casamatta restaurant, the icing on the cake of an enchanting place or the Vinilia Wine Resort. It is an old noble castle converted into a resort with a restaurant, swimming pool, and spa. The Casamatta restaurant has a colorful and modern appearance and has the same coherence in the culinary proposals of chef Pietro Penna, locally produced ingredients that meet the French imagination, the chef's training influence, without obscuring the main theme or the tradition of Puglia.

We go down to the Salento capital Lecce, where we find another recent surprise in the historic center, the Bros.

Managed by the now influencers Floriano Pellegrino and Isabella Potì, two guys who, in addition to attracting the attention of the Michelin guide judges, have often talked about them among the various entrepreneurial initiatives such as the "Roots" restaurant in Scorrano (LE). origin of the chefs, or the “Sista” project based on pastry delivery, to the point of even attracting the attention of Forbes magazine. Their paths are a refined experience of taste, which tends to amaze the customer's palate, with complex combinations that combine the Italian and Apulian tradition specifically, with more exotic and extroverted flavors.

Finally, we point out another noteworthy place, which boasts the Michelin dish: high-quality cuisine, the Primo Restaurant in Lecce. We find ourselves in front of a small bistro, a characteristic and elegant location, with star vaults that recall the Salento tradition, a few hundred meters from the Carlo V Castle and from Piazza G. Mazzini. Led by the very young chef Solaika Marroco, who despite her age boasts a veteran curriculum, this promise of Apulian catering offers a delicate and refined menu, in which simplicity meets complexity in a healthy and never predictable way.

In short, a phenomenon of constant growth, which gives hope for the best of all Apulian and lovers of this region.

The wonderful sandy beaches near Otranto

On the Adriatic coast, near the historic Salento town of Otranto, there are wonderful beaches, which have been an inexhaustible tourist destination for many years and are among the most popular in beautiful Puglia.

One of these is undoubtedly Baia dei Turchi, a heavenly cove reached every summer by tourists from all over the world who love its fine sand and its shallow, crystalline waters, ideal for those traveling with very young children.

According to a legend, the bay takes its name from the fact that in 1480 the Turks landed in this inlet and then attacked the nearby city of Otranto. Because of this link with the historical event and the particularity of the unspoiled natural landscape, in 2007 the FAI undertook to declare it one of the 100 places to be protected on the national territory. Following this decision, it was merged with the protected Oasis of the Alimini Lakes, as it is important to preserve this rarity and ensure that it can be preserved in the best possible way. 

Another very characteristic place, not far from the Baia dei Turchi beach, is certainly the Grotta del Mulino d’acqua. This locality takes its name from the presence, many years ago, of an ancient water-operated mill that worked. Unlike Baia dei Turchi, it has a rocky coast full of caves, the most fascinating is certainly the “Grotta Sfondata”, located north of the bay; it is a cave devoid of the upper portion of rock, which tends to form a natural pool, from which it is also possible to rejoin the sea. The remaining caves are located on the south side of Otranto and can be reached by swimming through a tunnel: the Grotta della Monaca, the Grotta dell’Eremita and the Scoglio del Sapunerò.


In addition to the charm of the caves and the natural conformation of the coast, we also find here crystal clear water with a color very similar to emerald green. An earthly paradise that attracts all those who want to treat themselves to a different day, away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches in the high season.


In short, two oases of peace, which make the Salento town even more sought after, not only for its historical charm but also for a uniquely relaxing experience, immersed in nature.


Ville delle "Cenate": Eclectic Architecture in Salento

These splendid nineteenth-century villas represent real symbols of the expression of the mixture of different styles, defined as eclectic. They are located in the locality of dinate, along the road that connects Nardò with the marinas of Santa Maria Al Bagno and Santa Caterina.

The term Cenate derives from the Latin "cenàticum", which means the obligation on the part of the local inhabitants to guarantee a meal for the Roman troops that passed through. A more recent definition, on the other hand, says that the name derives from the dialectal term “acenatu”, referring to a particular quality of local grape. Furthermore, in the last century, it was also used to identify in this word, the banquets that took place in these villas.

The architectural styles of these villas are diverse, as previously mentioned, and vary from Baroque to Moorish or even Art Nouveau. The latter are probably the only examples present in Salento.

Among the most certainly stands out Villa Del Vescovo, built between 1755 and 1838, formerly the summer residence of the Bishop of Nardò. This villa has an imposing façade, divided by pilasters with capitals, and eight windows. Those on the ground floor are characterized by various Baroque ornaments in Lecce stone, while those on the upper floor are enriched with triangular tympanums reminiscent of the Templar architecture. Finally, a corbel cornice, typical of the Renaissance style.

One of the most beautiful is undoubtedly Villa Cristina dei Personè, built between 1920 and 1930, it represents one of the greatest expressions of the eclectic style. Its marvelous façade presents a mixture of Moorish and Mannerist elements and also particular decorations recalling the Arab style, especially in the windows on the upper floor, and in the portico on the ground floor, divided instead by two stairways that converge homogeneously on the upper floor.

Another very characteristic villa is Villa De Michele or Saetta, dating back to 1892. A central tower immediately stands out, with a balcony divided by three windows, in neo-Gothic style with oriental decorations, further enriched by side columns, culminating in eclectic capitals. Immediately down the façade, we find walls decorated with bricks in several colors and a modest door in the same style as the upper windows.

In full Mannerist style of 1910, instead, Villa Venturi presents itself, which boasts a large façade, with an entrance, with a three-light opening decorated with a central arch, and divisions composed of pilasters with eclectic-style capitals, an element also widely used in the villas seen. previously. It also has an eye-catching access stairway.

True jewels of the Salento land, which together with Villa Caputo, Villa Fonte, Villa Del prete, represent one of the most visited itineraries of Apulian tourism. In fact, it is possible to visit several of these rarities, thanks to the help of many local tour operators, or even to ... stay there!

It is also said that historically, at the end of the Second World War, many of these villas were requisitioned by the resistance, to be used as host structures for the many Jewish refugees, passing through waiting for the exodus; a detail that makes these places even more fascinating.

Porto Selvaggio Regional Park: the trekking paradise

One of the most beautiful pearls of Salento, on the side of the Ionian Sea is certainly the Regional Park of Porto Selvaggio, belonging to the municipality of Nardò. This itinerary represents one of the most fascinating tourist destinations in Puglia, loved and reached also by the inhabitants of this region, for the multitude of beaches, cliffs and pine forests present.

The nature reserve, which extends for about 1200 hectares and since 2007 also boasts the inclusion by the FAI in the list of "100 places to save" is the ideal place for trekking lovers, as it presents a very varied landscape divided between rocks and Mediterranean scrub.


The ideal itinerary can start from the town of Torre Uluzzo, which has a very characteristic overhang, full of cliffs ideal for diving enthusiasts. There are also several caves. The most important is undoubtedly the Grotta del Cavallo, dating back to about 35,000 years ago. However, there is no path to access the sea, but this makes the excursion more wild and adventurous. 

Continuing along the itinerary, it is possible to meet a vast pine forest, which is divided into different places of interest, among the most characteristic there is certainly the Palude del Capitano, so-called for the numerous springs filled with brackish water, which give a marshy appearance to the bay. This particular place was probably formed by the fall of the vault of an ancient cave; it is also possible to admire a fauna worthy of wood such as foxes, weasels, and hedgehogs.

The point most reached by swimmers, on the other hand, always connected to the path of the pine forest, is the Bay of Porto Selvaggio, suitable for both young people and families looking for relaxation, as it is made up of a gravel inlet and a very low cliff. This bay is very particular for its water, with variable temperatures and sometimes cold even in summer, as it is located near small springs.

The itinerary ends on the slopes of the park, with a truly characteristic and picturesque place, we are talking about Torre Santa Maria dell’Alto, less than a kilometer from the popular seaside resort of Santa Caterina. This construction, built by the Neretine master Angelo Spalletta in 1569, has the highest and most panoramic point of the entire area. From here it is possible to better admire a large part of the coast. Both the path and the entrance to the tower have several stairways and inside it is possible to contemplate the remains of the frescoes, mostly depicting Marian faces, it is most likely an ancient sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary, from which first name.

In short, one of the most interesting routes of Apulian tourism, practicable in a linear way thanks to various organized treks, but also for adventure, if you decide to explore the Ionian coast with various stops, starting from Porto Cesareo towards Gallipoli or vice versa. For camping lovers it is one of the most popular destinations. In short, a small corner of paradise, in the heart of Salento.

The fortified farmhouse in Salento

In recent years, thanks to the phenomenon of returning to the land especially by young people, we hear more and more often about farms, especially in Puglia.

These are old country houses, now reused for various purposes ranging from catering to agricultural businesses or to tourist reception. These ancient rural structures, originate from the Middle Ages, when they were populated by farmers and numerous families, all dedicated to the work of cultivation, mostly of wheat and cereals, and to the breeding of livestock, for the production of milk and dairy products. 

The model of the fortified structure, on the other hand, dates back to the post-fall period of the Byzantine Empire, as the Salento peninsula became an assiduous target of looting and invasions by pirates. This type of structure began to develop during the sixteenth century, as a consequence of this phenomenon, following the territorial defense plan issued by Charles V of Habsburg; The formation included in most cases one or more watchtowers and a walled enclosure around the farm.

Over the centuries, the farms have developed in a different way, from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-seventeenth century or a little more than the twentieth century, thanks to the expansion of agricultural technologies, which have allowed the so-called massari to exploit even more the potential of lands, the farms have changed face, becoming a holiday destination to escape the torrid summer heat of the cities.

Thanks to this type of phenomenon, these farmhouses were enriched with important aesthetic and architectural elements, such as gardens, Baroque decorations, especially in Lecce stone, and imposing balconies or terraces.

Today, thanks to the evolution of tourism in Puglia, but also to the desire to enhance the resources of the territory, especially by innovative projects such as start-ups for young people, it is possible to enjoy multiple services in various farms.

In fact, there are real organized routes, which allow visitors to explore the reality of agricultural production, with associated product tastings and retail sales. Some, on the other hand, have been used as accommodation facilities, an ideal location for those who love a holiday in close contact with nature, far from urban chaos. Still others have become home to many cultural events ranging from theater, cinema, or concerts.

A detail that should certainly not be overlooked is the fact that these structures are well distributed throughout the area, both near the sea and inland. This allows you to please any type of visitor, who can reconcile different aspects of a holiday, from a guided excursion to trekking or simple seaside relaxation.


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