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How to survive in Puglia this winter...Italy 101

Posted by Luci Ackers on 30 October 2015
Related property: Coreggia
Holiday villas in Puglia Taranto Castle Puglise dish of Orecchiette Sassi de Matera Ostuni Puglise dish of Orecchiette Polignano a Mare

Heading to Italy for some winter sun? Maybe it's your first time in the country or maybe you're just looking for some top tips, either way here's our guide for your Italian winter.

Being much further south than England you'll already have the weather mostly on your side... and if you're staying in one of our trulli in Alberobello then you will be situated in the nicely southern region of Puglia – the heel of Italy's boot – and the weather here is very far from England in November and December. Thank goodness!

Food to try...

Puglia is still very much an agricultural region, with many people living off the land. Throughout the cold months you are in the right place for the olive harvest, which happens throughout the winter, and the last of the grape harvest would have taken place late in the autumn. So freshly made products and regional specialities will be prevalent.

Pasta is obviously a firm favourite with the Puglise; durum wheat is grown in large quantities and its flour is used to make the popular shell-like orecchiette pasta as well as regional breads. Orecchiette is often eaten with a tomato based sauce or sprinkled over with ricotta (ovine ricotta because the Valle d'Itria is ideal for sheep farming!).

The region is great for fish thanks to its long stretch of Adriatic coastline. Shell fish dishes are very popular, and many harbour-side towns will offer you the option to try traditional raw seafood tasters if you're up for it! It is said that during the winter the fish is even fresher and even better in Puglia, so at this time of year all of the restaurants will be dong something deliciously fishy. Keep an eye out for mussels and sea bass in particular.

… And where to try it

Italy is famed for its cuisine and you wont be short of stunning locations in which to dine. If however the weather does happen to let you down and you need an inside eatery, not to worry; there's loads of these in Alberobello.

  • Lo Stivale is a really good pizzeria located close to Coreggia on the Viale Serenissima.

  • Trattoria da Donato is a traditional tavern-esque restaurant also located close by on Via Angelo Turi in Coreggia.
  • Fidelio is a beautiful restaurant that's just outside of the historic centre, and away from too many crowds. It's something a little different with great meat and fish dishes.
  • And La Cantina is a traditional establishment with great food that is reasonably well priced.

Visitor attractions

Because of the time of year, many tourist attractions will be considerably less busy than in the summer months. This means less queues, better views and probably a more memorable experience.

Puglia produces around 40% of the country's olive oil and a large portion of the wine as well. With this time of year being especially good for the production of these two specialities, you may want to visit one of the many farms in the area and really see the production process in action. Many places will provide tours.

Puglia's ancient and atmospheric towns are always a draw, no matter the time of year. Twisting, narrow streets, imposing cathedrals and exquisite architecture make them a must-see. But there is something even more magical about exploring in the twilight, the towns come alive with the sunset and the beautiful old monuments, often based right in the town centre, are illuminated by ground lights, becoming iridescent in the darkness. Make the most of the earlier sunsets in the winter time and explore places like Ostuni, the stunning 'white city'; Polignano a Mere, Taranto with its large Aragonese castle, or Bari over on Puglia's coast.

Christmas markets

Christmas markets will be prevalent across the country at this time of the year. Enjoy traditional wooden chalets and interesting stalls selling local products and handmade crafts.

  • For Siena's Christmas Market the famous Palio square, the Piazza del Campo, gets transformed into a festive hub that will have you wandering for ages amongst the food and the crafts, soaking up the culture.

  • In Milan, a street market kicks off the Christmas cheer. On December 8th the town celebrates the feast of Saint Ambrogio, the town's patron saint and there are all sorts of markets from then throughout the Christmas period including the Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Christmas market.
  • Naples is famed for its a year-round Christmas shops along Via San Gregorio Armeno, but to really enjoy the spirit of the place December is the time to visit when the market really takes off.

A trip to the beach

We know it's chillier out now, and we know a trip to the beach may not be the first thing on your mind in winter... but Puglia's coastline is stunning and it's worth discovering at all times of the year. Though venturing into the cool Adriatic is probably not the best of ideas, you can still enjoy a picturesque walk. With the coastline facing north east you'll be able to catch some brilliant sun rises if you're early enough.

The Lido Ottagono is a quiet, sheltered beach tucked into a little bay that is protected by Torre Canne. It's a really good one to visit. But really all of them between Torre Canne and Savelletri are beautiful!


Something inside

If you're really looking for something inside this winter, it doesn't need to be conventional. A tour of Matera is interesting, full of history and sheltered from the elements! The Sassi de Matera or 'Stones of Matera' is an incredible settlement that is hewn from the rock itself. The ancient cave dwellings that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site have adapted and evolved throughout the centuries, climbing the rock face to become the elaborate, honeycomb city that you see today.

Local Culture

It may be worth mentioning that the Italians observe a number of national holidays during the winter, on these days not many places will be open – so it's something to bear in mind.

National public holiday days:

  • November 1st – All Saints Day: a celebration of all the Catholic saints.
  • December 8th – Immaculate Conception: a feast day and often church mass honouring the Virgin Mary. This is usually the start of the winter holiday period too and you'll find Christmas markets popping up all over the place.
  • December 25th – Christmas Day.
  • December 26th – St. Stephan's Day.
  • January 1st – New Year's Day.
  • January 6th – Epiphany: traditionally the end of Italy's Christmas season, presents and sweets might be exchanged honouring the story of the three wise men.

Average temperatures in Puglia during the winter months can be between 8-16°C, so getting out and about, seeing the sights is still perfectly doable. There landscape is beautiful with natural parks and protected landscapes, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ancient towns and a marvellous coastline. Enjoy a more peaceful Puglia and explore all its charms in the winter months.

To find out how to stay at the heart of it all, in one of the incredible Trulli of Alberobello, simply follow the link below.

Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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