The region of Puglia can be neatly split into three zones; the flat north plain and Gargano, the heel known as Salento, and the iconic central zones of Bari and Brindisi.
Do not confuse Taranto in Puglia with Trapani in Sicily, or even Tarcento in Friuli Venzia Giulia which couldn't be further away.
Founded around 700 BC, as Sparta's only ever colony, it became the capital of Magna Grecia.
The name is a reference to Taras or Tiras who was the son of Neptune (Poseidon for the Greeks).
This ancient Greek port is renowned for its 2 seas. The 'Mar Grande' extends into the Gulf of Taranto and the Ionian Sea, while the 'Mar Piccolo' is a natural bay contained by the 'città vecchia' and the surrounding coast.
It is a city that suffered countless invasions. All the usual suspects got there but a special place is reserved for the Saracens who 'razed the city to a heap of rubble'.
The present 'città vecchia' is the subsequent rebuilding work undertaken by the Byzantines.
If you like your history bold and brassy, you'll love the town of Lucera in the province of Foggia. Just outside the modern boundaries are two fabulously preserved structures; the Ampitheater of Romano Augusto and the Fortress Svevo Angioina.
The first dates from 27 B.C. and was built on private land for gladiatorial combats. It was funded entirely by local magistrate Marco Vecilio Campo in honor of the Emperor Augustus and the gentrified Lucera colony.
It could seat 18,000 people and is 126.8m long and 94.5m wide. It is a superb stadium, a bowl set 9 meters into the ground and virtually intact.
The 13th century Swabian fortress of Svevo Angioina stands on the highest point overlooking the town and the border countryside.
Locorotondo is about an hour's drive from Bari and just 8km from the trulli of Alberobello.
To get there you will take a winding road passing almond and olive tree groves to suddenly see at the top of a hill a series of white washed houses gleaming in the sun.
Delicious Italy has been to the Gargano promontory in north Puglia, province of Foggia, on two occasions. The first was a short 2 day trip organised by the parish in Rome with a pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo, where we stayed, and further short visits to Monte Sant'Angelo for the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo, and the Abbey of Santa Maria di Pulsano.
The second trip was courtesy of the SIAFT (Southern Italy Agrifood and Tourism) invitation we received in June 2011. But with one big difference, the visit this time was by light aeroplane over the whole Gargano zone. For the record, the flight track list was the following:
This short historical itinerary in the deep south of Salento winds it way around the town of Felline di Alliste in the province of Lecce.
It represents, in just a few square kilometers, a visual record of the history of the zone from neolithic times to the recent modern era. The route can be also done by bicycle.
Near the historical centre of the town there is an ancient olive tree which is believed to be between 800 and 1000 years old. A symbol of the power of nature.
An old construction offering protection to doves and where the birds would nest.
The territory of Leuca, the very tip of Puglia, the so called heel of Italy, is characterised by stones walls, straw stacks and secular olive trees.
These are powerful images made all the more evocative by the smell of origano, thyme, wild fennel and the salty sea.
Spectacular beauty which can be taken in with a round trip of the folliwng towns and hamlets.
Start in Cagliano del Capo where the roads are squeezed between the sea and the bare sun drenched rocks before arriving at the promontory of Ciolo.
Here you can admire a series of gorges which head deep inland. They were natural shleters for the first primitve inhabitants of the zone, in particular the Cipolliane and Prazziche coves or caves.
This recipe has been sent to us by the Hotel Salsello located on the Bari coast in Bisceglie and you can eat it in their fine restaurant.
The full title of the recipe is 'octopus pie with potatoes and celery with salmon escalope marinated with citrus fruits served on wild rocket leaves'.
200 gr steamed octopus (remove its gelatinous substance and cut it in pieces), 300 gr potatoes cooked with peel (wash and mash them with a fork), little dill bunch and minced parsley, 4 slices of marinated salmon, tomato rinds dried in oven, orange and lemon pulp, salt and pepper, traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena, 100 gr extra-vergin olive oil.
Greek Salento or 'La Greca Salentina' is a cultural and linguistic island in the heart of south Puglia with a history as old as the first invaders of the Italian peninsular.
It is formed of the comuni of Calimera, Martano, Martignano, Castrignano dei Greci, Corigliano d'Otranto, Soleto, Sternatia and Zollino. Here they still speak "Griko".