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Italy's insider take:

The rocky Gargano Peninsula has some of Puglia's best beaches and coves, especially the Spiaggia del Castello, south of the area's former medieval capital, and Vieste, which is dominated by the huge rock stack known as the Scoglio di Pizzomunno. The other seaside magnet in Puglia is The Salento, the heel of the Italian boot. On the Adriatic side, there's more rock than sand, though the waters are mostly crystalline; for white- and golden-sand spiagge, head for the western, Ionian coast—in particular the areas immediately south of Gallipoli and north of Porto Cesareo, with their long, dune-backed beaches that start to get crowded from mid-July through the end of August.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.