LAY OF THE LAND
Puglia is commonly referred to as the heel of the Italian boot, but in fact it travels quite a way up the calf of the leg, ending to the north in the spur of the Gargano. The regional capital, Bari, is about halfway down the Adriatic coast, with the area's other main port, Brindisi (hopping-off point for ferries to Greece), approximately 70 miles further south. The Baroque town of Lecce is a half-hour drive southeast of Brindisi. Beyond here, to the south, stretches the Salento peninsula, with its sandy beaches and colorful folk traditions.
WHEN TO GO
Puglia has one of the longest summer seasons of any Italian region: It's generally warm enough to eat outside here in late April, and it's not unusual to see people swimming off the southern beaches on Italy's November 1st public holiday. Some seaside hotels are open only between Easter and October, but most of Puglia is a year-round destination, like Tuscany.
HOW TO GET THERE
The region's main airport is the recently revamped Aeroporto di Bari Karol Wojtyla (better known as Pope John Paul II), which offers regular connections to Rome, Milan, Venice, and other Italian cities, as well as a limited (but growing) roster of European destinations, including London, Paris, and Frankfurt (www.seap-puglia.it). Brindisi's smaller Aeroporto del Salento is mostly served by domestic flights to Rome and Milan, though there are also a handful of low-cost European routes, including a Ryanair flight to London Stansted. Both airports have the usual car rental outlets (www.seap-puglia.it).
Most larger towns have tourist information offices, usually identified as the Ufficio Turistico, though they sometimes hide behind the acronymns APT or IAT. The official tourist information Web portal for Puglia is www.pugliaturismo.com.View Italy Factsheet