Food alone is an excellent reason to visit Puglia, which is a prime candidate for "best in Italy." More than 80 percent of Italy's pasta and 40 percent of the country's olive oil is produced hereand that's just the beginning. Bread is a religion, with hundreds of different kinds: pane de sedóre ("bread of hardship"), taralli (pretzel-like twists), and any amount of focaccia. In Altamura, the "City of Bread," huge wheel-like loaves are still baked in traditional wood-fired brick ovens. The pasta you'll see everywhere is orecchiette ("little ears"), sauced with chili-spiced turnip tops (cime di rapa) or zucchini and sausage. This is also a great region for cheese, with pear-shaped provolone, tangy ricotta forte, and creamy, melt-in-the-mouth burrata (a semi-liquid mozzarella) vying for position in grocery stores. Antipasti are an art unto themselves: If you nod when the waiter suggests the antipasti della casa, you may find yourself, six or seven appetizers later, thinking about dessert rather than the pasta course, but these Puglian tapas are so delicious it would be a shame to skip them. The local red wine is hearty primitivo, and the white verdeca grape goes into the summery Locorotondo wine, but more variety and quality is emerging year by year from the region's many vineyards.