Italy is the variety lover's playground. From culture to adventure to shopping, it has damn near something for everyone. Puglia, the region covering the heel of the boot, is the latest area emerging as the traveler's darling. Rugged yet welcoming, it remains mostly unspoiled by the vagaries of relentless tourism, those seeking something different yet still distinctly Italian are beginning to flock there. One of many delightful hidden joys are the beautiful beaches peppered around the coasts. Depending on the beach, you'll find great spots for lazing in the sun, swimming in clear water, snorkeling, or even wind surfing. I present for you a brief introductory selection of these azure jewels to consider for your next trip to Italy.
Santa Maria al Bagno
Located just north of the ancient town of Gallipoli, the beach boasts crystal clear waters, strips of sand, and rocks upon which to clamber and recline as you wish. The little beach sits in the embrace of the town, so when you tire of sunning and swimming, you can pop into town for lunch or a stroll.
Photo by Hari Seldon on Flickr
Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve
Just up the eastern coast from Brindisi by about 15 minutes is the Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve, which boasts more of Puglia's beauty. There are also trails to hike or bike, an information center, and essential facilities. This is also a spot with underwater delights for snorkeling or diving, and like many of Puglia's beaches the options range from rocky outcrops to sandy stretches.
Adriatic SeaTorre Guaceto beach in Puglia, Italy by Marionzetta on Flickr
Photo by Marionzetta on Flickr
Marina di Pescoluse
Way down at the tip of the heel, you'll find the soft sands and shallow waters of Marina di Pescoluse, not far from the lovely seaside town of Leuca. This spot is also known as Lido le Maldive, and is largely the domain of the many beach clubs which offer activities and dining plus chair and umbrella rentals, and general facilities. If you're looking for convenience of creature comforts and a social atmosphere, this is an ideal beach.
Photo by Elena Giglia on Flickr
The Gargano Peninsula
Vieste sits at the eastern point of Puglia's gorgeous and rugged Gargano Peninsula. This is a great spot for hiking, sunning, and exploring grottoes. You get the charm of an old town tumbling along a clifftop perch, plus adventurous beaches and seas. You can then curve around to the similar town of Peschici, and continue on to the tiny Tremiti Islands. The variety of beach types, stunning cliffs, and secret grottoes is indicative of the Gargano Peninsula. This is also a great spot to find the unusual Trabucchi, which are fishing platforms that extend into the sea with a spindly elegance.
Photo by Bob Marquart on Flickr
View of Tremiti Islands by il_baro on Flickr
Photo by il_baro on Flickr
A trabucco over the sea, photo by SBD79 on Flickr
Photo by SDB79 on Flickr
Porto Cesareo & Torre Lapillo
Strung along just north of Gallipoli, you'll find the beach towns of Porto Cesareo and Torre Lapillo. It's about as idyllic as it comes with a gorgeous clear sea lapping up to swaths of comfortable sand. You could just spend a day there, or while away a weekend in lazy sun-drenched splendor and beautiful sunsets. And yes, there's also a Saracen tower, just to remind you it's Italy and not the Caribbean.
Photo by Yellow.Cat on Flickr
Photo by Amaniero on Flickr
It's practically impossible not to find your perfect beach while in Puglia. The very nature of the coastline allows for tiny, unspoilt coves, rocky drama, or a buzzing social experience. As a bonus, since the weather in Puglia is quite temperate, you can enjoy many beaches as early as mid-May or well into September.
Please share your favorite beach spot in Puglia in the comments or by sharing this with your beach-loving friends!