The region of Puglia, Italy doesn’t have quite the cachet as Toscana or Sicilia here in the states, but it is most certainly Italy’s best-kept secret. Boasting a variety of terrain—think beaches settling into crystalline Adriatic waters juxtaposed by sprawling golden wheat fields—Italy’s “heel” has managed to hold on to its ancient authenticity. Especially when it comes to food and how the locals celebrate it.
The editors of what’s come to be known as Italy’s modern cooking bible, The Silver Spoon, know this better than most and have documented the best recipes and festivals the region has to offer in their newest title Puglia (Phaidon, 2015). From Italian Bread Soup (Pancotto) to Strawberry Sponge Cake (Torta di Fragole), this in-depth look at Puglia’s culture is essential for anyone considering a trip or wanting to bring a bit of Italian authenticity to the kitchen.
If you’re in the jet-setting camp, consider planning a trip around one of the following festivals outlined in Puglia. Because, come on. Horseback rides through citrus groves—need we say more?
Festivals in Puglia, Italy
Festa di San Giuseppe (throughout Puglia)
St. Joseph’s Day
At this patronal feast honoring St. Joseph, visitors gather in the evening around a large bonfire and sample local dishes such as tria and desserts. Events may include music, processions and more.
Sagra delle Arance (Vico del Gargano, Foggia)
Horseback rides through citrus groves, tastings and an array of orange-flavored products are just a few of the highlights at this two-day festival.
Negroamaro wine festival (Brindisi, Brindisi)
With live music and plenty of food and wine to taste, this annual wine festival keeps visitors entertained with music, lectures and demonstrations.
Boccondivino (Carovigno, Brindisi)
Many squares of Carovigno have collaborated to stage this end-of-July party to celebrate regional products and local wines with exclusive tastings and exhibitions.
Note di gusto (Palagiano, Taranto)
In its 7th year, Tasting Notes is an evening revelry sponsored by the city. Stalls and events are held around Baron’s Palace, and visitors are invited on a culinary journey of the local cuisine.
Sagra dei fichi secchi (Maglionico, Matera)
Dried fig festival
Savor both fresh and dried fig delicacies at this traditional event, which will have related food stalls, music and workshops.
Sagra delle olive (Sannicandro di Bari, Bari)
This weekend-long celebration, now in its 31st year, will feature sweet olives, fragrant breads, focaccias and fine regional sellers from the area. In addition, it’ll include conferences, art exhibitions and guided tours.
Sagra del carciofi (Trinitapoli, Barletta-Andria-Trani)
A two-day affair praising all-things-artichoke. Expect to see stalls serving delicious pasta with artichokes, fried artichokes, grilled artichokes, artichokes in oil and other culinary varieties.
Pettole Gnostre (Noci, Bari)
This pre-Christmas party celebrates regional sweet treats such as pettole cakes with syrup of figs, honey or cinnamon sugar, cartellate, candied fruits, cannoli and chocolate.
Recipes from Puglia