Here at sloWays, we often travel far and wide across Italy, but we all agree on Puglia being one of our favorite regions. The reasons are many: warm and inviting sun, white-tinted villages sparkling from the top of the hills, labyrinths of alleys between white houses and of course the sea - blue and boundless, to admire along the ancient sheep tracks of the shepherds, or green and ancient, an expanse of centuries-old olive trees guarded by dry stone walls.
But none of this would be the same, without the greatest wealth of this region full of gifts: the people who inhabit it.
Undoubtedly, the best memories of our travels in Puglia are about its inhabitants: simple and generous like their home, with smiles as bright as the sun and a sense of welcome that transcends any formality.
On my first trip to Puglia, now seven years ago, I was travelling by bicycle: I had been pedaling for weeks, a journey of thousands of kilometers through a country that I thought I knew, but that was rather surprising me every day. It was a hot August day, and we stopped for lunch in a tavern - one of those hidden in the alleys, where the menu does not exist and what appears on the table was picked that morning, prepared by the grandmother, served in plates of earthenware accompanied by a Negramaro that makes the head light and the laugh easy and thunderous. The owner served the food, told us family stories, sat with us to tell us each dish, the journey of each ingredient to that table. And each ingredient had a personal name: Luigi's cruschi peppers, Carla's cheese, Francesco's wine. Nothing else was needed, just these names and the passion that transpired from his voice and those flavors.
Since then, my colleagues and I have often returned to Puglia, and we have made more and more friends: among them Mina, who takes us and customers to her garden to pick vegetables and reveals the simple magic of an orecchietta before our eyes. ; Vito, who transports us far and wide and has a beautiful story for every place; Adelaide, who made Greta feel at home in her B&B on the Via della Costa, refueling her and treating her like a granddaughter; Vivian, who in Matera taught Davide what a Cupa Cupa sounded like and danced with him and the other travelers; Anna and Paolo, who let those who visit their farm taste a freshly woven knot of mozzarella, a freshly picked prickly pear; Giuseppe, who bakes Altamura bread like his father and grandfather and knows every grain of flour; Vita, which was born and raised among the olive trees and speaks of the oil it produces as a child. Authentic and sincere people, full of passion and pride for the beautiful and good things they do, who are committed to making you feel like the guest of honor - whether you have just arrived, or returned for the umpteenth time.
Staying with them, eating the food they have prepared, traveling in a vehicle they are driving, visiting their home - this is enough to make you part of their family, and it is a bond that is difficult to break: you can leave, not hear from them for months, but the moment you see them again it will be as if you had never left, their welcome unchanged.
This is why we love Puglia: because it is lit by the passion of its people, warmed by their warmth, animated by the party that every meeting or reunion can become.
And we really think you should join the party.