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Photo story: the villages, caves and coast of Puglia

Puglia — the heel in Italy's boot — is a sumptuous and unspoilt region famed for its trullo villages, dramatic caves and coastline, and spellbinding baroque cities; a place where local artisans work their magic in vineyards, workshops and restaurants

Published 3 Apr 2019, 11:53 BST, Updated 12 Jul 2021, 11:21 BST
Photograph by Richard James Taylor

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello is famous for its trullos, a type of dwelling unique to the Itria Valley. The former homes of agricultural labourers, their conical roofs helped to keep them cool in summer. Vincenzo Daniano plays his accordion in the whitewashed streets.

Making orecchiette by hand in the back streets of Bari Vecchia.

A typical Catholic shrine in the neighbourhood of Bari Vecchia (L). Ceiling detail at the Basilicata di San Nicola, Bari Vecchia (R).

Giuseppe Santoro, founder of Salumificio Santoro, producer of traditional Capocollo sausages unique to the area.

Local fisherman checking his nets in the harbour town of Gallipoli.

Mario Di Don Francesco in his papier-mâché workshop in Lecce. The art of papier-mâché developed in Puglia in the 17th and 18th centuries due to the growth of churches and monuments where the models were displayed.

Lucia Conte continues the traditional Puglia practice of weaving and embroidery in her shop in the old town of Lecce.

Lecce is one of the jewels of 18th century baroque architecture, with ornate façades on many buildings throughout the town. On the left is a view of Lecce Cathedral from the roof terrace at Palazzo Rollo.

A typical street scene in Ostuni, known as the White City due to the dazzling effect of its whitewashed houses.

View across the hilltop fortress city of Ostuni at sunset.

The town of Polignano a Mare rises from the limestone cliffs above the Adriatic Sea.

The vineyard of Cantina San Donaci, one of the oldest wineries in Salento. In the image above Signore Vincenzo Carlà, head of production at the Cantina San Donaci, smelling wine in the vineyard's cellars.

TThe coastline of Torre Sant'Andrea is famous for its dramatic limestone sea stacks jutting out of the water, a perfect place to explore by kayak.

The karst caves of the Grotta del Trullo, an underground treasure of the Puglia region.

From the photographer

"I was delighted to hear I would be heading back to Italy to work on a project for the National Geographic Traveller Festival. Whilst I've worked in many of the North's powerhouse cities, I've not had the opportunity to discover Puglia, with its reputation for being a charming and laid-back region, slightly off the beaten track.

"My first stop was a small inland town called Alberobello. It's famous for its trulli, small dry stone buildings with conical roofs intended to keep residents cool in the hot summers, and it certainly lived up to its relaxed reputation!

"During the shoot I had the chance to experience the region's dramatic coastlines and gentle rolling hills, filled with olive trees and vineyards, as well as meet some interesting characters along the way. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to sample some of the seafood, especially the octopus and sea urchins the region is so famous for." Richard James Taylor

About the assignment

Richard James Taylor's images were displayed as part of a Puglia photography exhibition at the National Geographic Traveller Festival on 17 September 2017. His trip was supported by Pugliapromozione, Destination Partner of the Festival.

Richard was shown round by touranGo, a boutique tour operator focusing on Puglia. This team of local experts can help create your tailor-made dream trip to Puglia. tourango.it

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