Puglia or Apulia, is one of the 20 regions of Italy, located in the very Southeast area, otherwise known as the heel of the boot, and contains a population of 4 million inhabitants. This region is bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south.
A Brief History
The Puglia region is one of the richest in Italy for archeological findings as it was first settled from the 1st millennium BC by several Illyric and Italic peoples. Around the 4th century BC, it became an important area for the ancient Romans as there were many strategically placed ports on the wide open sea. It was during the Imperial Age that Puglia flourished for the production of grain and oil, and became the most important exporter to the Eastern provinces. However, after the fall of Rome, Puglia found itself occupied successively by a long string of Goths, Carthaginians, Lombards, Byzantines, Normans, Spaniards, Turks, and Venetians from northern Italy. It was not until 1860 that Puglia was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. Puglia now holds six provinces which include Bari, Foggia (or Capitanata), Lecce, Taranto, Brindisi, and BAT.
While the official
national language is Italian, due to Puglia's varied history and the different
languages spoken in this region for centuries, there are a number of different
dialects. For example, in the northern section a dialect of Neapolitan language
is spoken, in the southern part dialects of the Sicilian language called
Tarantino and Salentino are spoken, and in isolated pockets a dialect of modern
Greek called Griko is spoken.
Have a look to the
special Puglia menu available throughout the month of August
waiter what "PIZZICA" means and receive a free homemade dessert!
THE OFFICIAL FLAG OF PUGLIA
The official flag of
Puglia was adopted on September 8th, 1988. The coat of arms in the center of
the flag is of sannitic shape, embedded with small white octagon inside a
larger red octagon. As the Puglia region is known famously for its olive trees,
one can see the olive tree as the center focus point of the flag. The shield is
surmounted by a crown. The flag is white with two vertical stripes; a green stripe
on the left and a red stripe on the left. The official flag is then completed
with the words Regione Puglia in gold lettering above the crown and shield.
Italy has a classification process for food that is very similar to its wine classification. While there are so many specialties from this region, here are a few of the best!
Puglia's classified foods include:
- 2 cheeses
-4 Olive Oils.
Puglia also ranks 2nd among the 20 Italian regions for both vineyeard acreage and total wine production, with 70% being red and 30% produced white. This region produces over 2 dozen DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) wine, presumably a high quality wine.
(trulli, plural) can be found in only one place in the world, eastern Puglia.
These truly remarkable human habitations are stone dwellings in the shape of a
beehive with a hole in the very top to let the smoke escape.
The roofs are constructed
in two layers: an inner layer of limestone boulders, capped by a keystone, and
an outer layer of limestone slabs ensuring that the structure is watertight.
The walls are very thick, providing a cool environment in hot weather.
Pizzica is a popular Italian folk dance born in the Lecce province and later spread throughout all of the Puglia region. Traditional pizzica is danced embracing a partner. Pizzica is part of the larger family of Tarantella dances. The Tarantella is an iconic popular music form that is said to have originated as a cure for people affected by the bite of a tarantula.
Music, in the curative ritual, is the basic element; when it was believed a maiden had been bitten by the spider, musicians went to her house and by the means of tambourines, fiddles, accordions and many other instruments started off a frenetic rhythm with the only aim to let the ill girl dance, sing, and sweat till the collapse. It was thought that while the victim danced for many days straight also the spider who had bitten her, by a sort of empathy, suffered and wasted away. And so the exorcism of the possession ended with the tarantula's death.
The dance of the "pizzica" usually consists of three phases: first the woman crawls and claps her hands and feet following the tambourine's rhythm, then she jumps and dances while drawing wide figures in the air with colored ribbons she has in her hands, and at last she reels until the collapse. The ritual exorcism could happen in the public square of the town or at home and often other women and men danced with the bitten girl. It was said, at the end of the exorcism, that the girl had been pardoned by St. Paul.
Since 1998, every June 29th on St. Paul's patron saint day, there has been a summer La Notte Della Taranta (night of the tarantula) held in Salento, consisting of a whole night where many famous musicians alternate their performances with pizzica orchestras. The festival is the biggest and most important to the retrieval of the popular music tradition of Salento.