Dylan Jones: Thoughts on fashionable Puglia

Share

Every now and then, almost as if by some swirling grand design, some particular part of the world is blessed by a creeping fashionability. Take Italy: once it was the Amalfi Coast, then Tuscany, then Umbria, swiftly followed by Sardinia, and now - the news delivered to your home like an estate agent's Exocet direct mail shot - it's Puglia. Or, more correctly, Puglia!

With 500 miles of Adriatic and Ionian coastline, Puglia sits right on Italy's heel, although, considering the number of six-star fancydan hotels that have sprung up here in the past five years, it might soon start being called Italy's stiletto. The beaches here are extraordinary - empty, clean, and free of the sort of tacky roadside detritus you see along the coasts up north; while the ancient olive groves stretch as far as anyone can see in any direction (two thirds of the country's homegrown produce comes from Puglia). Plus, because the area is relatively sparsely populated and, it has to be said, generally rather poor, northern Italians are snapping up second homes here like stand-up espressos. Rich foreigners are coming, too, enticed by the flat, underdeveloped terrain and the prices.

Farmhouses can be bought for a fraction of the cost of those in Tuscany, and if you're coming from abroad, what difference does an extra 30 minutes in the air mean? The cost of property has risen by 40 per cent in the past three years, although you can still pick up an unrestored farmhouse with half a dozen acres for under £50,000. Plus, since Ryanair started flying here in 2004, it's been in easy reach of holidaying Brits.

The architecture in Puglia is diverse in the extreme. You have Moorish-influenced buildings, Greek-like whitewashed terraced houses, Norman castles and traditional northern Italian tenements with elegant brass doors and Romanesque arches. Plus you have the famous "beehive" huts, the little stone houses with removable roofs, proving that even 500 years ago the Italians were adept at avoiding tax (you paid less if they came off).

The architecture is representative of the way in which the area has been seriously, seriously invaded over the years, leaving behind Byzantine, Romanesque and complicated Oriental influences. Unsurprisingly, it is still a target for illegal immigrants who come across the water in their droves in the middle of the night, mainly from North Africa, searching for a good meal and new life.

The locals can be suspicious of strangers, even those who come - in full morning dress - from -London for a local wedding celebrating one of their own. But as I stood in Ciolo Gagliano del Capo, wolfing down the mozzarella and the ice-cold prosecco, a thought occurred to me: where do we go when we've run out of Puglia?

Dylan Jones is the editor of GQ

d.jones@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star