Photos From Puglia, Italy Recipe

I spent a week in Puglia, Italy - which is very different from all the other regions in Italy I've visited. Olive trees, new friends, chats with local fisherman, and side-trips to artisan bakers.

Photos From Puglia, Italy

I figure that after yesterday the last thing people need is another recipe - so I've posted some photos from my trip to Puglia, Italy instead.

I was in Puglia (think heel of the boot, pronounced Pooh-lee-yah) last week for Olivita, an Oldways Conference focusing on the cuisine and culture of Puglia, and the benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Oldways, they are a Boston-based food issues think tank doing very interesting work. They are behind the Whole Grains Council and the increasingly visible black-and-gold Whole Grain Stamp program adopted by hundreds of companies like Bob's Red Mill, Kashi, and Lotus Foods to help consumers identify products that are whole grain. I'm also looking forward to their cookbook (next month?)...I'll be sure to highlight it when it is available. At any rate, keep an eye on them they are doing important work on many fronts.

The first thing I noticed as my plane descended into Bari was the vast green carpet of olive trees that stretched from the sea all the way inland. I've never seen anything like it - the perfect welcome mat to olive oil country.

We stayed in a small coastal town not far from Bari named Bisceglie. In the middle of the night from my hotel room you could see a single line of lights equidistant from each other on the barely visible black on darker-black Adriatic horizon. As the sun would start coming up in the morning the lights would start moving in toward the harbor until you could see the tiny one or two man boats on the water. I put my sneakers on early the first day to go out and explore the town and harbor area and found this guy and his fisherman buddies pulling in the days catch.

This guy is an olive picker at Spagnoletti Zeuli (as is the red sweatered guy in the photo way up top) - Piccolo Antionia and Lorusso Pasquale. We visited a number of olive oil facilities ranging from growers to producers to bottlers - both conventional and organic. A surprising (to me at least) percentage of the olive growers in the region are organic.

The food in Puglia is stunning. Lots of simply prepared fresh (and preserved) vegetables, beans, bitter greens and lentils. Wonderful cheeses, nice everyday wines, and plenty of vibrant, often wonderfully pungent, flavorful olive oils line shop shelves. All very affordable. One wine store I stumbled on in Bisceglie only sold Puglian wines - at least 100 different producers - and most of the bottles were in the 4 - 9 Euro range. You had to look hard for anything over that. The picture up above is the fresh mozzarella we were served (along with just-made orecchiette pasta and about 90 other delicious traditional dishes) at one of the most jaw-dropping lunches of my life at Masseria Barbera. I hope someone writes up that specific lunch in detail, because it was amazing and I was too busy eating to take many notes/photos.

This is hot-out-of-the-woodfired oven focaccia bread at the Beppe DiGesu's bakery in Altamura. See the glow of the oven in the background? There are dozens of loaves in there. Harris goes into more depth about the bakery, their techniques and tradition here.

More bread at DiGesu. Some of those loaves are HUGE. Over a foot-and-a-half in diameter huge. Perfect crust, perfect color. And below a picture of me not sixty seconds after walking into the bakery with a monstrous piece of focaccia in my mouth (its hard to shoot and eat at the same time!). Photo credit : Beppe DiGesu.

Gallery of larger (full-frame) photographs, here.

If you want to see more photos, here's a link to a slightly larger gallery of photos from the trip. I ran into a man in Bisceglie who had a "studio di arte e restauro" next to one of the old churches. He fixed up religious relics - mended angel wings, broken Jesus arms and worse. Some of the shots in that gallery are from the inside of his workshop.

Josh at the Food Section, as well as Nicki and Oliver at Delicious Days have posts/pics related the conference/trip as well.

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I am a baker here in SF at the all organic Petite Patisserie on Potrero Hill. I lived in Puglia, in the town Lecce, for a month a few summers ago and became enamored of a breakfast/lunch pastry called "rustici" or "rustici leccesi". They consisted of two rounds of either puff pastry or croissant dough sanwiched together around a filling of tomatoey, creamy, cheesy goo that would ooze out when you took a bite. I have searched for a recipe, to no avail, and was wondering if you had had the pleasure of trying these little guys and had any suggestions. In any case, thanks for maintaining such a beautiful site!


wow! thanks for sharing these with the world! I love it.


Heidi, I just found your site via The Ladybug Letter, Mariquita Farm, Watsonville, Caliornia, and all I can say is: WOW!

Susan Hebert

I saw this headline and had to click. Puglia was once a hidden treasure that is fast becoming a discovered treasure. We were in Puglia a year ago and stayed in Lecce. Our senses were overwhelmed by the richness of the experience. The sights, sounds, smells and flavors were all overwhelming to our desensitized, fast-food eating palates. Our favorite was something called a 'rustica' or a pizza rustica from a pastry shop in Lecce the name of which we were too nearsighted to remember or write down. It consists in phillo dough filled with bechamel and a thin slice of tomato baked to crisp, creamy perfection and served coldlate with a pellegrino or an espresso. Thanks for briging back the memory. Amanda & Gabe Dixon


These are some nice photos


Heidi, Had never heard of your blog, but saw a random link "photos of puglia". seeing as i just got back, i clicked, and thoroughly enjoyed your seems very true to the puglia i experienced, and i can still taste some of those dishes.......mmmmmmmmm....cime alle rape. Now, off to explore the rest of your blog... Mitch


Great photos and interesting article. I am visiting Puglia next year and am interested in visiting some organic olive oil producers. Could you recommend some? Thanks!


Hi, I speak Italian (my third language) and Puglia, to my knowledge at least, should be pronounced...Poo... lee....yah.. Ok fine, you did it perfectly! (it's hard to create the pronunciation using English phonetics) Strangely enough, reading another comment, I stumbled upon the fact that you are going to New Zealand? I live in NZ (not right now, I'm living in Italy) and if you drop by Blenheim, Marlborough (I'm assuming you would, it being the largest New Zealand producer and exporter of wines) I'd be glad to invite you on a hunting trip with my family and I? Only for one day or so, resulting in the succulent venison or pork from the neighbouring valleys of my town. Or perhaps, failing to find any deer or wild pigs, you could try a possum pie! Tastes like lamb a bit. Anyway, if you're in the area, don't hesitate to pop us an e-mail! Yours, Morgan Morris

morgan morris

Good site. Thanks. Thanks for letting us travel vicariously. What a wonderful trip that must have been! Great human interest images


Hey Mara, Was it this one? When you added the yeast did it activate? I mean, could you tell? There is a chance you yeast was just off....or your temperature of the coconut millk/honey mixture was off. Not your fault though. His recipe doesn't call for a formal proof of the yeast. More technical books will tell you exactly what temperature your liquid should be to get the yeast to activate without killing it (as well as what to look for)....around 110 - 115 degrees. My bad for not adding that in as a footnote. I got a rise out of that peanut bread (see icture) - it was a dense load of bread, but there was def. some lift. Let me know if you try it again with better results. -h


Lovely photos - I'm jealous. I tried one of your recent recipes, the peanut bread, not long ago. I failed pretty miserably. It came out totally flat. No rising, just dense and chewy. The flavor was nice, but it was difficult to eat with the consistency I got. Any tips on getting it to rise?


I am seething with jealousy! Puglia is one of the few regions of Southern Italy that my family is *not* from, but it still seems deeply interesting to me.


Gorgeous, gorgeous photos. I had a good chuckle when you said they make things organic. I have heard they do an amazing job using old, traditional methods, yet with new technology as merited. Like in Parma they make great big wheels of parmesan the same way they have for centuries but have a 'robot' that goes way up to the ceiling layer to rotate the cheeses. I love knowing the old ways die hard, and leave it to the Italians to integrate best practices... so cool, I hope you brought back loads of olive oil!


ahhh ... the romance that is Italy!! you lucky girl!!

Snehal Roy

That was uplifting. I've lived in italy too before, and you've just reminded me how much I need to return. The place takes your heart and keeps a part of it so that you're always willing to hop on a plane and even more willing to try to disappear into an olive orchard somewhere... Thanks!


Wonderful... Ah, I feel SOOOO homesick................. Ok, stop complaining.. Your pictures are gorgeous, especially those of the restoration studio. Thanks :)


great descriptions & photos, makes me want to go. good to know there's an organization right hear in Boston plugging for whole grains. it's frustrating whole grain products aren't easier to find given the abundant health info in their favor.


Good site! Thanks! More cookies recipe please!


These photographs are beautiful... I wish I had good photography skills!

Scott at Realepicurean

nice photo..... i like it very much


Wonderful post Heidi, as always! I love learning about other cultures and their food. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Italy is transforming. It gives new meaning to having passion for food and eating. I was swept up more than 20 years ago now, and though I live in NYC, I still work there teaching cooking. I feel so blessed every time I take a sip of coffee there or drizzle my bread with olive oil good enough to make you cry, or dive my fork into a pasta that was rolled out by hand. (long commute, but worth it) It inspired me to write my new book, FAYEFOOD. I couldn't have done it without Italy. To have a sneak peek, go to, enter FAYEFOOD in the search, and select preview.


Wow that focaccia looks amazingly beautiful!! I think I would go to Puglia just to get one of these too . In October I was on Crete and also like you in Italy was amazed by green carpet of olive trees vineyards.

home cook

Viva bellla italia!


I lived in that providence of Italy for a year 30 years ago, and even had a son in Brindisi. It was great seeing the pictures and having the memories. dp


Thanks for letting us see Italy with you! I'd sure have loved to have a postcard from there! I collect them. =-) I loved seeing all the breads and all the beautiful people. Wouldn't it be nice to live where you could get all that fresh stuff? Wow,i'd be in heaven.


That was a very interesting read. I am awfully hungry after a photo!! :) ....mMmMmmm

Sedu H.

Wow, I can only imagine how fresh mozarella taste like... Great journey and thanks for the report:)


Thanks for letting us travel vicariously. What a wonderful trip that must have been! Great human interest images.


That was a very interesting read, and lovely pics. The stacks of breads look awesome.


Color me *green* with envy! I can hardly contain myself. What gorgeous photos, and what a wonderful trip!

Jennifer Jeffrey

Sounds terrific. When's the New Zealand trip?


YAY for all the photos! Thanks for sharing, Heidi! And I looooove the shot of you eating. JEALOUS! :)


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