The Caribbean, the Seychelles, Barbados; while these are all great romantic destinations, they have also become, well, a little clichéd! When booking a honeymoon these days, people are looking for something a little different… though not so different to include camping in a desert or anything even slightly uncomfortable! No for a honeymoon, pure luxury is required.
One up-and-coming destination is Puglia – often referred to as the next Tuscany or Italy’s biggest secret. Puglia is situated at Italy’s south-easternmost region (known to many of us as the heel of the boot) and is a great destination for an amorous escape. To begin with Puglia is only a short flight from the UK so you won’t start off your romantic getaway with jetlag and your partner won’t witness you stepping haggard and bleary eyed off the plane.
Classic exotic images showcase romantic, deserted beaches, making places like the Caribbean so popular. Puglia has all you could wish for on the beach front with a varied coastline incorporating rocky beaches, white cliffs, beaches reached through greenery and forests, small town sandy bay beaches and of course large stretches of Caribbean-esque sandy beaches. All sit next to the clear blue-turquoise sea and many of the beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status – an internationally recognised guarantee of the quality of the sea water. In the summer months the sea warms up to the mid-20s and the gentle climate allows for comfortable swimming in the sea until October.
One of the best parts of any holiday is splashing out and eating exciting new dishes and after all, food is the language of love! And Italy has some of the finest food in the world. Puglia produces around 40% of Italy’s olive oil and a large proportion of its wine. It is largely an agricultural region – often called the garden of Italy – so wherever you go you will find fresh local produce such as artichokes, rocket, tomatoes, fava beans, courgettes, fennel, peppers, beef and lamb.
…And you always need great wine to accompany the food
A little known fact is that Puglia produces more wine than Australia. Principal wine towns in Puglia include Lecce, Martina Franca and Manduria. If you sample enough, there’s a good chance you will find some new favourite wines, as wineries from the north of Italy, and even America, are beginning to see the potential of Puglia and starting to invest heavily.
Puglia has a wonderful climate, with an average 300 days of sunshine per year. If you are going in the hottest months of the year (May-September) there is minimal humidity. The temperature is fairly constant between the coast and the inland areas, rising to around 30°C in July and August and only dropping out of the 20s at the beginning of December.
Quirky (yet luxurious) accommodation
While many people may prefer to stay in an all-inclusive hotel to enjoy room service, villas give a lot more privacy, which is much more romantic. There’s a great selection of luxury villas in Puglia, where you can enjoy as much privacy as you wish, including your own private pool. But if you feel things like cooking and washing up will spoil the romance, you can always hire a private cook to come in, do their thing then vanish.
If you are looking for something a little more quirky, how about looking at the range of trulli that are available? Trulli, mysterious stone buildings with conical roofs, are dotted all over the region, making Puglia look like a fairy-tale land peppered with mini castles. No one really knows how trulli came about, everyone has a theory (this is Italy after all), but they are unique to Puglia and so definitely an option to look into if the region has whet your appetite. While the term trulli refers to a house that’s internal space is covered by a dry stone corbelled or keystone vault, many trulli have been made into luxury houses that can be rented out.
Puglia ticks the key romance boxes; plentiful beaches, great food, superb wine, beautiful weather and luxurious accommodation. On top of this, it is an easy place to stay – the locals are friendly and you can dabble in Italian but will have no problems speaking English. So if you are looking for a romantic retreat which still oozes luxury, Puglia should definitely be on the list.