Archive for November, 2013

Premier suggests “Italian Capital of Culture” program

Monday, November 25th, 2013

We recently reported that Lecce, in Puglia’s Salento Peninsula, is one of six Italian cities selected to compete to become 2019 European Capital of Culture. Now, Italian Premier Enrico Letta says he’d like to develop a similar program within Italy, according to the Italian news agency ANSA. Letta is proposing a program he calls “Italian Capital of Culture” as a way “to stimulate private investments.”

While Lecce is an obvious choice to be designated a “Capital of Culture” because of its globally recognized artistic and architectural heritage, this program could provide the impetus for other cities in Puglia to focus new attention on their cultural heritage. Earning the “Italian Capital of Culture” designation could help foster preservation and promotional programs that would help other cities benefit culturally, and economically, from the treasures they already possess.

Photo by Sandro Bedessi © Fototeca ENIT

Puglia in National Geographic Traveler’s Top Spots for 2014

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Here’s another terrific boost for Puglia’s reputation as a quality international tourism destination. In its December 2013-January 2014 issue, the magazine National Geographic Traveler’s cover story features what it describes as the “Best of the World: 20 Must-See Places for 2014” ‒ and Puglia is in the fourth position, headlined “Puglia, Italy: Where Old Ways Still Rule.”

The article opens by drawing attention to Puglia’s ancient history: “Greeks and Goths, Romans and Normans, Byzantines and Venetians: All have put their feet, and flags, in the heel of Italy’s boot. There, the region of Puglia stretches a strategic 250 miles along the Adriatic Sea (and 95 miles on the Ionian), making it a key connection between Italy and Europe’s east.”

Citing the region’s broad appeal, it speaks of Puglia as a summer (high-season) beach destinations as well as its off-season allure for food, wine, history and architecture.

Capturing the essence of Puglia as a top-quality destination, the article concludes, “Puglia boasts the best of southern Italy: the pace, the traditions, the beauty. Unconquered.”

I’ve written this before, but for a long time I’ve been hoping that others would recognize Puglia’s appeal. Admittedly, the region can be a bit rough around the edges, especially for travelers accustomed to more fully developed destinations such as Florence and Venice, but that makes it all more enjoyable when you uncover one of its “hidden treasures,” often when you’re not even looking. Tour operators and cruise lines are expanding their programs in Puglia to make the region more accessible than ever.

Lecce competes for European Capital of Culture slot

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Lecce, the capital city of the province of Lecce, is one of six Italian cities selected to compete to become 2019 European Capital of Culture, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

Lecce, along with Cagliari, Matera, Perugia-Assisi, Ravenna and Siena, was chosen by a jury selected by the European Commission, ANSA said, adding the jury will reconvene in the last quarter of 2014 to choose one of the six cities to represent Italy, one of four countries selected to showcase a European Capital of Culture in 2019.

It would be a deserving honor for Lecce, which has long been considered a cultural treasure in Puglia and is frequently described in guidebooks as “the Florence of the South” based on its artistic and architectural heritage.