Region Puglia (Apulia)

Puglia coat of arms The territory of Puglia (also called Apulia in English), is the easternmost region in Italy, a long, narrow peninsula, bordered by two seas, the Ionian and Adriatic, with the longest coastline in the Italian peninsula.

Provinces of Puglia

The region is presently divided into 6 provinces of which Barletta-Andria-Trani was established in 2004 with communes previously in the provinces of Bari and Foggia: Bari (BA), Barletta-Andria-Trani (BT), Brindisi (BR), Foggia (FG), Lecce (LE), Taranto (TA).


Anzano di Puglia (FG) Massafra (TA) | Martina Franca (TA) | Galatina (LE) | Bitonto (BA) | Fasano (BR) | Bisceglie (BT) | Trani (BT)
Province of Foggia Province of Barletta-Andria-Trani Province of Bari Province of Brindisi Province of Taranto Province of Lecce Puglia

The Territory

It is the least mountainous Italian region, mostly occupied by plains and hills, apart from some lower mountains of the Southern Apennine chain and the Gargano promontory, with high, steep cliffs. Half of its territory being flat, and occupied by a wide plain, called Tavoliere delle Puglie, the second largest in Italy, and some smaller plains as Terra di Bari and Pianura Salentina.

The hilly area is called Le Murge, while the plains are the Terra di Bari, Terra d'Otranto, Penisola Salentina and the Tavoliere, the second largest plain in Italy, while the very long coastline is usually low and with sandy beaches. Apart from the province capitals, other important centers are Alberobello, Conversano, Barletta, Canosa di Puglia, San Giovanni Rotondo, Manfredonia, Martina Franca, Mesagne, Molfetta, Ostuni, Otranto, Santa Maria di Leuca, San Vito dei Normanni, Gioia del Colle.

It is a land where ancient peoples left their traces in innumerable monuments interspersed throughout the territory, a land of rich culinary traditions, where biological agriculture is a growing, popular activity. The sea - and often two seas - is everywhere within easy reach, being the region so elongated.

The Population and Economy

The region has a remarkable population density, mostly concentrated in populous centers, while the countryside is all occupied by flourishing cultivation. Agriculture, which was very difficult in the past for the dryness of the land, is now supported by the Aqueduct, so that now the region is among the biggest Italian producers of tomatoes, salad, carrots, olives, eggplants, artichokes, almonds and citrus fruit.

Also highly developed is sheep raising in the Tavoliere plain and fishing in the Gulf of Taranto. Tourism in the summer is another great resource, thanks to the beautiful beaches along the coast, and the many tourist villages and campsites.

The Language

As a consequence of its variegated history and the different languages spoken in this region for centuries, there are a number of very different dialects: in the northern areas a Neapolitan dialect called northern Pugliese, in the southern part a Sicilian dialect called Salentino, and in isolated areas of Salento a hybrid language dating back to the 9th century called Griko, as well as a rare dialect of the French-Provençal language called "Faetar" is spoken in Faeto and Carlantino in the Province of Foggia and in a number villages, the "Arbëreshë" dialect has been spoken since Albanian refugees settled there in the 15th century, following the invasion of the Balkans by the Turkish Empire.


Originally inhabited by an Illyric population, the region was always a strategic area for Mediterranean peoples, and since early times was colonized by the Greeks, who founded the colony of Taranto, then in the 4th century the Romans began their conquest of the territory, and built the Via Appia to connect it to Rome. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD Apulia was for a time under the influence of Byzanthium, then was gradually occupied by the Lombards, the Franks and the Saracens. In the 10th century the Eastern Roman Empire defeated the Saracens and came in control once again, but already the cities were rising in power and requesting more autonomy.

Starting from 1059 the Norman Roberto il Guiscardo occupied part of Southern Italy becoming Duke of Puglia and Calabria, and since then the history of Apulia was the history of the Kingdom of Sicily. The Normans gave way to the Swabians and these to the Anjou and the Aragonese, and the region suffered all the evils of bad government, until in the 18th century some improvement took place under the Bourbons, who improved the communications building roads and ports, and granted some social and land reforms. In 1860 Puglia was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy, and at that time it was divided into only three provinces: Bari, Foggia (or Capitanata) and Lecce, while Taranto and Brindisi were added in 1927.

Where to stay

ItalyHeritage on Facebook
Family History
Genealogy ResearchNeed help in your research?
Contact us with details and priorities.
Provinces of Puglia
Puglia region
Surnames in the Provinces of Puglia