Visitors to Italy have traditionally skipped the ‘forsaken’ south, preferring to linger in Tuscany, Umbria and the eternal city of Rome, or perhaps venturing as far as the Amalfi coast if feeling particularly adventurous. It’s only in very recent years that Puglia — situated in one of Italy’s poorest areas, at the heel of the country’s boot-shaped landmass — has come to find favour with those in the know.
Its farmlands supplying much of Italy’s fresh produce and its crystal waters yielding an amazing seafood bounty, Puglia boasts no shortage of fabulous cuisine. Local wines such as primitivo di Manduria, Salice Salentino and negroamaro are both excellent drinking and remarkably easy on the wallet. On the accommodation front, there’s rustic luxury aplenty and stunning properties overlooking the region’s gloriously uncrowded beaches. The people are warm, welcoming and charmingly down to earth (unlike some you might encounter in the more touristy parts of the north).
Sold yet? Well, if all those attributes weren’t enough to pique your interest in Puglia, the presence of several notable sartorial points of interest should tip the scales. Valentino and Niccolo Ricci’s Sciamat — which “may well be the most original new voice in the men’s sartorial lexicon since Attolini and Scholte ripped the padding out of suits”, according to The Rake’s commander in chief, Wei Koh — is based in Bitonto, northern Puglia. Filippo Matera’s Naked Clothing, producer of “the finest-made and most luxurious-feeling cotton polo shirts that will ever grace your shoulder blades”, in the words of our correspondent Benedict Browne, crafts its splendid wares nearby in Andria. And in Ginosa, a town of 20,000 perched in the boot of Italy’s arch, dwells one of the greatest shirt-makers we’ve yet to encounter: G. Inglese.