The region, its history, attractions, food and wine
Bari is the capital of the region, which is divided into the provinces (and their capitals by the same name) of Bari, Brindisi, Foggia, Lecce, and Taranto. In 2005 is made the new province of Barletta Andria and Trani. Apulia is mostly a plain; its low coast, however, is broken by the mountainous Gargano Peninsula in the north, and there are mountains in the north central part of the region. Other important centers are Alberobello, Conversano, Canosa, Gallipoli, San Giovanni Rotondo, Manfredonia, Martina Franca, Mesagne, Molfetta, Ostuni, Otranto, Santa Maria di Leuca, Trani, San Vito dei Normanni, Barletta, Gioia del Colle and Andria.
Farming was the chief occupation, but industry has expanded rapidly. Farm products include olives, grapes, cereals, almonds, figs, tobacco, and livestock (sheep, pigs, cattle, and goats). Manufactured products include refined petroleum, chemicals, cement, iron and steel, processed food, plastics, and wine. Fishing is pursued in the Adriatic and in the Gulf of Taranto. The scarcity of water has long been an acute problem in Apulia, and it is necessary to carry drinking water by aqueduct across the Apennines from the Sele River in Campania.
In ancient times only the northern part of the region was called Apulia; the southern peninsula was known as Calabria, a name later used to designate the toe of the Italian "boot." The region was settled by several Illyric and Italic peoples and by the colonial Greeks before it was conquered in the 4th century B.C. by the Romans.
After the fall of Rome, Apulia was held successively by the Goths, the Lombards, and the Byzantines. In the 11th century, it was conquered by the Normans; Robert Guiscard set up the duchy of Apulia in 1059. After the Norman conquest of Sicily in the late 11th century, Palermo replaced Melfi (just west of present day Apulia) as the center of Norman power, and Apulia became a mere province, first of the Kingdom of Sicily, then of the Kingdom of Naples. From the late 12th to early 13th centuries, Apulia was a favorite residence of the Hohenstaufen emperors, notably Frederick II. The coast later was occupied at times by the Turks and by the Venetians.
In 1861, the region joined Italy. The feudal system long prevailed in the rural areas of Apulia; social and agrarian reforms proceeded slowly from the 19th century and accelerated in the mid-20th century. The characteristic Apulian architecture of the 11th-13th centuries reflects Greek, Arab, Norman, and Pisan influences. There are universities at Bari and Lecce.