Apulia is a Region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the East, the Ionian Sea to the Southeast and the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its southern portion known as Salento, a Peninsula, forms the heel of the Italian ‘boot’. Apulia is mostly a plain; however, it is broken in the north by the mountainous Gargano, the ‘Spur’ of Italy, and there are mountains in the north and central part of the region itself. Our Apulia Region extends from the river ‘Fortore’ to Santa Maria di Leuca at the tip of the Salentine Peninsula and comprises the Provinces of Foggia, Bari, Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto.
The central part is occupied by the low Murge plateau, which slopes gradually to the narrow coastal plains of the Adriatic Sea in the east. The Salentine Peninsula consists of the lowlands of Lecce, Taranto, and Brindisi and low plateaus east of Taranto and south of Lecce. The main rock material of Apulia is limestone except on the coastline where it is mostly low and sandy. The only major rivers are Fortore and Ofanto, both in the north, but there are also many springs.
The absence of surface water over large areas led to the construction of the Apulian Aqueduct (1906–39), largest of its kind in Italy, which supplies the region with water from the Sele River on the western slope of the Apennine watershed. Consisting of the areas of ancient Apulia and part of ancient Calabria, Puglia was ruled in the early Middle Ages by Goths, Lombards, and Byzantines and knew its greatest glory under the Hohenstaufen Emperors. It was one of the favourite seats of Frederick II during the 13th Century, and Romanesque cathedrals and palaces bear witness to the flowering of Apulia at that time.
Thereafter a long period of decline set in, accentuated by the neglect of its distant rulers (French, Spanish, Austrian, Neapolitan, Bourbon) and by Arab raids along the coast. In 1860 Apulia became part of the Italian kingdom.