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Puglia is the relatively flat, south-easterly tip of Italy - the heel of Italy's boot. The landscape remains quite constant throughout the region and forms part of the South-eastern Plains of Italy, below the Apennine Mountains. These plains are covered in gentle, rolling hills but it is the only region of Italy that doesn't really contain mountain ranges. Even where the altitude starts to rise (towards the borders with the neighbouring regions of Molise and Campania in the north west), it does not quite reach the first mountains of the Apennine belt. The coastline is one of the most noticeable characteristics of Puglia's landscape and the reason for its popularity as a summer holiday destination. Due to the region's shape, Puglia has an extremely long coastline (nearly 500 miles) for its size, meeting the Adriatic Sea along the east coast then curving round to the Gulf of Taranto and the Ionian Sea to its south west. There are a few plateaux which end in cliffs, particularly in the northern Gargano region and the southern Salento region but generally the coast is quite low and joins the sea either at low rocky points or at sandy beaches, all dotted with pretty fishing villages and seaside resorts. The limestone rock underlying most of the region means there are few surface rivers and the land is relatively dry. However, there are two large lakes in the north of the region and this limestone has given rise to a series of huge caves (Caves of Castellana) near Bari. The climate is Mediterranean and is affected by the whole region's low altitude and proximity to the sea. The summers are long, dry and very hot, while the winters are mild (average temperature in January is 9C) and provide the small amount of annual rainfall. The countryside is mostly quite open (covered with crops, vineyards or left wild for grazing sheep) but there are also many wooded areas, particularly in the Gargano region. These forests are particularly fine and are made up of pine trees near the coast while further back and higher up you find magnificent forests of great oak and beech trees, some of which are many hundreds of years old. The landscape and climate largely affect the agriculture of the region, making Puglia an ideal environment for certain crops. The main "large-scale" crop is wheat, but as you move further south, you find the hills covered in olive trees and vineyards. This has lead to the region being one of the most prosperous agriculturally; famed for its pasta, olive oil and wine. Fishing is also obviously an important industry for this coastal region and Puglia is one of the largest commercial catchers of fish in Italy.
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