The province of Foggia, known also as the Tavoliere (tablelands), occupies a broad plain stretching from the foothills of the Apennines in the west and the Gargano massif in the east. FOGGIA, the capital and transport hub of the province, is not somewhere to linger – for more of an idea of what the Tavoliere is like, head for the walled town of Lucera or the little village of Troia.
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LUCERA (pronounced Loosh-airer) makes a wonderful introduction to Puglia. A charming small town with a bright, bustling centre and a lively passeggiata on summer evenings, it was once the capital of the Tavoliere – a thriving Saracen hub. Frederick II, having forced the Arabs out of Sicily, resettled 20,000 of them here, on the site of an abandoned Roman town, allowing them complete freedom in religious worship – an almost unheard of act of liberalism for the early thirteenth century.