With all the hype surrounding destinations with near perfect temperatures, we sometimes have to be reminded that traveling during slightly colder months is often met with a much warmer welcome. Comprising the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is a region known for its pristine beaches, picturesque seaside towns, and amazingly fresh seafood. According to the locals, however, the best time to visit is not during the overly-hyped summer months but in the off-season (October through April).

Borgo-poolAside from fewer crowds, perhaps the biggest perk about off-peak travel is the discounted accommodations.  At the luxurious fortified farmhouse Borgo Egnazia (at right), which consists of a 63-room main building,  92-room “village” of apartment buildings and 28 private villas right on the water, the double room rate drops to 220 euros (about $278)—more than half the price they normally charge during the peak month of August.

In addition to the prices being generally lower, the food is actually better.

“People come to Puglia for the fish, but the truth is that it’s fresher in the winter,” said Luca Montinaro, owner of Acquarossa, a small, rustic hotel in the area. “Pugliese eat better in the winter.”

At Locanda del Ristoro in the Pugliese town of Casalini you can feast on “burrata the size of tennis balls” and faro bean salad infused with oil and herbs. Or head to the far southeast corner of Cisternino where you can order a plate of mandorle atterrate, or “landed almonds,” a local treat of almonds flavored with sugar, lemon and anise.

For more on where to dine and where to stay while visiting Puglia read the full New York Times article here.