Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, asymptomatic transmission represented an important challenge for controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through the traditional public health strategies. Further understanding of the contribution of asymptomatic infections to SARS-CoV-2 transmission has been of crucial importance for pandemic control. We conducted a retrospective epidemiological study to characterize asymptomatic COVID-19 cases occurred in the Apulia region, Italy, during the first epidemic wave of COVID-19 outbreak (February 29 - July 7, 2020). We analyzed data collected in a regional platform developed to manage surveillance activities, namely investigation and follow-up of cases and contacts, contact tracing, laboratory and clinical data collection. We included all asymptomatic cases that were laboratory-confirmed during the appropriate follow-up, defined as persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 who did not develop symptoms/clinical signs of the disease. Between February 29 and July 7, 2020, a total of 4,536 cases were diagnosed with COVID-19 among 193,757 tests performed. The group of persons with asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection consisted of 903 cases; the asymptomatic proportion was 19.9% (95%CI: 18.8-21.1%); this decreased with increasing age (OR: 0.89, 95%CI: 0.83-0.96; p=0.001), in individuals with underlying comorbidities (OR: 0.55, 95%CI: 0.41-0.73; p<0.001), and in males (OR: 0.69, 95%CI: 0.54-0.87; p=0.002). The median asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 RNA positive period was 19 days (IQR: 14-31) and the cumulative proportion of persons with resolution of infection 14 days after the first positive PCR test was 74%. As the public health community is debating the question of whether asymptomatic and late spreaders could sustain virus transmission in the communities, such cases present unique opportunities to gain insight into SARS-CoV-2 adaptation to human host. This has important implications for future COVID-19 surveillance and prevention.