Puglia is hidden in the southern part of Italy’s heel. The famous trulli houses with their conical roofs are characteristic for Puglia’s landscape but you also find white towns and fragrant fields of lavender, rosemary or figs, as well as beautiful thousand years old olive trees. At the same time the region is also surrounded by bright, turquoise blue sea with historical fishing towns and rocky beaches.
Stay: There are several pretty boutique hotels in the region but we preferred to stay in a house. Staying in the area around Ostuni is a good choice because the sea, the trulli villages and other cities to explore are easy to reach by car. Pascarosa is a small village between Ostuni and Martina Franca and a great place to stay because it is calm and relaxing and you feel far from the bustling towns but at the same time everything is within reach.
Do: Puglia is surrounded by the Adriatic and the Ionian coast, both with wonderful villages and beaches by the sea. But also the inland is stunning with its old olive trees, trulli, soft hills and white towns. Ostuni might be the prettiest of these towns, you can see the white houses of the old town from afar. Get lost in the small streets, admire the beautiful cathedral Concattedragle di Santa Maria Assunta or drink an Aperol in the Borgo Antico Bistrot. From the old city wall you see the sea and the fields of olive trees. But not only the centro storico is worth a visit. You find the typical Italian life in the new town, for example at Caffe Diana, where you can sip an espresso and eat a delicious warm cream croissant for breakfast. Afterwards, you can shop some bright summer fashion at Qwerty or walk along Via Pola for more shops. Close by you also find the most delicious bakery Panificio Greco for cakes and local specialties. When driving from Ostuni straight to the sea you arrive at Villanova a tiny but atmospheric laid-back fishing village. You can walk along the small marina in the evening sun or eat a mouthwatering slice of focaccia from Panificio Boutique della Focaccia. Martina Franca is another town with a historical old city center. There is a beautiful baroque church and a piazza where you can sit in the traditional Caffe Tripoli all day. It’s also nice to wander through the winding alleys, discover small statues of saints, baroque cherubs or the oldest part of the city Rione Lama. Or go through the porta di Santo Stefano, one of the four gates leading out of the old town, into the newer part. There is a park and many nice shops like Simeone Assunta with Italian brands on Corso Messapia. Alberobello is a picturesque trulli village. The houses with the conical roofs really look funny and it’s a joy walking the streets with the little shops and cafes. Or go up to the church Parrocchia di Santa Lucia for the best view on the trulli roofs. Also, visit the only trullo with two floors the Trullo Sovrano. Grottaglie is an old town famous for its traditional ceramics. There is a whole neighborhood full of small workshops so if you’re looking for a pretty and maybe useful souvenir you will find something here. Especially the splatterprint ceramics from Nicola Fasano are beautiful. Another less touristy but vivid town in this part of Puglia is Francavilla Fontana. Here, you get a sense of the everyday life in southern Italy, especially during the Passeggiata, the nightly evening stroll. Have a drink at Giba, the main cafe and bar on the Piazza and watch the people go by. A great beach town on the Adriatic sea is Polignano a Mare. It’s a lively place with many tourists, pretty whitewashed houses and small hidden beaches between the rocky cliffs that form the coastline. Even the main beach in town looks dramatic right between the rocks and the walls of the old town. Another little fishing town is Savelletri. In opposite to most of the touristy hotel villages in this area, Savelletri kept its charm and is a nice spot to spend a relaxed summer night.
Eat: The ice cream from Gentile Gelateria in Alberobello is delicious. In Ceglie Messapica Cibus is a lovely restaurant with a nice patio, friendly staff and a delicious twist on the local cuisine. In Pascarosa you find the delicious small Osteria Da Micchio and the venue Giugra with pool, restaurant and live music. In Polignano a Mare there is Antiche Mura where you sit in an elegant cosy cave-like room. The food is good especially the fresh fish and the service is excellent and very friendly even though it gets very busy. One of the best restaurants in Puglia is probably Osteria Gia Sotto L’Arco in Carovigno. Here, they cook with fresh and local ingredients and create interesting combinations in a welcoming familiar atmosphere. Cisternino is famous for its BBQ restaurants where you pick a meat at the counter and get it freshly prepared and brought to your table, for example at Zio Pietro. Finally, the fish restaurant Osteria del Porto in Savelletri serves the freshest delicious fish.
Getting around: In Puglia you definitely need a car, otherwise it’s a hustle figuring out trains and buses. It’s fast and easy to rent a car at the airport.
There are so many more amazing destinations in Puglia and in Italy, find more tips and places in Puglia here, or see posts about the beautiful Amalfi Coast, Capri, Sicily and the Aeolian Islands of Stromboli with its volcano and the chick jet set island Panarea.