Italy has to be one of my favourite countries and nestled away in Southern Italy in the “heel of the boot” is Puglia or Apulia. The first time Puglia entered my radar was a beautiful picture of Lecce on Instagram. The more I researched what I found was amazing white walls, crystal blue seas, olive trees as far as the eye can see, postcard picture houses at every corner and cone shaped houses. This year I got to set foot in this fascinating place.
Puglia is the lesser known area of Italy that appears off the radar for most tourists. Although a little bit removed from the well known cities of Italy, Puglia truly is a wealth of sights, history and unique experiences. Situated between the two seas of Adriatic sea and Ionian sea which allows for almost 800kms of coastline. This means there is no shortage of beaches, dramatic coastlines and beautiful regional coastal towns.
Straight away from our first day you could get the sense that it is a much more traditional area. With almost deserted piazzas during the “siesta” style hours of 1 to 6 to packed streets of families for the passeggiata (Italian tradition of a slow evening stroll – where it seem like everyone from all walks of life is drawn out on the streets) that took place in every town we stayed. We started doing like locals do and enjoying our leisurely day time naps and late social meals.
Authentic Puglia is found most of all at the table and amongst its amazing array of regional produce and proud promotion of local produce.
With the quality of life being so good,you can easily see why it is becoming more popular as place to travel too.
One thing I found when researching was that there was a lack of general info on the area. I mainly found the information I was looking for through forums and other people’s experiences so hopefully my trip will be able to help someone on the hunt for more information on Puglia. I will be sure to give you more tips on this wonderful region but for now here is where we travelled in the area.
We were luckily enough to have two weeks to spend in the region so we did our best to experience and explore as much of the area as possible. Puglia is a large area, we mainly focused on Salento region. The tough part was narrowing down the route and where to stay. It seems like the majority of people choose one or two bases in the region venturing out then for day trips from these locations. I, of course always wanting to jam pack my itinerary for fear of missing out chose to travel around spending max 2 nights in a few locations.
From Ireland I could have flown directly from Dublin to Bari with Ryanair, however as internal flights within Italy were a great price so we decided to get another city in and flew to Bologna via Aer Lingus for one night and then took a short one hour flight via Ryanair the next day brought us to Bari.
We decided to hire a car for the majority of our trip. We were going to be changing to trains for the end of the journey but more of that later. More in depth posts on each to follow soon!
Day 1 –Bologna – Flew Dublin to Bologna via Aer Lingus.
Day 2 Bari to Monopoli 60Kms – We flew from Bologna to Bari via Ryanair. Picked up our car and drove to our first location Monopoli via San Vito. We stayed 2 nights in a b&b in Monopoli Old Town that served an amazing breakfast. With one day trip to Polignano a Mare.
Day 4 Monopoli to Alberobello to Locorotondo to Cisterno to Ostuni 40Kms – Jam packed day of some iconic towns of Puglia and many Trullis! We stayed 2 nights in a self catering apartment.
Day 6 Ostuni to Lecce 100Kms – Drove via Ceglie Messapica and took a beach stop before heading to Lecce. We stayed in a b&b for 2 nights.
Day 8 Lecce to Otranto – Drove along the coast to the walled coastal city of Otranto. We stayed one night in a hotel.
Day 9 Otranto to Leuca to Santa Maria al bagno – Took the amazing coastal road from Otranto to Leuca around the heel of the country along the coastline to the small harbour town of Santa Maria al Bagno for one night.
Day 10 Martina Franco – Drove north to the city of Martina Franco where we got to stay in our own cozy air b&b Trullo among the olive trees and red soil.
Day 11 Trani – Headed back to Bari airport to drop off the car and got the train to the amazing port town of Trani for one night.
Day 12 Matera- Headed back to Bari via train, swopping train lines to head inland to the Unesco site of Matera for 2 amazing nights. We stayed in a self-catering cave apartment.
Day 14 Bari – Back to Bari for our last night, taking in the old town and surprisingly some Terracotta warriors.
Next day we headed back to the Airport and then home to Ireland!