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How to organize your trip to Puglia

You probably know already that Italy’s map has the funny shape of a boot, right? Well then, it means you can easily locate Puglia (also known as Apuglia), because it stretches on the heel and the high-heel of this boot. Being one of the less touristy regions of Italy, it is not that crowded and has many more affordable options for tickets, accommodation and food. So you’d better rush and visit it before all the others learn about it and it becomes the New Tuscany of Italy:) 

Boy oh boy, didn’t we love this trip?! But how could we not, when we visited so many enchanting towns, ate the most delicious food and enjoyed the clearest blue water of the Adriatic.

Puglia is authentic, relaxed and unpretentious and if you never imagined chill Italians, then you need to visit it.

What to see and do

6 nights, 7 days and about 800 km with a rented car

In this epic trip we visited: Bari, Matera, Alberobello, Ostuni, Lecce, Gallipoli, Leuca and some amazing seaside and coastal stops along the way. Read on to find out the details.

Bari was the staring point of our visit, a busy port on the Adriatic, the biggest city and the capital of the region. Make sure you have at least one day at your disposal to visit “Bari Vecchia” or the Old Town and walk on the sea front promenade at sunset.

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Matera, our second stop is actually not in Puglia, but I did not want to miss it for the world. It was considered “The Shame” of Italy until only 60 years ago, because imagine that: the people were still living in caves with their animals, making it the poorest town in Italy. The historic part is not inhabited anymore today, but some caves are opened to visits, keeping the authentic “decor” from only 50 years ago.  It is one of the most intriguing, unique and arid places that I have visited in Italy. But so beautiful in the same time!

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Alberlobello has to be the most famous town in the region, and the cutest one I must admit. Who could resist falling in love with the “Trulli” houses?  For an authentic experience spend the night in a Trullo. It’s quite difficult anyway to find other type of constructions in this town:)DSC07219

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Ostuni is the white town of Italy and one of my favorite from this trip. Ok, all of them were favorites, it’s just so hard to chose from this array of unique places!

Imagine this time a medieval town, fortified by almost unaltered antique walls, raising on a hill. And it’s not smokey gray and grim buy everything is painted white, like freshly washed hotel linen, making a strong contrast with the clear blue sky and the deep blue Adriatic sea. Blissfulness!!!

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Lecce is considered the Florence of the South, because of its beautiful baroque architecture. Although it’s not quite a match for Florence, it’s still really lovely and the unique feature is the “Lecce stone” a soft yellow limestone that the old town was built from. It’s a vibrant place, full of young and noisy students because it’s an university center; there are plenty museums, cathedrals and ancient ruins to explore.

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Gallipoli, a fisherman’s village a few centuries backis a sea side resort today with the historic center located on an island. It’s also a perfect place for the romantic souls because it has the most beautiful sunsets. We were quite tired after a long day, I was feeling like a sweaty Betty, but this show of nature managed to calm all the spirits and we had a lovely evening in the end.  The image of the burning Sun, falling into into the sea will not leave my memory any time soon.

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 Leuca is the tip of the heel. You can go further than this only by swimming:). But instead doing silly things, I would just advise you to enjoy the view, because what a view! This is also where the Adriatic Sea meets the Ionian Sea.

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How to get around and some road adivce

We opted to rent a car from the Airport in Bari, because we wanted to move each day to a new town and not depend on public transport schedules. But do not forget to take an insurance for your car! Although roads in Puglia are not so crazy as in other parts of Italy,  they are still narrow and crowded, some highways don’t even have an emergency lane and the parking places are hard to find. Our car got badly scratched from the 2nd day and it would have costed us 600EUR, but the full insurance saved us.

Trains in Italy are a good and reasonable priced option in my opinion but it will take some more time to visit this many places. Two companies operate here: the national company TrenItalia and a regional private company Ferrovie del Sud Est. Tickets must be validated before getting on the train.

The food is really good

Orecchiette Pasta are a local specialty and it translates by “Ears” because they are shaped like tiny ears. La Tana del Polpo in Bari was a really good place with traditional and sea food. In Lecce we also ate delicious dinner at Tabisca Il Vico dei Tagliati. Ostuni is a paradise for the foodies as well and Caffe Cavour had amazing dishes, but quite pricey.

So many amazing beaches

I’m ending this article with a favorite topic, the beaches! Marvelous and for every taste: fine sand, clear water, caves.

  • Near Galipolli there’s Baia Verde, white and wide with fine sand.
  • Baia del Ciolo close to Leuca, is actually located in a small fiord under a road bridge. No fine sand here thought, only rocks and the most amazing turquoise water.
  • And I’m saving the best for the last because Grotta della Poesia is enlisted as one of the most beautiful natural pools in the world and for a good reason:). However, you’ll have to fight you way with all the other tourists.
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Baia del Ciolo, under a road bridge

Visited June 2018

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27 thoughts on “How to organize your trip to Puglia

    1. Yes, indeed a different Italian town. It started to get some fame some years ago, due to biblical movie of Mel Gibson that was filmed here, if I remember correctly. And this year is named European Cultural Capital, together with Plovdiv, a Bulgarian town also really beautiful 🙂

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  1. This place looks awesome! I never heard of it, but since you say it’s less crowded and more affordable I think it’s worth looking into when I start planning my Italy trip! I love that the buildings are all the same, white and tan!

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  2. Puglia is a particularly popular vacation destination for Italians, and until last year it’s true that tourists from above were ignoring it. I hope it doesn’t become the “new Tuscany”, because one is definitely enough! Also one small typo, it’s Alberobello! 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the correction about Alberobello :). What would be the most underrated Italian region in your opinion Danila, I would really be interested to know . Italy is one of my favorite countries to visit and I’m trying to also go to the less touristy places

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  3. I’ve always wanted to go to Puglia, it really looks beautiful! I’d love to do a bike tour from North to South Italy, would be an incredible trip. I never knew Orecchiette Pasta was because it looked like ears! Very interesting!

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  4. I have only been to Rome. I have heard of Puglia, but never knew where in Italy it was located. I certainly didn’t know it was so picturesque, although it’s Italy so I should have! I think I would most like to see the cute houses of Alberobello and that sunset in Gallipoli is a must!! I also usually take out full car insurance when I’m in a foreign country for the exact reason of what happened to you when your car got scratched. I would have hated to have to pay for that otherwise!

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    1. Yes, after this happening with the car, we take extra safety measures too. And you re right, Italy is beautiful from top to bottom. I have obly recently started to explore the southern part of it, and it’s so mesmerizing. Not only because it’s beautiful but it also has so many close to incredible stories:) but they say they’re real😊

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    1. Yes, actually not to brag about it, but I’m also longing for another trip here each time I read my article and see the pictures again. And any other articles about Italy for the matter. It’s one of my favorite countries to travel to

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  5. Great article! Went there last year and really enjoyed it! Especially Polignano and Matera, although Matera is actually located in the Basilicata region. Puglia is truly an underrated part of Italy, thanks for sharing!

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    1. Polignano a Mare is a place that we missed this time, but also planning to return for it, and for many other places that we did not get to see this time. Thanks for commenting

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  6. Great article! Went there last year and really enjoyed it, especially Polignano and Matera, although Matera is actually located in the Basilicata region. Puglia is a truly underrated part of Italy!

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  7. Italy is a country I’ve yet to explore, only visiting small parts of it and certainly none of the south. Puglia looks more my kind of place than anywhere I’ve visited in the north, however. Although I love Northern Italy, reading this and looking at your photos makes everything look quainter and in many ways prettier. I’m particularly interested in Matera. I’ve visited the cave houses in Sacromonte Spain but never really imagined them also existing in Italy. I’d love to visit those 50 years old dwellings to see how they compare. Thanks for posting.

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    1. And I never heard before about similar houses to be found in Spain also, just like in Matera. This interaction is really so good, we get so much inspiration from one another, right? 🙂 It was the first time for me also to visit something in Italy that’s to the south of Rome and i’m thinking to continue exploring this not so overly known places. Anyway I think you can’t go wrong with Italy, and it’s one of my favorite countries to visit 🙂

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  8. I think this will be one of my next shorter vacations: The places look so beautiful – very…Italian. And the beaches around – sounds perfect. I agree with you that trains in Italy – and buses, too, for that matter – are pretty cheap, run on a great schedule and according to my experience, they are more punctual than German trains (although they have this saying ‘puntuale come un treno tedesco’ – who knows where this comes from….). Totally my next destination!

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    1. I’m also planning a return 🙂 There are still many places that we did not see. For instance, near Bary, a beautiful small town is Polignano a Mare. There is also a hexagonal castle from the Medieval times enlisted as UNESCO site, not far away from Bari. 🙂 And the list is apparently endlessly. You’re right abou the public transport and also right about German trains. Not very reliable and also so much more expensive… Thanks for your lovely comment:)

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