I am sure after being in isolation for many months, most people cannot wait to travel and get back their freedom to explore our amazing planet.
Located in the southern end of Italy on the heel of the boot shaped country is the region of Puglia. Think magical swims, fabulous food and a unique rawness and authenticity like no other and you have half the picture.
It’s only fitting for me to start with one of my most treasured holiday destinations. I had ten amazing days exploring Puglia. Although I never got to explore the whole region, here are some of the places not to miss.
Puglia offered an experience like no other, you’ll feel like you have stumbled across a hidden gem, just for you.
After arriving late by bus from the other side of the country, my friend greets me while sitting on the step of our apartment for the next few nights. We are in Lecce a town towards the most southern end of the region. Instantly I’m in love as we explore the towns dimly lit architecture by night. People are out sipping on wine and indulging in the best Italian gelato. The place oozed Summer vibes and I couldn’t help feel relaxed.
Lecce consists of white washed sandstone buildings with wooden rustic doors, it welcomes the new cosmopolitan lifestyle with the traditional. There are photo opportunities at every corner with cafes and wine bars drawing you in with enticing home cooked Italian meals.
By day the town has a chic artisan feel with many boutiques featuring handmade pottery, woven goods and freshly made produce like biscotti and pasta.
The next few days are spent exploring the southern coast of Italy. We based ourselves in Otranto, a seaside town 40 minutes south of Lecce. I literally fell at the hands of this beautiful region, watching the golden sunset fill the piazza overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The colour of the ocean was a phenomenal turquoise blue. Boats bobbed in the water and people swam along the concrete walls of the old town.
By night the narrow streets of the old romantic town twinkled with abundant eateries and gift shops that overlooked the water below.
My favourite Italian sweet treat from the region was the Pasticciotto. Breakfast in Otranto was my favourite, it consisted of an espresso with a pistachio and ricotta Pasticciotto from Pasticceria Merola.
It is a buttery crumbly pastry filled with a number of delectable flavours and can be found throughout Puglia.
After two amazing nights and make our way inland to Alberobello to visit the Trulli valley staying at an Agriturismo, just outside of the main town. There are olive groves, narrow windy roads and nothing but farm houses.
We are treated to homemade pizza on arrival and mini gelato cones made by a local artisan Gelateria by our host. Laying outside under a shaded olive tree sipping cold rosé on a warm Summer afternoonI cannot help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
Feeling so at peace in Puglia, it was like I had returned home, there was something so very grounding being here.
The region of Puglia has an authentic earthly feel not yet destroyed by flocks of tourists. I can only hope that it keeps its charm till the next time I encounter this raw beauty.
Places to visit in Puglia
There are so many more places to see and unfortunately after ten days it wasn’t enough, but I will be back Puglia.
Things to do in Puglia
Stay in a Masseria or farm stay for the night, it’s well worth the extra dollars for the experience.
Try the local dishes like Orecchiette pasta with rapini.
Sample Taralli, a circular savoury biscuit similar to a bread stick and of course my favourite treat a pasticciotto.
Make sure you hire a car, there’s no better way to get around and see the beauty this place has to offer.
Swim in the magical waters of Torre di Sant’Andrea which offers amazing views with its high cliff rock face and cave formations. There is also the cave of poetry, which is another swimming hole. This complete region is is Torre dell’Orso. Stay at a local Borgo. I visited Borgo Sentinella which was stunning.
Get off the beaten track, explore the smaller authentic towns of Puglia that hide between the popular places.
Getting to Puglia
Puglia has two well connected cities where flights and ferries are available. Bari and Brindisi are located on the coast and are easily accessible by most public transport.
Trains run from most Italian cities and timetables are available via Trenitalia
I used interstate bus company Marino Bus and travelled from Napoli, it was only 12 Euro, but it took over five hours to arrive.