Puglia is a magical place that needs to be seen in person to understand its true beauty. We've done our best to show you some of what you can expect when traveling, but the real joy comes from walking on the cobblestone streets of the whitewashed towns, your first dip into the salty Adriatic Sea, feeling incredibly humbled when walking into churches and castles and cave dwellings thousands of years old, and learning about the incredible history and culture of this less traveled region of Italy... and then there's the wine, the food, and an endless list of things to explore...
The Itria Valley is home to the whitewashed cities of the Adriatic, none as famous as the beautiful Ostuni, nicknamed "La Città Bianca" or “The White Town”. Each whitewashed town has its own charm and distinct character to explore, and each with its own unique dialect to tease foreigners trying to grasp the Italian language. The Old Towns of Ostuni, Cisternino, and Locorotondo are consistently a maze of alleyways, littered with bars and restaurants carved into the thick limestone.
Minutes from the Adriatic and a short trip away from the Ionian Sea, enjoy relaxing at quiet sandy coves, jump from the cliffs of Polignano a Mare, have drinks at a beach club under an umbrella, or snorkel in the crystal clear waters.
Matera is one of our favorite places in all of Italy. This area, known to be settled since the Paleolithic, is overwhelming in beauty and history, and is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2019 in Italy. From dining in the cave restaurants of the Sassi to the breathtaking views of the grand ravine, one could easily spend a day visiting the churches and exploring this city carved out of stone.
Port Towns & Fisherman Restaurants
Puglia is surrounded by water, and there are countless seaside towns to explore. We love spending a beautiful afternoon eating fresh seafood caught that morning. If you are lucky enough to be visiting during the right season, you can enjoy the local favorite ricci, or sea urchin at small seasonal restaurants run by fishing families directly on the water's edge.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a popular tourist destination due to its unique cone shaped houses called trulli. The picturesque town looks like something out of a fairytale. The incredibly well preserved limestone dwellings are a beautiful example of ancient architecture in use today.
Churches & Castles
There are so many incredible churches in Puglia that you have to actively try to limit the hours marveling at the intricacies of the baroque details in Lecce, or the understated beauty of an ancient crypt. Whether you visit the 13th century Castel del Monte or the romanesque cathedral in Monopoli you'll be transported to another time. One of our favorite places to visit is the cathedral in the eastern most city in Italy, Otranto. There you will find the chilling altar of the martyrs and a beautiful 1,000 year old mosaic covering the entire floor of the church.
Lecce, nicknamed "The Florence of the South", is a university town with endless energy that keeps the streets full until the early hours of the morning. Even without the grand Baroque architecture filling the cobblestone streets, Lecce would be a must visit just for it’s nightlife and long list of must-try restaurants. With a Roman amphitheater in it's central Piazza Sant’Oronzo, no matter the time of year or the weather of the day, Lecce should be experienced on a trip to southern Italy.
Vineyards with wine and olive oil tasting
With one of the highest concentrations of ancient olive trees in the world (some dating back nearly 3000 years!), and plenty of sunshine all year long, Puglia has an abundance of olive oil and wine producers. Known for Primitivo, Negroamaro, Salice Salentino, Nero di Troia, Bombino, and Verdeca, Puglia produces great reds, whites, and rosé for any palette. There are many award winning vineyards and olive oil mills open for tours and tastings.
Nature Walks and Hiking
There's a whole side of Puglia that can be explored simply by parking the car and moving on foot; getting lost in a ravine, traveling down a dirt path in an olive grove where the casual goat herd is grazing, wandering through wild flower fields surrounded by distant farms. When we do walks or hikes like these we tend to pack a picnic and some wine, usually stopping with a blanket somewhere under a fruit tree to have fresh cheese and homemade bread. Whether we decide to visit abandoned farmhouses by the sea, explore ancient trulli (the traditional cone houses of our area) in the countryside, or explore the rocky coastline, there’s beauty in the simplicity of experiencing Puglia as it was.
A patron saint festival here, a local pizzica (the local folk dance) band playing there. A pig roast, an aperitivo (happy hour) at sunset, a meal by the sea. Sunny days, chilly days. Homemade focaccia, homemade prosecco. Jam making, star gazing, forno lighting. Reading, writing, music making. Walking, drinking, tasting. No matter which day you’d like to have, let’s be flexible and just enjoy.