BARI | Puglia, Italy is a region located on the heel of the boot of Italy and a great place to visit for those who want to visit a part of the country that’s a bit off the beaten path. The easiest way to get there from the UK is to do what we did and fly direct from London Stansted to Bari, the capital of Puglia, on Ryanair (approximately £100.00 round trip, and there are often deals). Puglia (pronounced “poo-lia”) is an ideal escape from London with its excellent climate, coastline, and cuisine (the climate helps create some of the best conditions for growing fresh produce). With only a long weekend in the region, we had to be selective about what to do in this enticing part of the world. Here are our top 5 things to do in Puglia to help you plan your visit.
All Ways Puglia Tour in Alberobello
The All Ways Puglia tour takes visitors through hidden gems of this incredibly charming Unesco World Heritage city. This charming and unique city is dominated by white washed cone shaped Trulli, an architectural style typical of Puglia. The All Ways tour offers several modes of transport to enable you to get a feel for the town in just over one hour including a Segway, electric bike, or golf cart. Guide Francesco is thorough and accommodating, and makes sure everyone is comfortable with how to operate their equipment before taking you around some of the city’s hidden gems.
The tour lasts 1 hour and costs €15.00 per person for 8 to 12 people or €20.00 per person for groups of less than 8 people.
Lunch at Peccato di Vino in Otranto
Otranto is a town at the eastern most point of Italy. We stumbled upon this hidden gem on a tucked away laneway and couldn’t have been more pleased with our selection. The service at Peccato di Vino is impeccable – the owners welcomed us with a welcome glass of sparkling wine and amuse bouche to warm up our palate. Be sure to try the local speciality pasta, Orecchiette (named for its ear like shape).
After lunch, take a stroll to the ocean and then visit Otranto Cathedral to see the skulls of the 800 martyrs of Otranto who fought the last of the Ottoman invaders who tried to convert southern Italy to Islam
Stroll through Lecce, the Florence of the South
Lecce is often classed as the Baroque jewel of Italy. Stroll around this stunning town and take in the beautiful Medieval and Baroque architecture including Basilica di Santa Croce, the Roman amphitheatre, and the Duomo.
Grotte di Castellana
The Grotte di Castellana are the second biggest caves in all of Europe and feature beautiful natural mineral concretions. You can opt for a 1 km or 3 km tour. You’re not allowed to take pictures in most of the caves so you really need to see this for yourself. Remember to book this in advance so as not to be disappointed.
Coccaro Beach Club, Monopoli, Italy
Puglia is known for its beautiful beaches. A local recommended the private Coccaro Beach Club to us and we weren’t disappointed. Admission is €25.00 per person but we felt it was money well spent to enjoy the club’s amenities. Remember to call ahead to reserve a space is limited.
After the beach you might want to consider travelling 30 minutes to Polignaro a Mare to have dinner in a cave at Ristorante Grotta Palazzese. It’s expensive, but the view is priceless and the food fantastic – a rarity. There is a reason why many consider it to be the most romantic restaurant in the world.