Travel Guide: Puglia, Italy
Come with me on an exciting journey to the sun-kissed paradise of Puglia, Italy, where breathtaking landscapes, ancient villages, and the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea await. This hidden gem of Italy promises an unforgettable adventure, and I'm thrilled to be your guide to the wonders of Puglia. Let's dive into our Puglia travel itinerary and discover the magic this region has to offer!
WHERE TO STAY
Puglia is an enormous region that stretches the entire heel of the boot that is Italy. You could spend a month exploring the region and still have more to see. During our time in Puglia, we had the pleasure of staying at in two different towns: Fasano and Ostuni. Both towns are in the northern and central part of Puglia and located near many of the most desirable villages and towns to visit on day trips.
We had the pleasure of experiencing two remarkable hotels, each offering a unique and memorable stay:
Canne Bianche Lifestyle Hotel, Fasano: Nestled along the stunning coastline of Fasano, Canne Bianche Lifestyle Hotel provided us with a dreamy beachfront retreat. This charming boutique hotel exudes a sense of tranquility and relaxation. The property is beautifully adorned with white-washed walls and lush gardens, embracing the essence of Puglia's coastal charm. The spacious rooms were thoughtfully designed with comfort in mind, and we loved waking up to the gentle sea breeze from our private balcony. The hotel's excellent amenities and warm hospitality truly made our stay special. Unwinding by the azure pool or indulging in a rejuvenating spa session added an extra touch of luxury to our Puglia escapade. It's central location made it the perfect home base for our daily adventures to nearby towns (see below for recommended day trips).
Paragon 700, Ostuni: Our next stop was the illustrious Paragon 700, a meticulously restored 18th-century mansion situated in the heart of Ostuni. The hotel's historical allure combined with modern elegance, making it a truly unique stay. The service at Paragon 700 was exceptional, and the location was ideal for exploring the nearby attractions. However, I must admit that the hotel's architectural style and room layouts didn't quite match our personal preferences. Having the bathrooms within the bedrooms felt a bit unconventional and took away from the overall comfort. Nevertheless, the hotel's undeniable charm and excellent location made up for any inconveniences, ensuring an unforgettable experience in Puglia.
More Hotel Options:
Borgo Egnazia, Fasano: For those seeking a luxurious and picturesque retreat, Borgo Egnazia is a perfect choice. This sprawling resort, resembling a traditional Puglian village, seamlessly blends contemporary design with timeless charm. The elegant rooms and impeccable service create an enchanting ambiance, and the property's amenities, including a world-class spa and golf course, make for a truly indulgent stay.
Masseria San Domenico, Savelletri di Fasano: This five-star luxury hotel, set within a historic 15th-century farmhouse, offers a perfect blend of elegance and authenticity. Surrounded by olive groves and lush gardens, Masseria San Domenico exudes a sense of serenity. With a private beach, exquisite dining options, and a lavish spa, this hotel promises an idyllic retreat for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Masseria Torre Maizza, Fasano: This captivating 16th-century farmhouse turned luxury resort boasts a stunning location, perched on a hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The stylishly appointed rooms and suites provide an air of sophistication and comfort. The beautiful pool area and golf course offer opportunities for both relaxation and recreation, making Masseria Torre Maizza an ideal destination for a tranquil escape.
Relais La Sommità, Ostuni: For a taste of luxury with a touch of history, Relais La Sommità is a fantastic option. Set in a restored 16th-century palazzo, this elegant hotel offers panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea and the charming town below. The rooms are exquisitely decorated with a blend of modern and classical elements, and the rooftop terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy a picturesque sunset. The service at Relais La Sommità is exceptional, adding to the overall enchanting experience. This five-star hotel is an ideal choice for those seeking an indulgent and sophisticated stay in the heart of Ostuni.
WHAT TO DO
Boat Rental - For a unique and breathtaking experience, consider renting a boat from Monopoli's picturesque harbor. Setting sail from this charming coastal town allows you to explore the stunning Pogliano a Mare from a different perspective - the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea. As you cruise along the coastline, marvel at the enchanting caves and rock formations that dot the shoreline. Dive into the inviting waters for a refreshing swim or snorkel to discover the marine wonders beneath the surface. A boat rental from Monopoli promises an unforgettable day of exploration, adventure, and relaxation on the open waters.
Beach Clubs - For those seeking a luxurious and indulgent day of rest and recharge, Puglia's beach clubs offer the perfect oasis. Relax on plush day beds under the warm Mediterranean sun, with attentive staff catering to your every need. One top-notch option we visited is Le Palme Beach Club, known for its elegant ambiance and tranquil setting. Here, you can unwind in style, savoring refreshing cocktails and delectable dishes from the seaside restaurant. Similarly, Coccaro Beach Club beckons with its chic design and a delightful menu of Mediterranean delicacies. Whether you're seeking a vibrant beach club experience or a more secluded escape, Puglia's beach clubs offer an idyllic haven for a day of pampering and luxury, enveloped by the mesmerizing beauty of the Adriatic coast.
Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Tasting - Nestled in the heart of Puglia's picturesque countryside, Masseria Montenapoleone is a charming and historic estate that has been producing exceptional wines and olive oil for generations. Stepping onto the grounds feels like stepping back in time, with its ancient olive trees and traditional masseria architecture.
Wine Tour - Uncorking Puglia's Finest I couldn't resist exploring Puglia's world-renowned vineyards, and the wine tour was a highlight of my trip. The region is famous for its rich and robust red wines, and visiting wineries like Cantine Due Palme and Cantina Sociale Cooperativa Di Copertino was an absolute delight. The passionate vintners graciously shared their knowledge of winemaking, and I savored every moment of the wine tasting sessions.
Cooking Class - Unraveling Puglian Culinary Secrets To truly immerse yourself in the local culture, book a cooking class through a Masseria. Learning about the traditional Puglian cuisine and creating dishes from fresh local produce is an incredible experience. The chef's expertise and warm hospitality makes it even more enjoyable.
Exploring the Scenic Countryside - I highly recommend renting a car to explore the picturesque countryside and towns of Puglia. Cruising through the rolling hills and valleys, with quaint villages dotting the landscape, was a breathtaking experience. It gave me the freedom to stop at hidden gems and take in the breathtaking views at my own pace. We drove our rental car for all of our day trips, but you can also easily get to some of the main villages to visit via a car service arranged by your hotel.
Day Trips - Beyond the allure of Fasano and Ostuni, Puglia beckons with a plethora of captivating day trip destinations, each offering its own unique charm and cultural riches. The beauty of Puglia lies in its accessibility, making it easy to embark on enriching journeys to nearby towns and enchanting coastal spots. Whether you're drawn to historic wonders, breathtaking sea views, or traditional village life, Puglia's diverse day trips promise an unforgettable adventure at every turn.
Matera: Timeless Beauty in Stone - Nestled just across the border of Puglia, the timeless allure of Matera beckons travelers with its ancient "Sassi" cave dwellings and rich cultural heritage. A day trip to Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site, reveals a stunning cityscape carved into the cliffs, offering an enchanting glimpse into the past.
Polignano a Mare and Monopoli: Coastal Delights - A stone's throw from Fasano, Polignano a Mare entices with its cliffside charm, where narrow streets lead to breathtaking sea views and tucked-away beaches. On another day, venture to Monopoli, a coastal gem known for its historic charm, pristine beaches, and delightful seafood. These idyllic coastal towns are perfect for leisurely exploration and immersing yourself in Puglia's coastal allure.
Alberobello and Locorotondo: Trulli Magic - From Ostuni, set your sights on Alberobello, a fairytale-like village where whimsical trulli houses enchant visitors. The UNESCO-listed trulli town boasts a unique architectural wonder, creating an atmosphere of wonder and enchantment. Another nearby gem, Locorotondo, charms with its circular layout and picturesque whitewashed houses, providing a glimpse into traditional Puglian life.
Lecce: The Baroque Beauty - While staying in Ostuni, a day trip to Lecce is an absolute must for those seeking to immerse themselves in the grandeur of Puglia's baroque architecture and vibrant cultural scene. Known as the "Florence of the South," Lecce boasts a rich history that dates back to ancient Roman times, evident in its splendid buildings and ornate facades.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Silvé (Our Rate: 5/5) - Located in a charming setting, Silvé impresses diners with its exquisite cuisine and home cooked charm. Owned and operated by a Mother and Son duo, this restaurant makes you feel like you have literally entered an Italian Nonna's kitchen. While mama whips up her creations in the kitchen, Silvé caters to patrons and tells tales of each dish as it comes out (occasionally hand delivered by Italian-speaking Mama). There is no menu here, so prepare to taste an abundance of local and unique dishes. This was one of our favorite dining experiences, blending traditional flavors with innovative twists, and showcasing the finest ingredients sourced from the region.
Il Cortiletto (Our Rate: 4/5) - Il Cortiletto is a delightful restaurant tucked away in a picturesque corner of a town that is literally 1 road long. Known for its cozy courtyard setting, friendly service, and flavorsome dishes, this establishment showcases the best of Puglia's culinary traditions.
Osteria del Porto (Our Rate: 5/5) - Osteria del Porto stands as a true gem. This restaurant, located near the harbor, delights guests with its fresh seafood offerings, skillfully prepared by talented chefs. Try local seafood that was caught and on your plate in the same day, or stick to the seafood ravioli that does not disappoint. Immerse yourself in a memorable dining experience, enjoying the warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Vico Pescatori (Our Rate: 4.5/5)- Vico Pescatori captures the essence of traditional Puglian cuisine. Situated in a quaint waterfront street, this restaurant enchants visitors with its delectable seafood dishes, warm hospitality, and a cozy ambiance that immerses you in the local charm.
Pescaria (Our Rate: 4/5) - Pescaria is how Italians do fast-casual. This seafood joint specializes in locally caught, fresh seafood. Come an grab a tuna tartare and buratta sandwich or the famous octopus and herb sandwich.
Osteria Del Tempo Perso (Our Rate: 5/5)- Osteria Del Tempo Perso is a true star in Puglia's culinary landscape. Built inside of an original white washed cave, this restaurant stands out both for its excellent cuisine and memorable ambiance. Situated in a charming setting, this restaurant showcases an inventive menu that artfully blends traditional flavors with contemporary techniques, delivering an exceptional dining experience. Try the uni pasta; it was one of the best pastas we ate on our trip!
Il Posto Affianco (Our Rate: 5/5) - Il Posto Affianco is a beloved restaurant renowned for its pizzas. Nestled in a the winding white washed streets of Ostuni, this establishment celebrates the region's culinary heritage with its delectable creations and an extensive selection of local wines.
Borgo Antico Bistrot (Our Rate: 5/5) - Borgo Antico is known to have one of the best sunset views in all of Ostuni. Located on a cliff side, this charming outdoor restaurant is casual in both design and cuisine. Come here for delicious cocktails and a charcuterie board featuring local meats, cheese, fruits and jams.
Riccardo Caffé (Our Rate: 4.5/5)- Riccardo Caffé is a popular spot for both locals and visitors alike. Unlike a traditional cafe, this destination comes alive at night with frequent outdoor DJ sets and fun lighting projected onto the streets and walls. Come for a cocktail before dinner or a post-dinner dancing session.
Le Palme Beach Club Ristorante (Our Rate: 4/5)- Boasting a rating of 4.5/5, the Le Palme Beach Club Ristorante offers a luxurious beachfront dining experience. With stunning views of the sea, guests can savor a delectable menu inspired by the flavors of Puglia, complemented by attentive service and a relaxing ambiance.
Gipas 111 (Our Rate: 4/5) - The Gipas open air restaurant and bar stands out amongst the crowds for displaying vintage Italian films while patrons lounge on bean-bag chairs next to an 18th century church. Grab a cocktail or aperitivo here before heading off to dinner.
Il Latini (Our Rate: 4.5/5) - Il Latini is nestled in the southern baroque city of Lecce and has an extensive wine bar with local wines to choose from. With attention to detail and creative twists on traditional Pugliese dishes, this restaurant is one to remember.
WHERE TO SHOP
Puglia offers limited shopping options compared to bustling metropolises like Rome or Milan. However, don't fret; what Puglia lacks in bustling shopping districts, it more than compensates with its artisanal treasures and local boutiques.
One exceptional local store worth visiting is Galleria Valencienne, which has locations in both Lecce and Ostuni. Owned by passionate French women, this charming boutique celebrates Puglia's artisans by showcasing their meticulously crafted creations. From ceramics to textiles and other locally-made treasures, Galleria Valencienne offers a unique selection of items that perfectly encapsulate the essence of the region. During my visit, I was captivated by a stunning ceramic serving dish crafted by a local artisan, becoming both a tangible memory of my journey and a cherished addition to my home.
While the major cities provide more extensive shopping opportunities, exploring Galleria Valencienne allows you to support local artisans and take home an authentic piece of Puglia's artistic heritage.
Puglia's charm, culture, and culinary delights left me utterly enchanted. The region's beauty and warmth will forever hold a special place in my heart. As you venture to Puglia, I hope this travel itinerary inspires your own unforgettable adventure. Happy travels!