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Puglia: The Inside Guide to the Best Towns

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After reading my introduction to Puglia (southern Italy), I bet you can’t wait to explore the region. With so much on offer, you’re probably wondering where to start. Grab a cup of tea, get comfy, and prepare to tour the best neighbourhoods in Puglia.

Perhaps you’re more into culture than beaches, or maybe you want to escape the bustling city for the idyllic countryside. Whatever your bag, you’ll have a much better understanding of where to go with this guide.

Puglia Guide to the best towns

Bari

Bari is the capital city of Puglia. It is where most of the flights arrive into this region, including the cheap RyanAir ones. Adopt an Italian accent and pronounce like you would Bali (in Indonesia). Not to be confused with the pronunciation of the English name, Barry! Don’t write Bari off as a drop off point – make sure you build some time into your schedule to explore this city.

Things to see and do:

♥ Visit the man-made beach that’s popular with the locals. Enjoy the sand and then cool down in the crystal clear sea.

♥ Walk the waterfront promenade. Lovely, old men spend their days fishing from the cute benches. Look out for them hitting the octopus on the ground – they’re trying to make the tentacles curly so that they can eat the raw octopus easily.

♥ Visit the Margherita Theatre. It’s a beautiful theatre that sits on stilts over the water. The tale tells that it was built in this way as a loophole to a law that said there could only be one theatre in Bari.

♥ Take a stroll through Pasta Alley and see the famous women who taught Jamie Oliver to make fresh pasta.

♥ Even if you’re not religious, it’s worth popping into Basilica San Nicola for a nosy at the impressive ceiling. Head downstairs to time travel (an exposed column shows how the original stone work was covered in marble and in other finishes throughout the years).

♥ If you fancy something different, why not a try a private street food tour in a rickshaw?

Bari in Italy - a guide to Puglia

Pasta Alley, Italy, Puglia

Where to eat:

♥Enjoy authentic Italian dishes that use recipes which are hundreds of years old at Terranima. Make sure you try the special taralli that are made with primavera red wine.

♥ Make a morning stop at Puni Ficio Flore for the legendary focaccia. If you visit any later you run the risk of not having anything to sample – it’s very popular. The oldest bakery in Bari, it used to be a church.

♥ For the best gelato in Bari, head to Antica Gelateria Gentile. It’s near Pasta Alley (mentioned earlier). The dark chocolate and Italian orange is highly recommended.

♥ Visit Dal Blasone in the main square for a Panzerotto. For less than two Euros you’ll enjoy a piping hot cheesy parcel of deliciousness. Eat it whilst you’re stood up and bent forward to avoid volcanic, stringy spillages.

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Monopoli

A cute fisherman’s town, Monopoli  has an endearing charm that pulls you in. Populated with shops and gorgeous buildings, it’s somehow touristy but not tacky. A short forty minute drive from Bari, you could easily spend a day or two here.

Things to see and do:

♥ Saturated with churches, you won’t be able to miss them. However, for something quite different look out for the church that’s covered with skulls and interesting bits of advice, like “Today to me, tomorrow to you”.

♥ Hang around the coast admiring the brightly painted boats and watch the fisherman at work.

Where to eat:

♥ Enjoy a delicious meal at the five-star property, Don Ferrante (see link for a full review).

Monopoli, Puglia, Italy, Travel, Travel Blog

Don Ferrante, Hotel, Review, Puglia, Rooms, Pictures, Photos, Italy, Apulia, 2014, Luxury, 5*, Boutique

Otranto

This picturesque town is the most easterly point of Italy. It’s a popular place to celebrate the New Year, as it’s one of the first spots in Italy to see the first sun rise of the year. On a clear day, you can even see the coast of Albania from this town.

Things to see and do:

♥ Enjoy the mosaics, balconies and palm trees. It won’t be hard to spy the Albanian influences as you stroll the streets. The eccentric and elaborate villas are the biggest giveaway.

♥ Winding cliff roads, framed by olive trees and rocks make Otranto the perfect place to hire a car. Drive along the beautiful coastal roads, stopping to take postcard worthy pictures. Alternatively enjoy a bike tour.

♥ Protected lighthouses and lookout towers line the coast in this area. Whether you want to learn about their history or to simply take a photo, make sure you check them out.

♥ Enjoy the green scenery. Many film directors have been inspired by the gorgeous landscape, with a nearby derelict masseria often being used in sets.

Puglia - A Guide to the Best Towns in Puglia, Italy

Where to eat:

♥ La Bella Idrusa serves the best pizza in the town. It’s popular with tourists and locals alike, and you’ll often see long queues.

Polignano a Mare

This stunning town is well rehearsed for foreign tourists, offering lots of eating spots and the most vivid shades of blue water for summery swims. One of my favourite places in Puglia, you must include Polignano a Mare in your itinerary.

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Things to see and do:

♥ Wonder down the blind street. Rather than being named a dead-end, a local has adorned the walls and steps in words. The paintings tell the story of how the street is simply sight impaired and shouldn’t be dismissed.

♥ Spend a day in one of the coves; top up your tan and swim in the turquoise waters. Even from up on the high cliff edges you’ll be able to see the seabed.

Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy, Travel Blog, Taylor Hearts Travel

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Where to eat:

Mint is said to serve the very best vegetarian food you could ever want. All of the food is locally sourced and organic. The restaurant itself is also very cute and easy on the eye.

♥ If you need to impress, take your guest to Grotta Palazzese. Perched on (and in) the cliff, you’ll be spoilt with unrivalled views and a truly romantic setting, not to mention top notch food. Restrictions on opening times are in operation so make sure you check online in advance.

♥ For the best coffee in Puglia, head straight to Bar Gelateria Mario Campanella. Laced with lemon and a liqueur, it sounds strange, but is amazing and ridiculously tasty. The ice cream is also pretty good.

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Lecce

One of the larger places in Puglia, it is definitely more touristy than some of the others, but it’s not without reason. Architecture and history jump out every corner you turn.

Lecce in Puglia, Italy

Things to see and do:

♥ Check out the whipped cream buildings. They’re not really made of whipped cream – this is the term used to describe the OTT lavishes on the stonework.

♥ Go balcony spotting. A lot of them are decorated underneath with fancy ironwork or artwork. It was a way for the wealthy to show off to the peasants walking on the streets below.

♥ Hang out in the main plaza, next to the ruins of the amphitheatre. If you time your visit for midday you’ll hear an opera song (sung by a local) blasted out from a former monastery.

♥ Spend some time with the locals in a cookery class

Where to eat:

♥ Café Avino (in the main plaza) stocks over thirty flavours of ice cream. It’s a legendary foodie stop so be prepared to queue on some occasions.

Locorotondo

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love this area of Puglia. From cutesy cafes to fancy restaurants, Locorotondo has it covered. Small and quiet, it’s a great place to get away from it all.

locorotondo in Puglia, Italy

Things to see and do:

♥ Lose yourself in the cute, winding lanes. Meander through the streets as if you were a local. Enjoy the peace and quiet of it all.

♥ Get above it all by staying in a local apartment with a roof terrace. Head up there for sunset and simply enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation in the sunshine.

locorotondo in Puglia Italy

 

Where to eat:

♥ Classy, contemporary and stylish, UCurdunn, offers a lovely choice of tasty Italian meals.

♥ Café Della Villa stocks over thirty types of teas. Order a herbal tea and it will be served in a totally adorable tea pot. Enjoy free wifi with your tea, and if you’re feeling peckish, a tasty cake too.

♥ L’Affresco is another good spot for a long evening over dinner. Great views and top staff.

 

Ostuni

‘The White City’ otherwise known as Ostuni is a beautiful part of Puglia. High up on a hill, the small town is covered in white buildings, some of which house Michelin starred restaurants. It’s a really iconic and unique part of Puglia.

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Things to see and do:

♥ Get lost in the narrow, steep lanes pausing every so often to take photos of the cute restaurants, sea views and to stroke the sleepy, local cats.

♥ If you’re travelling with kids head to the adventure park. You’ll need to check the opening times and pre-book.

♥ Get a snap with this very Instgrammable door

Puglia Holidays, Raro Villas, Bookings For you, Family Travel Blog, Family Travel Vlog, Taylor Hearts Travel, Puglia, Family holidays in Italy, Puglia Villa, Ostuni, puglia with kids

Where to eat:

♥ Osteria del tempo perso is a beautiful restaurant built into a cave and with an oven dating back t o 1500. It serves a varied menu with options for vegetarians or those on gluten free diets.

♥ La Gilda is a more informal dining option, ideal for a light bite at lunchtime.

Puglia Holidays, Raro Villas, Bookings For you, Family Travel Blog, Family Travel Vlog, Taylor Hearts Travel, Puglia, Family holidays in Italy, Puglia Villa, Ostuni, puglia with kids

Alberobello

Visit the famous town of Alberobello (meaning Tree of War).

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Things to see and do:

♥ Go house hunting. Alberobello is filled with trulli; a special kind of building that UNESCO has deemed extremely noteworthy. A trullo (the singular word for trulli) looks as though it should be on the pages of a fairytale. A pointy stone hat sits upon a circular stone wall. Usually clustered together, four or five of them typically make a living space comprised of a small kitchen, a bedroom, bathroom and sitting room. A trullo with four cones (i.e. a decent living space) will set you back nearly 1million Euros, so it’s probably best just to admire them during your trip!

♥ Feed your inner historian by learning about this fascinating spot. Trulli were originally designed to fall down quickly. It was an illegal village up until 1797. Taxes were due on all properties, so the trulli houses were built as a way to avoid them. When news spread that the tax inspectors were coming, the locals would quickly knock them down.

♥ Get a snap with the so-called magical symbols on the roof of the trulli at the top of the hill.

♥ Don’t want to miss a thing? Try a private tour with wine tasting!

Push Me Twini, Red Kite Strollers

 

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Where to eat:

La Cantina is a tiny restaurant serving traditional Puglian cuisine. As it’s so small, it’s worth booking ahead.

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5* Luxury Heaven ♥ Don Ferrante

Charm and Class at L’Astore Masseria

 

Do you have any tips or recommendations to add to this list? X

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