We are often asked whether towns and cities in Puglia will be open to sustain visitors outside the peak tourist season (usually from Easter through to October, reaching its peak in August with the ferragosto holiday on 15 August).
Commercial activity in Lecce and Bari continues throughout the year. Most restaurants bars and shops are open, irrespective of whether it’s summer or not.
While we observe contributors on travel forums suggesting that smaller towns and cities will still be open for business as usual, justifying this on the basis that locals must eat, our experience is that outside Lecce and Bari this is not actually the case.
Many Italians here in the south do not dine out regularly. Not especially for lunch and not usually during the week. The exception is on Sundays, especially on special occasions - birthdays for example, and on festivals when families will get together for a special lunch in a Masseria or local restaurant.
One of our favourite local restaurants is not currently open for lunch or dinner. Last week we went to 3 different recommended venues for lunch in one of Ostuni’s smaller satellite towns only to find they were not serving.
We often joke that in Puglia there are only two seasons: estate and non-estate (summer and not-summer).
Today we visited Ostuni. And while it was very much open for business as usual, that usual is very different from the busy city that swells to around 100,000 visitors in summer.
Proprietors take the off-season period to close for refurbishment, to prepare for the forthcoming season, or simply because there is no demand to sustain staff and running costs.
A very different looking Ostuni from that in summer...
Though still with wonderful views across the olive groves to the sea.