2021 | Puglia Prime
Puglia is not just a drama in 3 acts. It is also a drama that plays to 3 different audiences. Those who come for the beaches. Those who come to see “brand” Puglia. Those who are open minded; sophisticated and self-informed travellers.
For the benefit of the latter we have decided to share our Puglia Prime. If you have done your homework and really researched your holiday, you deserve to know.
Welcome to PugliaPrime
You are unlikely to read about these destinations and experiences in the echo chamber of online travel forums. In the English language forums there is little to inspire beyond the usual suspects in the Valle d’Itria that are the most visited part of our region.
And because we do feel slightly conflicted - we share at the risk these will become less special and certainly far less exclusive to local clientele - we will keep our reporting brief and without frills. That way we have done our job by revealing these best kept secrets, but in a low-key manner, without the glamour that might otherwise accompany them, and certainly of which they are deserving.
About our list
Our listings are in geographic order from the north heading south, rather than suggesting any priority.
They are not exhaustive. These are places and experiences that we have not included - to date - in any of our guides, blog posts or other content.
Elsewhere you can read about Al Trabucco da Mimì and stylish Santa Maria di Leuca, with its mix of interesting mid century modernist and eccentric villas, the faded star of yesteryear that really does have the sense of being a place located at the end of its geographical extremity - at the end of the world.
Welcome to our Puglia. Welcome to our home.
Gravina in Puglia
60km from Bari, to the west of Altamura. Stunning scenery and that view over the aqueduct. Eventually bursting onto big screens nearby you or at least streaming into your home with James Bond 21: No Time to Die.
Trattoria Mamma Mia | Gravina in Puglia
For the Friday night Brodetto Vastese (fish stew). €30 and only by booking.
To. Die. For.
More | Trattoria Mamma Mia website here.
Osteria La Murgiana | Gravina in Puglia
For an incredible meal and dining experience. This is how Italians eat. The restaurant may be packed with families, including children at dinner time and there is no menu to choose from. Instead enjoy the 8 starters, the 2 pasta and the 2 main dishes.
Incredible value too.
More | Osteria La Murgiana website.
Valle d’Itria | drive the back roads
According to our northern Italian based ex-London friends Greg and Andrea who spent a joyous 3 weeks travelling up and down and around Puglia, forget “totally unauthentic” Alberobello, which is “worth giving a miss.”
“Trulli are its focal point but they are all over the countryside. Grit your teeth and don’t go!” Greg exclaims.
“If you are looking for UNESCO and World Heritage, if you are looking for authenticity then seek out the back roads between Savelletri, Fasano and Cisternino,” urges Andrea.
A viewpoint echoed by Greg.
“Drive the back roads inland between Torre Canne and Savelletri - the UNESCO protected dry walls, with the millennial olives groves. Fantastic drives, walks, bike routes - simply stunning. Breathtaking.”
Fasano | Pentole e Provete
A fabulous restaurant not too far from the station. It may not yet have a Michelin star but they are working towards it. Although it has been open for almost 4 years the proprietors still have an incredible enthusiasm about their food as if they opened yesterday.
Here you will find traditional ingredients cooked and presented in a interesting, contemporary style. And you will feel like you are dining in the lower East Side of Manhattan or in Hoxton - it really is that much of a revelation.
Enjoy incredible cuisine dished up with wave of excitement.
Their website here.
La Cutura | Botanical Garden
A huge botanical garden in Giuggianello, near Maglie.
It is divided into many different sections. A herbal and a rose garden, the largest collection in the world of succulents and an amazing cacti garden. Simply stunning. Located in the heart of Salento, wherever you are in Puglia you have to visit.
More | La Cutura website.