The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia - Puglia in 360°
From the north of the region to the very tip of the heel, our contributors live, eat and breathe Puglia. Our region, our home. That’s why we see it in 360°. For our full guides use the dropdown menu in the menu bar.
We wouldn’t suggest Alberobello as a home base for your visit. With tourism left, right and centre accommodation is overpriced and the town overcrowded. There are so many beautiful trulli that you can stay and relax in all around the countryside.
Having decided that the Valle d’Itria is where you want to stay, if the gentle buzz of staying in a picturesque town appeals to you then with your own transport consider instead one the nearby towns.
Locorotondo - one of the borghi più belli d'Italia - or Ostuni might at first glance look similar, but dig deeper and you will find that one has a very different pace from the other.
Carovigno - little more than a 10 minute drive south of Ostuni - has a small but perfectly formed old town that punches above its weight with some stunning restaurants, including one with a Michelin star, and is closer to two of the better known local beaches.
If you are relying on public transport Monopoli on the Adriatic coast with access to the main rail network between Bari and Lecce (and beyond) may suit you better.
If your arrive or leave from Bari airport and you have an opportunity to spend a night in town, then a visit to the old town - Bari vecchia - is certainly worthwhile. Especially around lunch or dinner time when the sounds and smells of residents cooking for their extended families can be heard.
It might make for a suitable mini-break for a long-weekend away, especially with a night or two in nearby Matera. Otherwise we wouldn’t select Bari as a base to spend your holiday, especially if you have your own transport.
Pros | good public transport links | Bari vecchia and the old port
Cons | lack of “wow” factor | limited Touristic interest beyond Bari vecchia and the old port
Irrespective of whether you visit on or off season, you will always find a wide choice of restaurants and boutiques.
With your own transport some of Puglia’s finest and less visited treasures open up. From golden stretches of glorious beach to the rugged open spaces of the Salento.
Located only 30 minutes from Lecce by car is the Grotta della Poesia (the Cave of Poetry) where you can swim in the clear waters of a natural swimming pool formed by a sinkhole in the rock
Nearby at Torre dell’Orso is the award winning Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle. According to legend the two stacks rising up out of the sea are two dutiful and innocent sisters transformed by the gods to save them from drowning to be together forever. With soft, white sand, crystal clear sea and gently undulating dunes dappled with maquis scrub, framed by the pine grove behind, it is one of Puglia’s finest beaches.
As well as Otranto and Gallipoli lesser well known towns such as Santa Cesarea Terme, Castro, Marina Serra and Santa Maria di Leuca are within easy reach, even if you only want to explore them for the day. But consider staying a night or two and really get under the skin, and the endless blue sky, of Salento.
Where is the best base for ...
Puglia is eminently navigable, the distance from town to town reasonably short. Wherever you have chosen to stay a number of interesting locations will be within easy reach.
The region's public transport limitations means that having your own transport will open up so much more of our region. But if you are relying on public transport a few carefully selected choices will still provide the opportunity to explore.
Puglia’s Ferroviario railway network.
Decisions, decisions ...
A week in Puglia gives you the option of choosing two “home” bases to experience more of our region. We would recommend one centrally located in the Valle d’Itria, and a second in the Salento.
A longer stay allows more flexibility although you won’t need to change accommodation every night of your stay to cover all of Puglia. Two to three nights per destination will provide ample opportunity to discover the diversity that the region’s six geographic areas offer.
Exactly where to make your home base / bases will depend on your transport options and the type of holiday that you want to have.
Do you want to soak up the sun or a lively atmosphere, or maybe both? Perhaps you want to experience the slow rhythm of a southern Italian summer in a small Salento town. Some mindful quiet solitude and off the beaten track wilderness? Whatever your criteria for a perfect holiday Puglia will offer it in abundance.
Consider Ostuni. Its nooks and crannies are worth taking two to three days to explore, at a gentle pace. It has a vibrant centro storico in summer, with restaurants and bars tucked away in every alleyway that twists around and up and down the hilltop upon which the duomo sits.
It is also the perfect place to venture into the Valle d’Itria from.
Locorotondo, officially one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, the slightly underwhelming Alberobello and the breathtaking Polignano a Mare with iconic views from the balconata sul mare are all within easy reach by car.
Or you can be on one of Ostuni’s beaches within 15 minutes.
But the train station is located 3 km from the city centre. The bus connection is infrequent - even in summer. And taxi options are limited ...
Should I stay in different locations?
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Ostuni is a perfect home base for venturing into the Valle d’Itria.
Locorotondo, officially one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, the slightly underwhelming Alberobello and the breathtaking Polignano a Mare with iconic views from the Balconata sul Mare are all within easy reach by car.
A 13 km drive will take you to the acknowledged foodie paradise of Ceglie Messapica while 15 km to the west is Cisternino famous for its bombette pugliese - street food made and cooked by the butcher, served at tables outside their shops.
Carovigno - little more than a 10 minute drive south of Ostuni - has a small but perfectly formed old town that punches above its weight with some stunning restaurants, including one with a Michelin star. Much quieter and less well known than Ostuni - as reflected in the pricing of holiday accommodation found there.
Lecce’s old town is under an hour away (78 km - park for free directly outside the old town). Even a a day trip to Santa Maria di Leuca, at the very tip of the heel of Italy’s boot, is possible (a 1h45m drive via Gallipoli - and well worth it)
However Ostuni train station is located 3 km from the city centre. You can catch a local bus into town. But these are infrequent - even in summer. Taxi options are limited ...