Located in the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is a region that deserves to be discovered at a slow pace. Relax and enjoy all it has to offer!
Between the beautiful white villages, the sandy beaches, the crystal clear sea, the olive groves and the picturesque countryside, the baroque architecture, the gastronomy and the trullis, there is much to see and do.
I had the opportunity to spend 5 wonderful days there in October, a time when the region catches its breath after summer but the sun and temperatures are still mild.
But let’s face it, 5 days in Puglia is not much.
It’s barely enough to get a glimpse of it and to know, from the very first day, that you’ll be back.
Here is our 5-day itinerary in Puglia, with the must-sees and must-do while travelling in this magnificent italian region.
Getting to Puglia: The most convenient way is to land at Bari airport, but it is also possible to drive there from Naples in just a few hours.
Choose a part of Puglia: the region is vast and there is a lot to see and do. But to fully enjoy your stay in Puglia, it’s better to choose a part of the region and discover it at a slow pace, enjoying life and an extra cup of gelato in the afternoon instead of running everywhere to see everything. And needless to say, attractions are often closed for a few hours in the afternoon which makes it difficult to have “productive” visiting days.
Our itinerary: As we were arriving from Naples, we decided to concentrate on the southern part of Puglia, with 3 nights in Locorotondo and 2 nights in Lecce.
We went there in October, when there were beautiful sunny days but it was a little too cold for my taste for swimming.
However, you should know that Puglia has some beautiful beaches.
Trulli in Alberobello and the surroundings
Emblems of the Apulia region, it would be difficult not to include Alberobello and its trullis in the itinerary, especially on a first visit.
The trullis are these stone dwellings with conical roofs that can be found here and there along the roads.
With these small pointed roofs with mysterious signs, one feels at times in a magical universe.
Although the city is very touristy and busy, it’s in Alberobello that you can find the greatest concentration of trullis.
As a result, the city has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The origin of the trullis goes back to the 12th century. Theories about their origin vary but many believe that since these stone dwellings are without foundation or mortar, they allowed people to be exempt from taxes.
There is also some debate as to the meaning of the pinnacles at the top of the trullis, whether they are religious symbols or rather the signature of the masons.
You can also visit the interior of a trullo, the Sovrano trullo, the only one with a floor.
Staying in a trullo
To get the full experience of a trullo, what better way than to stay in one ? There are many opportunities in the area to stay in restored trullis.
There are accommodations of all styles, sometimes more luxurious, with swimming pools, restaurants, etc.
It is at the
Agriturismo Masseria Aprile
at the foot of Locorotondo, we were able to realize this experience. The hotel was ideally located for exploring the surrounding area.
The interior of the trulli is simple yet comfortable and very clean.
If you stay there, walk around the property to see the olive groves and say hello to the adorable donkey.
Breakfast time, with a view of the town of Locorotondo in the distance and the excellent coconut and Nutella cakes (OMG!!), always started the day in a great way.
Locorotondo and the small villages around
One of the pleasures of a stay in Puglia is to travel the roads and visit the surrounding villages.
All white or perched on a hill, circular in shape or located on the coast, they all have their specificities.
To better enjoy it and avoid running, we limited ourselves to three villages for this first stay: Locorotondo, Polignano a Mare and Cisternino for its fornelli pronti.
Perched on a hill, Locorotondo can be seen from afar.
Built on a circular plan, the white city and its small paved streets are magnificent.
We started the visit with the historical center and its churches, before continuing to the clock tower and the Palazzo Morelli.
Maps of the city are available at the Tourist Office located in the central square.
On Via Dura ,you can also see a cummersa, a typical Locorontodo habitat with a narrow facade and a sloping roof.
And of course, we there’s always time for a glass of wine with a view in Locorotondo. We tried the Locorotondo DOC, a white wine, fresh and light.
Polignano a Mare
We visited Polignano a Mare on a very windy day. The city is very pleasant to discover and breathtaking views of the sea await us at every corner.
It is also in this city that the restaurant Grotta Palazzese is located. Located in one of the cavities of the cliffs of Polignano, it always appears in the lists of the most beautiful or unusual restaurants.
It was closed at the time of our passage but considering the comments which say that it is very expensive and not so good, it was okay to only observe it from afar.
Spectacular view when the waves hit the cliffs of Polignano a Mare.
Don’t be surprised if you see groups of tourists singing Volare in front of the statue of Domenico Mudognu, the singer of the song.
Good addresses to eat and drink
- Docks 101, enjoy a drink on their terrasse (Via Nardelli 101)
- U Curdunn, taste the regional cuisine in a beautiful setting (Via Dura, 19)
- Pizzeria Quanto Basta great pizza, great price (Via Morelli, 12)
- Al Vecchio Fornello, experience a meal in a fornello pronto, a great quality-price (Via Basiliani 18)
Known as the “Florence of the South” and considered one of the capitals of Baroque architecture, Lecce is a must-see in Puglia.
I fell in love with this unforgettable city, its palaces, its lively streets, its beautiful stores and its many terraces.
Walking and getting lost in the narrow streets of the historic center of Lecce is magical.
We constantly had to stop to admire an architectural detail.
At the bend in the street, another spectacular building is always waiting for us.
Piazza del Duomo, where the cathedral of Lecce is located, is worth a visit both during the day and at night when the square is all lit up.
Lecce by night, simply beautiful.
Where to stay in Lecce?
Staying in a baroque palace also adds a lot to the experience.
We stayed at the Vicodella Cavallerizza,in a large suite with living room, bedroom and bathroom.
It is an old palace completely renovated by a very nice couple and a few minutes from all the attractions of the city, in the heart of the historic center. Getting there by car was a bit of a rally, since the GPS signal does not reach the historic center, but it was worth it.
Otranto is a beautiful little town on the seaside where it is good to linger.
Apart from its seaside, the city also has a rich history. It was successively a Greek colony, a Roman and a Byzantine center.
You can visit the castle and its tower, the church of San Pietro and its cathedral.
The cathedral of Otranto
The cathedral of Otranto distinguishes itself with its mosaic floor, created by the monk Pantaleone in 1166, which illustrates legends and the lives of the Saints.
It took him nearly 600,000 tesserae to make it.
The cathedral also houses the relics of the martyrs of Otranto, the remains of 800 people slaughtered by the Turks in 1480 for refusing to renounce their faith.
Along the coast between Otranto and Leuca, the tip of the heel of the boot
To go along the coast between Otranto and Leuca to reach the tip of the heel of the boot and check it out of the list, is it worth it?
If you like to drive, enjoy beautiful scenery and drive through small towns, the answer is yes!
Is it a must? Maybe not, but we loved the ride and the views.
After Otranto, you can see the towers along the coast.
A short hike allows you to get there and contemplate the coast.
The journey stops in Leuca. There, you can visit the sanctuary of Santa Maria di Leuca. A column is erected where Saint Peter would have preached.
You can also see the lighthouse of Leuca.
And of course, you have to take a picture of yourself at the tip of Italy’s boot heel!
Even though it is not technically located in Puglia, but rather in the region next to it, Basilicata, a stop in Matera is almost mandatory .
It is a beautiful old city, classified as a World Heritage Site and European Capital of Culture in 2019.
Matera was another favorite with its sassis, a set of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside.
We only stayed there for a day, but if you can, it’s worth staying overnight to see the decor all lit up.
Evacuated in 1952, because of the poor living conditions in which its inhabitants lived, the sassis have been reopened since then and now house museums.
It is quite unusual to walk through these interlocking houses, where the street is sometimes the roof of a house below.
To see a restored house, you can visit the Casa Grotta di vico Solitario.
The dwellings usually had a stable and a common room. Without running water, life was hard.
More about Puglia
All our good addresses
For a drink:
- Docks 101 (Via Nardelli 101, Locorotondo)
Where to eat:
- U Curdunn (Via Dura, 19, Locorotondo)
- Pizzeria Quanto Basta (Via Morelli, 12, Locorotondo)
- Al Vecchio Fornello (Via Basiliani 18, Cisternino)
Where to stay: