This is what your day may look like when you go to Puglia: walking barefoot along the beach, looking out over the sea and sometimes taking a swim. Behind you is beautiful nature with tall mountains. In the evening you drive to one of the nearby villages where you enjoy a freshly made pizza with a glass of local wine. Located in the south of Italy, the area is brimming with culture, nature, and beautiful long beaches. We take you to the heel of Italy: Puglia.
Nature, history and culture
Puglia is known for its beautiful coastline, long sandy beaches, and clear blue sea. But the area also has a rich culture and eventful history. Being in the south of Italy, Puglia used to be a popular place for conquerors to make their move. From Romans to Greeks and Spaniards, many left their mark in the province, and you can still see this in the buildings and museums scattered throughout the area.
Old towns and villages have beautiful historical centres filled with atmospheric restaurants and cosy bars. So rent a car in Puglia at the airport or drive with your own car to the area. That way, you can easily get around all the beautiful villages, natural areas and beaches this region has to offer.
The trip through Puglia starts in the north of the region. In the famous Valle d'Itra valley lies Alberobello. This village is known for its Trulli houses. These are round little houses made of white stones with a dark pointed roof. The houses were built in the 15th century as a way to avoid paying taxes. This is because there was no cement between the white stones, so the houses were easily taken down and people did not have to hand over money. Alberobello has more than a thousand of these extraordinary houses, in various shapes and sizes. If you walk a bit through the village, you will see that it is full of them.
You will find slightly more tourists in Alberobello, especially in the Rione Monti district. This district is full of the Trulli houses, some of which have been turned into souvenir shops and restaurants. Want to avoid the tourists? The Aia Piccola district is a lot quieter. Here are a little less Trulli houses and the locals live here. You will notice this when you walk through the neighbourhood: laundry is hanging out, someone is sweeping his porch and the locals are talking quietly to each other - so you get the feeling that you really are among the locals.
Spending the night on a farm
Although you can spend a night in one of the Trulli houses, Puglia brings so much beautiful nature that it's nice to take a break from the villages. What better place to do this than in a masseria? This is an old farmhouse or country house, in the middle of nature that are especially common in the south of Italy. These are often converted into a bed and breakfast or a spa. Just below Alberollo is the beautiful Masseria Montenapoleone. As soon as you step into the yard here, you feel the peace wash over you. And that while there is also an awful lot to do. An olive oil tasting, natural spa and dining under the stars are among the activities they offer. In the masseria, you can totally unwind, get back into nature and away from the hectic life of the city.
From the masseria, you can drive straight to Ostuni, which lies in the middle of Puglia. Also called 'la città bianca', the white town. And not without reason, many houses there are dazzlingly white, especially when the sun shines upon them. The inhabitants of the village chalk their houses white every year, so that they remain beautifully white. Wander through the pretty sparkling alleys and then sit down in the evening at Taverna Della Gesolia. Tucked away in between all the streets of Ostuni, is this wonderful restaurant with lovely courtyard garden. Here you can enjoy local dishes, such as a tasty charcuterie and cheese board or a glass of delicious local wine.
From Ostuni, drive on to Lecce. There are some kilometres in between the two places, perfect for enjoying nature for a while. Drive past hills filled with olive groves and rocky mountains. Pack a nice lunch and make it a lovely day by car. Eventually you'll arrive in Lecce, also known as 'Florence of the South'. The village gets its name from the beautiful architecture. Many buildings feature detailed ornaments made from a stone that looks a lot like marble, called baroque. Santa Croce is a great example to see how beautiful the buildings in Lecce are. The church, built in the 16th century, gives an impressive view. Tip: if you want to have breakfast where the locals can also be found, ‘00’ Doppiozero is the place to be. Here you can enjoy a delicious Italian espresso with a Pasticciotti, a typical pastry from Lecce, or order a freshly baked sandwich with fresh products from the region.
Seeking peace and quiet
A little further south from Lecce is another beautiful masseria in the middle of nature. Masseria Naturalis is an organic resort and spa where you can leave all the rush behind and unwind. The masseria makes its own aloe vera and has a vineyard. Much of what you see and eat is organic. You can also go here for a relaxing beauty or spa treatment. The products they use during the treatment come from their own garden and are therefore handmade and organic. The atmosphere gives a soothing feeling. Another massaria not far from Lecce is Masseria Del Gigante. It's already a bit in the name: the massaria has a huge estate surrounding it. Walk quietly through the woods, take a dip in the pool. With all the space they have, it seems like you have a paradise all to yourself.
Still want to get out and about during your stay at the masserias? Grotta della Poesia (the cave of poetry) is close to the accommodation. A cove formed by the sea in the rocks creates a natural pool with turquoise water. Here you can jump into the water from the rocks. Close to the cave is Torre Sant'Andrea. This area is perfect for a lovely picnic while enjoying the view: huge rocks finely scoured by the clear blue sea.
The last and most southern village on the list is Otranto. A port village known as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. With a colourful harbour, beautiful centre and eventful history, Otranto is not to be missed when travelling to Puglia. Walk through the centre and you will see many stories of conquests and battles come to life. After visiting the cathedral and other beautiful buildings, are you looking for a good place to eat? Then take a seat at L’ortale. This is a small and cosy place to spend your evening. Here you can try all the local products, such as different cheeses from Puglia or a delicious house wine. For the best sea views, head to Molo San Nicola. Especially if you want to enjoy a beautiful sunset in peace. If you do want to dive into the sea for a day from Otranto, drive to Cala dell'Acquaviva. Between all the rocks is a cove where you can easily enter the water to cool off and enjoy view over the sea.