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Puglia, Italy in Depth: Itinerary Suggestions

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We have been to Italy many times from Como in the north to Sicily in the south including, of course, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast, etc. We are seriously considering the Puglia and would like your thoughts in terms of:

1. Is 7-10 days enough time to do it leisurely?

2. What are 1 or 2 towns to use as our base from which to take day trips to explore various towns and other areas?

3. We would like to drive and have driven in Tuscany, Sicily, Provence, etc. How easy is it to find your way to (and into) the various towns?

4. Can you recommend some good hotels/villas in the area? (FYI: we don't like big chain hotels but rather prefer small boutique types, although the room has to be very clean, secure, have a private bath/shower and nice furnishings)

5. We're coming from the US - I'm guessing we fly to Rome and then what in terms of flights to Bari? or Brindisi? or some other airport?

6. We love Italian food - any restaurant suggestions?

7. We ordinarily go in the spring or fall to avoid the tourist crush - any suggestions for best month to go?

8. What are the must-see towns, sites, experiences, local markets,other places of interest in Puglia that should not be missed (exclude churches unless they are so unique and unlike the hundreds of others in Italy ).

It's a long list, I know, but whatever information you have on any of these questions will be appreciated. (FYI: I have read many of the Puglia posts on this site already, including references to T&L, sloTravel, etc.).

Thank you very much.

---glenn

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