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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Puglia & Matera in photos

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This September, my husband and I made a trip through Puglia and a bit of Basilicata. We booked this trip pretty last minute (early August, for departure September 7th), so I didn't have much time to do research. Tripadvisor, Fodors and a Belgian travel site have been a bit of help, as well as the rare guidebook I found in our bookstore.

Our flight to Bari - on a warm and sunny Belgian morning - was uneventfull until the last half hour when turbulence, due to thick grey clouds, made the flight a little bumpy. The clouds got thicker and thicker and when we landed it poured. By the time we got to our rental car we were drenched. Not a good start of our holidays. And the forecast was more rain and thunderstorms for the next five days.

We settled in in our masseria in Montalbano di Fasano, amidst 40 ha of olive trees, in the Valle d'Itria. This area is known for its thousands years old olive trees. From here we visited the towns and sights in Central Puglia, such as Monopoli, Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Otranto, Ostuni, Ceglie Mesapicca.

After six days we drove further south to stay in the Salento (Specchia) for another six days. Visits were made to Lecce (loved it!), Taranto, Gallipoli, and we drove the coastal road from Santa Maria di Leuca to Otranto. We also spent some time on the beach.

On day 12 we said goodbye to our masseria in Specchia and drove all the way to Matera, in Basilicata. It’s not a long drive in kilometers (230 kms) but, including lunch in Taranto, it took us more than four hours to get to Matera. The fastest way was to go all the way to Brindisi on a fairly slow road (max. speed 80 km/hr and sometimes only 50 km/hr), then the highway to Taranto, then again a slow road to Matera. Some of the roads are in extremely bad condition and in the countryside 40 km/hr is mostly the absolute maximum. The scenery wasn’t very interesting, either. Olives, olives, and more olives and the last 50 kms vineyards, vineyards and more vineyards.

Matera was the highlight and the most interesting part of our trip. We had booked a ‘hotel’ in the sassi. For two and a half days we walked and walked and walked, getting lost in the labyrinth of the sassi. I’ve never done so much stairs in my life. In the small museum in Sassi Barisano we could watch a video about the story of the sassi. Interesting!

After Matera another long drive to Vieste in the north of Puglia, in the Parco Nazionale del Gargano. A different landscape, somewhat mountainous, different flora. The scenery was definitely more interesting than what we had seen before.

Vieste is a coastal town with long stretches of sandy beaches. Excellent to spend our last three days. The historical centre was one of the prettiest we have seen, full of excellent restaurants high on the rock, dining 'under the arches'.

On September 24th our trip came to an end. We had a late flight, so we took the opportunity to visit Trani on our way to the airport. Lovely city on the water with a nice marina. Lively, yet not very touristy as far as I could see.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words ... here's the link to my pictures. Unlabelled and not always in the right order due to the use of a camera and a smartphone.

Enjoy!

https://goo.gl/photos/kfuwaTrUat1CEShs5

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