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Puglia Without a Car

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I am just starting to plan a trip to the Puglia area for next April. (Special thanks to ekscrunchy and chucktown_dobbs for their outstanding trip reports!) We will be arriving in Bari by ferry (from Corfu) and will have 8 or 9 days. We prefer to use public transportation although we might want to rent a car for a day. Our main interests are culture and history (not beaches).

We would like to base ourselves in just two locations since we are of the Slow Travel persuasion. One base will definitely be Matera (Locando de San Martino sounds fabulous). A couple questions about Matera: How steep is it? (My husband does pretty well, but lots of very steep steps would be a problem for him.) Could we find enough to do for 4 or 5 days?

The big question is where else to base ourselves – hopefully somewhere we would not need a car (other than for a day of wandering). Would love to do a couple side trips to places like Lecce, Alberobello, Ostuni (others?) I was considering Martina Franca or Gioia del Colle?

Also we will be here during the week before Easter. Are any towns exceptionally good for pre Easter celebrations?

One last question: Our next destination is Rome. Will it be a problem arriving on Easter Sunday? (I know transportation will be more limited and Rome will be packed.) Would it be better to arrive on Easter Monday?

Thanks so much for your help!

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