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Rome/Puglia: seeking itinerary advice

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We are planning a trip to Puglia for next spring. I’ve read so many terrific threads and reports here that I can taste the pettule, but I still need help with the sequence and logistics of my itinerary.

Already booked: flights in and out of Rome and planning to stay 5 nights there before heading to Puglia for 12 more. There are actually 18 nights in our stay.

We were thinking of staying in or near (in no particular order):
Ostuni – 3 nights
Lecce – 3 nights
Matera – 2 nights
Gargano promontory– 4 nights

1) We are comfortable driving around and have a few options to get there:
a) Taking a train to Foggia and picking up a car there.
b) Flying to Bari or Brindisi and doing the same.

My concern about option ‘a’ is getting the type of car we would like to rent (decent automatic) in a small location. Is this concern unfounded?

2) Since we will fly back to Rome from either Bari or Brindisi, what should be the order of our itinerary? With the Gargano far from everything else, this has really stumped me. How would you organize this?

Lastly, we plan to fly back to FCO late afternoon and stay nearby before our flight home the next day around noon. This is our 18th night. I’m afraid to fly the morning of our flight home in case of some unforeseen issue. Good idea?

3) Is 12 nights enough in Puglia? I could cut a night from Rome. (We have been there before, but not in many, many years.)

All you Puglia experts, thanks for any insights that you could share with me!

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