A month in Puglia, any tips?

May 7th, 2014, 06:01 PM
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A month in Puglia, any tips?

I'm excited that by the end of the month we'll be heading to Rome, then heading towards Puglia for a month. We've been talking about this for many years. I like to get off the beaten path so that I can have the opportunity to speak and listen only in Italian, something that's very difficult to achieve in the larger cities of Italy.

The idea is to travel as we normally do, winging it. I will have papers containing my research, each page with a certain town or village that I'd like to visit. They each contain accommodation ideas, sites, and restaurants to seek out for that particular town. We travel super light, using public transportation mostly, but willing to pay a driver to take us somewhere.

With all of the time we have, we can find a town and chill for a few days, or stay a night and decide to move on. So exciting!

The first thing we'll do is spend a couple of nights in Rome because I love Rome! This time I want to take us to Ostia Antica. When we decide to leave we'll head to Pescara stay a couple of nights, then travel down the coast and stay on the Gargano Penn. eventually making our way to Lecce. Before heading back for Rome, we'd dedicate a few days to staying in Matera. Some of the towns I'm interested in are Alberobello (I know it's touristy, but I'm a tourist, and I think we'd like to walk around there) Conversano, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Ostuni, Otranto, Polignano a Mare, Trani, Porto Cesareo, Porto Selvaggio, Galatina, and Monopoli!

Years ago I had found a small city called Carovigno, and their website had a webcam set up in their main piazza. I always thought that someday I would visit that piazza. I would sit at my computer and watch people and cars come and go through the piazza and watch the palm trees sway. I met a kind British woman through TA. She has/(or had) a cute and inexpensive home in this town. I had inquired about staying there.

So this is all very exciting that it is coming true, and I wanted to share to see if there are any ideas or comments you'd like to share. It has been since 2003 since we were last in Italy, first time in Puglia. This time I get to spend a birthday there. That'll be fun. Yea!

I know I have a lot of trip reports to read. Good thing, too since the very first time I had wanted to go there, pretty much only Neo had been, and (is it) Bob the Navigator? He had also written about Puglia, but in those days, that was about it as far as trip reports are concerned.

Anyway, I wanted to see if there was anything in particular that you'd like to share. Thank you.
Dai is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 12:41 AM
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bilboburgler is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 12:44 AM
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I'd also recommend booking a course with Yle at https://www.facebook.com/yltour?fref=ts a rael breath of fresh air, she runs cookery, language, painting, yoga courses in and around Lecce and might have something you would like to do.
bilboburgler is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 07:43 AM
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very cool, Bilbo. Thank you. I look forward to reading your thread. However, the Yle link is not working for me.
Dai is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 08:26 AM
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Try this

I'd try and include Gravina in your tour, looks like a sheep based farming town until you find the ravine on 3 sides and the 1000AD churches in the ravine
bilboburgler is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 08:40 AM
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Carovigno is a beautiful town, just inland from the coast, near Ostuni. It sees few tourists, but has some very good places to eat. Many of the restaurants are meat specialists/butcher shops but there are also other eating spots.

There is a well-stocked tourist office off the piazza that I found very helpful. I think it would make a great town to stay in for a few days. (We drove there from Savelletri to eat at Sotto in the town and I wished I had had more time).

I've made 3 trips to Puglia in recent years; here are two trip reports I've written. (Did not write a report on the most recent visit--to Basilicata, The Salento, and Savelletri but willingn to offer any help or answer any questions about those locations).

You can see Alberbello in 2-3 hours; there is more to the town than the tourist area, but it is quite small.


ekscrunchy is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 09:02 AM
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I like the idea, and I made a similar trip a couple of years ago. One issue I have with it is your mode of transportation.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with getting around by train. But it's going to be difficult to explore some of the smaller towns that don't have good (or any) rail service. I know you said you're willing to hire a driver, and that might work well for you. I still think it's going to limit your exploration a bit. I also think you'd have to find bus service or drive yourself to some of those places.

Driving in that region of Italy isn't difficult if you have GPS. I do understand that some people just don't want to deal with a car, no matter how convenient it is, and that you probably wouldn't want to rent a car for a month.

Whatever you decide, enjoy your trip.
vincenzo32951 is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 03:51 PM
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Bilbo: Thank you for that resource. It looks like a really nice company.

ekscrunchy: I will most definitely read your trip reports. It's so cool that you spent time in Carovigno! I think I really must go, considering I spent so many hours watching their webcam imagining myself spending time there. I might as well stay there too since I love the idea of being in a little non touristy town, especially upon hearing that you found it to be a real beauty! We're vegetarians, but we can eat pasta, pizza, and grilled veggies all day long.

Also it is cool that your trip report references pane di altamura. I had seen a Jamie Oliver video when he was there and it made me want to go. Looking forward to diving into your rerports and taking notes.

vincenzo: What I have read so far is that it's not as daunting a task driving around the heel...but I hate driving anywhere and my husband's driving is worse! We do NOT make a good driving team. As a passenger, he tells me to "watch that guy." Or he'll tell me to honk at someone who isn't driving as he expects them to drive. Or he'll tell me to go around them, or, or, or. When he drives, I tell him, "turn to the right, here" (meaning the next block approaching) and he'll respond, "HERE?! as he puts on the left turn blinker and keeps repeating, "Here? HERE? HERE?" as we pass the street that he was supposed to turn onto. Or if he does take the turn, he'll take it so slowly, I feel like getting out and pushing the vehicle.

I guess I'll never say, "never" in this case, but I wouldn't count on seeing me or him driving in Italy. The way I look at it is like this, if we pay someone to take us to Carovigno for example, we can stay three nights or so. We won't have to worry about parking anywhere, we won't be paying for the car during those three or four nights, so I think it kind of evens itself out. Thank you for your well wishes!
Dai is offline  
May 8th, 2014, 04:50 PM
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ekscrunchy, can you recommend a good place to have seafood around Savelletri? Thanks!
aphie is offline  
May 9th, 2014, 10:18 AM
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There are seafood restaaurants in the port of Savelletri and strung out along the coast to the south. For raw fish and sea urchin, you can try the fish market, Pescheria 2Mari, right in the port. They have tables.

Also in the port is Da Renzina; I've eaten there twice; the first time I had a divine spaghetti with sea urchin (ricci di mare) but on the second visit, my fish was just ok. The place looks like a wedding hall, but they do have tables at the window that are over the water.

More atmospheric, and higher priced, is Ristoranti Maddalena, next door. I've not been there, though. They offer outdoor dining on the sea.


Further south along the coast, you can find rustic places and conventional seafood restaurants. This one is a local favorite, but there are others.


This one in Torre Canne is good, too; it is pleasant to stroll around that area at night…along the sea.


If you are there in ricci season, you must head to this stretch of coast.

When ordering seafood, I would make sure to take a look at the fish, and would probably solicit the opinion of the waiter about waht is best that day. This will be better than ordering off a printed menu, and having a fixed idea of exactlyl what you want to eat.
ekscrunchy is offline  
May 9th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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I just spent about 2 weeks in Puglia and Matera traveling alone and using public transportation.

I atarted in Lecce spending 6 nights there,I took 2 all day 6 person mini van tours and visited Otranto,Castro and Galatina on 1 tour, On both tours I was the only English speaking person but I have a very limited basic undersanding of Italian so it was not that difficult for me .

The other tour we visited Ostuni, Martina Franca, Cisterino(where we had lunch at a butcher shop who grilled the meat you chose, I skipped the meat and opted for Orchiette (excuse spelling ) with rape (turnip greens) which was one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had.Then we visited Locotorondo and Alberobello.

Another day I took a train and went to Gallipoli a lovely sea town.

I absolutely loved Lecce and could have spent more time there but other adventures were awaiting.

After Lecce I took the train to Trani and spent 3 nights there, another very nice town

I absolutely loved Puglia and its people and would like to return , perhaps next year.

Next took train to Altamura for 3 nights a fabulous town with great bread and lovely people

Next I took a private car at the cost of 20 Euros to Matera where I spent 3 nights.

I am now in Florence which I reached by train.

Yes using public transportation will somewhat limit what you can see and do but my feeling is what ever I was able to do is a big plus and blessing.

An aside I am 84 year old woman who lives aone since my husbands death 9 years. I love to travel,my health is good and I really do not like driving..
When my husband was still alive we made many trips and he always drove.
tdk320n is offline  
May 9th, 2014, 12:51 PM
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tdk320n: You ROCK! Thank you for the breakdown of how you traveled by public transportation. I must ask you a couple of questions,

1. With whom did you take the day tours?
2. Do you remember the butcher shop? (Cisternino is another town I failed to mention which is on my list)
3. Just to be clear, did you pay someone to drive you to Matera from Altamura? Do you have his/her name and phone number?

Enjoy Florence! If you haven't already done so, I hope you'll make your way to Piazza Michelangelo on the other side of the river. LOVE the view from there.

This weekend when I dive into the trip reports, I hope some of you will check in on this thread in case I have any questions, or maybe I will ask the questions on your TR thread to help others in the future when your TR's are viewed in the future.

Mille grazie!
Dai is offline  
May 9th, 2014, 01:33 PM
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I will check my notes for the name of the tour driver, I had his card, hopefully I did not lose it.
I will also gladly give you names of B&B that I stayed if you are interested..
The one in Lecce was extraordinary and inexpensive.

I had a driver that my B&B in Altamura arranged for me. He was very nice and charged me 20 Euros for the trip. My American guilt kicked in and I gave him a 5 Euro tip and he was estactic.

I do not remember the name of the restaurant in Cisterino that I had the fabulous pasta in, however if you use the tour driver that I did , he picked the place.

It was what my husband used to call the brother in law stop. We took no tours except the occassional 1 day tour and any gift shop or restaurant that the driver suggested we assumed he would get a kick back or was related to

As to Florence, I was very fortunate in my progessional life , I did a great amount of traveling to Europe and Asia.
While the working part of the trips were hard, it was fabulous to be able to see so much of the world.

I would come to Florence twice a year for many years, so each trip back here is like a trip down memorary lane for me.

I will get back to you on this thread probably by Monday when I will be in Paris.

I am sure you will love Puglia, it really is fabulous.
tdk320n is offline  
May 9th, 2014, 03:50 PM
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tdk: Awesome! Yes, PLEASE give me the name of the B&B in Lecce, or anywhere else that you enjoyed. I expect to stay at least 4 nights in Lecce. I am interested in the tours, and would also be interested in being driven down to the basilica in Leuca.
Have fun in Florence, and I look forward to getting the referrals from you. Thanks and buon viaggio!
Dai is offline  
May 10th, 2014, 05:29 AM
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Dai - I hope you have a great trip and that you'll be writing a trip report - maybe even posting during the trip. My husband and I are going in July - to many of the same towns you list, but a few of ones on your list I had not planned on but now I think I'll look into them - Caronigvo looks interesting.

Vincenzo - you stated "Driving in that region of Italy isn't difficult if you have GPS". How difficult is it if you DON'T have GPS? We usually just download and print out a lot of maps from google maps, mapquest, etc. and those along with a purchased map have been enough. Is it worth getting an Italian SIM card with a data plan to use GPS on the phone.
isabel is offline  
May 10th, 2014, 05:56 AM
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If you get off the beaten track you will find a fair number of raods without labels, names etc, cross roads without a clue. Getting a little lost is easy. If you have a detailed map you will be fine.
bilboburgler is offline  
May 10th, 2014, 06:33 AM
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Can't wait to read the trip report, Dai. After all, your pre-trip report is simply outstanding.

We loved Puglia. I am happy that you are making the out-of-the-way trek to Matera (technically not Puglia) because it is such a unique place.

And by the way, Dai and tdk320n, we are like you--we will do ANYTHING to avoid renting a car. And we are always told, "Well, you can't do that without a car." Somehow, we do. We have visited Europe at least twice a year for the past 15 years, and we rented a car exactly ONCE in 2000. Never again.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 11th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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I am in Puglia now, for the week (after a week based in Sorrento) and it has way exceeded my expectations. Sorrento, Capri, and the AC were mobbed. We were glad to leave.

Spent 2 nights in Matera on the way over from Naples. Wonderful! I recommend B&B Le Fornaci, in the modern city steps from the main piazza and the sassi.

We are based now in a perfect little trullo in the middle of olive groves about 9km from San Goto dei Normanni. we have a car, and you would need one to stay here. visited Ostuni yesterday--nice--and the beach today. drove through Carovigno yesterday on our way back from ostuni--didn't seem that interesting but we didn't stop, so didn't do it justice. Everything is definitely closed up in the middle of the day!

The poppies and other wildflowers are unbelievable, as are the olive groves. We rode bikes on one of the cicloturistico routes thus afternoon--gorgeous. I think you will LOVE Puglia!

On our list for the next few days are Locorotondo, Cisterino, Polignano di Mare, and Lecce. As well just laying in the hammock overlooking the olive grove! A great, relaxing week.
aprillilacs is offline  
May 11th, 2014, 10:18 AM
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Sorry for all the typos--tough to be accurate when typing on my phone. The place we are near is San Vito dei Normanni. We got here using a Gps but have been using the Puglia Michelin map to get around--it does the job.
aprillilacs is offline  
May 11th, 2014, 11:23 PM
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In Paris now and having problems with wireless access in my rental apsrtment. It seems that AOL is not available in all areas according to landlord and I am on AOL I have made many trips to Paris and stayed in many different apartments and this has never happened before .So please bear with me if any errors.

As promised info on my trip

In Lecce

I stayed at a wonderful B&B absolutely fabulous . The owners were great, ditto location, room, cleanliness and breakfast
Can not imagine a better place to stay


It is a small B&B so if you are interested suggest making reservations ASAP

Driver that I used in Lecce

He spoke no English but that was not a problem

73041 CARMIANO(le)

TEL (+39)339.6988163
email [email protected]


I never hired him privately, there were always 5 or 6 other people and he charged me 50 euros for the whole day, I found that very reasonable for 6-8 hours of him driving me all over.

In Trani

I stayed at a lovely B&B again great location, run by nice people who were very helpful. The room was small, breakfast was set up buffet style in the hallway and you took your breakfast back to the room. There was no table in the room so it was somewhat uncomfortable having breakfast. There was a NESPRESSO machine in the room so there was unlimited coffee and tea
The B&B was owned by owners of the best restaurant in Trani which was mext door. I never ate there, While in Trani I was never in the mood for a serious meal, I now regret not having had a meal there.



In Altamura

I stayed at a very simple very Italian very inexpensive B&B owned by a lovely woman who spoke no English. Location was fabulous. The B&B was next door to her very beautiful home where she served breakfast;, very typical Italian breakfast very fresh juice, great coffee, cornet, home made cake AND fruit
I loved Altamura and spent 2 nights there. I believe that I was the only American in the town.
I had a wonderful guide who had very limited English but had a helper who spoke a bit more English, they were wonderful and we had a great time visiting the town The guide was arranged by the owner
Altamura is known to have the best bread in all of Italy. It really is fabulous bread. When I mentioned that I had heard about their wonderful bread, they took me to the oldest Panifico in Altmura and I saw the wood burning ovens and I was inrroduced to the baker

While walking through the town with the guides we met an aunt of one of the 2 woman who was a professional singer who was on the way to a church to sing at a wedding, I expressed interest in seeing this so we went to the church and attended part of the wedding mass, it was a very long high mass so we went in and out a few times and came back at the end so we could see the walk back and the throwing of the rice and confetti. It was really a nice thing to witness

The driver that I used in Altmura was suggested to me by the owner of the B&B, she made the arrangement for me
it was a private driver from my B&B direct to my hotel in Matera. The cost was 20 euros. He was a very nice man and unbelievably cheap for such service.

I paid 76 euros for the 2 nights at the B&B


In Matera

I decided not to stay in a cave since I was somewhat apprenhensive abour the steps .
Not sure if I made the right decision.but in retrospect it was right for me I stayed at a very nice old fashioned hotel in a great location.in the flat part of town. So very easy to walk about.
I did hire a guide who was highly recommended by many members of Fodors. She was absolutely wonderful, She took me down to the caves so I did have a chance to see what cave living is.
She was so interesting and intelligent, and her English was very good.
Her name is Nadia Garlatti email [email protected]
cell # 347 8548845

VIA RIDOLA 5 75100


After Puglia I went to Florence, I know you have been there but I can make a recommendation for a really nice hotel owned and operated by a great family. The location is great, the rooms are extremely clean, WIFI is great, location fabulous,ditto breakfasts great and inexpensive, they also give a 10% discount if you pay in cash.


www.hotelcasci.com email [email protected]

Hope all this helps in your planning
Have a great time

tdk320n is offline  

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