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Abruzzo and Puglia help!

Old May 10th, 2018, 02:19 PM
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Abruzzo and Puglia help!

Greetings-
My husband's family hails from San Vito Chietino, on the Abruzzo coast so we plan to visit family and friends there in Sept. for about a week. My husband traveled here with his sisters a few years ago and pretty much stayed along the coast. I've never been to Italy and I am a photographer, so I also want to explore inland a bit, including Grand Sasso as well as the mountain villages, like Scanno, etc. We will have a car, and plan to be in the country for probably 18 days, give or take. I usually photograph nature and wildlife but I want to do some people and village life type things this trip with a little nature thrown in. We love food and wine and exploring, would love to get on a bike for a day or two if possible, the usual things one does in Italy I guess! We also plan to head south to Puglia. So apart from our week in San Vito we'll have another 10-12 nights.

I've read a lot of trip reports and threads on this forum (thank you!) and it looks like there are a lot of you who have been to these areas. Would love input on:

- Where to stay and what to see in Puglia. I've read about the seaside towns and the Trulli houses, and we want to see Matera. Also are thinking about a night or two in the Gargano area - but where to stay? As we go south, my original thought was to base us around Alberobello and do day trips from there, but if there are other ideas or things of interest I am all ears. I love the idea of finding unique foodie type places, ruins, historical areas and neat areas to sit and people watch.- I'm struggling to decide on which villages to visit on the interior of Abruzzo - thinking Scanno and Pacentro but if there are other must sees, would love to know. We are thinking 2 nights for this part. And 3 nights in the Grand Sasso area and for that I'm looking at an apartment in Calascio because I want to have good light when I photograph the ruins up in that area, but wondering if it's too remote or if there is a more convenient option?

I've been studying and researching until I'm blue in the face and now I would just appreciate input from anyone with experience in these areas. I can't get a feel for how long it really takes to get to places given the winding roads and terrain. Also - we plan to drop off the car in Bari and fly back to Rome.

Thank you so much!

Last edited by Rocket79; May 10th, 2018 at 02:30 PM.
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Old May 10th, 2018, 11:00 PM
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Yes the back roads do take a fair bit of time, so gtting around you need to use the big roads.

Your choices are
1) in the country in a Masseria (with restaurant on site) there are lots even in Sept
2) Alberabello is a bit over touristy. If you want that sort of area I'd stay in Martina Franca, just a bit more local for people watching. You migth also like Gioia (where the cheese comes from)
3) do plan to visit Lecce, possibly early to get some great shots of the stone in the centro storico, I might look at an overnight.
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Old May 11th, 2018, 03:49 AM
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I am headed for Abruzzo, leaving next week, so can help after I return from Italy in early June.

For Puglia, from reports I read I would not include Gargano. I wrote a few tgrip repports based on my travelsl to the area. You can find them by clocking on my name.

More or less, take one base in the north, near Trani, and one in the south near or in Lecce. Add one or two more, one far south in Salento and perhaps one near Ugento. And you will have iti covered. Love, love, love Puglia--took 4 trips in about 6 years.
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Old May 11th, 2018, 06:38 AM
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Thanks to both of you! We had sort of ruled out Lecce, but will give it another look. As much as I wrote up there in my post, we really do want to also just chill. We weren't going to stay IN Alberobello, but that area looked like a good midpoint for both coastal towns and interior places like Matera. I do want to see the Trullis, but don't need to stay in one. Air B&B has some amazing prices for rentals in Puglia. I like the idea of a Masseria and have seem some that look good but my spouse would prefer the Air B&B route, and it is much more reasonable cost wise. That said, I'd love to find a place where olive oil/food is grown and met the growers, etc. There seem to be a lot of those places in Tuscany and other areas up north.

ekscruchy - I think I've got some of your reports book marked! I don't think we want to have 4 stops though. So two areas at most. Interesting about Gargano - so many people recommend it. It was meant really to be a stopover as we'll be driving from the interior of Abruzzo and don't want to drive - or try to find our lodging - in the dark. Any other ideas for a stop over? May I ask where you are heading in Abruzzo? I'm sure you'll do a report but if you have time to share any information that would be great.

Thanks again!
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Old May 11th, 2018, 08:49 AM
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Abruzzo is one of the places I most want to revisit in Italy; it is gorgeous and dramatic, great parks! You will love the Gran Sasso. So I look forward to your report and also to eklcrunchy's when she returns.
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Old May 11th, 2018, 09:51 AM
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Masserie come in all prices
Trulli are basically dried stone walls made in a circle and pushed over at the top. You find them all over Puglia
Infection present in the olive trees at the moment
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Old May 11th, 2018, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Masserie come in all prices
Trulli are basically dried stone walls made in a circle and pushed over at the top. You find them all over Puglia
Infection present in the olive trees at the moment
What do you mean about the olive trees? All over Italy or just Puglia? I guess I can google it... Thanks
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Old May 11th, 2018, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Leely2 View Post
Abruzzo is one of the places I most want to revisit in Italy; it is gorgeous and dramatic, great parks! You will love the Gran Sasso. So I look forward to your report and also to eklcrunchy's when she returns.
Thanks Leely2 - You've been there - so tell me if two or three nights in Calascio are too many or please recommend a good base for the area? Thank you!!!
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Old May 11th, 2018, 12:58 PM
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Here is a link to our trip report for Puglia from October 2016. 7 days/6 nights in Puglia

We drove to Matera immediately after, and found it to be among our favorite spots in Italy. This was not only like staying in a movie set, but it truly was a movie set for many films. The bonus was a nearby hike that included ancient cave dwellings and a church.

We stayed in three places in the 10 or so days in Puglia and Basilicata: (1) a trullo home on a small farm near Cisternino that produced fruits and olives near; (2) a well located apartment in the heart of Lecce; and (3) a very nice apartment in Matera. All were beautiful, well kept and equipped. All were priced less than a hotel room. All were found through airbnb. Now that we have had our dream of staying in a trullo, the only thing we might change on a repeat visit is to stay in Ostuni instead of Cisternino.
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Old May 11th, 2018, 01:24 PM
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For sure stay in Matera for two nights. I was very keen on Gargano but never found a hotel that sounded great, and then read a few reports here that did not whet my appetitie. Like some other places in the far south, I feared that it might have been built up with concrete high-rises all along the shores...I might be very wrong about that and would love to hear more...

We have 4 nights in Sulmona and will take day trips from there. Coming from 3 nights in Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche and before then, Senigallia on the coast in Le Marche. Beginning in Norcia, Umbria, also three nights..

https://www.h-cristallo.it/en/
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Old May 11th, 2018, 01:30 PM
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I have been to Puglia a couple of times, and the first time we stayed at this place near Conversano, not too far from Bari: Masseria Montepaolo and it was very pleasant, with dinners and breakfast served outside in a courtyard. The pool was relaxing and the food was good. Conversano is not one of the prime tourist destinations, but it had a pretty castle and was nice to walk around in the evening and there were some good people watching/photo opportunities. It is better as a base for the northern parts of Puglia - it is about 45 minutes to Ostuni. But it is very close to Polignano sul mare, where I've seen there is a restaurant in a cave: restaurant in polignano . I didn't know about it when I was there but I'd love to go back!
Another place we had a particularly interesting experience was San Vito dei Normanni. We were staying somewhere nearby, that was okay but not as memorable as the Montepaolo, but one night we went to dinner in San Vito dei Normanni. We asked some locals where to go, and we wound up wandering some back alleyways to the Piazza Carducci and went to this little restaurant where they only did grilled meats: l'Archetto della Brace. It was a cool experience - we certainly seemed to be the only tourists wandering that town that evening - all the old men were sitting out in front of these political clubs (in the past a lot of Italian social events were organized by political parties) and it was something I won't forget.
For photo ops, I imagine that Otranto would be nice too with its thick walls and castle and beaches, and driving along the coast of the Salento region is beautiful.
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Old May 11th, 2018, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Rocket79 View Post
Thanks Leely2 - You've been there - so tell me if two or three nights in Calascio are too many or please recommend a good base for the area? Thank you!!!
I think it depends on how much hiking and relaxing you want to do. I was with friends and it took us forever to get out and about to do anything, so I would have liked three nights. But I very much enjoy being in the outdoors. We stayed in Santo Stefano di Sessanio but it is a very, very sleepy little town.
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Old May 11th, 2018, 05:55 PM
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Ekscrunchy, I will follow your travels. We loved Norcia and it’s mountain setting and hope the earthquake damage is repaired. Beautiful area. We are heading to Puglia and Sicily this fall.
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Old May 14th, 2018, 06:21 AM
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Just wanted to check back in and thank all of you for your input. Right now, I'm suffering from analysis paralysis which I always do when travel planning. When my husband gets back from the East Coast, we will have another chat about our goals. I'm not sure we will make it all the way down the boot; as I continue my research, I see that there is really a lot of beauty and a lot to see right there in Abruzzo. And driving down that spine (just as we explore Abruzzo) is very hilly and twisty so as the crow flies the distances don't seem so great, but the reality may be very different. We really don't want to be in the car 24/7! So - I'm anxiously awaiting to hear from ekscrunchy, and what she thought of it. I do know, after seeing the middle to the end of stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia, I will want at least three nights in Calascio/Grand Sasso area. Wow does it look stunning! (Leely I do love being out in nature and hiking, so yeah, this will be a keeper for me.)

Thanks again and if anyone else has information about this region and wants to share, please do!

Last edited by Rocket79; May 14th, 2018 at 06:24 AM.
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