Bari or Lecce?

Old Jan 29th, 2018, 11:31 AM
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Bari or Lecce?

I知 planning a return trip to Italy in the spring (end April, early May), and this time I知 thinking of starting in either Lecce or Bari, and ending in Rome. This site is my usual go-to for ideas (I致e followed in the footsteps of lowcountryislander & bikerscott / jamikins a couple of times!) and I voraciously read other trip reports to get ideas for my solo travels.

I知 not however finding a lot on those two locations. I know this is a very broad question, and the kind that gets people in trouble on this site, but does anyone recommend one area over the other, and if so, why? I知 a solo traveller, so will not have a car to get around (which is why I知 (sadly) not going to Sicily). My trips generally focus on food eating or learning to prepare, and just generally wandering and taking in the scenery.

My primary reason for looking at these areas is that I haven稚 been there yet, and would like to do something a little different than I have in the past, while still going back to Italy.

Any suggestions of the best things to do in either of these areas would be greatly appreciated as I try to decide the best place to visit.
Truffles is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2018, 02:37 PM
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Puglia is amazing. You didn't state how long you are going for but I would spend the entire time there. We found the food in Puglia fantastic. Each town/village was different then the next. You could add Matera with Puglia and spend 2 to 3 weeks easy.
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Old Jan 29th, 2018, 03:30 PM
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If you can be in Bari on May 9th, you will see the Festival of St Nicholas. Massive street parade, aircraft doing aerobatics, and great fun.
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Old Jan 29th, 2018, 04:04 PM
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I love, love, love Puglia! If you click on my name you should find my trip report from 2013 here.
I would guess that you might fly into Bari? You can also take a train there. It's not a bad base, but Lecce is really lovely and a "don't miss" so if I had to pick, it would be Lecce.
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Old Jan 29th, 2018, 05:08 PM
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You can't go wrong with Puglia...and Bari and Lecce are both wonderful! I can't tell you about the train connectivity between areas, as we took a train to Bari from Rome, then rented a car and drove all around. But we visited several towns in a short time, and we enjoyed every one of them so much. Bari is on the sea, and has some beautiful walking paths on the ocean. Lecce has an amazing city center, with Roman ruins. We loved Cisternino, Alberobello, Martina Franca, Ceglie Mesapica, Ostuni, and Polignano A Mare. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Jan 29th, 2018, 06:00 PM
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Such different places! I only passed through Bari, although I spent time elsewhere nearby (e.g., Trani, Polignano a Mare); I also spent some time in Lecce. I traveled as a single female without car in late May, so I知 hoping my input helps!

IME, you will find excellent food anywhere in Puglia. To decide between them, I think you would want to give thought to history and architecture. Lecce is known for its particular Baroque architecture, the Leccesse baroque very ornate, impossibly frothy in its pale stone, and executed with an incredible sense of humor. Some of the humor comes simply because it is so unbelievably over the top, but some is (I believe) quite intentionally for comic effect. In contrast, Bari痴 architecture bears the marks of its Norman influences. (If you go there, consider making time for a visit to the cathedral in Trani.)

The other difference is also related to history Lecce still has some Greek and Roman ruins.

You can visit a surprising amount of Puglia without a car, and I second LancerII's recommendation to add a stop in Matera if you can.

IIRC, the Rough Guide, Frommer痴, and National Geographic Traveller provided at least some coverage of these cities.

BTW, one can visit Sicily without a car look for old trip reports on this forum by GAC and by Bruce and Marija. I had a car for just 3 days of a 2-week visit to Sicily, and only got the car for that segment to allow me to move more quickly than I could have done with public transportation.

Both are wonderful -- enjoy!
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Old Jan 29th, 2018, 11:18 PM
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Lecce centro storico is my far the nicer, the city has a fair bit of the old wall system up, a a lot of it is pedestrianised or near to it. Nice casle which is free (do not get confused by the desk at the front, which is really there to sell cards to act as security), the streets are lined with far too many churches of which at least three are worth a good visit, the various large Roman ruins are exceptional. If possible stay in the centro storico with a roof terrace, the view from the roof is not so bad but from up there you get an idea of how many courtyard palaces there are in town. The alleys are safe, and take you from one scene to another easily. There are a few International hotels in the modern town with pools etc.

Ok, I got married here, so I have a view, but we chose Lecce because it is so beautiful. Retaurants in the south of Italy are variable, they get a very short high season and then its dull the rest of the time so the work is not very secure, even so there are some great places to eat. Alte due Corte is especially well run (we have eaten in 8 restaurants in town and this was the best) but the place across the street, "the two arches" is not and is used by tour buses.

Lecce also has cooking classes going on all the time, if you want a tour planner YLtours are the people Ylennia speaks excellent English and knows everyone.
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Old Jan 30th, 2018, 12:40 AM
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Truffles, so glad you have enjoyed our trip reports

We spent a week in Puglia in 2012 and really enjoyed it. The food is outstanding and the town centres really lovely. We also spent a day in Matera and it was well worth it. We hired a guide recommended here, I think her name was Nadia, and it was a great day out!

We didn't make it to Bari but loved Lecce. The town centre is stunning if you like baroque architecture.

Enjoy the planning!
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Old Jan 30th, 2018, 07:49 AM
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Thank you for all the replies! To fill in some details - I'm looking at arriving April 26, returning on either May 5 or 6.

I haven't booked flights yet, but am considering either flying in and out of Rome and taking the train (arrival day is pretty much a write off anyways, so I don't mind front loading my travel) to Lecce or Bari, and leaving for Rome on May 1st by train, or open jaw - flying into either Brindisi or Bari airport, departing from FCO. Determining factor will primarily be cost, and perhaps the stability of Alitalia, as they would be the connecting option to Puglia.

Based on the above, I think I might be tilting towards Lecce...I have some reading to do! And I will definitely include Matera in any itinerary.

Kristina, I'll look for your trip report. Jamikins, I'm so jealous of some of your trips (I heavily pilfered from your trip to Bologna...). Thanks everyone for your suggestions (and I will happily accept any others), I'll be looking into all of them (planning is half the fun!).
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Old Jan 30th, 2018, 08:04 AM
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If you fly into Brindisi, there is a bus (details on the airport official website) that costs peanuts and takes you to the coach park on the outskirts of Lecce, you can can catch a taxi or just walk into town. Alternatively you need a bus from the airport to the station in Brindisi and catch the train. The bus is easier. The train from Roma is interesting as it cuts through mountain sides well away from the road, great fun.

Alitalia will be pulled back from the brink for years yet, the government could not let it fall and will spit in Brussels' face if told to not subsidise it
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Old Jan 30th, 2018, 12:08 PM
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I don't see why you can't fit Lecce AND Bari into your trip, as well as a couple other small towns, especially if you're taking public transportation. Why backtrack at the end of the day? Just move on in the morning, and spend the night or two in a new town. Repeat.
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Old Jan 30th, 2018, 12:24 PM
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Thanks Holly - I find that changing hotels too many times eats into the time I have to enjoy any one place. I'd rather have one (or in this instance 2, when factoring in Rome) base, and go from there - taking day trips as desired.
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Old Jan 30th, 2018, 07:44 PM
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If you decide to visit Matera -- and I strongly encourage you to consider doing so -- then I would also urge you to strongly consider staying there. Matera is an impressive and unique location, but one I think it would be hard to visit as a day trip or en-route stop; it is, however, easily visited between Puglia and Rome if you spend a night or two. Depending on your interests, one night might be enough; many people choose to spend 2 nights there.

"I find that changing hotels too many times eats into the time I have to enjoy any one place." Oddly, I find backtracking to a lodging more time-consuming than moving forward if the distance between the two takes more than an hour to traverse. Obviously, it depends on individual styles and habits -- not to mention preferences, and viva la difference!
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Old Jan 30th, 2018, 11:07 PM
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From Lecce you can also catch the Puglian train system ( a different company to trenitalia) right down to the south and the pretty towns there, hence you will find two stations in Lecce one for each company. This small company is a bit more chaotic than the main one, but like Thomas the tank engine, it will get there.
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