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Bari-Polignano al Mare-Gargano-Gran Sasso-Firenze

Bari-Polignano al Mare-Gargano-Gran Sasso-Firenze

Sep 29th, 2019, 08:32 PM
  #1  
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Bari-Polignano al Mare-Gargano-Gran Sasso-Firenze

This is a request for a PRELIMINARY itinerary for an 8 day trip from Bari to Firenze. Admittedly, the only reason I mention Polignano al Mare at all is to go to the Grotta Palazzese cave bar but I can be persuaded it's not worth it as we are heading north. Although it's only about 30 minutes south of Bari, it would still consume one night. Heading north, I would like to stay a couple of nights in the best area to appreciate the Gran Sasso national park or other highlights of the area. The final destination for this part of the trip would be Firenze to accommodate a friend who has limited time. Can anyone recommend an interesting route by car? Thanks.

Last edited by Redlandsneen; Sep 29th, 2019 at 08:51 PM.
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Sep 29th, 2019, 08:49 PM
  #2  
 
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I stayed in Santo Stefano di Sessanio when we were in the Gran Sasso. Good location, teeny tiny historic village with some newer stuff down below. Looks like Castel del Monte might be another good choice. The area is breathtaking, enjoy it!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santo_Stefano_di_Sessanio
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castel_del_Monte,_Abruzzo
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Sep 29th, 2019, 09:21 PM
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Next year we are stopping at the Convento Di San Columbo (their website) or via booking com on our way through Gran Sasso. It is isolated, but offers half board and food and accomodation is well reviewed, and the location is outstanding in terms of being surrounded by beautiful scenery. Also incredibly priced.
hattonth is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 10:36 PM
  #4  
kja
 
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Does the Grotta Palazzese had a cave bar, or do you mean the restaurant? I dined there many years ago and thought it a very memorable and magical evening, well worth what was for me a decided splurge. At the time, it's restaurant was consistently receiving rave reviews. In recent years, it doesn't seem to get the same kind of unequivocal praise -- but I can't say from personal experience.
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Sep 30th, 2019, 01:28 AM
  #5  
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Hello, yes I meant the restaurant. You are right, the food is said to be overpriced and not memorable so I had planned to just go for a drink. But as it is in the opposite direction of where we are headed, with limited time, it is probably a bit silly to waste an overnight stay in Polignano al Mare. I might be better off trying to see one of the famous trabocchi that I've seen in Gino d'Acampo's and Silvia Colloca's respective cooking/travel shows. That would be heading north from Gargano.
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Sep 30th, 2019, 04:30 AM
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Castel del Monte (the castle, not the town) is one of those places I'd be willing to make a long detour to see again (and again). I'm fascinated by its beautiful and harmonious simplicity.

In the vicinity of the Gran Sasso, I would recommend staying in either Ascoli Piceno, on the Marche side; or L'Aquila on the Abruzzo side. I would have a preference for Ascoli myself, or some little town between there and the Gran Sasso. I may be prejudiced, but I think the Marche side is prettier. Another pretty town, on the northern edge of the park, is Acquasanta Terme, where you can take a dip in outdoor thermal springs. (I've never been there, myself.)
bvlenci is offline  
Sep 30th, 2019, 06:32 AM
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Wow that cave restaurant looks great. But will they give you a reservation just so you can have a drink? Or is there a bar away from the cave opening?

The great views at PaM are of the cliffs and the buildings on top of them, no looking out into the ocean, which could be like any ocean view.

I’m sorry I didn’t detour from the coast for Castel del Monte.
scrb11 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2019, 08:31 AM
  #8  
 
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Another fan of Ascoli Piceno here.
I'd enjoy Bari for a night if food is the focus.
This food writer recently visited the trabocchi -- https://www.italianfoodforever.com/2...a-matera-2019/
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Sep 30th, 2019, 10:05 AM
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I liked Ascoli a lot too and stayed several days there, but for me that would be too far for walking/hiking in the Gran Sasso. I would prefer to stay in a smaller town/village in the park itself.

I suppose it it depends on what the OP wants to do there.
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Sep 30th, 2019, 12:49 PM
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We stayed in Polignano a Mare a week and never got to that Grooto. Many excellent restaurants, beautiful setting and town. Our hotel room views were probably better than the pricey Grotto.
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Sep 30th, 2019, 05:40 PM
  #11  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by Redlandsneen View Post
Hello, yes I meant the restaurant. ... I had planned to just go for a drink.
I don't believe that restaurant has a bar, and since it now seems to serve only tasting menus, I wouldn't assume you can show up for a drink only and get seated or served. Consider contacting them first. (I had some questions before my visit, and IIRC, they were very helpful and prompt in their replies. BUT that was a long time ago.)

IF it's possible to go for just a drink (a big if!), consider trying to be there at sunset. You can't actually see the sun set (you'll be facing the wrong way), but the chance to see a bit of the coast and the water, and then the change in light as the sun sets and the lights come on within the cave, can be delightful. I thought it magical! And the restaurant is only about 1/2 kilometer from Polignano a Mare's train station, so you don't have to spend a night or even two there -- you could have a drink without driving. You would just need to make sure you finish before the last train of the day (shouldn't be a problem) -- and make sure you can actually get seated.
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Sep 30th, 2019, 05:50 PM
  #12  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr View Post
We stayed in Polignano a Mare a week and never got to that Grooto. ... Our hotel room views were probably better than the pricey Grotto.
While I usually think that HappyTrvlr gives excellent advice, I must admit that I am puzzled by this comment: If you didn't go, then I think that means you can't actually say?

FWIW, it wasn't the views per se that made the experience so special: More than anything, IMO, it was the sound -- not just the sound of the surf, but the sound of the surf hitting outside AND inside, and the sound of the surf against the cave walls echoing around me.... AND the otherworldliness of being almost outside, but actually in a cave, suspended on a bridge above the water. AND -- when I went -- an absolutely delicious and memorable meal of locally sourced ingredients and locally inspired dishes. Too, my meal started before and ended after sunset, which as my last comment suggests, provided a special nuance to the experience.

I'm not saying whether to go or not, particularly in light of some of the less than favorable reviews of the food in recent years; just trying to be clear.

Last edited by kja; Sep 30th, 2019 at 05:55 PM.
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Oct 1st, 2019, 12:31 AM
  #13  
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Grazie bvlenci, siamo incontrate prima! Mi ha aiutato con il mio viaggio nel 2017! Sono stata ad Ascoli Piceno quando ho visitato Marche, nord e sud (Servigliano per 3 notti e Urbania per 3 notti e finalmente Senigallia per un notte. Abbiamo mangiato al Uliassi. Sono d'accordo - Ascoli Piceno era bellissima!

I will check out your suggestions. What about the Gargano area - is it worth going to?

Ciao.
Nina
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Oct 1st, 2019, 05:08 AM
  #14  
 
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I probably wasn't in the Gargano long enough to give a valid opinion, but I wasn't really overwhelmed by what I saw. My general impression was natural beauty spoiled by poorly-regulated construction along the coast.
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Oct 1st, 2019, 06:42 AM
  #15  
 
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I stayed a few days there in early May.

Beautiful harbor from a distance and some nearby areas are also very scenic, though it rained more heavily then I'd have liked.

But the drive to get there is somewhat arduous. They have the beautiful white cliffs all around.
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Oct 2nd, 2019, 07:06 PM
  #16  
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Thanks everyone for your help. I may give driving the whole Gargano peninsula a miss if favour of PaM, even though the far side (Peschici) might have a trabucco as mentioned in an article that was linked. I thought instead there might be others up the coast that would be more convenient for my route. Does anyone know where any good ones are between Gargano and Pescara?

I have also added Castel del Monte and San Stefano as stops enroute to L'Aquila.

Last edited by Redlandsneen; Oct 2nd, 2019 at 07:10 PM.
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Oct 2nd, 2019, 07:29 PM
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There are several trabucchi in Gargano.

There is one by San Francesco church in Vieste. There is also a walkway along the water east of the centro storico of Vieste where you see San Francesco and the coast to the west. There is a trabucco there as well.

But there are no restaurants attached to any of them, they're just old wooden scaffolding hanging over the water.

Google Maps indicates several more along the coast between Vieste and Peschici.
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Oct 3rd, 2019, 12:22 AM
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There are some trabocchi in Senigallia, near where I live, in Le Marche. I never imagined they could be a tourist attraction.
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Oct 3rd, 2019, 12:25 AM
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Hi, thanks for this. I was asking if there were any along the coast from Gargano to Pescara, which is about 230km north, thus avoiding circumnavigating Gargano altogether. From Pescara, I would then be able to travel inland toward L'Aquila.

Someone mentioned white cliffs so I'm interested to know whether Monte Sant'Angelo is worth the drive if I have the time.
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Oct 3rd, 2019, 12:26 AM
  #20  
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Oh no! Had I realised that, I would have tried to see if while I was there in 2017.
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