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First time to Puglia. Help with best base and itinerary.

First time to Puglia. Help with best base and itinerary.

Aug 20th, 2012, 01:53 PM
  #1  
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First time to Puglia. Help with best base and itinerary.

I will be traveling to Puglia for two weeks flying into Bari 10/10 (11am arrival) and out of Naples 10/25. I was planning on staying at a masserie near Martina Franca for 3/4 nights and doing day trips to surrounding towns including Altamura where my grandparents were born. I was then thinking of staying at a Masserie in S. marina di Leuce for 3/4 nights and doing day trips in Southern Puglia. I will then be heading towards Naples with potential stops in Materna/Potenza. I will then stay outside of Naples and visit Paestum and a water buffalo farm. I enjoy wine tasting, culture,beach and history. I am looking for any suggestions on not to miss places. I was thinking of booking half-board at the Masserie, since I was not sure especially in southern Puglia if many restaurants will still be open. Also, has anyone rented a boat in that region and traveled to the caves themselves. How difficult is this. I will have a rental car and have travel to other regions of Italy.
gaillondon is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 02:49 PM
  #2  
 
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My husband is from Puglia and we have spent lots of time there. The one thing that pops out to me is that you will be doing lots and lots of driving. Since you've been to Italy, you may already know this, but traveling around, particularly in the south takes longer than what you may be seeing on google maps. It's been a while since we've been to Matera (I believe what you're referring to?) and the trip from Martina Franca is a long one. I apologize that I don't have more of a specific memory of exactly how long. It could also have seemed longer because we had young teens with us! Don't miss the bread in Puglia - of course it's opinion, but we have never had better. There should be plenty of restaurants open and when we booked a dinner at a Masseria, we often found it difficult to be back in time because we'd wandered so far! So, that's something to keep in mind. The weather should be beautiful in October.
Chrysliz is offline  
Aug 21st, 2012, 11:45 AM
  #3  
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Thank You for your response. I will consider this.
gaillondon is offline  
Aug 21st, 2012, 12:10 PM
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To me, Basilicata is the "not-to-miss" place, and certainly if you are going to Matera, please do not miss the Cripta del Peccato Originale

http://www.roughguides.com/travel/eu...originale.aspx

It is tremendously worthwhile to get a knowledgeable guide to Matera who can explain to you how the town developed, utlizing the natural humidity and porous stone of the rock dwellings to recapture humidity as a fresh water supply. It is an extremely sophisticated water supply system, probably of a legacy of Arab settlement in the region.

Rather than S. Leuca, consider Gallipoli, which might interest you more. You can make a stop from there on your way to Matera at the museum in Taranto.

But were it me, I would go straight to the Altamura area, and really explore my ancestors neck of the woods. I might pick Gioia del Colle as a base, so I could also drive to seaside towns like Monopoli, as well as have an easy time getting to Altamura and some of the trulli hills. Then I'd finish with Puglia and head on to Basilicata. In addition to Matera (where the bread is also outstanding) I would take in some of the spectacular mountain towns on my way through Basilicata.
vespacurves is offline  
Aug 21st, 2012, 12:20 PM
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http://www.trullipuglia.com/Articles/Gioia.htm

I prefer staying a town to staying in a masseria in Puglia. The masseria are usually fairly isolated, whereas the towns have plenty of places to eat. Even if they serve you dinner at the masseria, it is often a gut-busting meal of too much food. I have never been to Martina Franca, which I hear is quite nice, but difficult to drive in and out of.
vespacurves is offline  
Aug 21st, 2012, 12:32 PM
  #6  
 
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And another view of Gioia del Colle -- and this I think quite realistic of driving in many towns and small cities in Puglia.

http://www.gifts-from-italy.com/ital...ioia-del-colle
vespacurves is offline  
Aug 21st, 2012, 05:51 PM
  #7  
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Thanks for all the replys. This is very helpful.
gaillondon is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 12:12 AM
  #8  
 
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Wow, you are getting some great advice from some very knowledgeable people.

Santa Maria di Leuca! One of my favorite places in the world. You hardly ever see it mentioned in a travel forum.

When I lived in Brindisi I would go to Leuca as an escape to relax and chill out. It is great for that type of experience but as a travel hub it is not...it is more a destination.

In October it can be real quiet with many of the tourist oriented services closed or in the process of closing. You may want to consider spending only two nights, saving the other nights for another location. On the other hand October is the time for local wine festivals in southern Italy which are wonderful experiences.

We used to cruise the area between Lecce and Leuca in the evenings looking for the bright lights which indicate a street festival. Then again we lived there and had time for such frivolity.

If you want to do some wine festivals I recommend doing some research on Italian websites beforehand.

I second what everyone else is saying about Matera. Do not miss it. The time of the year is not an issue when visiting Matera.
jim21 is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 02:53 AM
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I would rethink Leuca as a base in October.

Lecce, or even Otranto, would make a better location to see the far southern region, the Salento, at that time of year.

I would plan a few days in Matera and/or Altamura; the drive between the two is about 30 minutes on the highway.

Matera to Martina Franca is about a 90 minute drive, but if the road construction near Mottola is not finished, this might take a bit longer.

Also: A few days in the vicinity of Martina Franca, Ostuni, Cisternino. And a few in the far south. Plan a day for Lecce itself.

Where are you thinking about staying outside Naples?

Salerno would make a good option, as would Paestum itself. With a car, you could even consider the fishing village of Cetara, on the Amalfi Coast.

We visited the Vannulo water buffalo farm last September. (I will post my experience on a separate thread here)

They give tours in English that include samples. But there are other, less organized farms that you can visit without a tour.
Most of these are in the area of Capaccio, near Paestum.

http://www.vannulo.it/
ekscrunchy is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 03:18 AM
  #10  
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Thanks Jim. Where would you suggest as a better southern base for Puglia. We have 14 full days not counting travel and I am just trying to figure out the best way to divide it up between southern puglia, northern and Naples. There is a nice Masserie (Serine) in Leuca, but I was concerned it might be so far south. We thought a masserie might be better because then we wouldn't have to worry about trying to find restaurants and could just relax in the evening. I tried to find more information on wine festivals but have not had any luck. Do you have any suggestions for wine or olive oil tasting other than the festivals. We are quite flexible and have enjoyed stays in the country as well as the city. Last year we traveled to Sicily and stayed in an agriturismo outside of Riposto and loved the experience. We have also rented apartments in Rome, Florence, and Paris. We tend to like to go to markets and do some cooking ourselves, but also enjoy good local foods. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks, Gail
gaillondon is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 03:47 AM
  #11  
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Hi Ekscrunchy: I was looking at Azienda Agrituristica Seliano in Paestum. We traveled to Sicily last year and loved visiting the Greek ruins. I have also spent a week in Praiano and been to Pompei. I will look at Cetera; any suggestions? I was just trying to avoid the winding road through Amalfi. I have only spent one day in Naples and would love to go have pizza there again. In the past we have always tried to pick a couple of bases and settle in, but Puglia seems so much more difficult to do this. I am also have difficulty deciding how to spend our time and prioritizing. There just seems to be so many options. We often times love to go to the markets and do some of our own cooking, but wondering how easy this is to do in Puglia or if it is easier to book with a few Masserie half-board. We had a great experiences in Sicily near Riposto with this last year and talk about the great simple food we ate at the agriturismo there. I feel like my head is spinning and I have to make some decisions, since I only have a little over a month to go. Also, love fish and the thought of going to some of the little fishing villages excites me. Just concerned that in October there might not be a lot of places open. thanks, gail
gaillondon is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2012, 06:28 AM
  #12  
 
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You can drop off your car in Salerno and take the train up to Napoli. I recently drove from Paestum to Napoli (dropping off my car at the airport), and I was really not fond of the stretch of road between Salerno and Vietri sul Mare. I wished I had dropped off my car in Salerno (but it was a Sunday).

Don't worry about a "deadline" for booking. October is a slow time in Puglia. But I think staying someplace with a kitchen is a good idea, depending on your travel style. I found that not only are restaurant meals so large in Puglia I wanted the option of nibbling at "home" for some dinners, but that it was sometimes wearisome to need to drive to get to dinner, or drive home in the dark.

It is my understanding that Monopoli still has a very active fish trade, and it is about an hour from the "Murge" area of Altamura if you stay there.

I could be mistaken, but I think most wine festivals are in November. But there are usually festivals all over the place in Italy on weekends. You can follow this calendar.

http://www.quisalento.it/salento-eventi/sagre/
vespacurves is offline  
Sep 6th, 2012, 01:43 PM
  #13  
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Plans are coming along:

Booked 6 Nights in an apartment in Lecce
Palazzo Bernardini

We we do a little wine and olive tasting, touring and buying for the next two weeks at:
Duca Carlo Guarinin in Scorrano
De Castris in Salentino
Cantine De Falco in Salentino

Booked 6 nights at Masseria Ciavea in Gioia del Colle
Visit Matera, Altamura, Martina Franca, Ostuni, and Cisternino

Booked 3 nights at Voce del Mar in Vietri sul Mare
Visit Paestum, Amalfi, Naples and water buffalo
Car Rental also booked from Bari to Naples.
Now I just have to plan an itinerary!
gaillondon is offline  
Sep 7th, 2012, 06:31 AM
  #14  
 
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Vietri is very well located for visiting each of those destinations. The drive from Salerno is quite direct, and easy to navigate. I drove myself last year and I am not a confident driver. Vietri is a drive of only a few minutes from Cetara, slightly further west along the Amalfi Drive and renowned locally for the quality of its fish restaurants.
I much prefer this section of the Amalfi Coast, as it is far removed from the tourist fray centered around Positano, and it is also close to Paestum, Salerno, and easy to reach from Naples, and the Naples airport, as well.

You might want to look at the pizzerie and trattoria listings for the town of Cava di Tirreni, not far from Vietri and Salerno, and with a reputation for good local food. (I will try to dig up more specific details on this...)

Would you mind clarifying your plan with regards to the amount of days in each location in Puglia? Will you be in Lecce for 6 days and then another 6 in Gioia? I did not understand when you wrote about the two weeks of wine and olive oil tasting...

Your trip sounds like it is shaping up to be a memorable one..I am eager to read of your adventures, and the tastings!!

I am leaving myself next week..very exciting!!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Sep 8th, 2012, 07:23 AM
  #15  
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We will be staying in an apartment in lecce for six nights. we would like to visit 2-3 vineyards from this location, since it is the beginning of our trip. It will hopefully give us a chance to purchase some great wines to enjoy for our entire vacation.

From this location we plan to see the sites in Lecce, go to Otrano, S. marina di Leuce, Gallipoli, Galentina, and Cesareo on day trips, picnic on the beach. We would also like to try sea urchin. We will head back to Lecce before dark and enjoy making dinner in our apartment or going to a restaurant, walking and enjoying a gelato in the evening. We also have bicycles included and would like to spend some time biking around the city too.

We will then head North to Gioia del Colle and stay 6 nights in a Masserie half board. (Loved this experience last year in Sicily) From there we will day trip to Matera, Altamura, Martina Franca, Ostuni,Alberobello, Locorotondo and Cisternino, etc.

We will then head to Vietri for three nights. We are planning to stop at Paestum on our way and possibly the water buffalo farm. We will then spend some time in Naples eating pizza, visiting the archeological museum and museo Capodiment. Then we will spend time sitting on our balcony sipping wine and enjoying olives, anchovies just soaking up the view. If we are adventurous we might travel the Amalfi coast and walk the beaches. We stayed in Praiano about five years ago and it was so beautiful, but the drive can be difficult.

Now I just have to figure out the what not to miss in each location. It is difficult with very few guidebooks and many of the latest editions are 5 years old. I am not sure if we should hire a guide for Matera, or do it ourselves and just book a tour for the cripta del peccato originale. I am not very familiar with this region and it seems to take a lot of research to educate myself. I usually go with the attitude that if we miss something important, we have a good excuse to return. We also try to not book in too much and have some leisure days. We don't mind small tours, but hate large groups.
gaillondon is offline  
Sep 8th, 2012, 10:49 AM
  #16  
 
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Leaving for our trip on Sept 18 and planning similar stops. based on recommendations here have booked Nadia in Matera for a half day. Because of the scarcity of info in tour books, I did a lot of research on this site and Trip Advisor.

eks - where is your trip this year taking you? Your previous TRs were invaluable for planning our trip.
yestravel is offline  
Sep 8th, 2012, 03:36 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
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We spent a week in Salento a few years ago in mid-September - wonderful time. Great food - beautiful beaches and towns. Otranto, Gallipoli, Lecce - all worth a visit. I have some photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/1489402...th/3922518166/

The water was still very warm and we swam every day, although things were already pretty quiet on the tourism side. Tricase is sort of in the middle of nowhere, but there is a fabulous authentic restaurant there with real local food - can't remember the name! I will try to find it -
InFlorence is offline  
Sep 8th, 2012, 03:46 PM
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Nice pictures! thanks for sharing
yestravel is offline  
Sep 9th, 2012, 06:50 AM
  #19  
 
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I found the name of the restaurant I mentioned above -

Trattoria Iolanda
Via Montanara 2 Lucugnanao

This is actually it -

http://www.todine.net/iolanda.html

It may not look like much, but there are tables set up outside for dinner, and the food was wonderful - home made orecchiette, fava bean puree, etc. Amazing local food -

yestravel - thanks!
InFlorence is offline  

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