Italy - Puglia Help please

Jul 21st, 2015, 05:44 PM
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Italy - Puglia Help please

My boyfriend and I are planning to travel to Rome/Puglia this September. We have flights into Rome and out of Bari (transferring in Rome) with 3 weeks in between. We have both been to Rome before but he went on a tour with his high school and just spent like 2 days there. Our time in Rome is flexible and we wanted to spend most of it in Puglia, but we don't know how much.

This is the planned route so far

1) Vieste (Gargano National Park) (3 nights)
2) Monopoli (2 nights)
3) Alberobello (1 night)
4) Ostuni (1 night)
5) Lecce (2 nights)
6) Gallipoli (2 nights)
7) Taranto (1-2 nights)
8) Bari (2 nights)

1) Should we pick up a car in Rome and drive around in Puglia? It seems like there are decent bus/train connections for our journey after Ostuni. The longest journey would be between Rome to Vieste (either 7 hours by bus or 6 hours by changing train connections) and then from Vieste to Monopoli since we're saving Bari for last.

2) Is there anything to add to our itinerary - things that you must absolutely not miss. If there isn't enough time to add it then (if the schedule works) we would remove Monopoli for it.
xndra2210 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2015, 07:10 PM
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"Should we pick up a car in Rome and drive around in Puglia?"

Your call -- some people prefer a car, others prefer to use trains and buses. It sounds like you might want a car for Vieste and Monopoli, and if that's all, then consider your options for renting for only that part of your trip.

"Is there anything to add to our itinerary"

Although not in Puglia per se, Matera is, IMO, fascinating, and close enough that visiting it is a reasonable "add-on."

Should be a great trip!
kja is offline  
Jul 21st, 2015, 08:27 PM
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we absolutely loved puglia. we really loved the gargano as well. try to get a place right on the ocean. we sometimes just take trains and such, but really felt that we needed a car in puglia because the countryside is so beautiful. if interested in our details of either, see here titled 'london, rome and mostly puglia".

be sure you stay in a trullo if possible. and check to make sure most businesses are open in the gargano area-- it is a real beach tourist area along the coast, so if they have closed for the season, it would really affect your choice of where to stay in the area.

oh... the food!! we hope to go back one day.

the recommendation above, to see matera, is a good one. it is magical, and you will be pretty close. consider seeing some of the towns above from one base and making a couple of days for matera.
kawh is offline  
Jul 21st, 2015, 10:55 PM
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I'd fly or catch a train to Puglia, hire a car there. There are loads of cheap flights into Brindisi and Bari.

Taranto has a small island core which shows you a fine mix of the HQ of the Italian Navy, some ancient/poverty based multi-storey buildings and some of the oldest buildings around as it is based on the old Sparta colony (though emptied by the Romans of human life!). Which along with some nasty polution and a whole modern shopping area to the east makes a very strange mix. I've stayed in a pretty cheap hotel and eaten in very cheap restaurants on the island and found some fantastically friendly people only mared by Liverpool beating Roma one night. So only stay there if this sounds good.

I'd stay in one of the smaller towns around. Say Manduria (for the wine), Martina Franca, Gioia or Gravina each of which has some wonderful buildings.

The food, the pasta formed on brass shapes, the wine (exceptional and looked down on, so very good value), one of the best places for vegetarian food around, while fish is good (but not from near Taranto ;-) )
bilboburgler is offline  
Jul 21st, 2015, 10:56 PM
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Do try and stay in a Masseria.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2015, 03:43 AM
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We also dearly loved Puglia, spent some time there about 5 years ago. I can't imagine getting around there without a car. We actually started out in Rome, spent a couple days around Naples, then east through Basilicata (Matera), on to Puglia, then straight up the coast thru the Gargano to Abruzzo, then circled back to Rome. We find driving in Italy pretty easy, roads are well marked, just stay out of the big cities with a car.
We mostly stayed in a masseria in Castellana Grande & made day trips from there. All the towns you mention are lovely. I agree that Matera is really special, if you can manage it. Alberobello is delightful, we'd love to stay in a trullo next time. I'd also love to go back to Polignano and Trani, both right on the water, beautiful views & incredible seafood.
We did also stay in Vieste, but it was April & very much "off-season" - many of the hotels & restaurants weren't open at all. The drive through the "Foresta Umbra" was breathtaking but in my opinion 3 days on the Gargano may be be a little much.
At least when we were there (5 years ago), very few folks spoke English.
All the different pastas in Puglia - wow, delicious! Enjoy!
Maria_G is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2015, 03:57 AM
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Alle Due Corti, in Lecce, is one of our very favorite restaurants, just incredible pasta.
Maria_G is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2015, 07:47 AM
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Early September or late September?--that may make a difference for Gargano. I would think you would need a car there most of all, so you might as well get it for the whole time.
Do you usually like this kind of pace on a trip? If so, that is fine, but you could stay in fewer places if you wished if you have the car for exploring, with Lecce and Gallipoli being very close together, as are Alberobello, Monopoli, and Ostuni.
It really just depends on what kind of trip you are after. I liked all of the towns I visited, but the nature was the highlight for me. Agree on including Matera if possible.
yorkshire is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2015, 08:31 AM
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Posts: 17,022 v good, place opposite not so good.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2015, 08:03 PM
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Thanks for all the recommendations!

yorkshire, we are going to be in Italy from September 5th-27th but we won't be going to Puglia until around 5-6 days after we get there so mid-Septemberish would be in Gargano. I'm okay with this trip pace, I was thinking about taking the car to make daytrips to Alberobello and Ostuni but since I'd be driving (most if not all the time) I'd prefer to not drive when there's no daylight. At least we might get to stay in a trullo this way!

Maria_G and bilboburger, thanks for the restaurant recommendation! If you or anyone has more to share, I'd love to know! We've always heard Puglia had the best food.

kawh, I have started reading your trip report - thank you!

There are nice masserie in Ostuni and Taranto, so we're deciding which one to stay in and it's a bit more expensive than what we're expecting to pay for accommodation, but nothing that will break our budget!

How does this itinerary sound?

1) Vieste (Gargano National Park) (3 nights)
2) Alberobello (1 night)
3) Ostuni (1 night)
4) Lecce (2 nights)
5) Otranto (2 nights)
6) Taranto (2 nights)
7) Matera (2 nights)
8) Bari (2 nights)

We ended up switching Monopoli and Gallipoli for Otranto and Matera. Does that sound better or is Gallipoli and Monopoli something that's not to miss (we could take 2 nights from Rome for 1 of them).
xndra2210 is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2015, 08:45 PM
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I think you will be glad to have added Matera to your plan.

You can visit Alberobello by public transportation. I visited during the day in 2007 and found it overwhelmingly and unpleasantly "touristy" -- but lots of places that I've visited are much more charming after day-trippers leave, and maybe Alberobello is one.

If you can fit it in, even as a day trip, Trani has a beautiful harbor and a fascinating cathedral.
kja is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2015, 07:02 AM
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Just make sure you have all the transport connections sorted--you'll be busy, but happy. It looks like you have a good circular route for your stops. Remember most places close from 12-5.
I just read an article about Gallipoli, and now I am sad I missed it, but I always have the return trip to a region planned before I even get home.
Matera is one of the most amazing places I have ever been.

Food recs:
Matera: Dalla Padella alla Brace and Il Borghese
Lecce: Nonna Tetti and Le Zie (Cucina Caserecchia)
Alberobello: Casa Del Pane Di Recchia Maria (a bakery I highly recommend seeking out for sweets as well as snacks like focaccia)
Monopoli: Osteria Perricci

I wish I could remember the name of the place we happened upon in Bari--the kind of place where the proprietor tells you two choices for pasta and two choices for seafood and then proceeds to give you a feast. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to food.

I was glad I went to Alberobello just because I found that bakery. The shops kind of ruin it for me, but it is a neat place. The best part about having a car was being able to drive around the valley d'Itria and see trulli dotted throughout farmland.

In between Taranto and Matera you can stop at Metaponto to see a temple to Hera.
yorkshire is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2015, 07:28 PM
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one question about your new itinerary.... why 2 nights in bari?? we didn't go there, but don't remember thinking it was a must=see. would be great to have 2 nights in some of the other spots instead?? (or maybe i'm totally off on this.) and now that matera is on the list, make sure to eat at the restaurant with the local pasta/casserole I mentioned in my report... and to the restaurant in lecce with the cecci that I mentioned. (sorry... forgot hames.)
kawh is offline  
Jul 27th, 2015, 05:15 AM
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And speaking of food - while in Basilicata & Puglia, we happened upon "fava e cicoria" - a very peasanty beans & greens, very traditional for the area - and absolutely wonderful. We make this at home regularly now, real comfort food. Enjoy!
Maria_G is offline  
Aug 4th, 2015, 06:13 AM
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I live in Puglia for more than 10 years and i know it well, especially the area from Lecce. I suggest to visit the maritime area of Porto Cesareo, Porto Selvaggio, Santa Caterina until Gallipoli. Other best place more important to visit is Lecce the baroque capital..and the wine cellars Cupertium, Leone de castris, Cantele and Castello Monaci (the fabolous wine cellars)... If u like the seas, i suggest the dune (Porto Cesareo), punta prosciutto (Torre Lapillo), La Grotta della Poesia (Melendugno) or castro marina (I think the colours of seas is better than the sea caribbean).

Dear friends if you need, I will give the precious tips.

tanielito is offline  
Aug 24th, 2015, 02:30 PM
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If you're going into Bari, be sure to see Monopoli and Polignano a' Mare. I suggest putting Gallopoli back on the list. You have Alberobello, Ostuni and Taranto set up over 4 nights. If possible I would stay near Martina Franca for the 4 nights and you could easily visit those 3 cities as well as Locorotondo, Martina Franca, the Valley d'itria etc.

Don't stress about it, Puglia is an incredible region in Italy you will enjoy what ever you do.
TVIVA is offline  
Dec 25th, 2017, 11:08 AM
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Happy to help out here for you and any others interested in driving through the Puglia region.

I highly recommend driving! It's an unforgettable experience and one of my favorite trips to date. For insight, inspiration and overall guidance, please see my article below:

I hope this helps and encourages all readers to consider a Puglia road trip! Enjoy!
BoundlessBrooks is offline  
Dec 25th, 2017, 05:45 PM
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Hi Xndra,
We were just there and have some ideas to share, most of which are just our opinions.
Firstly, move heaven and earth to stay in Matera. Its an absolute, slam-dunk must, worth minimum 2 nights. Conversely, we would never again waste any time in either Bari or Taranto. Not our scene, and the great food available in those places is available elsewhere on your itinerary.
In my opinion, you two might want to consider staying multiple nights in Monopoli and use it as a base for any number of worthy daytrips: Ostuni, Locorotondo, Alberobello, Martina Franca et al.
I would not overnight in Alberobello, but that's just me. One hour proved to be enough for us there. Likewise, you could possibly stay in Lecce for 3 or 4 nights and visit Gallipoli and also Otranto as daytrips from there.
One man's humble opinion. Happy to further advise.
Tante belle cose!
I am done. The end.
zebec is offline  
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