Puglia - Need help with Itinerary

Old May 1st, 2024, 01:52 PM
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Puglia - Need help with Itinerary

Hi - We are a couple, aged 69 & 70, hoping to go to Puglia in late October/early November. When we travel, we enjoy exploring historic sites, learning about and enjoying the foods and wines particular to the region, the natural beauty of the area and some hiking (but nothing extreme). I'm trying to put together an itinerary for Puglia that will include stops (but not necessarily overnight stays) in Alberobello, Ostuni, Lecce, Locorotondo and Matera. We would fly from the US to Rome and then connect to Bari. Our initial thought is to stay at a hotel in Bari that first night and pick up a rental car the next day to begin our travels. We would plan to be in Puglia for about 12 nights before returning to Rome. I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on the best itinerary to cover these spots - and any important ones we may be missing. Initially, I had thought we would include Vieste and some hiking in the national park, but now I am thinking that may be unrealistic for this trip. Thank you in advance for your assistance!
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Old May 1st, 2024, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by JMK38
Hi - We are a couple, aged 69 & 70, hoping to go to Puglia in late October/early November. When we travel, we enjoy exploring historic sites, learning about and enjoying the foods and wines particular to the region, the natural beauty of the area and some hiking (but nothing extreme). I'm trying to put together an itinerary for Puglia that will include stops (but not necessarily overnight stays) in Alberobello, Ostuni, Lecce, Locorotondo and Matera. We would fly from the US to Rome and then connect to Bari. Our initial thought is to stay at a hotel in Bari that first night and pick up a rental car the next day to begin our travels. We would plan to be in Puglia for about 12 nights before returning to Rome. I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on the best itinerary to cover these spots - and any important ones we may be missing. Initially, I had thought we would include Vieste and some hiking in the national park, but now I am thinking that may be unrealistic for this trip. Thank you in advance for your assistance!

Vieste is glorious, but in the other direction from Lecce, etc.
We drove from Matera to Vieste with a stop midway near Minervino Murge, which is among the best food areas of Puglia.
BUT you need to inquire about visiting Vieste at that time of year.

My opinion would be to fly to Bari, drive to Matera and maybe explore a bit more of Basilicata..the calanches, etc....then you could head either to Gargano or to Salento. Not both with that limited time.
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Old May 1st, 2024, 02:59 PM
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I would the coast from Bari. We spent ten days in Polignano a Mare and it was perfect as a base. Rent a car to be able to easily access the wonders of Puglia!
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Old May 1st, 2024, 05:36 PM
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Ooh..ten days in Polignano! I think you stayed at the hotel on/above the beach...do I remember correctly?

But when we were in Matera last mid-September, we met an Australian couple who had just arrived in Matera from Polignano. They were horrified by the crowds there, in mid-September and they did not have a good experience there...
I think that town hosts some RedBull-sponsored events, so maybe that was the reason that they were turned off. That beach is the stuff of magazine covers!

Puglia is so trendy now..I think travelers have to get away from the more famous places if they do not want to be immersed with other travelers..I know how that sounds, we all want to be "among the locals!"

I only stopped for a minute in Monopoli cause driver got antsy when we could not find parking, so we left the car in an illegal spot just so I could step into the market for a minute and a half...but do you think that would be a more "real" place to stay a few days?? And I've not stayed yet in Bari and I think we would like that city a lot.....someday soon if we are lucky!!

Last edited by ekscrunchy; May 1st, 2024 at 05:38 PM.
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Old May 1st, 2024, 07:12 PM
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I found the inland areas most pleasant/interesting (maybe because I live near the sea now, so the seaside places don't matter as much to me?). But also, even in the first half of May last year, the touristy places were touristy and busy.

I loved staying in the beautiful 1783 Dimora d'Epoca in Locorotondo--photos of my room below and used it as a base for exploring the Valle d'Itria, which, other than Matera in Basilicata, was the favorite part of my trip. Though, when I think about it, Bari was amazing, as was Lecce and the Salento. Next time I will visit Trani!

OP, with 13 nights, minus one for Bari, you could do 4 in Lecce, 3 somewhere in Valle d'Itria, 2 or 3 in Matera (Basilicata), and then 2 or 3 in Monopoli or perhaps Trani.

But you can't really go wrong! And yes, Puglia has been well discovered by us foreign tourists for over 10 years.





Polignano a Mare, early May 2023:

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Old May 2nd, 2024, 12:05 AM
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We drove Bari to the Valle d'Itria and stayed a week in Montalbano de Fasano from where we could easily visit the towns in central Puglia, such as Monopoli, Polgnano a Mare, Taranto, Ostuni, Marina Franco, Alberobello, Locorotondo.
After that we stayed 5 nights in Specchia (Salento) to visit Lecce, Santa Maria di Leuca and Otranto.
Then on to Matera for 2 nights and further to Vieste for 3 nights and back to Bari for our flight home to Belgium.
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Old May 2nd, 2024, 10:18 AM
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Vieste is one of my favourite places but with only 12 days at the end of October/beginning of November I wouldn't include Gargano in the itinerary. Best to concentrate on Valle d'Itria, Lecce and I would include Trani because there are more locals than tourists, it's a splendid town and on the east coast train line if you want to day trip to Bari , Monopoli etc. Or Bari itself would be great.
For ekscrunchy too, here are some places that aren't overrun with tourists:
https://slowtravelitalyspain.blogspo...of-puglia.html
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Old May 2nd, 2024, 10:45 AM
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eks, we were in Puglia in early October and afterwards we flew to Sicily, a perfect trip. We did not experience crowds.
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Old May 2nd, 2024, 12:57 PM
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Thank you, everyone, for your very helpful comments. Still mulling over the itinerary, but I am thinking something like this:

Fly into Bari
Stay 1 night in Bari, picking up the rental car on Day 2 in Bari or 2 nights in Polignaro di Mare (picking up rental car at airport and going straight to PDM)

2 nights in Ostuni
2 nights in Lecce (maybe 3?)

2 nights in either Locorotondo or Alberobello

2 nights in Matera

Return to Bari, fly to Rome for 2 nights, then home

A lot of moving around, I know. Too much? We would plan to pack simply. What am I missing or omitting? Any "musts?"
Perhaps there's a good way to combine some of these, but I am entranced by the idea of staying in each of these towns.
Thank you in advance.
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Old May 3rd, 2024, 07:09 AM
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I think you could pick one place to stay in the Valle d'Itria instead of 2- you can stay in Ostuni and drive to all the other towns, or you could stay in Locorotondo and do that. Personally I would not stay in Alberobello, it is mobbed with tourists, you can go there to see the trulli and spend an hour or so. You also will see trulli dotted all around the countryside in that area.
We did Matera as a day trip from Ostuni the first time we went to Puglia but staying overnight might be fun. I think one night there is enough and you could add that other night to one of the other locations.
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Old May 3rd, 2024, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by raincitygirl
I think you could pick one place to stay in the Valle d'Itria instead of 2- you can stay in Ostuni and drive to all the other towns, or you could stay in Locorotondo and do that. Personally I would not stay in Alberobello, it is mobbed with tourists, you can go there to see the trulli and spend an hour or so. You also will see trulli dotted all around the countryside in that area.
I would follow rainycitygirl's suggestion and stay either in Locorotondo or Ostuni (or Cisternino or Martina Franca or Ceglie Messapica or another nearby town) - 3 or 4 nights.

I would also add a night to Lecce.

I stayed three nights in Matera and could have used more time there, but I am a hiker, an avid sightseer and a long-luncher.

Lots of choices!
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Old May 4th, 2024, 05:18 AM
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I completely understand your challenges with laying out an itinerary for Puglia because I had the same situation. Here’s what I’ve come up with for our July trip:

Arrive Bari and take the train to Polignano di Mare where we’ll stay for 3 nights.
Next to Santa Maria di Leuca via train/bus. We’ll be there for 3 nights.
Then we’re off to Lecce for 4 nights.
Lastly, we leave Puglia to spend 2 nights in Matera before heading over to Naples where my beloved departs and I begin 10 nights on my own through Orvieto, Florence and Rome.

When I laid this trip out my intention was to give us a relaxing but exploratory itinerary. I’d like to think we’ll get back there to dig deeper once I retire and we can travel when we want rather than when the academic calendar dictates.
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Old May 15th, 2024, 09:07 AM
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Thank you all for your valuable advice. Based on your comments, I have revised our itinerary as follows:

Day 1: fly into Rome, connect to Bari, pick up rental car and drive to hotel in Polignano a Mare area. Stay 2 nights

Ostuni - 2 nights

Lecce - 3 nights, including visit to Otranto

Locorotondo - 2 nights

Matera - 2 nights

Drive to Bari, fly back to Rome for 1 night before flying home

How does this sound?

Questions: in Matera, is 2 nights in a Sassi too much? We'd love to do some hiking nearby

In Locorotondo, we really like the recommended hotel and think this will give us a good base for exploring the Valle d'Itria

Thoughts?
Thank you in advance.
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Old May 15th, 2024, 04:12 PM
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More soon, as we are just landing home, but we loved our base for 4 nights in Locorotondo ar Masseria Aprile. I will finish our trip report in a few days.
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Old May 16th, 2024, 04:47 AM
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Masseria Aprile looks lovely. Did you go into Locorotondo at all for dinner or eat all of your dinners at the masseria?
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Old May 17th, 2024, 02:44 AM
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It is lovely! They do not serve dinner. They recommend, and one night we did take delivery from a pizza place that sent the most ample cheese presentation. We had cheeses for days. We didn't eat otherwise in Locorotondo. Check out my trip report.

Southern Italy and Sicily May, 2024
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Old May 19th, 2024, 01:40 PM
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I think 3 nights in Lecce is too long, I would subtract one night and add it to Matera, especially if you want to do some hiking. The hike through the ravine and across the Tibetan Bridge is really wonderful, but it would be tiring to do it and do sightseeing in the rest of Matera in the same day. Of course, your mileage might vary, but we just returned from a 2.5 week trip in Puglia and Matera, and felt that our 2 nights in Lecce and 3 nights in Matera was the right call. And you will love the Val d'Itria. We stayed very close to Martina Franca and visited Locorotondo and Cisternino on an eBike tour -- they are both lovely towns (as is Martina Franca).
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