Public holidays are great. When the 3rd of October (German holiday) falls on a Monday and you want to head south for a week, there are only 4 days left to take off. Fantastic. Of course we love beautiful fall days. But let’s be honest: How many fall days in Germany are beautiful? Right, not so many.
So we thought we head straight to Italy. Italy once a year is a must for us – we can’t get enough of this country. This time we wanted it to be a region we don’t know yet. And we decided for Puglia.
Puglia – the ‘heel’ of Italy
Puglia is a relatively qiet part of Italy when it comes to tourism. The region is located in the south eastern part of the country and becomes more and more popular. There are many beautiful dream beaches south of Lecce, which is called the Salento region.
July and August is not a good time to come here. Italians besiege their beaches and hotel prices reach top levels. It’s different in low season: First of all it’s the calm time of the year and secondly everything is so much cheaper. But we doubt it will stay this way.
Puglia’s diversity is unbeatable
Puglia has so much to offer: beautiful cities, dreamy beaches and the famous trulli. The last one is what I was dreaming about for a long time. But more to that below!
One week is enough time to explore Puglia. If you want to sun bath at the beautiful beaches, you should stay longer – the beaches are just too beautiful. But October is definitely not the best time for that. We had really beautiful and sunny days, but when bathing in low season you’d better come in September.
We added beautiful Matera to our itinerary which officially belongs to the region of Basilicata. But from Alberobello it’s just a 45 minute drive. Therefore we don’t have to be too fussy about regional terminology. The European Capital of Culture for 2019 shouldn’t miss on your Puglia trip.
Due to the amount of sights, we decided to write two posts for Puglia. This one is about the cities of Puglia. The second one is about the coastal regions.
Eating and Drinking in Puglia
Food in Italy – we can tell you a thing or two about it.
The region’s speciality is Orecchiette in all variations – it means ‘little ears’ in English.
Furthermore: What’s the Limoncello for the Amalfi Coast, Puglia is the land of liquor made from any kind of fruits. We could taste a few in our first ‘Hotel’ (which was a trullo) as welcome drink and they were delicious.
And: Cookies in all variations. Our favourite: Tarallini zuccherati – a caries dream!
Due to its many baroque buildings, the Old Town of Lecce is named as ‘Florence of the south’. We explored the city by bike which we could borrow from our accommodation. We can totally recommend this in lower season.
You’ll see so much more than by walking and partly even corners you otherwise wouldn’t bother to see as it would be to exhausting. Having the whole Piazza di Duomo for yourself at night and riding in circles slightly drunk was priceless. Yes, we had fun in Lecce.
What we loved most about the Old Town was its authenticity. Nothing is really ‘prettied up’ (for example like in Florence). A few streets are even a little dilapidated. The student life, the baroque buildings and the really friendly people catapulted Lecce’s Old Town to one of our favourites.
Alberobello is probably Puglia’s most famous city. We had this place in mind for a long time. Many people know the white trulli with their grey concical roofs. There are similar houses all over the Mediterranean like the Nuraghe in Sardinia.
Of course, we had to stay in of those trulli. They look really beautiful from the outside but they’re really small inside. We knew about this before, so we liked our stay there nevertheless. It felt like living in smurftown.
In the surroundings you’ll find trulli again and again. But in Alberobello many quarters consist of just these white houses. The city is therefore part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
In peak season this is for sure a crowded place. You should definitely come to Alberobello in low season. There was a lot going on but as we stayed in the main area overnight, we could use the morning for exploring. We had the beautiful white alleys all for ourselves.
From the opposite hilltop the Old Town of Matera looks incredibly mighty. The Gravina di Matera canyon which lies between the two karst mountains makes the area look even more dramatic.
Actually Matera belongs to the region of Basilicata. But the short distance to Alberobello almost forced us to see the city. Matera is probably one of the oldest cities in the world and is primarily famous for its prehistoric settlement called ‘Sassi di Matera’ (‘stones of Matera’). They lie on the steep rocky slopes towards the canyon.
It’s remarkable that between 1950s and the 1960s there were still people living in those caves. When this became public it was a scandal back then and the people were forced to move out and move to new buildings. It was a scandal because no one in Europe believed there was such poverty in the middle of the Union.
For many years the caves were neglected until artists and other hip people rediscovered them. Some of them are even inhabited again after having been renovated. Meanwhile the Sassi are part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
After this entire Sassi thing, you shouldn’t forget the beautiful Old Town of Matera. The best way to explore the alleys is with a gelato in your hand – it’s a dream. One feels really small between all these houses towered up on top of each other. At the same time we even thought about moving to this awesome place.
Matera is a MUST for every Puglia trip.
Castel del Monte
This is not a city but beautiful and worth seeing. We didn’t know in which post to put this castel, so we decided for this one.
We visited this place on our last day. It’s not far from Bari and therefore perfect, if you have a bit of time left before your flight from Bari is leaving.
Castel del Monte was built in the 13th century by the Staufern and it’s said to be unfinished. We haven’t seen the castle from the inside which was a mistake we got to know afterwards. There must be a really smart corridor system inside. You can avoid problems like this by informing yourself properly in advance.
From the outside the castle is gigantic and the architecture reminds of a modern sect building. It’s definitely worth seeing.
Where to stay in Puglia
On our Puglia trip we chose two accommodations. On was in Alberobello in trullo and the other one was an amazing B&B in Lecce.
We can totally recommend both of them. Both are well located and offer great breakfast (which cannot be taken for granted in Italy). They are clean and the hosts are absolutely adorable and helpful. We were over the moon with both of them.
Alberobello: Trullo Sotterraneo
Lecce: B&B L’Antica Rimessa