Since last year we enjoyed hitting the road in Portugal, this year we did a road trip again, but in Puglia, south-east Italy. In this post you’ll find what I didn’t cover in my road trip in Puglia vlog, focusing more on pictures, what to see and what to eat.
The section at the end of the post highlights my top 6 places where to eat during my road trip in Puglia. All the places we’ve been plus tips are available in my Foursquare account, while many pictures are also in my Instagram account. And again, don’t forget to check my vlog episodes for more images and insights about the places we visited!
Day 1 – Giovinazzo & Trani
On day 1 of my road trip in Puglia we visited Giovinazzo and Trani, up north from Bari. Antonio—Franz’s best man at our wedding—joined us, and it was nice to spend some quality time with him. He’s also involved in the vlog! I loved Giovinazzo promenade, and Trani’s Romanesque Basilica left me out of breath. It stands right on the rocks, all white, watching the sea. A great start for our road trip.
Day 2 – Conversano & Polignano a Mare
Day 2 of my road trip in Puglia touched Polignano a Mare and Conversano. I’m so sorry for the pretty Conversano that happened to come on the same day of Polignano. In fact this little gem 30km south from Bari has completely melted my heart and blown my mind. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life, and probably neither have you. Houses are built upon caves that go undersea. There are people in Polignano who own a cave instead of a basement. It’s so crazy I couldn’t believe my eyes. Enjoy the view in the gallery below.
Day 3 – Castellana Caves, Alberobello & Ostuni
Day 3 was all about stones and how they shaped Apulian people’s lives. We walked for 3km inside Castellana caves – such a great experience. Then we headed to Alberobello, which is a weird place. The town centre is made of trulli, houses built with stones only, and cone-shaped roof. It feels like you’re strolling in fairy land.
We finished the day in Ostuni, the White City. We lost ourselves in the maze of its alleys, and feeling alone in the town was magical as well.
Day 4 – Lecce & Torre dell’Orso
My road trip in Puglia must have had Lecce in it. It’s called “Firenze del Sud” (the Florence of Southern Italy), and when you go there you clearly understand why – there’s art everywhere! Lecce will punch you in the stomach with its beautiful Baroque style. We then hit the road again on the east coast, stopping at Torre dell’Orso, where Franz checked the sea water temperature for me.
Day 5 – Otranto, Santa Maria di Leuca & Nardò
What a day this one has been! We visited many places moving down the east coast of Salento, and reaching the easternmost point of continental Europe, where the Otranto lighthouse is located, as well as the finis terrae, the end of the land. We did the same in Portugal, where we’ve been in the westernmost point of the continental Europe in Cabo da Rica. Then we went up along the west coast, till Nardò, a secret gem of Salento.
Day 6 – Matera
My road trip in Puglia took a slight detour in Basilicata region to visit Matera. This is one of the most surreal city I’ve ever been in my life. The oldest city, the now so called “Sassi” area of Matera is literally carved in the mountain. That’s something my brain is still trying to elaborate, so incredible that you need to come and see it personally.
Day 7 & 8 – Bari
We allocated two full days of my road trip in Puglia to explore Bari, the capital city of the region. Bari is one of my favourite city in Italy (along with Cagliari), full of history and heritage from the Middle East as well, as it used to be (and still is!) the gateway from the East to Europe. We also met a lady in Bari vecchia who shared her secrets to make orecchiette pasta. I will definitely try to replicate that at home!
Top places where to eat in Puglia
I’m not going to lie, coming up with only six places has been such an incredible effort. Wherever we’ve been we had amazing food, and spent reasonably. Since I have to make a choice, though, here are my fav places where to eat in Puglia; please onte that they’re not sorted in a specific order. I also added a Matera/Basilicata bonus!
1- Osteria da Cosimino in Lecce. We arrived in Lecce that was raining, dump and miserable. We got bounced by a renowned restaurant, and we picked Cosimino because of its traditional dishes highlighted on Foursquare. Hell if the reviews were right! Reasonably cheap, big portions and legit Lecce’s cuisine.
2- Ristorante dal Baffo in Otranto. This is the most expensive meal we had in the entire road trip, but it was worth every cent! The place is very chic, and the food is amazingly well presented and amazingly good. We felt treated like VIP people!
3 – Antica Trattoria Salandra in Nardò.
I have a great gift/sixth sense for the most hidden places that are frequented by locals—in fact we ate many times in such restaurants during the trip. Trattoria Salandra is one of those places. They take cash only, and the host is also the cook and the waiter. Portions aren’t enormous but the food is enormously good.
4 – Trattoria Lucana in Matera.
Believe it or not, we spent half of our time in Matera in this restaurant. We ate so much and so well! Most importantly, the bill at the end was ridiculously low for all the food we had. The staff also gave us the wine we didn’t drink to take away.
5 – Antica Gelateria Gentile in Bari.
As you may know, I’m obsessed with gelato, therefore I became so picky with it. We went at Gelateria Gentile twice in one day, because I craved their gelato so badly. This is most likely the best gelato I’ve ever had in my life so far – no kidding.
6 – Panificio Santa Rita in Bari
Wherever you go in Bari to get some focaccia barese, you’re going to have a good one, that’s for sure. However, if you’re looking for a not-oily, light and crispy focaccia, that’s the right place. The price for a whole “ruota” (wheel) of focaccia – which is pretty big also for greedy, eternally-hungry people like me and Franz – is so cheap that you’re going to either cry or laugh. Or both, when you’ll have the first bite of that focaccia.
To wrap up my road trip in Puglia
Puglia is a region that goes beyond being beautiful. We were blessed with sunny days most of the time, and May is definitely the best month of the year to explore the area without the chaos of the summer and the mass tourism. I will definitely come back again to visit also the north of the Puglia we didn’t check. The food, also, and the warm and welcoming people add up to the stunning panorama and clear air. Puglia has definitely conquer a piece of my heart (and my stomach).
To enjoy more pictures about my road trip in Puglia, check out my Instagram account.
Check out the vlog playlist about the trip, and don’t forget to subscribe to my DailyPinner YouTube channel!