The Puglia are large expanses of olive groves, with traditional housings, a Baroque architecture and waters with indescribable shades of blue! Not to mention a green nature surrounded by cities of charm and character of which only Italy has the secret!
Let’s go to the South of the Italian Boot for a road trip of more than 500km through the Puglia. It’s an area still well guarded along the Adriatic and Ionian coasts. A palette of landscapes, flavours and colours which perfectly match the expectations of a good road trip
How to get around in the Puglia?
I wanted to be free and independent so I rented a car to discover the wonderful region of Puglia. Public transport doesn’t serve the place well. Renting a car seems like the perfect solution to me to visit this part of Italy.
I started the road trip Bari airport. Many different companies offer vehicle rental. However Brindisi is another airport just as well placed as Bari. You can compare flights on Skyscanner to see which one suits you best.
Regarding the vehicle, I always pay attention to company reviews and regulations. I have 3 specific criteria: unlimited mileage (which allows you to be completely free), the options proposed, such as GPS for example but especially the age of the driver (I was 24 years old at that time and some companies ask for a €10 supplement per day for young drivers even though I had my license for 6 years!).
However you must remain vigilant because the Italians are unfortunately not very courteous in terms of driving. They don’t really respect the speed limits, the white lines or the stop. It may surprise you at first but it’s only a matter of habit.
Some cities in which I stopped:
Monopoli reminded me of a large village interlaced with narrow streets in which it’s a pleasure to get lost. An incredible architecture from where you can feel the History. A small welcoming hidden harbour and a turquoise beach close to the ramparts of the city are waiting for you there.
Alberobello is certainly one of the most beautiful place and the most famous village of the Puglia. Its small painted houses with their conical roofs are unique in the world and make it a unique village. It made me think of a fairy tale setting where serenity and calm prevail. The place is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list so it makes it a touristic destination. This village is divided in two parts: Rione Monti is the most touristic district where prevail souvenir shops, handicrafts or museums. Rione Aia Piccola is smaller but more authentic. Some villagers and farmers still live there.
Polignano a Mare is the pearl of the Adriatic. This village perched on cliffs is today the most attractive view of the Puglia. It’s located on a limestone rock which is 25m high and which explains why it has the most beautiful panoramic views of the coast. But it’s also nice to walk in its narrow streets (mostly closed to traffic) with its many steeples, bars, small shops and balconies. I suggest you to discover Grotta Palezzese which is the largest natural cave in the region and even accommodates a restaurant that I would have like to test!
Ostuni the white city is built on top of a hill. It overlooks large plains of olive groves and the sea. It reminded me of Greece with its narrow streets lined and the entirely white architecture. A peaceful and serene life takes place there. The incredible landscapes and its inhabitants make you want to stop there for longer than expected.
Otranto is a marvel composed of alleys lined with flowers and colours. It sells many typical regional products. I found there all the charm of Italy and the Dolce Vita. Don’t miss the small harbour with its transparent waters hidden on the other side of the ramparts.
Gallipoli is a fisherman town marked out by ramparts. You will feel at best the atmosphere by getting lost in its many streets. Flowered balconies, vespas carelessly parked and the architecture with endless colours styles make it one of my favourites.
If you have more time, here are other pleasant cities: Bari, Martina Franca, Lecce, Brindisi or even the caves of Castellana.
Take pictures of the car when you rent it to justify the previous presence of scratches or bumps. This will be helpful when returning the vehicle.
Towns and tourist villages often charge for parking, so plan loose change. It represents a certain budget that should be included in the organization of your road trip.
Enjoy the moment. I know social networks are more and more important in our lives but this region should be visited in the Italian-style and so in a Zen and relaxed way.
Don’t rush into the first restaurant you will found, try to get lost in the alleys. If the menu is available in all languages you are in the wrong place! I don’t say it will be bad but only touristic restaurants offer this kind of menu…
This trip to the Puglia was wonderful for both eyes and taste buds. A getaway where time stopped for a moment. I can only advise you this region with such a culture, nature, architecture and beaches.