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“Puglia is a state of mind: it’s a truly exciting part of Italy.”
Antonello Losito | Southern Visions Travel
“This is Italian beauty and sophistication, but with a twist.”
Ali Pike, Southern Visions Travel
An Itinerary in Puglia
Start your stay by diving headlong into the languorous, sultry rhythms of the baroque city of Lecce. The “Florence of the South” beckons visitors to simply slow down and enjoy the views from behind a glass of wine or the city’s famed iced coffee with almond milk. Caffè Alvino is where the locals get their caffeine fix, alongside a savory rustico leccese puff pastry or sweet pasticciotto.
Gaze upon the ruins of not one but two Roman amphitheaters in the enchanting and strictly-pedestrian city center and browse the shops on Via Vittorio Emanuele II to snag a colorful puma di fiore, a pinecone-shaped ceramic and local good luck charm. As the elegantly carved facades turn sun-kissed orange in Piazza Sant’Oronzo, take an evening passeggiata with the locals towards an elegant dinner at Michelin-starred Bros’, or choose the rustic and authentic fare beloved by Anthony Bourdain at Alle Due Corti.
Start the day early to beat the crowds in Alberobello, one of Italy’s most unique and, perhaps, the region’s most memorable town. This little village was named a UNESCO Heritage Site thanks to its hundreds of charming trulli: round, cone-topped constructions dating back to the 15th century. Take the morning to wander around this photo-worthy fairy village before rolling up your sleeves at a nearby masseria – a traditional fortified farmhouse – for a hands-on cooking class using the freshest ingredients from the garden. You’ll no doubt master the thumbprint flip of the orecchiette pasta before settling in among the olive groves to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Before sunset, head to the nearby hilltop town of Noci for an early evening stroll through its quaint historic center before settling in for a gastronomic experience at Fè Ristorante: a dining club set into eight carefully-restored trulli with 20 exclusive seats.
Hop on some bikes and hit the road today! Pedal through the countryside past whitewashed villages, modest abbeys, and groves of millennial olive trees, and stop when you smell the saltwater. You’ll be greeted by swathes of aquamarine sea and the ivory cliffs of Torre Sant’Andrea, the ideal spot to perfect your cliff diving or simply take a dip. Your bike and beach day continues southward along the coast through the serene and protected Alimini Lakes.
Eventually, you’ll land in Otranto, the eastern-most city in Italy fortified with immense white stone walls, a masterful castle, and plenty of pretty, characteristic lanes.
Pay a visit to the cathedral’s gorgeous mosaic floors or book a beach umbrella at the exclusive Lido La Castellana, Otranto’s premier beach club. Don’t forget to sample the freshest seafood: think oysters and sea urchins on the half-shell (trust us on this one). Enviable tables can be found in the garden of Il Diavolicchio Goloso or with your toes in the sand at Atlantis Bel-Ami.
Spend your last day in Puglia dolce vita style in Polignano a Mare, the region’s attractive seaside resort town. The gorgeous vistas over emerald waters are best enjoyed by sea. Hop on a speedboat to explore the caves, grottoes, and secluded swimming holes along the coast. This is the land that inspired the song “Volare.” So, don’t be surprised if you feel the urge to burst into song as you gaze across the endless horizon, prosecco in hand.
Back on land, skip over to Il Super Mago del Gelo, a charming family-owned gelateria and coffee bar slinging caffè speciale – their famed coffee cocktail – since 1935. This evening enjoy dinner at Grotta Palazzese, where VIP tables are set into the limestone caves overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
Let the sound of the waves accompany a toast to a wonderful weekend in Puglia.