Let’s be honest, traveling in 2023 has become extremely expensive for some reason, and the first thing we take into consideration when planning a holiday is the ticket price. For us Maltese, the most accessible and cheap destination is Italy. Southern Italy is extremely cheap through Ryanair, and despite the price point, it has a ton to offer. So which region am I talking about? It’s Puglia.
Nestled in the sun-kissed region of southern Italy, Puglia captivates visitors with its stunning coastlines, ancient towns, and amazing gastronomy. With its diverse landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality, Puglia offers an unforgettable experience for travelers seeking a taste of authentic Italian culture. We will be taking you on a week-long journey through Puglia, exploring the must-see destinations and experiences that will make your trip worthwhile.
Your adventure begins in Bari, Puglia’s capital city and the host to the airport that connects our island to Puglia. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the historic old town, known as Bari Vecchia. Wander through narrow alleyways and discover charming squares, such as Piazza Mercantile and Piazza del Ferrarese. Be sure to visit the Basilica di San Nicola, an impressive church housing the relics of Saint Nicholas, the inspiration behind Santa Claus.
Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its iconic trulli houses. These unique cone-shaped dwellings with whitewashed walls create a fairytale-like atmosphere that some describe as reminiscent of Santorini. Stroll through the streets of Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola, where you can admire the distinct architectural charm and even stay overnight in a trullo for a truly authentic experience.
Ostuni, the dazzling White City of Puglia. Perched on a hilltop, the town’s whitewashed buildings gleam under the Mediterranean sun, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and sea. It features amazing labyrinthine alleys and unique historical landmarks, such as the Ostuni Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace. You can enjoy an amazing leisurely lunch at one of the many local trattorias, savouring traditional Puglian dishes like orecchiette with tomato sauce and burrata cheese.
This Baroque Gem, often referred to as the “Florence of the South,” is truly a marvel to experience. The intricate facades of churches and palaces, such as the Basilica di Santa Croce and Piazza del Duomo, are simply iconic for their Baroque architecture. The city comes alive at night, offering a lively atmosphere with a wide selection of bars and restaurants. It offers a very unique and romantic setting for you evening. P.S. Try their renowned local pastry, “pasticciotto,” for a sweet treat. It is worth the diabetes.
Polignano a Mare
This Coastal Gem is a picturesque town perched atop limestone cliffs which overlook the Adriatic Sea. The old town is extremely beautiful and very romantic if you are looking to score points with your partner. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the Terrazza Santo Stefano, and take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Cala Porto (a fantastic small beach nestled within the cliffs).
If you are a history buff, then visiting Matera is a must. Matera’s ancient sassi cave dwellings, carved into the rocky cliffs, are a UNESCO World Heritage site and offer a unique glimpse into a bygone era. Wander through the narrow alleys and visit the Rupestrian Churches, adorned with ancient frescoes. This gorgeous piece of ancient history is a gem, and is not really mentioned enough.
Your Puglian adventure should include a visit to the natural paradise that is the Gargano Peninsula. It’s rich of lush forests, stunning coastlines, and picturesque seaside towns. Explore the gorgeous villages of Vieste and Peschici, and relax on the sandy beaches of Mattinata. Take a boat tour to the enchanting sea caves along the coast and take in the amazing and breathtaking views.
Monopoli is a true gem of the Adriatic coast. With its captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Monopoli offers a delightful escape for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience. The town’s historic center is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, adorned with whitewashed buildings adorned with vibrant flower pots and colorful laundry hanging from balconies. Visitors can explore ancient churches, medieval castles, and a picturesque harbor where fishing boats sway gently in the azure waters. The pristine beaches and crystal-clear sea beckon sun-seekers and water enthusiasts, while the local cuisine tantalizes taste buds with delectable seafood dishes and traditional Apulian specialties. Monopoli, with its enchanting ambiance and warm hospitality, promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of Puglia’s rich heritage.
As you bid farewell to Puglia, you’ll carry with you the memories of its captivating landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality. Puglia has so much to offer, and I can’t stress enough that this region is severely underrated and not mentioned enough when talking about visiting Italy. So next time you are browsing Ryanair’s Fare finder, keep a lookout for Bari as your next destination.