How to spend two weeks in Puglia, Italy…

Puglia is a dreamy region found at the bottom of Italy’s heel, fly into either Bari or Brindisi to reach it.  I’ve just spent two weeks in Puglia and loved every minute, our first week was all about relaxing in a Trullo with our own pool while the second was spent by the coast in Otranto. Trullo houses are traditional stone and white washed buildings with a dome-shaped roof, native to this area. They were originally used as temporary out buildings and dwellings which could be easily dismantled and moved to avoid paying taxes.  Our trullo was hidden away and pretty hard to find! Needless to say it was well worth the hunt, and around a mile or so along a tiny and rather bumpy ‘country road’ we arrived at the most gorgeous little spot. ‘Trullo Tranquillo’ (the name says it all) had its own pool and although in the middle of nowhere it was only around a 20 minute drive to the towns of Ostuni and Cisternino. Surrounded by nothing but olive trees and almond groves and with our own pool the trullo gave us plenty of time to relax, sunbathe have some pool time and do nothing for a little while….or for at least as long as our 5 month old would snooze for anyway! Breakfasts consisted of freshly picked figs, almonds and prickly pears from trees around the trullo.  Lunch consisted of pasta or pizza out and about and evening meals were spent sat outside with caprese salads and meats cooked on the barbecue.  Staircases on the outside of the trullo led to a roof terrace which had fantastic views. Looking out over olive trees you could make out other trullis in the distance and Ostuni lit up and looking pretty at night.  It was also the perfect spot for watching the sunset and for stargazing, with hardly any light pollution around the night sky sparkled.  Inside, the trullo was connected to a newer extension, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a well equipped kitchen meant we had everything we needed. Matt and I were sleeping in the trullo part, our bed was in one of the smaller stone domes, it was nice and cool in the evenings and with no windows very dark too! It was such a novelty to live in this traditional stone building for a week.  Our water supply came from 320 meters below and an outdoor shower made for a unique morning wake up, there’s nothing quite like showering with views of neighbouring almond groves!
Exploring Puglia by car is an easy way to get about and see not only the delightful Italian countryside but also Puglian towns with their beautiful architecture and squares with coffee shops and gelato stops. My favourites were:
Alberobello: This trulli town is a must visit while in Puglia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 1500 trullo buildings adorn the hillside here and really are a sight like no other.  White washed stone and dome-shaped roofs with colourful flowers in hanging baskets make for a pretty picture.  Strolling the streets its clear to see why this is such a popular spot.  Souvenir shops, restaurants and wine bars are all waiting to be discovered inside but I just loved taking in the beautiful architecture, for more on my day in Alberobello click here: Exploring the trulli town of Alberobello.
Ostuni: Named ‘Citta Bianca’ or White City this divine town is full of white stone buildings, tiny cobbled streets, buildings with julitte balconies and a 15th century cathedral.  Puglia is well-known for its olive oil and there are plenty of shops selling it here, a nice souvenir to take home.  Ostuni has some lovely squares perfect for coffee and dining alfresco, a pizza and lunchtime beer was on the cards when we visited. On Saturdays a huge market lines the streets with stalls selling everything from clothes to kitchen crockery and a vast food section with fresh local produce, meats and cheeses.
After a week inland it was time to head to the coast, a 1 hour and 30 minute drive saw us arrive in Otranto, this gorgeous place has everything, beautiful beaches, an impressive old town, a port and more gelato stops than you could get round to trying in one week.  Crystal clear waters, perfect for swimming and snorkelling meant this week was very different to our trullo stay.  Our apartment was a short stroll from the town, the views of the harbour and the old town made for a pleasant walk in. Our two favourite beaches were Lido Camillo right in the centre of Otranto, here we paid 25 Euros for two sunbeds and an umbrella, although pricey you also get the use of changing rooms and toilets.  There are normal public beaches to use too, but it was nice for a treat to hire sunbeds.  The water was so calm, clear and shallow, it was just bliss to paddle or swim in.  Lido Atlantis, slightly out-of-town was a bit cheaper than the ones in the centre and was another favourite.  The ocean on this side was a little rougher and there were lots of rock pool for exploring, plus a very nice bar for a beer on the beach.  The old town is fortified by huge walls and has plenty of italian charm, shops, bars and restaurants line cobbled streets and the small streets meander up to the cathedral and castle.  The cathedral is a must visit, dating back to 1088 it has stunning mosaics on the floor and beautiful art work inside.  The cathedral holds a shrine with bones of the 813 Otranto Martyrs encased in glass.  Another must visit is Grotta della Poesia, 30 minutes drive north from Otranto near Roca this natural pool has crystal clear waters.  A thrilling way to get in is to take the plunge and jump 15 feet into the sinkhole or if like me you don’t feel brave enough there are steps carved into the rock for easier access!  Arrive early to avoid the crowds and have this incredible blue plunge pool all to yourself.  There are lots of beach restaurants and lovely lidos to stop off at along this stretch of the coast too along with some gorgeous rocky outcrops perfect for a dip.
From the countryside to the coast, this trip was a perfect mix of the two. Exploring quaint Puglian towns and relaxing on a calm coastline meant we had the best of both worlds.  If you are planning a trip to this part of Italy you will love Puglia!

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