This post was originally written at the start of March, just a few days before Italy went into lockdown and then we subsequently followed. I decided not to post it at the time as I felt it was insensitive, not important and it it quite frankly it didn’t sit well to be indulging in my my holiday photos. However, now, as Italy are facing a more postive future, I thought sharing some postcards and tales from Bella Pulgia would be a little light diversion from today’s shutdown. Although it is very unlikely us Brits will be heading there this Summer, there is hope for the rest of Europe and well Italy will be waiting for us with it’s glorious beaches, gelato, cuisine and people, next Summer. So until then, here are some postcards from Puglia to enjoy and give us a bit of hope for Italian Summers in the not too distant future.
5 March 2020:
It’s been a while since I put pen to paper for this blog and it has most definitely been even a while longer since the warm, balmy, slow days of Puglia graced my presence . I am not sure if it is because of the particularly long, still going on, Winter or dare I say the Panic of the Corona Virus, potentially preventing us from taking impending trips, but I feel I am in need of some sunshine, escapism and holiday talk, more than ever . So I thought perhaps you maybe too. Obviously I cannot whisk you all away to this beautiful part of Italy right now but I can share tales and photographs which may help inspire your next trip or just keep you vicariously holiday living for the next few months …. either way I hope you enjoy some postcards of Puglia.
We have been luckily enough to see quite a bit of Italy in our travels… from Roma to Florence , Tuscany to the Amalfi Coast and Venice to Verona …I am not sure I have ever had a bad time away in this beautiful part of the world and along with the rest of Italy, Puglia did not let us down.
Puglia is in the South Eastern tip of Italy, the heal of the boot you may say. We travelled at the start of September for 5 days of glorious sunshine, beaches and of course it is Italy -pizza! ! September is a good time to go, cheaper flights as the kiddies have all gone back to school, warm enough to be sun kissed and swim in the sea but not perhaps as unbearable as the heat of July and August. Puglia still being a relatively unknown part of Italy in comparison to the Amalfi Coast, so I would also say a lot quieter. To get the best of the region you will need to hire a car, just to visit all the incredible historic villages. Like anywhere in Italy there is so much to see and do, or you can do as little as your heart desires….guilt free. We tended to do a bit of both, visit a few little towns in the morning and then retire to the beach or the pool for the afternoon. There is not a day that can be beaten, which starts with a slow breakfast of fruits, yogurts, breads and jams, and cake, yes cake, in the sunlight. A stroll and a wonder around historic Italian villages, perusing in shops, buying too much to fit in your luggage because while you keep buying you regret more and more flying with Ryanair and their strict hand luggage policies. Continuing with gelato and coffees where you can. To then spend the remainder of the day in quiet little bays, with swimming, snoozing , reading on repeat. Evenings spent in search of pizza and gelato and yes more perusing in Puglian villages…..to then repeat for the next few days……like the Italians say Dolce far Niente!
A few of our favourites Puglian visits
Poligano a Mare the famous Instagram face of Puglia. It is truly stunning. Walk around the centre to the cliff’s edge and look down onto the beach to see swimmers and bathers in their element. It is also a lovely spot to watch the sun go down. Personally I found it more admirable from above, it is absolutely choca-block, so crowded. Yes, the water is beautiful and so clear, very inviting but it was a real feat getting down to the water with amount of people and nowhere to put your towel down, well unless you wanted to rock climb half a mile round the corner. So do what we did, have a wander around the beautiful historic town, have a coffee in one of the sweet cafes off the square and then drive to the quieter bays for a more relaxing beach experience. We also returned for apéritif and dinner on our last evening. We ate in the main square for pasta and then finished off with gelato of course….beautiful!
Locorotondo A must, must from me. Known for its history and circular structure, with its name meaning the ’round place’ a definite visit if you are in the area. We visited on one evening, which was a beautiful drive from our b&b in Monopoli through the olive groves and past Truli houses . Arriving early evening, the light and the sunset were truly epic, as if the sky were on fire….beautiful! We ate at Pizzeria Casa Pinto, amazingly delicious pizzas eaten alfresco in the winding alley ways, a feast for all the senses, a perfect Puglian evening.
Ostuni, The White City, perhaps my favourite. A beautiful whitewashed city, with an old town of gothic and Romanesque elements, which sits high above the olive groves and looks far out to the Adriatic sea. We went in the morning and headed straight to the old town and happily got lost in the white alley ways, with houses upon houses, dead-end pathways, gardens and doors and cats and more cats, full of history and which all feels quite magically maze like. It did remind me quite a lot of the Greek Islands….. A fun fact, Ostuni is all white as it saved the town from the plague as the white paint- lime, which was a very effective disinfectant, was used in large amounts….I digress….A little tip, walk out of town towards Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, and you will come to a quiet little view point with a bench to sit your tired feet and drink up the view of the whole white city. You can also do what we did and stop off for fresh lemonade and homemade biscuits in one of the street cafes which overlook Ostini old town. A firm favourite!
Beaches, there are lots of beautiful bays and beaches which I think easily measure up to the fame of Poligano di mare. You do need a car and a slight essence of adventure to get to some of them….some on hindsight a little too adventures seeing as my mum was a few months out of a hip operation….but she was fine and she would agree was oh so worth it….to name a few Lido Santo Stefano, Lido Monopoli and Cala Lido Colonia.
So all the all the calm, the bays, the quite olive grove country drives, all the indulgences and all the balmy sun of Puglia, what more does one desire in an Italian holiday ….Puglia I think you have our hearts….
Thank you for reading x