Puglia with a 800 km coastline is a region full of sun and sea, unique towns, interesting history and tradition, gentle people, fantastic, traditional food, and outstanding wine.
Day 1 – After checking in at the Masseria, we drove 40 min to Alberobello, the most popular town in the heel of Italy, because it concentrates 1500 trulli (conical stone huts), which are so iconic for Puglia. Just walk side roads, and you will enjoy the charm of this town all by yourself.
The main street up the hill to the Church San Antonio, full of trulli shops selling souvenirs, was too touristy for me.
It was past midday so we decided to have a break.
Another 10-min drive to reach Martina Franca, the largest town of the valley, with its quaint, old center and baroque architecture.
Unforgettable is the beautiful drive back to the hotel through the rural, windy roads, surrounded by fertile fields, poppies, vineyards, olive groves, and, of course, trulli.
Day 2 – We drove a bit further about 1h40, leaving the coastal Puglia to reach Matera in the region of Basilicata. Being in Southern Italy, visiting this unique, ancient cave city is a must. There are cave dwellings dating back to 7,000 BC!
Because this is a foodie blog, I have to mention Gelateria l Vizi degli Angeli. I can assure you that they have the best homemade ice cream. I tried my favorite, which is pistachio, and it was so delicious that I could not resist getting a second order before leaving Matera.
On our way back, we visited Lecce. A walkable, lovely city, especially if you like baroque architecture. I had booked at Le Zie Trattoria, where we enjoyed of a traditional Salentine dinner, home cooked and served in a nostalgic surrounding.
Day 4 – I was really looking forward to this day as we had appointments for two wine tastings.
To conclude we were taken to the beautiful tasting area and shop.
Something really special at the shop were the gas-station-style wine fillers. Yes, you bring your container, fill it up with wine, pay, and voilà!
We were treated to the winemaker’s selection of wines to taste.
The tasting was accompanied by typical Apulian products: taralli, pecorino cheese, friselline, capocollo (PDO cold cut) from Martina Franca. We would lay back and stay longer, but we had to get to our next appointment in Manduria, a 40-min drive.
We arrived to Attanasio, where we were welcomed by Giuseppe Attanasio, his wife and also his son. Attanasio is a small, family winery, producing only 15,000 bottles per year. Giuseppe Attanasio devotes 100 percent to Primitivo di Manduria, using grapes exclusively from his own vineyards. The place where we met was a barrel cellar, and we could taste different vintages. The one I found exceptional was a specialty, the Primitivo de Manduria DOCG Passito, 2012, sweet, sweet, from 90-year-old vines, perfect to finish an Italian meal!
Back in our beautiful trulli-hotel, we had the chance to chill out a bit. We enjoyed a cool Puglian white in the garden.
Afterwards the excellent Masseria’s chef spoiled us with various courses.
Day 5 – It is estimated that there are 60 million olive trees in Puglia, i.e. one for each Italian! If you arrive by plane to Brindisi or Bari, check out of the window and be impressed by the number of olive trees in one place. No wonder that 40 percent of the country’s olive oil production comes from here. Olive oil is Puglia’s most important product, what they call the ‘green gold’.
It is not only the number of trees what amazes, but also the age and size of them. Some date back more than 3,000 years. We wanted to see these ancient specimens so we headed to Masseria Brancati (20-min drive), home of these millenarian olive trees – 800 of them are recorded as natural monuments.
It is fascinating that after almost three millennia these trees still produce extra virgin olive oil. You will be able to taste the Brancati olive oils during the visit. The owner himself, Corrado Rodio, will tour you around the olive trees and farm house, which is also some kind of museum.
We went for lunch at the Osteria del Tempo Perso, a fantastic place in downtown Ostuni, serving Puglian cuisine. The atmosphere is unique in this restaurant recreated in an authentic cave. The wine selection is huge, and, as you can see, the bar as well …
It was a gorgeous, sunny day, perfect for a deserved siesta next to the hotel pool, a bit too chilly for a dive though.
Upon a recommendation of our hotel waiter, we ended up having dinner in Ceglie Messapica (15-min drive). We did not go to the place he had told us but found Osteria da Giuseppe, which turned to be very good and fun. We were friendly welcomed by Giuseppe, who ushered us to a table, and delivered from the kitchen delicious Puglian dishes, plated the traditional way. The products were simple, but savory, homemade, and fresh. An authentic experience, with sincere hospitality, we will never forget.
Day 6 – Our last day … We had planned to visit the Grotte di Castellana (50-min drive), but we decided not to go due to the long queues at the entrance. We continue our ride (23-min) to arrive to Polignano a Mare, a charming seaside destination. It is an ancient town built on a spur of rock directly above the crystal, clear waters of the Adriatic. We stopped for a drink at one of the nice bars.
Driving along the coast (15-min drive), we reached Monopoli, which was worthwhile a stop.
We spent our last evening at our wonderful Masseria with a good bottle of the Puglian ‘red gold’ for sure.
I managed to combine many things in a one-week stay, but there is still so much I would love to explore and to repeat that I have to go back.
Still on my pending list:
- Sightseeing: Castel del Monte, Grotte di Castellana
- Restaurants: Antichi Sapori
- Wineries: Azienda Monaci, Azienda Rivera, Castello Monaci, Leone de Castris, Racemi, Tomaresca
- Beaches: Porto Miggiano, Torre Sant Andrea, Vieste