When the girls and I decided to visit Puglia, we knew the trip would revolve around food – pretty much the best part of any Italian journey! Thus, stay tuned for “Pugliese cuisine” tips, what to see and where to eat.
Alora, we stayed almost three days in Puglia, and we visited seven cities. Our host was Francesco, an actual Italian tour guide, so probably we had a head start and were luckier than the most tourist in Puglia. Grazie mille Francesco! We had nice day trips and short stops in charming towns as Ostuni, Monopoli or Alberobello.
First 16h in Lecce
We had a delicious dinner at the restaurant Dall’Antiquario. I ordered Taieddra (a zucchini pie, potatoes and rice baked in the oven) and Caponata di verdure (a vegetable mix). I also tried other starters, like polpette fritte (fried meatballs) and I’m still thinking of that filetti di melanzane al forno(baked aubergines) and Parmigiana di melanzane.
We saw the capital of the province, Lecce, by night and day, and still can’t decide when I liked it more. It is called the “Florence of the South” due to its beautifully preserved Baroque architecture.
A typical Leccese breakfast is a good cappuccino, a great pasticciotto and arance rosse (a local pastry and red oranges).
The next morning, we entered the old town through Porta Napoli, one of the three gates remains of the city walls. Gems in the historic center are the Roman Amphitheatre, the Cathedral, and the Basilica of Santa Croce, in Baroque Art.
Olive trees in Puglia and Ostuni
The first thing I noticed on the way from Lecce to Ostuni are many ancient olive trees. Francesco told us that approximately 60 million olive trees carpet the region of Puglia. These trees are even 2,000 years old and therefore, became an Italian heritage and are protected by law.
Ostuni is known as the “White City”. The old town has charming narrow streets, and you feel like in a white maze. We had lunch at “Osteria del tempo perso“. Here I had Spaghetti Cacio et pepe, a Roman dish that I managed to miss to order when I was in Rome. The pasta had one extra ingredient – artichokes – because we are in Puglia!
Before our lunch, we tried taralli, the local snack, also a delicious souvenir to bring back home.
Next, a quick stop in Torre Ganno, a cute fishing village next to the Adriatic Sea, just in time for ice-cream at Caffe Rotolo.
Saturday night in Fasano
That evening our host took us to a handball match. Fasano team played the rival neighboring city and won with some dramatic penalties 31-30.
Well done Fasano!
Experiences and memories are the best investments we can make, valuable for a lifetime. Spending our Saturday evening like local Italians, watching the local handball team win and eating homemade pizza for dinner was an extraordinary experience.
Sunday morning in Monopoli
Many different cultures and civilizations populated the city – Greek, Roman, Ottoman. The name means “One city” in Greek. Monopoli is nothing like I expected and I was impressed with the city, the cathedral and the old town.
The crown jewel of the city is the cathedral because I was overwhelmed the moment I entered and saw the inside entirely decorated in red, pink, and white marble.
We returned in the evening in Monopoli in time for the aperitif and a “light” dinner at Vini & Panini, located in the central square of the historic town.
But before, afternoon in Polignano a mare
Polignano is another cute town by the sea with narrow streets and white walls. Many terraces are positioned at strategic points of the city and offer spectacular views over the Adriatic Sea.
The singer Domenico Modugno was born here, and he has a statue dedicated to him. He wrote the famous song “Volare”, so if his name doesn’t ring a bell, I am sure the song will.
For lunch, I finally ordered the famous orecchiette, the typical Pugliese pasta, shaped like “little ears”, thus the name. Again, another delicious souvenir.
Last stop, but not least – Alberobello
Alberobello is a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1996. It’s like a fairytale village because it has the largest number of “Trulli” houses in Puglia. Trulli is the name for the little white house with a conical roof.
Bottom line: we loved Puglia. Even though I did my research before the trip, my expectations were exceeded.
The article was first writen for the Travel Capsule and published on their blog. The re-publishing was done with their kind permission