PUGLIA

Seven of us spent five days in Puglia over the late August bank holiday. We flew into Bari airport on Thursday morning, picked up a rental van, made a pitstop for Italian snacks and drove the 90 minutes down to Ceglie Messapica, our base for the next five days. We stayed at a fantastic Airbnb in true Puglia trulli style (the domed limestone houses). It also had a gorgeous pool which was a win for early morning wake ups and balmy evenings!

On our arrival our host met us for a locally inspired home cooked dinner. We helped make the fresh pasta – Puglia is famous for orecchiette pasta (which means ‘little ears’, reflecting the shape of the pasta) and is traditionally served with cima di rape (turnip tops)! The whole meal was divine, and dish after dish kept coming out until 12.30am – we were stuffed!

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The next morning we headed straight to Martina Franca, to the I Pastini vineyard for a tour and a tasting. It was fantastic, and we ended up purchasing enough between seven to fill two crates to be shipped to London… whoops!

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We then drove through Locorotondo on our way to Alberobello, the home of 14th century trulli. New settlers preferred the dry-wall, limestone constructions so they could dismantle their structures in a hurry in order to evade taxes and move onto another village.  We went for lunch at Ristorante L’Aratro in District Monti, and ordered the sharing platters to start as per a recommendation – they were ginormous! We had three portions between seven, which was more than enough – each ‘portion’ had about eight different small dishes that came out. We definitely didn’t need the pasta we ordered as mains….

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With full bellies, we then headed to Polignano a Mare – one of the busiest beaches i’ve ever seen, a classic tourist spot. After a quick dip (and lots of photography!) we stopped at Caruso Note d’Eccellenza for THE BEST gelato I think I’ve ever eaten – I chose double pistachio, naturally.

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Back to our Airbnb we went, for a lazy evening of swims, pool sports and grazing platters (and a magnum of wine we’d purchased earlier in the day…).

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We headed straight for Grotta della Poesia the next morning – the ‘cave of poetry’ – in Roca. This was an incredible natural sea ‘sinkhole’, or open cave, perched near the coast. The only way in was to jump – and then clamber up the rocks on one side to get out. Bombs away!

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From there we walked along the coast to Torre dell’Orso, where we swapped caves and rock jumps for a sandy beach and rolling waves. We ate, then hired loungers and parked up for the afternoon – many swims were had!

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On our last full day we set off to Ostuni, ‘The White City’ – a gorgeous village perched on a hilltop overlooking the coast. We wandered the narrow alleys bathed in white, dotted with greenery, and snaked our way up the hill to the ornate 15th century cathedral at the top. For lunch we ate in the atmospheric Via Vito Tamborrino (outdoor square) at La Pastasciutta – no frills, cheap and fresh pasta for 5 euro and a beer for two. I had the ravioli with spinach and ricotta, and boy it was good.

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Mid afternoon we headed back to the Airbnb for a lazy afternoon poolside, the perfect ending to five days in Puglia with the best of friends.

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NB – before we went, Kat complied a great list of many places we didn’t actually make it to, but I’ve attached it here for future travellers!

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