I’ve been wanting to write about the time Simon and I went to Puglia last March for the longest time, the only problem was I didn’t really know what to write. We didn’t do much on this trip, we literally just chilled, enjoyed our time together and ate yummy food. And when in December I asked him what was his favourite trip we went to he said Italy! And guess what, it was my favourite too. Because we stayed in the most gorgeous bed & breakfast, spent our days laughing and getting lost in the little streets of Italy and got to enjoy the sun while it rained in the UK. So I think I should tell you about it 🙂
We planned this trip as a reward for me finishing the spring term at uni and Simon working hard, and all we wanted to do was stay in a nice place and not have to fight with other tourists for space on the sidewalks. We chose Puglia because it looked pretty and chilled and we both love Italian food, so the opportunity to indulge was too good to miss. It is the region that produces the most wine in Italy, which was only a bonus.
We flew to Brindisi and got the train to Lecce, which by the way, was super cheap.
Lecce is the capital of the Puglia region and has over 2,500 years of history. It’s a small, but gorgeous town, where you can wander around, people watch whilst sitting in the sun, or admire the Baroque architecture.
Simon and I stayed at the Palazzo dei Dondoli – a beautiful old stone house transformed in the most amazing b&b with a gorgeous garden. We stayed in a bright and airy apartment with our private terrace which unfortunately we didn’t get to hang out at because we were out most of the time we spent there. I can imagine it is perfect for late summer nights though! Each morning we had a great selection for breakfast in the dining area downstairs before heading out.
Lecce is sometimes called the ‘Florence of the South’ because of its historic landmarks. In the centre of the town, you will find the Duomo, the Roman amphitheatre and the Carlo V castle, several museums, as well as an Academy of Fine Art. And the cutest little streets to be lost in 🙂
On our first night, we got the best pizza at Pizza & Co where we met a lovely Canadian couple who gave us some insider tips for exploring the town & region.
We also had the tastiest dinner at La Vecchia Osteria. It’s a small but popular family restaurant, where they serve amazing pasta and regional wine. I’d suggest booking before going, especially on a weekend night.
A very important place to have in mind in case you ever end up in Lecce is Tentazioni Gelateria. They have a huge selection of gelato, which tastes like heaven.
We went on a couple of day trips outside of Lecce, as we wanted to explore Puglia a bit more. First, we wanted to go to the seaside, so we headed to Gallipoli. It’s a small fishing town about an hour and a half away from Lecce. The train we took cost us about 10 euros each there and back and it was an adventure in itself. It was about a million years old, halfway through the journey it separated and we only moved to the right part of it thanks to another passenger who heard us speaking in English.
By the time we got to Gallipoli it was about 1pm and as most places in this part of Italy, it literally shuts down from 1pm to about 5pm. There weren’t many places for us to grab lunch, so we decided to walk to the old town, which is situated on an island surrounded by 14th-century defensive walls, now connected to the mainland by a bridge.
Compared to the new part of the town, the old one was very quiet, but we managed to find a small restaurant with a gorgeous sea view where we got a snack and tried understand why the dodgy looking group of people on the table next to us were staring at us the whole time. We walked down the beach and sat on the quay until the sun started to set. Bliss.
The other place we visited is Ostuni, known as La Città Bianca. The little white houses situated on a hill don’t immediately scream Italy, but reminded me of Greece. But no, we didn’t suddenly end up on a Greek island, we were still in Puglia. It is the white walls of most buildings in the old town that gave Ostuni its second name – the white city.
We walked around, went to the top of the hill and on the way back I made friends with a cat who was resting on a motorbike. What a legend!
See, I told you all we did was walk around with no agenda, laugh and eat. And it was amazing.
If you want to visit Puglia, here are a few tips from me:
- Bring cash. This will make your life easy.
- Don’t expect to eat or shop between 1 and 4pm. You might find some open places but you’ll have to look.
- If you go in spring you’ll get to enjoy Puglia’s beauty minus all the tourists who flood the area in the summer.
- Drink local wine, because it’s amazing and very cheap!
Tell me about your favourite trip, or any upcoming trips, so I can steal your ideas and go to more amazing places too!