Discovering Puglia

Because we have the VV Best hand selected Italian experts in place, I sometimes don’t go back and visit some of my favorite destinations, as I am always on the search for new locations and new experiences. I know my experts are constantly evaluating hotels and guides, but my serendipitous cooking class in Sicily led me to add Puglia to my travel schedule. This visit was a reminder of how much I adore Italy – picturesque landscapes, excellent food, warm and welcoming locals – Italy is definitely a repeat destination!

Meandering the chic heel of Italy through Puglia, an enchanting region of undiscovered towns, white sandy beaches, fields and fields of ancient olive trees, important ruins, and delicious food and wine. This is also an excellent area for bicycling.

Spend three or four nights in Lecce, Puglia’s cultural capital and one of Italy’s most enchanting towns. Our preferred Hotel La Fiermontina Urban Resort is charmingly attached to the ancient city wall and the refreshing and essential pool is situated amid a small grove of ancient olive trees. So many options besides touring, take a private cooking class in a former palace and learn the secrets of typical Puglian specialties. Tour with your expert private guide and wander through Lecce’s atmospheric narrow streets and visit prominent landmarks such as a Roman amphitheater, the Basilica di Santa Croce, and Baroque churches and palaces built of ornately carved Lecce stone, a distinctive colored limestone. Also visit Museo Faggiano, a unique archaeological museum featuring unearthed antiquities found under a private home.

From Lecce, enjoy day trips to the stunning white city of Ostuni, a genuine and charming example of whitewashed Mediterranean architecture. The town is a series of various levels, staircases, alleys and winding narrow roads, all very easy to navigate by foot. Reach the top of town for an impressive view of the sea, obligatory stop for a gelato near the rose window church.

Take a day trip to the seaside community of Otranto, where the azure Adriatic Sea meets the Ionian Sea; it is the eastern tip of Italy. Otranto occupies the site of the ancient Hydrus, a town of Greek origin, which, in the wars of Pyrrus, Hannibal sided against Rome. Walk the hilly streets to discover the Castello Aragonese and the Cathedral with a rose window. Do enjoy a traditional coffee in one of the many cafes. Fine handcrafts can be found in the small shops, take a lunch break for fresh fish at Laltro Baffo Ristorante, just steps from the Castle. Remember they enjoy a siesta here every day!

Spend a delightful afternoon at a vineyard and taste wine with the enthusiastic owners. Puglian wine in an ancient Masseria – the family has over 40 years of wine growing in Tuscany and in 1999 they began their adventure in Puglian wine. Masseria Li Veli has been selected among the 100 Italian Finest Wine Producers by Wine Spectator.

Move north on the coast to the small charming beach communities just south of Monopoli. There are several properties we like here – Borgo Egnazio is a bit larger property resembling an authentic village. This is a very kiddo centric property where you will see kiddy carts and bikes parked out side each villa, a great place for kids to safely roam. With three pools, there is room for adults and families – also several large villas on property. Looking for a smaller property, we would suggest Masseria Torre Coccaro – the small Puglia properties are rustic chic. Beach clubs to the properties are minutes away.

From here we will organize day trips to several appealing locations. Take a yacht excursion to the seaside town of Polignano a Mare where the massive white limestone cliffs host diving competitions. Take the skiff into the cobblestone streets of the tiny old town, cross through the Porta Vecchia gate to shop and enjoy lunch. If inclined, you can swim in the crystal clear Adriatic Sea on your transport back to the yacht. If you are of a certain age, you may fondly remember the old summer melody by Domenico Modugno, who wrote and sang the massive international hit, Volare (originally entitled Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu. His enormous bronze statute is proudly displayed near the sea wall. Volare, oh,oh… Cantare, oh,oh,oh,oh… Nel blu dipinto di blu… felice di stare lassù…”.

Imagine a typical Puglian feast and olive oil tasting at a renowned Olive Oil Masseria, which is home to many of the most ancient olive trees in Puglia, planted during Roman times. There is also a small underground museum here with original tools dating back centuries. Lunch under the massive Stone Pine tree with the summer symphony of cicadas serenading you while enjoying a traditional multi-course meal.

A visit to small hill town of Alberobello, where the streets are narrow and hilly – but again the charm lays in the gleaming whitewashed houses. Tour the alleyways and small streets lined with conical roofs crowning hundreds of limestone trulli—the traditional stone dwellings for which the town is known.

Visit Locorotondo and Cisternino, two of Puglia’s most historic and picturesque hilltop towns. We suggest exploring in the morning, stop for a fresh seafood lunch and return to your hotel for the afternoon siesta and swimming in the brilliant blue seas.

There will also be time to enjoy your luxury resort and its extensive facilities including a beach club, pool, spa and many fine dining options.

Visit Puglia and and add on Milan, Florence, the Amalfi coast, Tuscany or Rome. Italy has unlimited luxurious options – five star Villas and hotels. Staffing, guiding, drivers, biking!  Perché, No?

Puglia, Perché no?

Puglia, Why Not ?

A sunny southern Italian location known for whitewashed hill towns, a glorious Mediterranean coastline complimented by sparking crystal clear blue seas, rolling fields of gnarled century old olive trees and miles and miles of farmland. Home to sun baked beaches and villages of stone homes capped with conical trulli roofs.

La Fiermontina Urban Resort

Italy’s graceful heel which encompasses the area of Puglia, has been noted in travel magazines for the last few years as an unspoiled and slightly unpolished countryside where Italians have been vacationing for years. I’ve landed in Brindisi on my way to Basilicata and never realized that just a short distance off the highway was the very lovely and charming baroque walled city of Lecce. A 16th Century town often referred to as Firenze of the south, we highly recommend staying at the chic and tony La Fiermontina Urban Resort.

Masseria Li Veli

Exploring the surrounding areas can easily be accomplished using Lecce as a base to enjoy day trips to the charming towns of Gallipoli and Otranto. Masseria Li Veli Vineyards and tasting room is a short distance away. In 1999 the Falvo family, with over 40 years of experience in the Tuscan wine region, purchased and renovated the property to give birth to an ambitious project in the Apulia, a region with a long vine-growing tradition. Recently selected among the 100 Italian finest wine producers by Wine Spectator. An afternoon tasting and a stroll through the vineyards is the perfect end to a day of touring.

Masseria Brancati

Move up the coast a bit to Ostuni and enjoy the rustic chic simplicity of small beach resorts close to Monopoli and the charming domed homes of the Trulli village. Spend an enchanting afternoon sitting amidst centuries old olive trees, trees planted in the original strict Roman grid of 60 Roman feet apart; this 7th generation Masseria Brancati is owned by Corrado Rodio and his family who make only extra virgin olive oil from his groves of monument trees in the Northern Salento area.

Two of 6 brothers who proudly support generations of a fishing family

Fishing is a primary livelihood, thus fresh fish is offered at every trattoria, stop and chat with the local fisherman who are extremely proud of their family heritage and eagerly share photos of their biggest catch!

Domenico Modugno, the Italian pop singer who crooned Volare Volare

Poliganano Cliff Diving

This morning head to the harbor to clamber aboard your private yacht to sail the sapphire blue seas, a perfect way to begin the morning.  Moor at a white cliff cove in the small beach town of Poliganano on the Adriatic Sea, near the famous statue of Domenico Modugno, the Italian pop singer who crooned Volare Volare. Cliff divers perch atop the limestone cliffs above the crystal clear seas. Diving not of interest? Then wrap yourself in a water float tube and gently drift across the cove and paddle back to your waiting yacht.

The best time to visit Puglia is late May or early June or September when the crush of summer visitors has swelled through and the temperatures are still quite pleasant.