We recently had family visiting for two weeks which is something we genuinely enjoy. It is so much fun to share the Italy we know and love with visiting family and friends, and we enjoy sharing our favorite places with them. The first week of their stay, we stayed close to Umbria, attended several fall festivals for wine and truffles, took a trip to Chianti, and participated in a truffle hunt. The second week, we headed down to Puglia. I adore Puglia, and if we didn’t live in Umbria, I think I’d consider moving to Puglia. It is one of Italy’s most unique regions, and I love the region’s food, people, and landscapes. We haven’t been back to Puglia for over two years and I was seriously craving seafood, a LOT of seafood. Time to visit Puglia again!
On our first day, my husband wanted to have lunch on a trabucco, which is an ancient fishing structure made of wood. These structures can only be found in Abruzzo and Puglia, along the coast of Gargano, where they are protected as historical monuments in the Gargano National Park. Trabucchi can be found all along the coast of the southern Adriatic, especially in the Italian provinces of Chieti, Campobasso, and Foggia, and also in some parts of the coast of the southern Tyrrhenian Sea. Not all trabucchi are still active today, although some are still used for fishing today. Some trabucchi have also added restaurants, which allows you to have a unique experience sitting alongside the magnificent wooden ancient fishing structures and enjoy the freshest seafood possible. We chose Trabucco di Mimi to visit as I read reviews stating that the food was delicious here. We rose early in order to arrive in Peschici by lunch which is on the tip of the Gargano Peninsula. We ended up arriving a little early, so we explored the seaside town of Peschici before heading to the trabucco for lunch. We shared several seafood appetizers and two of the house specialty pasta dishes and thoroughly enjoyed every bite.
After lunch, we headed down the coast to Polignano al Mare where we checked in to Masseria Torre Catena Resort and Restaurant where we would sleep for two nights. I have mixed feelings about our stay here as we were put out in the annex rooms instead of the larger suites within the main building because we were traveling with a small dog. Our room was very basic, had very few electrical outlets, and there was never enough hot water for two short showers each morning. The grounds were lovely though, and in fact, the Masseria hosted several large parties during our stay. We headed in to explore the beautiful town of Polignano al Mare and later that evening we had pizza at a local pizzeria.
On day two, I planned to visit Alberobello in the morning, Ostuni in the afternoon, and have lunch at our favorite beach shack L’Oasi di Ricci in between. The breakfast was pretty sparse, and we finished early, so we decided to head to Monopoli for a quick visit before heading to Alberobello. Monopoli is another seaside town that is very nice to walk around and after a leisurely Sunday morning stroll through the old city, we headed over to visit the city known for its trulli. Alberobello is a reasonably large town, but the old section where the trulli can be found is quite small and always packed with tourists. Alberobello is a picturesque destination which is becoming an essential fixture on the travel itineraries of tour operators as well as the independent traveler. The small town has been made a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unusual districts of trulli, the characteristic white-washed conical-roofed houses of the area. I would have skipped Alberobello myself as we have visited a number of times in the past, and I do not enjoy the crowded streets, but I knew our family would enjoy this unique Pugliese experience. If it is your first trip to Puglia, I would recommend visiting Alberobello.
After exploring Alberobello, we were happy to leave the crowds and head to the sea by Torre Cannes for lunch. We have been going to L’Oasi di Ricci for many, many years, and it never disappoints. We started our meal with fresh ricci di mare (sea urchins) so fresh that you only taste the sea, moved on to a selection of seafood appetizers, pasta with ricci di mare, and finally a platter of mixed fried seafood. The meal was just as wonderful as we remembered on earlier trips and after lunch, we headed down to Ostuni, also called Citta Bianco, to explore. There were a fair number of tourists in Ostuni on a Sunday afternoon, and most shops and restaurants were open to accommodate them. After strolling through the streets to take photos, we headed back to Polignano al Mare for the night. We visited yet another pizzeria for dinner, but my crazy pizza husband was not impressed with the very thin crust pizzas they served.
Day three, we woke up to yet another gorgeous day, and after checking out of the hotel, we headed down to Lecce. Lecce is one of the largest cities in Puglia and is famous for its 18th century southern European Baroque architecture. Ornate facades adorn richly decorated buildings throughout this large city, and after finding a place to park near the train station, we headed towards the Duomo to explore the city. We ate a quick lunch at an outdoor restaurant, then found our car and headed down to Otranto. In Otranto, we stayed at Masseria L’Ulveto, just a short drive from the town, and we were all extremely pleased with this accommodation. The location of the Masseria was perfect, the owners were very gracious, the grounds were beautiful, and the breakfast buffet was one of the best I have experienced in Italy. After checking into the hotel, we changed and headed to Otranto for the evening. This small city is gorgeous at sunset as it sits on the sea, and has many outdoor bars and restaurants where you can relax and enjoy the scenery. We had planned on dining at L’altro Baffo, one of my favorite restaurants in Otranto, but it was closed being Monday, so we chose Ristorante Il Peccato di Vino instead. After yet another delicious seafood meal, we headed back to our quiet rooms in the Masseria. Sadly, it was obvious the further south that we drove that the bacteria affecting olive trees in Puglia was causing severe damage. So sad to see ancient olive trees dying by the thousands.
Day four, we headed along the cape of Puglia past Santa Maria di Leuca, often stopping for photos of the rocky coastline and blue sea. We eventually ended up in Gallipoli, where we parked at the port before heading up into the old town to find our hotel. We stayed at Al Pescatore Hotel and Restaurant, which sits directly above the harbor, making its location perfect. There is no parking in the old town as its streets are so narrow, so if you are staying at one of its hotels, you either have to park at a private garage and walk from the new section of town, or park at the port. We decided to have lunch at Al Pescatore as it was nearing lunch and it was convenient. The meal was excellent, and after relaxing in our rooms for a much-needed rest, we strolled through the old town, then the newer shopping streets until it was time for dinner. We chose Gaio Ristorante in Gallipoli after reading rave reviews about the food. The restaurant turned out to be a much longer walk than we expected along a bustling street and we regretted not taking our car. We eventually found the restaurant which is not well signed and sits within a yacht club, but the walk was worth it as it turned out to be our best meal in Puglia. The restaurant is family-run, and after discussing our options for dinner, we chose several seafood appetizers, and then a whole fish roasted with potatoes to share afterward. Each dish we were served was absolutely delicious, and although we left the restaurant stuffed, we all agreed that it is a restaurant we would all want to return to again and again.
We left Gallipoli early the next morning heading to Matera in Basilicata. Matera is a city on a rocky outcrop in the region of Basilicata, that is famous for its Sassi, a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. The Sassi were eventually evacuated in 1952 due to poor living conditions, the Sassi now houses museums where you can experience how folks lived in these tiny cave dwellings. We stayed at Palazzo Del Duca Luxury Hotel, which is a hotel that we have stayed at in the past with rooms built into the rocky wall. After spending a few hours exploring the Sassi district climbing up and down the streets, we rested at a small shop and enjoyed a typical panini for lunch. We then returned to our rooms to freshen up and explored some more. We dined at the hotel’s restaurant Alcovo, built into the rock, so you dine in what feels like a cave. The menu included three tasting menus, and although the atmosphere was extraordinary, I must say I was disappointed in my meal.
We thoroughly enjoyed two weeks with our family and were sad to see them go, but as they say, all good things must come to an end. We had to take them to Rome where they would fly back to Canada before heading back home to Umbria ourselves. The weather during their stay with us was perfect every day with warm temperatures and clear blue skies. The only rain we experienced was as we were leaving Matera and heading to Rome. It was another thoroughly enjoyable trip to Puglia, made even more perfect by being able to share it with family.
Trabucco di Mimi
Località Punta San Nicola Peschici, 71010
Ph: 0884 962556
Masseria Torre Catena Resort & Restaurant
Contrada Torre Catena 872, 70044 Polignano al Mare
Ph: +39 080 887 5835
Request To Stay In Main Building Only!
Il Rifugio Pizzeria
Via Francesco Antonio Pace, 11
Polignano al Mare
Wood Fire Neapolitan Style Pizza
L’Oasi di Ricci
SP90, 25, 72015 Fasano, BR
SS16 KM999+100 Otranto Maglie, 73028
Ph: +39 0836 801405
Peccato di Vino
Via Rondachi, 7/9 nel Centro Storico
Ph: +39 0836 801488
Al Pescatore Hotel & Restaurant
Via Riviera Cristoforo Colombo 39,
Ph: +39 0833 263656
Via Lecce 153,
+39 338442 208
Palazzo Del Duca Luxury Hotel
Via Muro 45,
Ph: +39 0835 330600
Alcova Ristorante (In Hotel)
Trabucco di Mimi
Polignano al Mare
Polignano al Mare
Polignano al Mare
The Trulli of Alberobello
The Crowded Streets Of Alberobello
Ostuni – Citta Bianca
Busy Shopping Street in Lecce
Roman Ruins in Lecce
Sunset at Otranto
Old Town Gallipoli
Rocky Shores In Gallipoli
Ancient Olive Tree
The Sassi of Matera
The Sassi of Matera
Newer Shopping Street In Matera
Matera @ Night
The Sassi of Matera @ Night
Zoe Admiring An Ancient Olive Tree
Just Some Of The Amazing Seafood Dishes We Enjoyed In Puglia
Deborah Mele 2019