Puglia, or Apulia as often referred to in English, is a captivating region in Southern Italy that has remained relatively untouched by the throngs of tourists that yearly descend upon the country. Tucked away in the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia offers an enchanting mix of scenic beauty, historical sites, vibrant cities, and delectable cuisine. This blog post is designed to guide you on an unforgettable road trip along the stunning coastal roads of Puglia, from the bustling streets of Bari to the tranquil white city of Ostuni.
Why Choose Puglia?
Puglia is a region of rich contrasts where the past and the present merge harmoniously. It boasts sprawling olive groves, unique trulli (the traditional, white-washed conical-roofed houses of Alberobello), and a stunning coastline that stretches over 800 kilometers. The beaches here edge both the Adriatic and Ionian seas and range from sandy stretches to rugged cliffs, all featured in any Puglia beach map you might stumble upon.
The culture of Puglia is just as diverse as its landscapes. It is a melting pot of historical influences, from Roman to Byzantine to Spanish, all of which have left their mark on the region’s architecture, traditions, and food. And speaking of food, Puglia is a culinary heaven, renowned for its olive oil production, delicious seafood, and distinctive Puglia wine.
Packed with charm and authenticity, Puglia provides a less-touristy but equally rewarding Italian experience, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking something a little different.
Planning Your Road Trip
Planning a road trip in Puglia requires some preparation. The best time to travel to Puglia, Italy is from April through October when the weather is warm and the majority of tourist attractions are open. A 7-10 day trip is most common, allowing plenty of time to explore the region’s key points of interest.
Renting a car in Italy is straightforward. Numerous car rental companies operate at all Italy airports offering a range of vehicles to suit different budgets and needs. It would be wise to get an International Driving Permit if your license is not in Italian and to ensure that your car insurance covers travel within Italy.
It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the driving laws in Italy. For instance, you must always drive with your headlights on, even during the day, when outside populated areas. Always have a Puglia map or Puglia Google Maps to aid your navigation.
For the road trip, pack comfortable clothes suitable for the season, sunscreen, your driver’s license, a good camera, and some basic Italian words for communication.
Detailed Itinerary Guide
- Day One: Starting Point – BariBari, the capital city of Puglia, is your ideal starting point. Explore the old town, take a stroll along the seafront promenade, and find a cozy spot on Bari beach. Don’t miss the chance to taste local delicacies like focaccia barese.
- Day Two: Bari to Polignano a MareDrive south along the coast to Polignano a Mare. This town is famous for its dramatic cliff-top views, crystal-clear water, and the Cave Restaurant Puglia, a stunning dining location inside a natural cave.
- Day Three: Polignano a Mare to AlberobelloHead inland to Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its Trulli Alberobello. These unique structures are a sight to behold.
- Day Four: Alberobello to LecceContinue your journey to Lecce, often referred to as the “Florence of the South”.
(Continue the pattern for the remaining days).
Unique Experiences Off the Beaten Path
For travellers who crave more intimate encounters with Puglia’s culture and lifestyle, consider staying at a Masseria in Puglia. These traditional Puglian farmhouses have been restored into charming guesthouses that offer an authentic taste of rural life, often complete with homemade meals and the chance to participate in activities like cheese making or olive harvesting.
Puglia’s Food and Wine
Puglian cuisine is all about fresh, local produce prepared simply yet deliciously. Be sure to try orecchiette, a type of pasta typical of the region. Of course, the Puglia olive oil is a staple, so make sure to have it with your meals or take a tour of an olive oil mill.
For wine lovers, Puglia offers a variety of local wines, from the robust Primitivo to the lighter and fruitier Negroamaro.
Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Road Trip
Driving in Italy can be a little challenging especially for first-time visitors. Therefore, always abide by the speed limits, keep an eye out for scooters zipping through traffic, and remember to park only in designated areas.
Interacting with locals could be the highlight of your trip. Italians are generally friendly and welcoming, and a few Italian words will definitely endear you.
Lastly, respect the environment. Puglia’s natural beauty is one of its biggest assets, so let’s keep it that way. Avoid littering and refrain from damaging natural or historical sites.
Driving through Puglia’s stunning coastal roads is more than just a travel itinerary; it’s a chance to experience the rustic charm and authenticity of southern Italy. From the bustling city of Bari to the tranquillity of a Masseria in Puglia, every moment is filled with beauty, culture, and unforgettable experiences. So load your Puglia map, rent that car, and embark on the journey of a lifetime through one of Italy’s most enchanting regions.