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Puglia & Basilicata: “New” Destinations in “Old” Italy

Puglia & Basilicata: “New” Destinations in “Old” Italy

It’s time to update your Italy bucket list to include Puglia (particularly the towns of Lecce, Ostuni, Alberobello and Polignano a Mare) and the town of Matera in the region of Basilicata (Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its historical center called “Sassi”).

Puglia is in southern Italy on the Adriatic Coast, sometimes referred to as the “heel of the boot” and where the larger towns of Bari and Brindisi are located. What makes this area special are several towns with unique heritage, wonderful food, excellent wines and olive oils, and friendly locals. The must-visit towns in the area are Lecce (the “Florence of the South”), Alberobello (a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its conical trulli dwellings), and Ostuni (a beautiful white-washed town with pedestrian streets and an abundance of excellent olive oil and wines).

Wine-tasting, olive oil tasting, and hands-on cooking classes will make you feel like a local.

Grapes at a local winery and olive oil factory.
Grapes at a local winery and olive oil factory.
Mozzarella-making class!
Mozzarella-making class with Gianni, who owns his own farm and family restaurant.

 

Learning to make orrecchiette (ear-shaped pasta).
Learning to make orrecchiette (ear-shaped pasta).

 

Ostuni’s white-washed homes and characteristic green doors and window shutters are distinctive.

Ostuni, Puglia, Italy
Ostuni’s pathways and alleys make it fun to explore.

 

Classic whitewashed dwellings with green trim.
Classic whitewashed dwellings with green trim.
Ostuni, Puglia
Ostuni still looks like a fortress, just whitewashed.

 

The Trulli houses in Alberobello are fascinating, and although you’ll see some trulli in the fields throughout Puglia, nowhere are they as numerous or concentrated as in the town of Alberobello.

A residential street in Alberobello.
A residential street in Alberobello.

 

You’ll find good restaurants, lots of seafood, and stunning views in Polignano a Mare.

A gorgeous town with a beautiful bay.
Polignano a Mare: A gorgeous town with a beautiful bay. Note the swimmers!

 

Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy
Polignano a Mare has very little beach, but does have incredible views.

 

Either before or after visiting Puglia, add in a visit to Matera (approximately 3 hours from Naples, or 2 hours from Bari in Puglia). Matera has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2019. The Sassi are ancient cave dwellings in the old town of Matera. The sassi were carved out of the limestone face of rock. Some of the cave dwellings have been converted to bed & breakfast accommodations or hotels. Wherever you stay, this is a fascinating and somewhat eerie city.

Matera, Basilicata, Italy
The cave city of Matera.

Matera, Basilicata, Italy

 

A restored (and staged) cave dwelling in Matera.
A restored (and staged) cave dwelling in Matera.

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