Our favourite towns in Puglia

Puglia has become THE place to visit in Italy in 2018. But it remains relatively undiscovered and visitors aren’t familiar with the region’s towns and cities. And yet many of them feature in the country’s list of ‘Borghi i piu belli d’Italia’ – Italy’s guide to it’s most beautiful villages. So where would we recommend you make a beeline for during your stay? Take a look at our 10 favourite towns and villages in Puglia.

Alberobello

Arguably the most famous tourist attraction in Puglia because of the plethora of trulli, this is the one place that will be teeming with visitors in daylight hours. Coach-loads of tourists are dropped in the town throughout the day to see the amazing architecture. But don’t let the crowds deter you. It’s well worth seeing but, if you can, think about visiting early in the morning or at the end of the day as the sun sets. That way, many of the crowds will either not yet have arrived or will have gone home again.

Lecce

With a unique style of Baroque architecture, Lecce is a fascinating city to visit. Don’t miss the city’s two main focal points – the Piazza del Duomo, where you will find the Cattedrale di Maria Santissima, and the Piazza Sant ‘Oronzo, home to an ancient Roman amphitheatre. And, of course, the streets in between are worth exploring too, lined with small shops and restaurants.

Otranto

Otranto is a stunning seaside town positioned deep on Italy’s heel. It boasts a delightful marina from which little alleyways branch inland as well as a superb beach. It is dominated by its 16th century castle – the Castello Aragonese – which is open to the public, but visitors should also pay a visit to its cathedral where you can visit the Chapel of the Dead. Here the bones and skulls of 800 martyrs are displayed behind glass boxes. These martyrs were massacred in the 15th century by a marauding army for not converting to Islam.

Polignano a Mare

In recent years, the town has played host to the World Cliff Diving Championships. The setting for this unique event is certainly stunning with white limestone cliffs dropping into azure blue waters but the town has much more to offer. The old town is absolutely charming and as soon as you pass through the Ponte Vecchia gates, you’ll find yourself being swept along through the winding whitewashed streets which inevitably always seem to eventually bring you out at one of the three panoramic terraces where you can enjoy breathtaking views along the coastline.

Locorotondo

Sleepy during the day, this town comes alive at night. In fact, if visiting during the Summer months, don’t be surprised to find most of the towns in our list incredibly sleepy during the day when the sun it as it’s strongest. Just wait until evening when they will all come alive. The narrow streets will be full of atmosphere and the real soul and character of each town and village becomes apparent. Locorotondo is on the list of the ‘Borghi i piu belli d’Italia’ and it’s not hard to see why!

Ostuni

Ostuni is known affectionately as the ‘White City’ and as you approach the city, it becomes abundantly clear why it was given this affectionate nickname. It’s a city with a real buzz about it, with cool bars and restaurants interspersed with more traditional establishments. It also plays host to numerous festivals particularly throughout the Summer months.

Fasano

Probably one of the least well known in our list of top 10 places to explore in Puglia, many visit Fasano just for it’s popular tourist attraction – the Zoo Safari. However Fasano itself is well worth a stop. Again, it’s characterised by narrow lanes, pretty piazzas, whitewashed houses and archways but this seems to be a style of architecture you never tire of.

Bovino

Again, this is less well known than some of the larger towns and villages on our list but yet again it features on the list of ‘Borghi i piu belli d’Italia’. Definitely add it to your list of places to visit!

Cisternino

Again featuring in Italy’s list of ‘Borghi i piu belli d’Italia’, the town’s inhabitants ensure that there are always flowers in abundance festooning over the whitewashed walls of the buildings. It’s picturesque and full of narrow arched alleyways. Like it’s larger neighbour, Ostuni, it also plays host to numerous festivals during the year including the Pietre che Cantano (Singing Stones) music festival and the Festa di San Quirico as well as numerous festivals revolving around the region’s amazing fresh produce and foodstuffs.

Gallipoli

We are fascinated by the history of this town. It’s rather a chequered history, in large part because of the fact that it was frequently the subject of sieges due to its position. Over time, Gallipoli has been ruled by the Romans, the Vandals and Goths, the Byzantines, Normans, Angevins and Bourbons. Divided into the more modern borgo and the old town which sits on a tiny island connected to the mainland by a 16th century bridge, it’s the latter which is the heart of the town. Characterised by palazzi and Baroque churches, it’s a labyrinth of narrow streets. However, it’s beach is also as big a draw for visitors.

Jo Mackay is Owner of Bookings For You. Bookings For You is a company offering apartment and villa rentals in Italy and France.

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