Puglia is rich in character and truly diverse across its various regions. Our Tour of Puglia gives you a comprehensive experience of almost the whole region over 9 days, but there’s sure to be a few places where you’d like to stay longer or visit for the first time, so we’ve put together this short 5 day post-tour guide to give you some tips on places you might like to explore further.
We love Lecce and it’s the reason we decided to make this amazing town our finish location for our Tour of Puglia. With its baroque architecture and very laid back Southern Italian atmosphere, this capital of Southern Puglia or ‘the Salento’ is simply stunning. We love the Caffe Leccese (espresso with ice and almond milk…this is not regular almond milk, but a locally made milk / syrup that is amazing!), the hip bars, rustic Pugliese trattoria’s serving the best of this region’s ‘cucina povera’, the alleys, winding streets and beautiful piazza’s, siesta or pausa from 2-5pm and the late afternoon buzz around its boutique shops, aperitivo with the local and delicious tarallini (made with every flavour you can imagine), and the post dinner passeggiata which is alive and well…and with a gelato in hand, is even better. Lecce is southern Italian life at its very best.
We recommend staying an extra night in Lecce at least, and maybe even 2 nights.
Ostuni is iconic Puglia. Riding through the beautiful Valle d’Itria on day 3 of our Tour of Puglia, you will see Ostuni long before you arrive. The imposing ‘white city’ atop a hill, rises above the land of olive trees that surround it in this lush green area of Puglia, and enjoys glimpses of the sea only a few kilometres away. On tour, we spend a late afternoon and evening in Ostuni but you could easily spend an extra day and night here.
Its old town or centro storico is a maze of alleyways, staircases and arches that is best discovered by wandering through it. Cool bars to enjoy a glass of the local vino and olives, authentic little osteria’s offering the very local pasta of Orecchiette con Cime di Rape and small boutique stores offering the wares of local artisans, are just some of the things to be enjoyed. Particularly beautiful at sunset, head up to Corso Emanuele II and take a seat at the viewpoint for fantastic views over this beautiful whitewashed city.
3. Head to the Beach
If you’re keen on a couple of days at the beach after your 8 days of amazing riding, then Puglia offers quite a few options, with our favourites being:
- Marina di Ostuni – the entire Ostuni coast between Brindisi and Ostuni is lined with some of the most beautiful beaches in Puglia. Be sure to check out Lido Morelli (a long beach with dunes), Quarto di Monte (a nice small beach) and Torre Pozzella (a series of small beaches)
- Between Lecce and Otranto – for a little more adventure with rocky outposts and sea caves, visit the beaches near Melendugno, and in particular, the off the beaten path Grotta della Poesia and Le Due Sorelle. Swim to caves or reach them by boat, this area of the coast is beautiful.
- Around Gallipoli – to the south of Gallipoli are some excellent beaches with the most famous being Spiaggia di Pescoluse (the Maldives of Salento). We’ll ride along this coastline and stay a night on tour, but if you want to enjoy more swimming in turquoise seas, white sandy beaches, aperitivo bars and incredible sunsets, stay on the coast or in buzzy Gallipoli for a night or two to visit the many beaches and lidos closeby.
- Porto Cesareo – the Italians say this area of Puglia rivals the Caribbean and we probably agree. Tropical beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and fine, white sand are characteristic of this area south of Taranto. Punta Prosciutto and Baia di Torre Lapillo are just a couple of the beautiful beaches for you to enjoy.
4. Masseria Potenti
If you like the idea of staying a couple of nights in an amazing 16th century masseria (or country estate) that has been converted into a luxurious resort, then we highly recommend the stunning Masseria Potenti. Oozing Milanese style and class with the charm of rustic Puglia, this masseria is the perfect place to perch yourself for a couple of days post tour if all you want to do is relax and soak up the Puglian sun.
Situated in the beautiful wine country of Manduria, and only 5km from the beaches of the Ionian coast, this off the beaten path resort offers activities to discover a hidden Puglia – with authentic ‘farm to table’ cooking classes and walks to nearby marine nature reserves for nature lovers. Or if you prefer to simply enjoy the masseria’s magnificent swimming pool and sense of calm felt in the shade of the ancient olive trees, then you’d be doing just what we did when we stayed in 2018, and you’ll enjoy every minute of it.
Stay a night or two and let the incredible style and character, both indoor and out, of this charming family run masseria, immerse you in the heart of Puglia.
Make sure you stay in for dinner, it’s a wonderful experience.
Matera would have to be one of the most fascinating stories of any city in the world. When you learn of its story and remarkable comeback from being known as ‘the shame of Italy’ for its dismal poverty only as far back as the 1950’s, to being named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993 and now the ‘European capital of culture 2019’, it becomes a place that you simply must visit in your lifetime.
Carved into the rock, Matera is composed of a network of caves inhabited since the Paleolithic era. Getting lost in the Sassi, or two ancient districts of the city, is an amazing day out. Best discovered on foot, you can spend a whole day roaming narrow alleyways, climbing winding staircases, disappearing through ancient archways and enjoying life in the slow lane in the city’s beautiful piazzas. The caves of the Sassi are now mostly boutique hotels, restaurants, cafes and galleries and with their very unique architecture, and history dating back 9000 years, they make Matera a very special place to visit.
You must also take a walk across the Ravine for the most incredible view back of Matera, but be sure to do this in the morning or at sunset, and not in the heat of the day. We made the trek across in the late morning and one of our memorable experiences as we sat marvelling at the view, was enjoying a very rustic panino that we carried across in our pack, made with the famous, mouth watering Matera bread, local senise peppers and a goats cheese from the region that we still talk about today.
If you’re interested in joining our 9 day Tour of Puglia in 2020, and combining it with our 5 day post tour guide encompassing any or all of the places we’ve highlighted here, visit our tour page or contact us anytime.