If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that Italy is my favourite country in the world. Rome’s ruins, the colourful Cinque Terre towns, Tuscany, Umbria, the Amalfi Coast, Sicily – everywhere I’ve visited, I’ve loved.
Puglia and Basilicata were no different. I flew down to these southern regions a couple of months ago for work and fell head over heels with the charming towns, beautiful countryside and spectacular beaches. I hired a car to explore as much as possible – I’ve already written a post with all the details of my road trip itinerary, so I thought this time I’d keep it simple with a photo diary of the trip (pictures speak a thousand words, and all that)…
The beautiful city of Lecce – these are the remains of its Roman theatre.
Lecce is known as the ‘Florence of the South’ for its gorgeous baroque architecture. Every street in the old town is lined with beautiful townhouses and churches.
The pointy roofs of trulli houses in Alberobello – this little town is the best place to see these quirky houses. Some now house shops and wine bars (enotecas); I did a wine tasting in Enoteca Tholos, which I’d highly recommend.
In Bari’s old town, women sit outside their houses handmaking orecchiette pasta shapes. Fantastic to watch!
The city of Matera in Basilicata is known for its cave houses, which date back to prehistoric times.
Gorgeous church perched on the edge of the cliff in Matera.
Matera sits on a hilltop above a dramatic gorge. There are hiking trails you can follow down into the gorge and back up the other side.
Sunset over the sassi (the name given to the neighbourhoods of cave houses).
Polignano a Mare – a lovely beach town on Puglia’s Adriatic coast.
Polignano’s old town sits on top of a cliff – there are a few balconies with great views back over the beach and coastline.
I wasn’t brave enough to join the cliff jumpers, but they were fun to watch!
Look closely and you’ll see the tables inside Polignano’s famous cave restaurant.
Otranto was another beautiful beach town, with ridiculously turquoise waters.
In between Otranto and Lecce, we stumbled across this amazing cave swimming pool, the Grotta della Poesia. Perfect for cooling off when the temperatures are topping 30 degrees!
Ostuni was another hilltop city – you can see its whitewashed old town from miles away.
Its lanes are lined with some fantastic little restaurants and osterias.
Locorotondo has been named one of the most beautiful towns in Italy (and I could certainly see why!).
Its historic centre is full of atmospheric alleyways.
And the views aren’t bad either…
About 10 minutes’ drive from Locorotondo was Cisternino, another of Italy’s most beautiful towns.
Loved this quirky little sculpture!
So, that’s it for my Puglia and Basilicata photo diary. As I mentioned earlier, if you want to know more about what I actually did, please do read my road trip itinerary post (there’s a little video on there too). Before I go, here are a few of my top tips if you’re planning on visiting this part of Italy…
Puglia & Basilicata travel tips
Hiring a car is the best way to get around here. If you’re nervous about driving in Italy, ask for an automatic. That’s what I did and it made things much easier when trying to navigate unfamiliar towns (and trying to remember to stay on the right side of the road).
Don’t just stay in one place. There’s lots to see in this part of Italy, and you’ll cut down on driving time massively if you work your way around rather than doubling back to the same hotel each night.
Try all the regional food and wine – it’s absolutely delicious. Shout-outs go to the crusty bread in Matera (baked using an ancient recipe), the Primitivo red wine and creamy burrata cheese.
Have you been to Puglia or Basilicata before? I’d love to go back and see more, please let me know if you have any recommendations!