This is a guest post brought to you by my friend Donna Ridge. She and I met on a dragonboat team and subsequently hiked the West Highland Way and the Cumbrian Way together two years ago. 

A little over a year ago when my husband and I were considering returning to Italy, my good friend Leigh recommended the Puglia region. We had explored northern Italy, but had never ventured south of Rome. After hours of research we were intrigued with the region and decided to spend a week there this past March. We considered biking the region but opted for something we had never done before. We hired regional guide Angelo Coluccia of Experience Puglia, for a six day tour. A day doesn’t pass that we don’t reflect on how much we miss Puglia and how thankful we were to have Angelo and his wealth of knowledge to explore the region.

Below is a photo essay of the highlights of our trip to Puglia, Italy.

"Adriatic sunrise"

Adriatic sunrise

"Bari market"

Bari market

"Woman at work in Bari"

Woman at work in Bari

Get off the beaten path in Puglia

Puglia is rich with history, charm, welcoming locals and has very few tourists, especially when we were there in March. In the summer the Adriatic beach towns are invaded by Italians from the north. It is a region of considerable variety; limestone plateaus covered with a sea of olives, coastal plains with vineyards and more olives, and even inland rolling wheat fields and almond trees.

The food is simple, local, and highly seasonal. The wine is the superb Primativo variety, and dirt cheap. It is a bit poorer than Northern Italy, a bit more intense, but that tiny difference keeps 95% of the tourists at bay. If you like getting a bit off the beaten path, Puglia is waiting for you.

"Castel del Monte World Heritage Site"

Castel del Monte World Heritage Site

"The town of Gravina"

The town of Gravina

"Lecce Paper Mache"

Paper mache sculptural piece in Lecce


Ornate detail in Lecce building


Locorontondo – one of the prettiest hamlets in all of Italy


The town of Matera

"A Michelin restaurant"

A Michelin starred restaurant


Monopoli – a town with roughly 50,000 inhabitants




Otranto – located on the east coast of the Solento Peninsula

"Polignano a mare"

Polignano a mare

"San Nicolas Church Bari"

Inside the San Nicolas Church, Bari

"Santa Maria a Cerrate"

Santa Maria a Cerrate


Trani – a seaport on the Adriatic Sea

"Trulli in Alberobello"

Trulli in Alberobello

Have you been to the Puglia region? Any hotels or restaurants that are standouts you’d like to share??

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Simon says:

    What a lovely photo essay. Strange enough, I’ve never been to Puglia and it’s one of the Italian regions on my radar. I’d especially like to visit the small villages like Locorotondo and Gravina.

  • Sophie says:

    Come to think of it, on the Italian mainland, I’ve never been much south of Rome, either. Puglia looks beautiful and intriguing. The first (and only) time I ever tried sea urchins was in Sicily; quite shocked when the poor things moved on the plate.

  • @Sophie Sea yrchins that move do not sound very good to me. But Puglia certainly looks and sounds beautiful doesn’t it.

  • Donna Oran Valente says:

    Thank you for sharing our Pruglia paradise with others. I’m an American gal living near the Adriatic coast between Brindisi & Ostuni. Moved back to this sweet life after retiring from the USAF six years ago. I’ve traveled the world and I can honestly say the food, wine, people & natural beauty of Puglia puts it at the top of my list of ‘Great Places/Things I’ve done & seen’. If you ever need an bi-lingual hostess-guide &/or place to stay to experience the southern culture here, let me know!

  • Jenna says:

    What a wonderful photo essay–shows so many different aspects of Puglia. I haven’t been there either and definitely want to go, especially after seeing these photos.

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