– A TOUR THROUGH THE HEEL OF ITALY’S BOOT –
Lecce, also known as ‘the Florence of the South’, is a must see when in Puglia. The town is full of 17th-century baroque buildings which makes it a pleasure to stroll around in. One of our favourite places to go for a drink before (or after) dinner, was this little cocktail bar called Quanto Basta. The cocktails there are very tasty and the staff is super friendly.
Especially during summer it can become quite hot in Lecce, so the best time to explore the town is probably either in the morning or late afternoon/early evening. At night the city comes alive with people selling souvenirs & local specialities in the streets and musicians creating a pleasant ambiance playing their instruments.
The perfect way to escape the city heat is to take the car and drive to one of the many beaches of Puglia. The most famous ones are probably the beaches near Gallipoli, but we chose the quieter Baia Verde which is a little bit further south. We’ve also tried the beach of Torre Dell’orso, on the east coast. If you rather have a relatively quiet beach without loads of people, we’d definitely recommend Baia Verde as it was much more relaxed than Torre Dell’orso.
La Città Bianca or the White City, as Ostuni is often referred to, is a cute, small hill town full of whitewashed houses close to the east coast of Puglia. Another great place to discover by foot; take in the view from the higher parts of town before making your way back down again via one of the many meandering stairways. Get pleasantly lost in the maze while discovering cool bars and romantic restaurants at the end of every pathway.
Now, if like us, you’re a bit of a language nerd and you’re thinking of learning some Italian while you’re in Italy, there is this great language school in Ostuni called Casa di Puglia. One of the cool things about it is that Stani -the teacher- is always up for little field trips, call it ‘Italian in practice’ if you like. We went to a local bakery, a wood artist and a family mozzarella making business for example. We would have never done these things by ourselves, simply because we wouldn’t know about it and organised tours don’t usually go there.
Polignano a Mare
Polignano initially wasn’t on our list. It’s thanks to a good friend who vividly recommended we go there, that we stopped in Polignano a Mare on our way back to Bari. Glad we did! It was one of the many pleasant surprises on our Puglia trip. Yes, it’s a tad touristy, especially in summertime, but the town has a nice little vibe and a beautiful view over the sea.
From Ostuni it’s about 50 kilometers and a 40 minute drive to Polignano. If you’re flying back from Bari it’s the perfect last stop to spend a morning or an afternoon before you head back to the airport.
As for us, we had a delicious last lunch at la Casa Mia Trattoria -with the traditional little glass of limoncello afterwards of course- and then went for a short walk through the town. Far too soon it was time to leave and with a final look over the sea we said goodbye to Polignano a Mare and to Puglia; we were officially at the end of our 2-week Tour Through The Heel Of Italy’s Boot.
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