This year I had the pleasure to revisit Italy 3 times, with trips to Tuscany in February, South Tyrol in July and Puglia last month, and although I hadn’t been to Italy for several years, these trips immediately reminded me why this is one of the most unique countries in Europe, that it truy has endless beauty to offer, and why Italian is my favourite food.
Have you ever been to the Florence of the south, to gourmet heaven with fields and fields of olive trees, ancient towns and miles of beaches and rugged coastline in the heel of Italy?
I hadn’t, but immediately fell in love during my one week road trip through Puglia end of September. I drove all the way to Southern Italy with my friend Mirella, who partially grew up in Puglia, making the perfect guide to show me all the highlights of this stunning region.
Mirella went out of her way to show me the most authentic, iconic, historic and photogenic spots, and truly made me experience 'la dolce vita' during my short time there. Of course Puglia has much more to offer, too much for just 1 blog, so can't wait to come back for more.
In this blog I will show you the first 4 of the 9 photogenic/Instagram-mable spots we explored during my first ever visit to Puglia.
In 5 days we visited Lecce, Alberobello, Monopoli, Ostuni, San Vito and Polignano a Mare, and the ancient city Matera. This last one is located just outside the Puglia region, but should not be missed while there!
I enjoy each country for its uniqueness, and everything can be photogenic in my opinion, as I love to capture all the authenticity, history, heritage and nature of each destination on camera. But some sights and places are just more Instagram-mable than others.
These spots in Puglia were all that and more, and I can’t wait to show you in this blog.
But what does Instagram-mable actually mean?
Instagrammable = ‘Lending itself to being photographed and posted on social media; photogenic; attractively wholesome.'
Of course it also depends on the niches you chose for your Instagram account, your personal taste and style. But in general pictures of impressive historic (Unesco) sites, colorful settings, cute towns with flowers and quaint alleys, and stunning viewpoints work very well, because they make a picture stand out and look good in a grid, as you can see here:
But first: how to get to Puglia?
Although it's a long drive from the Netherlands to Puglia, it felt like the safer way to go now that corona restrictions are changing on a daily basis. And you know I just love road trips! That's why we drove there in 2 days with an overnight stay in Como after 12 hours. And about a 10 hours’ drive to Bari the day after.
But of course you can get there much quicker by plane, as Transavia flies to Bari and Brindisi on a regular basis, with direct flights to and from the Netherlands in just 2-3 hours. But also Ryanair and Air Italia fly there from several European airports.
I effectively only had 5 days to explore the region, but did my best! And in this blog I will happily share my first 4 favourites in random order, through many of my own pics, as always!
4 Most Instagram-mable spots of Puglia:
This baroque city with marbled streets, located down in the heel of the ‘boot of Italy’, is also known as Florence of the South, and should not be skipped if you like impressive architecture, history, art, heritage and culture.
Lecce is filled with iconic buildings and sites like the Duomo, the impressive Santa Croce Cathedral, Porta Napoli, with its Triumph Arc, which is even more stunning at sunset, abundant Palazzo’s, impressive facades, plenty of authentic and designer shops, cute wine bars, cozy terraces and delicious trattoria’s all around. Get an impression through this gallery:
Lecce is the epitome of Instagram-mable, with photo opportunities around every corner, and 2 ancient amphitheaters, both located the city center, just a 3 minutes’ walk apart.
It’s one of the biggest cities in Puglia and also the perfect location to explore the rest of the region from. Many popular towns and sights are just a 30-80 minutes’ drive away, and in half an hours' drive you will have plenty of beaches to choose from.
I would however recommend renting a car for this, although you can not enter the historic city by car, and have to park just outside the city center.
With all the opulence, history and beauty Lecce has to offer you can easily spend 2-3 days in the city itself, and 3-5 more to explore the rest of Puglia. Therefore staying overnight in Lecce for at least a week is highly recommend. And I found one of the most charming places for this.
Where to stay in Puglia?:
2. Little Dolce Bed & Breakfast - Lecce
This cute B&B in the old city center of Lecce is as Instagrammable as they get. Situated in a historic building in a quiet side street, just around the corner of the S.Matteo church and the Duomo square, this palazzo was renovated by 2 Dutchies 7 years ago.
Joelle decided to follow her dream to move to Lecce, and runs Little Dolce, which she lovingly transformed into the homely place it currently is, with just 4 rooms.
Each room is unique and decorated in a different theme, all with eye for detail, and unique vintage furniture pieces, combined with local accessories and brocante details, matching the vibe of the city so well.
During my 2 nights in Lecce I stayed in the Ballroom Suite, which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful room of this B&B. And although the bathroom and toilet were quite small and basic, the space of the room, the 3 authentic Italian balconies, stunning decor and high ceiling with impressive fresco’s, made up for that, and makes a very romantic and photogenic setting.
Another nice feature of this small-scale B&B is the spacious rooftop terrace, looking out over the historic center, transporting you back in time. The perfect setting for a sunny breakfast, and an afternoon of relaxing and sunbathing. Surrounded by cacti, while enjoying the live music of the piano man, who plays daily on the nearby square.
It’s not the most luxurious place to stay in Lecce, but quite affordable, cozy and centrally located within walking distance of all the main sites and many authentic cafés and restaurants.
Find out more about this photogenic Bed & Breakfast on the Little Dolce website.
Most people immediately think of the limestone ‘Hobbit houses’ with cone-shaped roof of Alberobello when mentioning Puglia. This town with more than 1,000 trulli is highly photogenic and also very popular because of that!
Do note that it can get quite crowded in the afternoon, that it’s a 80 minute drive away from Lecce and 50 minutes from Bari, but is worth it!
These quaint white houses with pointy rooftops are often decorated with magical symbols, and were added to the Unesco list because of their historic importance and uniqueness for the region.
The oldest trulli date back to the 14th century, mostly concentrated in Alberobello, and became popular for their easy construction technique without cement, and special rooftops, easy to dismantle in a hurry to evade tax payments if the buildings still looked ‘unfinished’.
You can find many a trullo throughout Puglia, but Alberobello has the biggest concentration still in use as a home, AIRBNB, hotel, shop or restaurant.
Yes I know, this ancient city is not located in Puglia, but just across the border, in the region of Basilicata, however is easy to reach and worth the drive.
The settlement of Matera originated around the Gravina River with numerous cave dwellings carved out in the canyon around the 8th century. After this more and more houses were carved out in the rocks across the river as well. Most are over 9,000 years old and until 50 years ago people were still living here without electricity or running water.
Nowadays these rock houses in Sassi di Matera are listed as Unesco Site, and some can still be visited, or have been transformed into B&B's or restaurants.
The historic Sassi neighborhood can only be explored on foot or by tuk-tuk, after parking your car just outside the historic city center, and is known as 'one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.'
A real must visit in my book and truly an impressive and Instagram-mable sight with its abundance of viewpoints, churches and unique sandstone houses.
Especially stunning at sunset, after which you can watch the city slowly light up.
It’s no surprise that Matera was used as decor for movies like ‘the passion of the Christ’ in 2004, and has been voted European Capital of Culture in 2019.
Puglia truly impressed me, felt very safe, and although some areas are becoming more popular, most of the places we visited throughout Puglia were still relatively quiet end of September.
The climate is very good and it stays warm until late October, with temperatures up to 25 degrees Celcius, making it the perfect place to extend your summer. But also ideal to start your spring early in 2021.
With its friendly people, abundance of historic cities, quaint villages, Unesco Sites, delicious traditional food and quaint Italian restaurants and cafés, Puglia has something for everyone!
For more Italy inspiration can check out these blogs: ACL.com-Italy or wait for my next blog with 5 more Instagram-mable spots in Ostuni, Monopoli, San Vito and Polignano a Mare.
Have I convinced you that this region in Southern Italy should be added to your bucket list? Let me know here or find me on social media, where I’ll be sharing even more pictures of our trip to Puglia, including several video’s.