Located right in the south-eastern tip of Italy, Puglia is a wonderful holiday destination for most of the year, with its hot dry summers and mild winters. Made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, founder Susie Marquis shares her must-see beaches, restaurant recommendations and more in this latest Journal…
Offering beautiful historic whitewashed hill towns and villages to visit, Baroque churches, vineyards and olive groves, and miles of Mediterranean coastline and beaches, Puglia is also loved for its architecture and its unique trulli. The original historic trulli are mainly found in the villages of Ostuni, Cisternino, Ceglia Messapica, Martina Franca, and particularly Alberobello, which has around 1500 trulli in its historic centre. Dating back to the 15th Century, the beautiful trulli with their conical roofs, are still being built today, with a modern style and amenities by specialist craftsmen, and are also home to a number of our villa rentals.
The many olive groves and vineyards also add to the beautiful landscape in Puglia. The region is famous for its olive oil, which produces more than 40% of Italy’s olive oil, and the wine region covers 83 000 hectares, of which 80% is planted with red wine varieties, although there are very palatable white wines too. The main wine region here is in the south-eastern tip of Italy, known for its welcoming Italian hospitality, as well as its traditions and delicious fresh produce you will find either in welcoming village trattorias or preparing meals in your holiday villa.
Ostuni, arguably the most famous of the whitewashed hilltop towns is situated inside its ancient walls, is just 8kms from the Adriatic Sea and around a 40 minute drive south-east of Alberobello. A beautiful historic town, Ostuni offers narrow streets and staircases, as well as stunning views. The cathedral in Ostuni combines Gothic, Romanesque and Byzantine elements, while the arched Porta San Demetrio is one of two remaining medieval gates. Visitors will also find plenty of traditional craftsmanship shops, cafes and restaurants here. Locorotondo is another lovely whitewashed town in the Valle d’Itria, with wonderful views over the surrounding vineyards and olive groves, and its name refers to the history and circular shape of the town.
Much further south is the beautiful city of Lecce, known for its baroque architecture, historic churches and palazzi. Top places to visit here include the Piazza del Duomo, the Basilica di Santa Croce, and the Piazza Sant’Oronzo. Another ‘must visit’ is the ancient Roman Amphitheatre, now used for concerts and theatre performances.
The streets here are always alive with families and groups of friends enjoying gelati or delicious street food, with vendors selling local delicacies. Moreover, Lecce is within easy reach of the coast and beaches. San Cataldo beach is just 12 kms away, and with its fine white sand and cabins by the sea, is incredibly popular with both residents and holidaymakers.
Cala Susca is a small beautiful cove in Monopoli, around a 30 minute drive on the coast north of Locorotondo. It is known as one the best sandy beaches in Puglia and is ideal for both families and groups of friends.
Recommended restaurants: Situated right by the beach, Macrame offers many specialities of the typical Apulian cuisine, as well as a wonderful sea view.Spiaggia di Vignanotica is a 2.5 hour drive from Locorotondo and great for a day out. It’s a pebble beach with clear turquoise waters that is perfect for swimming. Another beautiful option is Lido Vignanotica.
Costa Merlata is a 9km drive from Ostuni, is a beautiful white sand beach surrounded by olive groves, and is ideal for swimming and boat trips. It is worth exploring Ostuni too, a white town on a hilltop, with a good selection of restaurants.
Recommended restaurant: Dish in Ostuni is only open in the evenings during the week, but for lunch or dinner on Sundays.
Cala Monachile, located outside the historic centre of Polignano a Mare, is a pretty pebble beach set between two magnificent rocky cliffs overlooking the bay. As well as being perfect for swimming, Lama Monachile is also one of the best spots for snorkelling.
Recommended restaurant: La Mare Polignano has a great location with the restaurant on the terrace, and also a bar both in the garden and inside.
Further south, Spiaggia della Purità in Gallipoli is one of Puglia’s best beaches, on the west coast overlooking Sant’Andrea Island. The beach is perfect for combining a beach outing as well as exploring the old town of Gallipoli.
Recommended restaurant: Osteria Sant’Angelo is just a few minutes’ walk from the beach and offers delicious fresh seafood.
Torre dell’Orso beach, located halfway between Lecce and Otranto on the west coast, is one of Puglia’s best beaches, surrounded by cliffs and a forest. With its clear waters and fine white sand, the beach is both sheltered and scenic, and perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
Recommended restaurant: La Pergola, Santa Maria del Bagno is a typical fish restaurant, with sea views.
These two villas are set within 6 hectares of land, each with their own private large garden, with a swimming pool with a saltwater system, which can also be heated. Although completely independent, the properties can also be rented together for larger groups of up to 24 people. Shared amenities which can be used by both villas are a padel court, children’s play area, a massage area and an organic vegetable garden.
The villas are situated just a 6-minute drive from the historic white town of Cisternino, and approximately 12 minutes’ drive from the charming town of Locorotondo. The properties are within easy reach of other famous historic towns, including Martina Franca (15 minutes) and Ostuni (20 minutes).
Situated in a tranquil location among two hectares of almond trees and olive groves, this villa is made up of traditional stone trullis and located close to the charming town of Ceglie Messapica, around 10 kms south of Ostuni. Guests here will also enjoy the garden with an enormous swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers. There is also an outdoor dining pergola, with a large table and fully equipped outdoor kitchen – perfect for dining al fresco. The white town of Ostuni, the coastal towns of Polignano al Mare and Monopoli and the crystal-clear waters of Sanpietro are all within easy driving distance.
This beautiful villa sits within 8 hectares of olive groves just a few kilometres from the rustic village of Carovigno and only 15 minutes’ drive from the hilltop town of Ostuni, and the coastwith Torre Guaceto Natural Reserve’s beautiful beaches. Outside the villa, guests can enjoy a beautiful swimming pool which stretches between the olive groves and looks out over the wide-open space where the sun sets. Between the two structures and behind the pool, there is a spacious outdoor dining area where guests can enjoy al fresco meals and sundowners in the evening.
Further south, on a huge estate of 4 hectares, including vineyards and centuries’ old olive trees, this historic villa is just a short drive from the Ionian coast with its white sand beaches and historic towns, including the Baroque towns of Galatone, Galatina and Nardò. Santa Maria al Bagno is situated in a particularly lovely location with the beach and its beautiful turquoise water, and is enclosed on three sides by the village’s shops, cafés and restaurants. Guided tours can be arranged as well as activities including cycling, horseback riding on the beach, boat rental, bicycle rental (classic or electric), yoga classes, cooking classes, and olive oil and wine tasting.
Outside, in the park-like grounds there is also a private swimming pool. Moreover, there is also a chef on site at the villa, who can be requested during guests’ stay, or just for special evenings. The property also has a natural cosmetic project which produces handmade soaps.
Looking to explore Puglia? With a range of luxury villas, explore this cultural area with a luxury stay this summer season. Click here to view all properties in this Italian hotspot.Stay ahead of the pack by receiving updates on an array of international luxury villas and apartments, chic new properties and our impressive selection of enticing travel itineraries. Sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter here.