If you follow GWS on Instagram you probably remember some photos this past October from our trip to Italy. We (Jason + I) LOVE Italy. We visit Italy each time we’re lucky enough to be in Europe. We of course have our fave cities we love to return to, but we also always try to explore somewhere new on each trip. This time I was CRAZY excited to visit the Puglia region of Italy. I’d seen lots of photos of the dreamy landscape and villages (and trulli!!) + could not wait to experience it for ourselves.
How long should you plan for your trip?
A bit about our trip to Europe….for this visit, we spent 3 weeks in Europe. We started with 2 days/3 nights in London and then we went to Lake Como for 5 nights (we were here to speak at the By the Lake workshop) where we stayed in a super cute Lake Como airBnB. Then we flew from Milan to Bari to begin our Puglia adventure. We stayed in Puglia for 5 nights. After Puglia, we flew to Florence for 5 days, then ended our trip in Switzerland for 4 days.
Puglia would be a great addition to any trip to Europe and you should plan to spend at least 5 days here….but I could also see easily spending 1-2 weeks in the area. It’s so relaxing and there is PLENTY to see and do (more on that below). Just my two cents on that as I got a few questions already on how long to spend in this region.
Getting to Puglia, Italy
There are 2 main airports from which you can choose: Bari and Brindisi. Either airport seems like a fine option for your arrival. You’ll soon find out, a car is a must for village + beach hopping in this area….don’t expect efficient mass transit trains, buses or taxis. Fun(?) fact…..most cars here are manual, so know that going in and brush up on your stick skills. Jason had a few tense moments as he got back into the swing of things. Luckily for us most of the local drivers were understanding of our re-learning curve. :)
Where to stay in Puglia
While researching this area and planning our trip, the sheer number off small boutique hotels was honestly a bit overwhelming! Just before considering a different location that was easier to plan, I stumbled across an amazing company, The Thinking Traveller. The Thinking Traveller works with villas and masserias in Puglia (as well as Sicily, the Ionian Islands and a few other locations) and simplifies the process of connecting you with a one-of-a-kind place to stay. We had an AMAZING experience planning our trip with them, so much so that we actually carved out time to meet their wonderful team in person during our stay in London. They’ve got a great space in our fave London hood, Shoreditch.
If you’re looking into a Puglia trip, I couldn’t recommend them more….honeymoon, family trip or just next adventure, they’ve got your covered!
At The Thinking Traveller, their mission is simple: to hear their clients say “That was the best holiday we’ve ever had… we’ll be back”. And I can say, that is exactly how we felt when we left and how we feel about this trip 3 months later. :) We’ll be connecting with them for our future European travels for sure.
The Thinking Traveller works with these 3 main goals in mind – exceptional villas, their unrivaled local knowledge (I texted our contact a few times during our trip for recommendations on restaurants or things to do – SO helpful!!!) and their personal, extra-mile service. We definitely benefited from all three during our trip.
We stayed in the amazing villa – Trullo Rosmarino. It was a dream of mine to stay in a trullo home (this is the only place in the world you can do that!) and when I saw this one, I knew it would be perfect. We were located close to a few of the towns we wanted to visit, had plenty of bedrooms (5!) and a gorgeous outdoor dining area, pool, garden, outdoor fireplace and more. You can read all about the villa here. When we arrived, our host had the fridge stocked with food for us as well as a bunch of fruit + veggies from the garden….and a few bottles of local wines waiting for us.
It was great to have their concierge style service available 24/7 for any questions we had about the villa or area. We took advantage of it both while getting to learn our way around this unique property and making detailed agendas for each of our day trips.
Think Experiences with The Thinking Traveller
It was so enjoyable for us to relax + enjoy this amazing villa for breakfast, go out to explore for the day, and return home to make cook dinner here. The kitchen was a dream to cook in and the dining room (in a cave!) was so rad….it really felt like we had our own home during our stay. One night we even decided to just have a long, casual dinner in the kitchen at the island eating items as they were ready and breaking out an impromptu dance party inspired by our girls!
Another super cool thing about The Thinking Traveller the activities they offer to make your trip even more special and memorable. They call these Think Experiences. Activities like wine tasting, bike tours, village tours, boat trips, cooking classes and more! We opted for one of these and chose to have a chef prepare and serve dinner at our home one night. You guys – it was insane and so good!! The Puglian way of eating is my dream – lots (and lots! and then a bit more) of cheese and cured ham and wine, plus their local pasta specialty – Orecchiette al ragu. It was so nice to be able to enjoy our amazing villa while getting spoiled by a local chef.
While here, I was lucky enough to also visit Villa Fichimori (this is actually the villa you see in the opening image of the post). This villa was right behind ours (totally private and hidden, but just a 10 minute walk) and we didn’t even know it until I was invited to take a tour by the owner (he is SO nice!) and has great design style! I LOVED this villa as well. It’s a bit smaller, but would be perfect for a honeymoon or 2 couples traveling together or a family. It has 2 bedrooms, an indoor spa(!!!), outdoor pool, pizza oven and more.
California spoils us with amazing sunsets, but the sunsets here were UNREAL. So dreamy…the colors of the sky here and 360 degree views! MY favorite part of the day, esp from our villa…
Puglia, Italy is known for it’s whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland, trulli stone huts, great food, slow pace of life and miles of Mediterranean coastline. Since we were there in mid-October, it was a bit too chilly for the beaches, but I would love to go back in the summer to enjoy them! During our stay, we loved exploring the different towns, enjoying the food + wine of the region, and just relaxing as a family in our amazing trull0 villa.
Check out all of the villas in Puglia offered by our friends at The Thinking Traveller.
Below are the villages we explored….and I would highly recommend all of these during your Puglia travels. :)
Polignano a Mare
We stopped in Polignano a Mare during our drive from the airport to our Trullo. This town is SO pretty and wandering around it was so fun….the Lama Monachile beach (below) is very popular for swimming in warmer months.
I also had one of the best sandwiches EVER at Pescaria. It was raw tuna, pesto, and burrata on this amazing crunchy bread. I seriously still dream of it. Definitely recommend stopping here. The decor has a fun beach vibe and was on point as well!
Alberobello is famous for its unique trullo buildings. The trulli of Alberobello have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996 and it’s definitely a must stop. It seriously feels like you are walking around in a fairytale land….
Ostuni is a hilltop town famous for its white washed buildings. It was also on my must stop list and I loved just wandering through the streets and alleys of this town. While here, we had a crazy good pizza lunch at II Bellavista…..not the easiest to find, but worth the journey. Highly recommend the pizza (and wine!) here. We also stopped at Cremeria alla scala for some afternoon gelato.
Matera is magical. Seriously. If you get a chance to visit – or even better spend a night or 2! – definitely do it. It’s technically not in Puglia, but it was just a 1.5 hour drive from our villa and we heard some great things about it, so we decided to take a drive to this remote, otherworldly village in the mountains of Basilicata our last day. Known as “la Città Sotterranea” (the Subterranean City), Matera is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, having been inhabited since the 10th millennium BC.
The old part of town is called the Sassi (which translates to stones) and refers to the sandstone caves that have been carved into the mountainside. Some caves in the Sassi date back to the Stone Age! Around the time of the Renaissance, the inhabitants began extending the size of their caves by adding exterior façades, which is what you see today. The insides of most homes (now also restaurants + hotels) still look like caves.
Some of the opening scenes in Wonder Woman were filmed here….
There are hotels here and I think it would be pretty rad to spend a night here if you can. We enjoyed a fun lunch (in a cave!) at Trattoria del Caveoso as well as some gelato at Vizi degli Angeli Laboratorio di Gelateria Artigianale.
Can’t wait to return to Matera someday soon….
Looking forward to our next visit back to Puglia! Ciao. :)