Autumn frost in London led us to steal away to Apulia for a long, luxurious weekend of creativity and relaxation.
I’d always heard that Southern Italy was a richly varied region of the country. After Instagram-messaging each other beautiful photographs of Polignano’s craggy seascape and charming trulli (round stone houses) in Alberobello, my friend Ieva and I decided that we absolutely, definitely, very much needed to visit.
We booked cheap last-minute flights from London to Bari Airport through Skyscanner (departing in the evening was significantly more affordable), took the train straight to Polignano A Mare, and were tucked up in bed by midnight, ready to wake up for sunrise.
Puglia was an incredible place to spend a long weekend. We spent five days eating, drinking, and twirling our way around Bari, Polignano a Mare, Fasano, Ostuni, and Alberobello.
Polignano A Mare: Seascapes & Sunrises
Polignano A Mare was our first destination in Puglia. We landed in Bari at around 10pm and boarded a train to Bari Centrale. We stopped for a fabulous glass of red and fresh vegetable panini at a little station cafe, which tasted infinitely better than anything an airport could have served us.
From Bari Centrale, we took a train straight to Polignano A Mare. Both train journeys cost us about €8 each.
We spent the first night in B&B Casa Fiore, a little stone cavern decorated like a shabby-chic beach hut, and only a five minute walk from the sea. The owner, Sylvia, was really lovely, despite our midnight arrival!
In the morning, we woke up at around 6am to catch the iconic Polignano A Mare sunrise. We reckoned it would be less busy to enjoy the scenery and take a couple of photos than at sunset. We brought along a little crate to carry our ‘breakfast’ – biscuits, croissants, water and then we set it all up on the rocks, right by the water.
The sunrise views in were unbelievable. We walked a little further from Lama Monachile (the main beach area) to find some jutting rocks. Really. We were in awe.
These were easily some of my favourite travel shots I’ve ever taken! I won’t forget the Polignano sunrise in a hurry.
We spent the rest of our time in Polignano A Mare exploring the sun-bleached cobbled streets and enjoying the glittering blue waters of Lama Monachile. Apart from a few off-season tourists, and a local couple’s wedding shoot by the sea, we had the whole beach bay to ourselves.
Before catching the train to Fasano, our next Puglian destination, we decided to treat ourselves to pistachio gelato at Il Mago del Gelato and ate them like little kids on a bench, watching the world go by, and seeing people go in and out of Polignano’s walled old town entrance.
Farmhouse Luxury: Masseria Torre Coccaro in Fasano
After a glorious overnighter in Polignano, we took the train further into the countryside to Fasano. We stayed at a luxury farmhouse, Masseria Torre Coccaro, in the region.
Waking up to a stunning view, surrounded by lush green trees and the smell of fresh herbs, was a daily delight. The grounds were sprawling, rustic, and peaceful. Fairy lights were strung up across the courtyard, creating a magical glowing atmosphere every night.
We spent some time in the spa, relaxing in the heated pool in an underground cave and having aromatherapy massages (the hard life). After that, we had Dinner.
I say Dinner with a capital D because they were an event. Four-course meals of fresh octopus, fresh pasta, fresh salad, fresh vegetables and gourmet sweet treats, accompanied by plenty of wine, Aperol, and laughter.
Such a gorgeous, gorgeous hotel!
Read about when we took a Traditional Puglian Cooking Class
Ostuni: the medieval city of white-washed stone
Just after breakfast the next morning, as we hmmm-ed and ahhh-ed over whether we could physically consume another pastry or if it would push us over the edge, we were greeted with a lovely surprise. Vittorio, the farmhouse manager, presented us with the keys to a gleaming Fiat 500L rental sitting pretty in the car park. A treat for our last day.
We were buzzing – it meant we’d be able to visit Ostuni and Alberobello before leaving for the airport. We hopped in the car, put on the navigation system, and then zipped down country roads lined with olive trees, headed for Ostuni.
I just have to mention here that I love, love driving in Italy. Yeah, sure, there are some crazy drivers out there, and you probably wouldn’t catch me driving in Rome.
But cruising down Tuscan roads and winding up little mountain lanes under the scorching sun, with medieval stone buildings dotted here and there across the landscape? Perfetto.
Ostuni was incredibly sleepy when we reached it, about a forty minute drive away. We listened to John Mayer and made a rough plan en route involving Alberobello for sunset.
We parked up in a tow-free zone and then went to explore Ostuni by foot. It was beautiful. There’s such a sense of grandeur and history in stone towns, and Ostuni was no different. We loved the little stone arches and Mykonos-style flowers that sprang up in white-washed alleyways. Under the sun, the stone walls glowed a pale gold. Magical.
Alberobello: a trulli charming little town
Alberobello is a charming hilltop town in Apulia known for its trulli – which are whitewashed stone huts with cone-shaped roofs. They look like smurf huts, and they’re utterly adorable. There are hundreds of them.
Because of these characteristic little houses, Alberobello was made a UNESCO World Heritage site. The shops sell trinkets, fridge magnets and other little crafts that relate to trulli.
Generally, we found the town to be incredibly touristy, and we had a few odd encounters with other tourists (including some who, bizarrely, tried to take selfies with us, as opposed to the town). But it was worth it, just for the trulli. So cute!
We spent sunset admiring pastel skies dotted with cone roofs and then decided we were ravenous. Unfortunately, all of the restaurants closed early, so we found a small cafe and had a rather unsatisfying pasta dish and crisps for dinner.
Up until that point, the food had been genuinely phenomenal at every restaurant or local eatery we dined at. Apparently we found the one bad food spot in all of Puglia! I guess that’s a symptom of Alberobello being such a tourist hub.
I’d have enjoyed staying longer in Alberobello, and maybe even sleeping in one of the unique trulli houses. But we were glad we were able to visit and watch the sun go down beyond the quirky little huts.
Ultimately, Puglia was a wonderful place to visit. Apulia generally is a great region to spend a long weekend because you can easily drive around or take public transport and trains, which are affordable with great service.
If you need any recommendations or if you’ve visited this beautiful part of Southern Italy before, let me know below in the comments!