I kind of have a thing for Italy. The history, the perfect weather, the friendly people, and the delicious food make it the perfect vacation destination in my opinion! My husband Taylor and I honeymooned on the Amalfi Coast back in 2012 and made a pact that we would come back to Italy for our 5th anniversary. So obviously we HAD to go this year or face some sort of travel curse. We decided we wanted to check out a new part of Italy this time, and settled on a vacation to the Puglia (or Apulia in English) region of Italy which is on the southeastern coast. It’s the heel and Achilles tendon if you picture the shape of Italy as a boot.
Gargano Peninsula, Italy
We flew into Bari, Italy on Turkish Airlines, and drove to our first destination on the Gargano peninsula. After doing some research on this region of Italy, we decided that we wanted to stay part of the time in a Masseria, which is a fortified farmhouse accommodation. We spent a LOT of time looking for the perfect Masseria with great views and great food (that we could afford) which ultimately led us to Masseria Chiusa Delle More in Peschici. It did not disappoint. The 16th-century stone farmhouse sits atop a hill with a panoramic view of the town and an ancient olive grove. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and bougainvillea draped everywhere. The best part though was the food. The owner/chef Antonella prepared a huge breakfast spread each morning on the open-air veranda. We also chose to eat dinner there each night, which was a multi-course meal selected by the chef. It was so nice not to have to think about anything and the food was all local in-season and AMAZING. She even taught us how to make Orecchiette, the common fresh pasta type of the region.
At breakfast each morning, Antonella’s husband Francesco helped us decide what to do for the day. We did a scenic drive through Gargano National Park, went to Vignanotica beach, and toured the lovely towns of Vieste and Monte Sant’Angelo. The best part about this region and season was that it was not crowded at all, and we rarely (if ever) ran into other American tourists.
And then sadly our three days on the Gargano peninsula had come to an end. We then did a little detour to the Basilicata region of Italy (more on that here) before returning to our next destination in Puglia, Polignano a Mare. On our way to Polignano, we decided to stop and check out the UNESCO World Heritage town of Alberobello, known for its conical-shaped Trulli Houses. The houses were historically built this way, with stones and no mortar, so they could be taken apart to avoid paying taxes on them when the tax collector came around. Walking through the town, it felt as if we had been transported into a sort of nursery rhyme or something. A place like this shouldn’t exist in real life! It was a nice few hours’ stop despite it being so incredibly crowded with tourists.
Polignano a Mare, Italy
After leaving Alberobello, we drove to Polignano a Mare to check into our hotel in the Centro Storico or Old Town (the part that is built up on a cliff above the ocean). Finding our hotel was quite the feat as no car traffic is allowed in that part of town. We had to park on the outskirts of town and then take a rickshaw, with luggage, to the hotel. It was worth it though, to be amongst the cute little alleyways, shops, and restaurants of the old town. It was especially lovely walking through the maze of alleyways all lit up with strands of lights each night. At sunset, we walked over to the adjacent cliff to get a view looking back towards the Centro Storico. We spent some time at the public beach in town, which was a bit too rocky and crowded. So on our last day, we traveled south a bit to the beautiful turquoise beaches of Capitolo.
In between these destinations, we made a side trip to Basilicata that was worthy of a post of its own!
By the way, we made a pact to go back to Italy for our 10th anniversary in 2022.
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