Puglia is a region in the heel of southern Italy known for its pretty towns, great local ingredients and unique architecture. We spent our first week there in a big trullo with nine of our friends from London. We drove to nearby towns, went on long beach walks and cooked our own Puglian feasts in the evenings.
Then we spent a couple of days in Altamura, a quiet town on the edge of Puglia and the perfect place to unwind before our long trip up to northern Italy.
There's a lot to do in this part of Italy, but here are a few towns you'll love:
Bari is the largest town in Puglia and one of the main transport hubs. It's a port town, but the nicest area is the centro storico (historical centre). Puglia's signature dish is orecchiette (small ear-shaped pasta), and walking around the backstreets of Bari you'll see women shaping these by hand and drying them out in the sun.
A UNESCO heritage site, Alberobello is a bit like Disneyland. A whole town of 1500 perfectly preserved trulli (stone huts with a conical roofs) that are now tiny galleries and souvenir shops. It's touristy, yes, but a unique place that's worth visiting.
Ostuni is visible long before you reach it; a cluster of brilliantly white buildings on a hilltop. It's a maze-like town of winding alleys, white-washed buildings and narrow staircases. As you climb further and further up into the centre of the old town there are lovely views of the olive trees and sea in the distance.
Nicknamed the 'Florence of the South', Lecce is another popular town to visit in Puglia. Full of baroque architecture, golden stone buildings and cobbled streets, there's even an ancient amphitheatre in the centre of the old town.
We woke up on our first morning in Altamura to the sound of a brass band. We happened to visit during a 3-day festival and although we never found out exactly what it was for, we loved the lively atmosphere in the main piazza each evening.
By far the least touristy place in Puglia that we visited, Altamura has a charming and quiet old town that's perfect for wandering. It also has a daily farmer's market, a cafe with the best gelato we've had in Italy so far (Cafe Mokhambo) and one of my favourite airbnbs ever (big claims!).