Puglia has been one of my favorite weekend trips thus far. It is definitely an underrated location I would definitely recommend checking out. I must say when I was sharing with classmates where I was going for the weekend the most common response was “where?” because many people I know didn’t even think of checking it out.
We decided to stay in Bari for this trip which I would recommend because that is likely going to be the easiest spot to fly in and out of and get transportation to and from some of the surrounding towns. If I didn’t stay in Bari, I would have wanted to stay in Polignano a Mare which is more of a beach town but honestly I don’t know that it would have been worth it unless we had more time or just wanted more of a beach vibe rather than exploring as many cities as we did.
We found a reasonably priced Airbnb that was within walking distance from the train station which was great. It was also within walking distance to the historical center of Bari. This worked out perfectly for us. The first night we were in Bari we went and got pizza at a restaurant called Borgo Antico. It was very good and pretty reasonably priced.
This region is close to many UNESCO World Heritage sites which is very cool. We decided to visit a few of these. We booked a bus that would take us from Bari to Alberobello at 9am. Alberobello was such a cute spot with these little white houses. It was a great city to just wander around. It is super picturesque and was very easy to get to from Bari.
In the afternoon, we planned to go to Matera which was about an hour away. This was a little bit more challenging to get to especially with trying to do both cities in a day. We ended up having to take a taxi to make it possible, which was a little bit pricey but honestly it was worth it. Our taxi driver was great! I would definitely recommend (www.nccmaterataxi.it). Our taxi driver was from Matera and was very excited to share with us a lot about the city’s history. He made sure to drop us off in a good spot to start exploring the city. We were able to get a bus from Matera to Bari on the way back. Matera was such a cool city built into the rocks. I would definitely go back here and if I had more time, I would have wanted to hike around the mountains near the city because the view looked incredible. We got aperitivo and watched the sunset. I would also recommend seeing Matera in the evening because it is really pretty all lit up.
The following day we took a train to Polignano a Mare which was stunning. The beaches here were gorgeous. We had planned on doing a boat tour here but unfortunately it got canceled because of the winds. The boat tours in this area are significantly cheaper than other areas of Italy so we were very disappointed we couldn’t do it. It costs about 30 euros for a 2 hour boat excursion that includes a glass of prosecco. We ended up just going to the beach and exploring the town which was nice. This area is also known for cliff diving and Redbull does a competition here so you might be able to see some people cliff diving.
We spent the afternoon exploring Bari. Bari is famous for orecchiette pasta. Go to the Strada delle Orecchiette to see the local women making this pasta. I would also recommend walking around the historic center and exploring around there. My favorite thing about this trip was definitely the food. I would recommend trying a lot of the regional food. My host mom recommended going to Panificio Fiore and she specifically recommended getting focaccia barese and calzone cipolla. These were amazing!!! Would highly recommend going here although the line can get long. We went at 10am and took our food to the beach. Other food to try includes orecchiette and octopus. We went to Mastro Ciccio and got an octopus panini and octopus panzerotti which were also very good. The other place I would highly recommend in Bari is this bar called Speakeasy Bari. I had the best moscow mule there. They have such a fun drink menu and will put a twist on many classic drinks. Also the bartenders are very fun to watch because they make such crazy drinks. They also played some good music and it was overall a fun vibe.
Overall this was such a fun trip. One thing I will note though is the Bari airport is not as easy to get to and from the Bari center with the train. It looks like you can get there easily on the map but in reality the airport is a 30 minute walk from the train station so I would recommend either just getting a taxi or finding a bus. We took a train from Milan on the way down which was actually very pleasant despite being 8 hours long. I would definitely do that again especially since it was much cheaper than a flight so if you have the time I wouldn’t rule that out as an option. I would highly recommend traveling to Puglia, especially if you are studying in Italy.
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Hi! I'm Paige Giordano. I am a junior marketing major at Santa Clara University. I am originally from the Boston area. I am studying abroad in Milan, Italy fall semester of 2023. In my free time, I enjoy working out, reading, cooking, and fashion.