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two bases in Puglia

Prague, Czech...
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two bases in Puglia
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Hi

We consider spending 15 days in Puglia late June/early July arriving and departing in Bari ( I know that the plan for international tourism is not yet published). We are a couple with 3.5 years old kid. Therefore we will spilt our time between beaches and visiting towns and other sights (antique ruins etc., but obviously museums not so much). I don’t think we can visit all areas Puglia can offer in this time and we leave some parts for the next time (maybe just visit Salento and Valle d’Itria and leave the north this time?) . We will rent a car. I think two bases will need to suffice as we don’t want to move more than once.

We would like an advice for two bases. We like smaller towns. Preferably close to the sea (not necessary a seaside town, but not that far from some beaches). Say we go to the beach in the morning, go back for lunch and visit some town after that.

Many Thanks

Josef

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New Brunswick, New...
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1. Re: two bases in Puglia
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For geography alone the Gargano promontory might appeal to you with its wilderness like environment away from large cities. Not all beaches are suitable for all different visitors. Selection has more to do with location or qualify of the sand and compatibility among visitors. Weather is part of the equation. Itemize or identify your preferences and decide if you are acclimated to remain within shouting distance of larger towns in proximity to the beaches. We like the areas around Lecce for its baroque like buildings. Are you inclined to visit university places or archeological and art museums in any way? Transportation by train along the coast is good. Northern areas south of Foggia might appeal to you as close as they are to the Gargano promontory. Inland from Bari to the northwest are gentle locations with smaller towns. Bari might be too large. The areas around Lecce and Brindisi is close enough tot the Adriatic sea shore with beaches near by. You might do yourself favor by segmenting off just one part of the region and explore it and leave the other parts for anther visit later Tremiti islands are off the coast and have beaches but are too remote. We would choose the Gargano promontory and areas in the southern segments of the regional landscape. Stay away from Trulli houses and Alberobello. Stay away from gaining access to Matera in the Basilicata region Staying within shouting distance of the beaches can be asking for problems with lasrge crowds. Taranto and Otranoto are on the sea shore with beaches but might be too far away from the Gargano. Do not try to explore so much of the region so as to wear yourselves out with rush hour traffic like movement. Staying in one place with a viable vicinity to explore has advantages. Switching to a second place might not be a good decision if you like the first place. You do not need a version of rush hour traffic.

salt lake city
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First of all, ignore #1, he doesn’t know anything and speaks from pointing at a map or reading on the internet.

In June the tourist season is just starting so it might not be too bad yet, so you could base in a place like Polignano a mare. It’s an interesting town, with a small beach, restaurants, and shops. It’s pretty convenient even to visit other places such as Ostuni, Alberobello (why would you want to stay away from the trulli houses, beats me...), and other small towns, easy to visit with a car.

You can also visit “Masserias” where they produce some of the best olive oil in the world in the area. We went to Masseria Brancati and had a great visit with a tour offered by the owners.

There are beautiful sandy beaches near Barletta, and honestly the Gargano is worth a visit, especially the town of Vieste. There are many beaches along that coast.

So you could spend a few nights around the Polignano, Ostuni area and do day trips, then move north to the Gargano coast, or Barletta. Probably leave Lecce and the south for another trip, won’t have time to see it all.

Puglia, Italy
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Hi Josef

There is always a great deal of information on the forum about which base/s is/are best for a stay in Puglia. Your message suggests that you are fairly well informed on the other stuff so I’m guessing that you have had a look at these. They will probably give some useful insight.

To help with your enquiry maybe the best approach is to work backwards so you can find a solution that suits you.

A BASE IN THE VALLE D’ITRIA

The Valle d’Itria doesn’t have the best beaches in our region. The stretch of coast from Bari to the south of Monopoli tends to be mainly rocky shelves and coves with small, short and shallow strips of sandy beach in between. Polignano a Mare and Monopoli are typical.

This is Monopoli and is typical of this part of the coast - small areas of sound surrounded by rocky shelf.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/MediaBatch/5155731

But continuing south from Monopoli the coast changes. The section from Torre Canne to Brindisi contains some decent and popular family beaches such as those round about Rosa Marina, Specchiolla and Torre Guaceto.

Take a look here for example to see what to expect around this section of coast.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/MediaBatch/5907529

Specchiolla has public beach and lido beach clubs. There are some touristic villages nearby that access them, so be prepared for busy family beaches with facilities that you can use (hire of loungers, umbrellas, bars, toilet and shower facilities on the beach). Rosa Marina has similar facilities though some of these tend to be just behind the beach, rather than on the beach as at Specchiolla.

You can drive pretty much to the beach and park nearby (if you get there early enough). We prefer Specchiolla because we always manage to get parked less within 2-3 minutes of walking to the beach (for free) and it has some nice restaurants and bars that aren’t part of the beach club or lido facilities. Like P-Beach and this wonderful fish and seafood restaurant which is in a perfect beach front location:

http://www.dentro-mare.it/

Access to Torre Guaceto is from the Punta Penna Grossa end. We like Torre Guaceto because it has inclusive facilities such as chairs that allow wheelchair users and those with mobility issues to access the water.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/459061326

It has phone charging points (!), toilets, a bar, loungers and umbrellas. But it also has a long, long stretch of beach where, the further south you walk the emptier the beach gets. Like Specchiolla it is extremely popular with families with toddlers, with gentle waters and shallow pools.

Torre Guaceto is in a protected nature reserve so its about a 5-10 minute walk from the free car park. However from the beginning of July that free car park closes and you have to park at the Meditur parking village further away and take a trolley bus there. In 2020 this cost 5€, the trolley takes 3-5 minutes to get to the beach, but you can wait upward of 20 minutes to get on one.

So that’s what’s available in the Valle d’Itria beach wise.

To access these then there is (obviously) Monopoli if you don’t mind rocky shelves. Moving south for the better beaches, and inland, then our suggestions for you to look at are: Cisternino, Ostuni and Carovigno.

Cisternino is a beautiful town. It has a wonderful intimate historic centre, and is a surrounded by beautiful countryside. It has amazing restaurants especially for bombette pugliese. Its braceria/macelleria meat restaurants are an absolute must. From there you are 16km to Rosa Marina, about 35km to Specchiolla with Torre Guaceto beyond that. But you are centrally located for the green and glorious Valle d’Itria and the beautiful towns and destinations it has to offer (Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Ceglie Messapica, Ostuni etc) and you can also visit Polignano, Alberobello and Monopoli easily.

Moving south, Ostuni is more central for all these beaches, but adds a little more time for visiting Monopoli, Polignano, Alberobello. It’s a bigger and more popular destination. We know it well - its our closest town. We love the centro storico and although it isn’t as intimate as Cisternino or Locorotondo it does have more choice for accommodation, bars and restaurants and is closer to all those beaches.

Carovigno isn’t often mentioned. It’s the most intimate of all and better placed for Specchiolla (10km away) and Torre Guaceto and it has a relatively unknown and very nice centro storico with a diverse choice of restaurants. There’s a Michelin starred one and a minute away from that a wonderful family owned trattoria which is the best value and has amazing tiramisu. It’s around 8km south of Ostuni, often with better value accommodation than the former, but adds that distance and time for a trip onward to Alberobello, Polignano etc.

YOUR SALENTO SOJOURN

Moving to Salento, where you will find some amazing beaches, and a huge choice. In late June/early July you might like Gallipoli. The party circuit won’t have hit the town quite yet, so it should still feel like a small fishing town, and it does have a nice accessible town beach you can see here:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/MediaBatch/5155731

But all that starts to change from mid-July onwards and by August its usually a very different destination. However not too far away is Nardò, much quieter, maybe better value for accommodation. From there you can head north to Porto Cesareo (16km) and Torre Lapillo (20km) both are extremely popular local destinations. Lecce is also easy from there, if you want the contrast of visiting a larger destination to visit for the day.

Or you could think about deep Salento. At the very tip of the heel of Italy’s boot is Santa Maria di Leuca. In terms of coast and beach expect rocky coves with stretches of sand:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/458550877

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/469784257

It’s one of our favourite places in Puglia to visit. Yes it is at the very end of our region, but that comes with and end of the world feel. It’s where the Adriatic meets the Ionian and you can see the clash of currents and colours. The lungomare almost has a belle epoque feel, and from there is is a very short hop to some of the top beaches; the Maldives of Salento at Pescoluse are about 9km along the Ionian coast. Heading up the Adriatic coast you have some of the best coastal scenery in Puglia from Leuca to Santa Cesarea Terme (though its better enjoyed driving south). Other options to consider there or thereabouts are Tricase for access to the natural swimming basin at Marina Serra and Porto Tricase:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/459445675

And Castro. Another very popular domestic beach destination is Melendugno for Torre dell’Orso.

Hope that helps. Our tripadvisor profile includes many, many photos of the beaches and towns all across the region that might help inform which are the beach destinations that best suit you and if you do need more help this travel blog guide might be useful:

https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/faq/where-to-stay/

It tries to balance the pros and cons of some of the more popular destinations in Puglia depending requirements eg relying on public transport, family friendly beaches, mindful solitude.

GARGANO

I know that you have said to leave it for another time, but if you go here you wouldn’t need to change base. You have access to the best beaches in Puglia, medieval Mediterranean towns, every bit as interesting as the Valle d’Itria, just not as well known. It is very easy to get to from Bari and the coastal drive from Bari to Vieste is stunning - we still haven’t worked out which is the finest, that drive or the drive to Leuca. But you will see the flamingos as you pass by the salt flats on the way to Gargano. Gargano also has the most diverse geography our region has to offer and it’s even greener than the Valle d’Itria.

Vieste is out top 2021 Puglia destination and our favourite experience across all of Puglia was eating at Al Trabucco da Mimì in Peschici.

Just a thought!

FINALLY AN UPDATE ON TRAVEL PLANS

It has been announced that beach clubs and lidos can open from 28 May. The government have said that the 10pm national curfew which currently applies all across Italy, irrespective of whether a region is classified as high risk or low risk will be “reviewed” in May.

There were reports in Puglia editions of a national newspaper yesterday that the green (covid vaccination) pass “will allow travel between EU countries and… save the summer” which does seem to suggest that even between EU countries a vaccination certificate will be required to travel.

The Italian government’s Covid emergency commissioner Francesco Figliuolo said the country’s vaccination programme will speed up “significantly” in May thanks to increased deliveries, bringing further hope that a summer season open to foreign tourists will be possible. The Moderna vaccine has arrived and vaccinations have been resumed.

That’s all we know for the moment. We will hear later today if Puglia will move into the less restrictive lower risk yellow zone from next week, which would mean restaurants and bars can open for service at outside tables.

Wherever you decide to base yourself, safe and happy travels.

Big.

Puglia, Italy
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4. Re: two bases in Puglia
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Hi - oops. Just to say some of the tripadvisor photos came out in the wrong order in that post, but the written description with each photo tells you where they are!

Puglia, Italy
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5. Re: two bases in Puglia
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Josef:

Here are the photos again, they should be correctly ordered this time. It is easier to make sense of the original response having them correctly ordered.

Monopoli: small sandy beaches surrounded by rocky shelves typical of the stretch of coast from Bari to the south of Monopoli.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/MediaBatch/5155731

Rosa Marina (between Torre Canne and Torre Guaceto). This is where the Valle d’Itria coast changes from mainly rocky beaches to longer stretches of sand:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/MediaBatch/5907529

Accessible friendly facilities at Torre Guaceto:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/458550877

Gallipoli’s old town beach:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/469784257

Santa Maria di Leuca:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/459445675

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/476343678

Porto Tricase:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/459061326

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Province of Turin...
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Hi Josef, I would personally travel south and split a vacation between Ostuni and Santa Maria di Leuca. You can reach Ostuni with a 1h20 drive from Bari airport. It is a lovely medieval town, not too large and only 8-10 Km from the closest beaches (Costa Merlata, Monticelli beach etc). Nearby, there is also the Natural Reserve of Torre Guaceto which can be reached by train and has some free beaches. Then you can head to Santa Maria di Leuca (1h45 from Ostuni), which is located on the southernmost tip of Salento peninsula. There you’ll be able to visit some sea caves by boat and to spend your last days in Italy on some of the most beautiful beaches in Puglia, like Marina di San Gregorio or Pescoluse.

San Francisco...
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I wish chunkie would take a hint and post the way” big” posts..actual sentences and paragraphs...still might not make a difference in content and useful information though

Prague, Czech...
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Thanks a lot for the responses. I made a brief research, but no guidelines go into the details (if not this year i will use the advice in the next year as we will definitely not cover everything this year).

I still wonder about one thing about Solento. Is there much difference between the Ionian and Adriatic coasts? There seems to be recommended towns and beaches for both. We are still undecided about these. It would be nice to have at least one sandy beach close to us which would mean at least by looking looking at google Gallipoli area or Leuca (however this would mean a lot of driving to other areas in Salento).

As for the arrival I hope the PCR tests would suffice. Unfortunately i don't expect a vaccination for our age group that soon.

Puglia, Italy
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9. Re: two bases in Puglia
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Hi Josef

On the whole Salento’s Adriatic east coast is mainly rocky, but it does have a few great sandy beaches. Look at San Cataldo a little over 10km from Lecce. We go there often. It has a very easily accessible beach (you can drive right up to it) with golden sand, an extremely shallow rake so it is perfect for little children. You can stay at San Cataldo, and walk to the beach each day, but this is very much a summer resort with a limited choice of good bars and restaurants. We would rather stay in the very beautiful Lecce, which has the widest choice of restaurants and bars in Puglia, and drive to the beach each day.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/451337072

Heading south some 15km before reaching Otranto there is Torre dell’Orso and Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle, which we mentioned in our original reply. You can stay in Torre dell’Orso/marina del Melendugno and walk to the beach each day. However Otranto is more interesting architecturally and historically and it does have good town beaches, and a very fine selection of restaurants.

The Ionian coast is flatter than the east coast and is characterised by white sandy beaches and the Mediterranean maquis scrub. From the top heading south Torre Lapillo and Porto Cesareo are the main resorts and touristic villages, though again we recommend these destinations as a base only to those looking to find a place where they can walk to the beach each day, rather than a sleepy southern Italian town full of Salento character and charm.

This is punta Prosciutto near Torre Lapillo:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Profile/gaypugliapodcast/Photo/451625211

As you move down towards the Ionian coast long stretches of sandy beach are found at Rivabella (Padula Bianca) though for character we’d choose to stay either in Nardò or Gallipoli. We visit the beach club lidos at Baia Verde every other week between July/August. Then as you continue south you find those amazing white sandy beaches. Again, there are many resorts that you can stay at - Pescoluse for example - an extremely busy destination because of the beaches and a popular summer destination for our domestic visitors. Yet Santa Maria di Leuca some 13km south is tranquil, full of character and that special “end of the world” feel.

If you still need more help our travel blog includes a report on our best beaches as we travel around our region’s coast, with even more pictures, directions and inside information for visitors:

https://www.gaypugliapodcast.com/mainguides/beaches/

As to the PCR vs Green (vaccine) pass we simply don’t know. You can read more about the EU’s proposals for the Digital Green Certificate here:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_21_1187

They state that:

“The proposal is clear that the Digital Green Certificate is to facilitate free movement inside the EU. It will not be a pre-condition to free movement. Persons who are not vaccinated must be able to continue to exercise their free movement rights, where necessary subject to limitations such as testing or quarantine/self-isolation.”

Currently Italian citizens need an Italian “green” covid vaccination certificate to travel to and from medium and high risk areas and here in Puglia we are still in a medium risk area.

We are still waiting for Italy’s government to announce plans that will open Italy up for non-essential travel this summer, but where our own citizens require covid vaccination certificates to travel, the same can be required of other EU citizens visiting Italy.

However that is still conjecture. We do not know what the requirements will be yet, beyond the current rules in Italy where currently travel to Puglia from another region in Italy is vaccination dependent (though essential travel may be an exception, we haven’t gone into that detail yet) and the EU’s proposals, which are not per se vaccination dependent.

It’s still a case of waiting to see what will happen, though you can be sure that economics will be a factor and our region will be depending on a summer season that welcomes as many people as it can.

Safe and happy travels

Big

Edited: May 03, 2021, 3:55 pm
Puglia, Italy
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Josef - we now know that a negative test will get you the Covid-19 green pass needed for travel to Italy this summer. This was confirmed by our health minister.

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