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What order to move between these towns where we are staying?

North Carolina
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What order to move between these towns where we are staying?
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Hello all.

We had previously planned a trip to Puglia, but, like so many others, were unable to go.

We're two fully-vaccinated adults from the US, and I'm putting together a two week trip for early September.

I was thinking to fly into Bari and out of Brindisi, connecting in Rome and direct back to North Carolina in the US.

The itinerary is currently: Fly into Bari (arrive at 10:30 am) and on to Monopoli for 4 nights, Lecce for 4 nights, Matera for 3 nights, Martina Franca for 4 nights, train to and fly out of Brindisi to Rome for one night and fly back out.

Or would it make more sense to go from Bari to Matera first and work our way down? Is Matera worth the time/effort? I ask this because the time and hassle and expense that it took us to get to and stay in Positano was not worth it. We really dislike "touristy" spots, which is why we are not staying in Alberobello, but just planning to arrive early in the morning for a visit.

Does that order seem OK? Do those towns and the nights in each seem like good choices? I have not yet booked, so changes can easily be made. I don't normally like stays of less than 3 nights anywhere, but if the amount of time staying in each town is too much (or too little), please let me know.

We plan to see the surrounding towns from each of those bases.

We're wanting a combination of town, beach and countryside. We are HUGE beach fans and would probably be happy as can be if we just spent the entire two weeks in a beautiful beach locale, but we want to get a taste of Puglia that includes as much as possible!

We'll be traveling by public transport (or driver if public transport not doable). We don't want the hassle of a rental car, and we love our Italian wine, so we definitely don't want to worry about enjoying wine and then driving.

Thanks so much - I really appreciate any help and suggestions!

Edited: July 20, 2021, 7:03 pm
9 replies to this topic
Virginia
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1. Re: What order to move between these towns where we are staying?
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I have not been to Positano but have been to the Amalfi Coast. I have been to Matera and stayed a few days each time, so I obviously love it. I don't think you can compare the two. Matera does get bus tours, but its cultural heritage is so much more significant--it is not just about the views like Positano (though it is gorgeous too). I had a car though, so during midday, we were out exploring the region. If you have driven in Italy before, I encourage you to do it again. The driving in Puglia is so easy, and the public transport requires work that I am just not willing to put in (many people visit the area without a car and have favorable things to say about it, so I am open to alternating opinions). If you want to get to the best beaches (I like the ones north of Gallipoli), you will need a car.

Here is an excellent guide for Matera: http://www.materatourguide.it/

There is a direct bus from Bari airport to Matera, so it might make more sense to go there first. I also know Lecce is well connected with Brindisi by bus, so it might also make sense to end with Lecce. I have enjoyed stays in Lecce and Monopoli, highly recommend both. I only drove through Martina Franca, but I think it should be a great base for the area.

Since you are staying in towns and will be able to enjoy wine with dinners you can walk to, I would consider using a rental car during the day for exploring.

North Carolina
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2. Re: What order to move between these towns where we are staying?
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Thank you! That is great information. Very helpful.

Do you think 3 nights is good for Matera?

United States
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another opinion that Matera is well worth spending time...3 nights is fine...as I recall we did 2. It is so unique and yes tourism is big there...Sept. is a good month but busy. The thing is so many are "day trippers" and you will be staying nights to enjoy the town as it empties of those tourists and the lights come on...it is magical. Don't miss it.

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All of the above is good advice - my only other thought is that if you love beaches then perhaps you should make one of your destinations suited to Puglia's finest. Monopoli is a lovely town but it's not the best bit of coast; around Gallipoli and Otranto is where you find the long sandy stretches. Also, I prefer Ostuni to Martina Franca but I think accommodation should lead you - Alberobello is worth visiting in the evening rather than the morning, plus do stop at Locorotondo as you pass by. I think a car is pretty essential to do all of this.

Virginia
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Yes, absolutely--three days would not be too much, but you might make a list of what you wish to see first if you could use the day elsewhere. You can tour the sassi in an afternoon, but it is such a fun place to get lost. You can also tour the caves in the adjoining park (which serves excellent food and shows interesting film of old times in the sassi). I believe there is a modern art museum as well. It's a young town and there is a nice vibe--plenty of restaurants.

Two day trips we enjoyed were walking along a gorge in Laterza (an area known for raptors) and Craco, an abandoned village. Some like to visit Bernalda and see Francis Ford Coppola's fancy hotel. Altamura looks interesting, but I have not had time to visit yet. There are some mountain towns nearby. There are Greek temples at the coast at Metaponto.

North Carolina
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6. Re: What order to move between these towns where we are staying?
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Thanks so much, everyone!

Judith, I think I am going to actually switch to Ostuni from MF. We were thinking of buying a farm in the countryside, and I had chosen MF as our base to stay while we looked around, but we have decided to just rent long term instead, and I do really like what I have seen of Ostuni.

As you can see by my screen name, I am a fan of the Caribbean! Would you just take Monopoli off of the list or reduce the time there to stay and visit the beaches around Gallipoli and Otranto, and if so, which one of those two places would be better to stay?

I agree with you on the car. I think we would be fine driving outside of large towns. We rent cars and drive on the left side all the time in the islands, so I think we would be OK in Italy, with the driving on the right! (He just does not want to drive in the larger cities, and I know we would have gotten hopelessly lost had we a car in Tuscany!)

Thanks again!

Edited: July 20, 2021, 11:34 pm
Virginia
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I'd avoid driving in Bari or Brindisi, but pretty much everywhere else is a small town. Actually, Lecce can be hairy, just the drive in and out of town, but totally surmountable. We got one parking ticket, but it was totally our fault. Otherwise, outside of high summer, traffic was nonexistent and we always found parking just outside the ZTL.

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This is a concise guide to Puglia's coastline and beaches which might help:

https://www.thethinkingtraveller.com/italy/puglia/beaches-in-puglia

North Carolina
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9. Re: What order to move between these towns where we are staying?
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Thank you!

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