If you like baroque architecture then Lecce is unmissable. It’s been nicknamed the “The Florence of the South” and has a gorgeous array of palaces and churches carved from the local sandstone. It’s around a 30-minute drive from Scorrano and a good base from which to explore the Salento area of Puglia (the heel of Italy’s boot). At night it buzzes with activity and, if you’re lucky, you might catch a show in the Roman ampitheatre. There are also plenty of shops, restaurants and bars to suit all tastes.
You’re never far from the seaside in Puglia and there are plenty of beaches to choose from. A favourite is the charming town of Otranto with its car-free central streets. The town overlooks a pretty harbour and there are plenty of restaurants with views of the turquoise sea. Seafood is a speciality but there are plenty of vegetarian options too. We are always in search of the perfect gelato and were impressed by the inventive flavours at Pasticceria Merola (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 14).
Speaking of food, no trip to Italy is complete without sampling the local dishes and there is no better place to do so than at a masseria. Masserie are farmstays that offer guest accommodation. You can also simply visit for a meal, which is often an hours-long affair where the owners join you to explain their cuisine and culture. It’s a wonderful way to experience and learn about local life while trying food fresh from the farm. The accommodation varies from luxury to basic so there is something to suit most budgets. Try staying in an iconic trulli stone hut for the perfect Puglia experience.
One thing to bear in mind when travelling to Puglia is that you’ll almost definitely need a car. You can navigate the larger towns by train but the best way to discover the region’s hidden gems is by driving.
Other towns worth visiting include: UNESCO World Heritage site, Alberobello; the white city of Ostuni; and the island of Gallipolli.
Tips and Insights
- Puglia has a full calendar of festivals and events. Many are free and are a great way to add something special to your trip. Check this calendar for a list of events.
- Puglia is much less crowded than other tourist spots in Italy. While Puglia is growing in popularity, you’ll find far less visitors than in places like Tuscany, Venice and Rome.
- Puglia produces 20 per cent of the wine made in Italy.