A short guidebook about this wonderful region: Apulia, with its sun, the sea, the freshness of raw fish, the mistral wind that never stops blowing. The warm atmosphere, the friendly people and their smiles. And then again, the Panzerotti, The Focaccia Barese, the sandwich with octopus, Stracciatella and cherry tomatoes and . . . But let’s start from the beginning.
Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is pure magic: its wonderful sea caves, its cliffs where is held the RedBull Cliff Diving (an event where people jump from a cliff of thirty meters), its small old town full of alleys, the cozy craftsmen shops, pubs, restaurants, B&B, the terraces where you can admire the endless of the Mediterranean sea. It’s a love at first sight: the South of Italy is a very particular area, full of pros and cons, but this little village brings you back to the simplicity of life. A craftsman who tries to sell his handmade products, with love and passion; a lady who discovered herself, when she was sixty, a painter and she is actually very good at it; the friendly and smiling waiter, the clear blue sky; all of this is not that common in the north. If you are in Polignano, even just for one day, a guide tour in the sea caves is worthy: the wonder of the sea, the light that penetrates between the rocky walls, the caves and their colors, the reflection of the sun that illuminates the waves: you will experience peace, joy and positivity. This is the side effect of the South of Italy. For a full experience, I highly recommend you to rent Dorino’s boat, who’s going to make you laugh a lot with his stories.
Monopoli is just lovely: the old town is a gem, all white, typical of the Greek influence and its sea is even more crystal-clear compared to the sea in Polignano. Monopoli is also famous for the most ancient Conservatory of Music in Italy where Domenico Modugno composed the famous song Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu.
Ostuni, also known as “the white city”, quite similar to Monopoli, even if the old town is uphill, is full of art, drawings carved in the wood, farmers who sell tomatoes in their pick-ups along the street. Compared to Monopoli and Polignano A Mare, Ostuni is just a little bit more shabby, but anyway it is really worth visiting.
Alberobello: trulli, trulli and more trulli! A smiling old lady invited us to enter in one of the nicest trullo and she told us why they have been created shaped like that. Basically, in the Roman Age, people used to pay a lot of taxes, even for a close and safe home. The roof was built with straw and mud, so when the Romans showed up, people could easily destroy it, in order to pay less.
Matera used to be a city of Apulia, but now it belongs to Basilicata. In 2019 it was the European Capital of Culture. Matera is spectacular, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen! Its old town is a real pearl, but also the modern part is very well treated.
Going back to Apulia, AltaMura is a small town, famous for its bread and pastries, that deserves a stop: one of its most ancient bakery, the Santa Chiara Bakery, born in 1423, still works like in the past. They bake bread, pizza and focaccia in an ancient wood oven and you can really taste the difference. The best focaccia that I have ever tasted.
Some useful Tips for a stay in Polignano a Mare:
- In case you reach Apulia by plane or by train, I highly recommend you, once there, to rent a car. It is quite impossible to visit the South of Italy without your own means of transport. Unfortunately, there are not lot of buses and they do not respect the schedule time .
- The perfect Info Point in Polignano is Polignano Made in Love: the staff is very friendly and helpful, ask for Dionisio.
- If you are a mojito lover, you must go to La Casa del Mojito, in the center of the old town. The staff is young, super professional and they create very original mojitos!
- The Appian Way is another fantastic cocktail bar that you can’t miss, maybe better after dinner: two brothers and one cousin that ran their own business in the south of Italy, which is not very common.
If you decide to stay and to live for the South, you will probably have some troubles with bureaucracy or transports; but you will be rewarded with the genuineness of people and the authenticity of life.
Tips for eating in Polignano a Mare:
- Il Grottone
- Grotta Palazzese
- La Pescaria
- La Rotellina
- Da Luciano
- La Focacceria di Delle Noci