Travel // Puglia {Part Two - Ostuni, Lecce & Otranto}

September 18, 2018

Part Two of our adventures in Puglia at the start of September. After our two nights staying at Nina Trulli Resort & exploring the areas like Poligano a Mare and Alberobello, which you can read about here, we drove further down the coast to stay at an Airbnb just outside Ostuni the white city.

Before I start on Ostuni, I had to share scenes like these which were at the side of every road. The biggest olive trees we've ever seen and cool cactus topped with almost neon prickly pears.

If we'd have had more time {and baggage allowance!}, I would have stopped at one of the olive grove masserias to learn more, and bring home some olive oil.

Our first stop was the beach! You're never far from the sea in Puglia, but a lot of the coastline is covered in private beach clubs/lidos where you could spend the day but have to pay for sunbeds. We didn't ever have one full day that we wanted to spend at the beach, instead just wanted a morning or afternoon there, so looked up public beaches. Pilone {near the Rosa marina} was recommended by a few people and it ended up being one that we kept going back to. Especially as it had free parking and a beautiful, clear sea. 

- side note, Torre Guaceto, the natural park was recommended to us too although it's car free so you have to get a little shuttle from the car park I think. And I wish we'd got further down to the beaches by Galliopoli or Proscuitto which are called the Maldives of Italy! Next time for sure but we didn't want to spend 2hours+ in the car on this short trip.

Suddenly, this felt like a proper holiday. You know the types that you've grown up with, with villas and hot car journeys and getting covered in sand and walking back to the car wrapped in a towel? Pilone has two beaches and you can go left or right. It reminded me of the beaches we'd spent time at in Florida earlier in the year. I never expected Italy to have beaches as beautiful as these!

Beach happiness.

We found a spot for the morning and dipped straight into the sea, being the Adriatic it was warm too!

Nautical shorts...

As it got closer to lunchtime, pizza was calling us {the first of the trip!} and we drove ten minutes into Ostuni. I'd heard a lot about Ostuni and was really excited for this part of the trip where we would be based here.

This photo is filed under the summer we all went crazy for leopard print...

Ostuni was pure magic! And I've said it before but reminded us so much of Mykonos or Santorini. A maze of white washed alleyways, designed & built to confuse the enemy. It's a walled city built up on the hills, with incredible views out across the olive groves to the sea where we'd just been swimming. There are only a couple of entrances through the walls into the old town, so we parked outside {we managed to find free parking everywhere in Puglia, paying for parking is one of our huge bug bears ha!} and walked to try and find pizza. 

And pizza we found! Ostuni is a little busier than some of the smaller towns and so you find places open for lunch. We loved the {huge!} pizzas at Il Posto Affianco. 

and then walked through the maze looking for gelato. 

Unfortunately, the gelato place we really wanted to visit {with the promise of melted chocolate in the cones again} called da Ciccio in the main piazza, was shut for the afternoon siesta! So we wandered a little further, serendipitously spotting this fiat with our initials on on our hunt for gelato and whilst waiting until check in time at the Airbnb. 

Had to be done... 

Oh! and as a side note, like we'd found in Venice & Rome, there are water fountains around Ostuni which are handy for refilling in the heat.

These streets! 

Big fan of the white walls and cactus botanicals.

The most perfectly placed Vespa?!

And for finding parks with palm trees that make you feel like you're in California.

We LOVED Ostuni so much and knew we'd have to go back in for an evening the next day.

For the next three nights we were staying at this Airbnb {and you can use this sign-up code for £25 off your first stay at any airbnb around the world if you like} which whilst not perfect, was in such an incredible setting and had the best pool area of any villa we've stayed at in Europe. Just ten minutes outside of Ostuni, it's three properties sharing the pool but we only ever had to share it for about an hour one afternoon! The rest of the time it felt like a private terrace and pool area. We loved that it had a kitchen so we could self cater for a few meals, especially in Italy where the supermarkets and local stores have the best ingredients. 

Our only issues were the mosquitoes {a problem across the whole of Puglia} and the bathroom which was a tight squeeze & which flooded everytime we showered. But Angela & Anna who own, and are renovating the place, were the sweetest couple. It was the perfect base for our last couple of days in Puglia and very reasonable.

Our first stop was to the supermarket for parmesan, prickly pears {the taste/texture reminded us of dragonfruit}, plums, pasta and other supplies not beginning with P...

I couldn't take my eyes of that pool area, surrounded by lavender and leafy olive trees.

We made the best salad I have EVER eaten on our first night. And this huge hunk of crumbly parmesan was less than 2 euros. My husband hates parmesan so I did my best to eat as much as possible...

Sprayed up with mosquito repellent, it was a beautiful spot to watch the sunset.

Bright & early the next morning we drove down the coast to Otranto. Our main stop for the day was Lecce but a few people had recommended Otranto, a little bit further on so we stopped here first and worked backwards. This town had promised to be a cute seaside town with a harbour and beautiful water, and that it was. 

It felt a little more resort-y than anywhere else we'd been in Puglia, with lots of apartment buildings and beach clubs and I imagine in August it's a really popular spot. The colour of the sea!! It was only around 9.30am but really hot already. We walked from one end of town around the coast to the other. Again, if we hadn't have had breakfast, Martinucci {that Puglian famous brand of bakeries & artisan gelaterias} looked ridiculously appealing and a popular spot. 

We'll definitely stay further down this way on our next trip here.

We then drove onto Lecce, a university city that everybody calls the Florence of the South. It's known for that Baroque architecture with soft, creamy limestone on every building. We managed to find a free parking spot near the train station and then spent a few hours exploring. 

It was an enchanting, charm filled small city that we felt was just as impressive in a way as Florence, or Rome, yet without the crowds. There are a couple of main streets and then a huge amount of churches, piazzas and secret courtyards. Being the university city, it definitely had a younger, most buzzy vibe here than other older towns we'd visited further up. 

You have to walk around just staring up. I'm such a cliche in that I'm finding history so much more interesting as I get older. There was even a Roman amphitheatre here in the main square.

This door {!}.

I seem to use Google reviews more than Tripadvisor for recommendations these days, and it didn't disappoint with Come Vuoi Pane & Condimenti for a gourmet Subway as one American had described it. You fill in a tick-list form of what kind of baguette you'd like, with what spreads {artichoke or pesto or mushroom or sundried tomato} and it's made fresh in front of you, as in they will literally slice the ham fresh from the joint for you. We both went for tuna carpaccio with grilled aubergines and it was delicious. 

We found a gorgeous city park to eat lunch in, sitting and taking this place in. There are trams running that reminded us of Lisbon a little. I'd definitely put Lecce high on your list if you're visiting Puglia.

Finally, we got to try Martinucci! Which was definitely one of the best gelatos of the trip, they had a melted white chocolate tap for your cone. Also, we found the gelato {these two with triple scoops and melted chocolate were less than 5 euros for both}, and most food actually, to be really cheap in Puglia. It's always known as the poor South but the food and prices were to us, the best ever. My favourite has to be proper pistachio. 

Views, and empty streets, like these.

As the town shut down for a siesta, we decided to get back ourselves for some time by the pool. I wish we'd have been a little closer to Lecce in a way, as there's a tradition before dinner here in that all of the locals come out for an evening walk which would have been cool to witness and be around. Again, this is a place that comes alive at night I think, although we were more than happy to be here during the day.

Pink walls.

And a Fiat spot on our way back to the car.

I finished three books out here, The Wives by Lauren Weisenberger, Thirteen and Little Fires Everywhere. I'd recommend them all.

I know I said it in the previous post, but I was just so glad to be back into books again. I don't know what happened this summer, I think it might have something to do with my iPhone and spending too much time scrolling aimlessly on Instagram sometimes to really get into a book, or maybe the fact that the last book I'd read, I am Pilgrim, was the best book I'd ever read and so it seemed like nothing would ever compare? Regardless, nothing beats a holiday reading by a pool and being so all consumed, it's all you can think about.

Picking figs from the overhanging fig trees.

We drove on evening back to Pilone beach for a sunset walk.

Happy happy, beachy days.

I joked that Ben was the same colour scheme as the ombre sea and the pink sky!

For the rest of the week, we spent our time between the pool, beach and Ostuni. It was heaven.

Polaroids from Puglia.

Fresh orecchiette, a local speciality, that we cooked & ate on our terrace one evening.

Before an evening walk around Ostuni.

Cute little sunset bar spots around the maze of the old town.

This time, the gelato place in the square was open! 

That's the sea behind Ostuni!

If you want your heart to feel full, find an Italian park around 6.30pm before everyone goes for dinner. You’ll find groups of children running around but the thing I love most? The groups of old people on benches just hanging out. It's probably both a culture, and a climate thing but I really wish that it could happen more in this country. It's the sweetest thing to see.

On our last night, we talked about our plans already for coming back. It's just too specialer {wait, is that a word?!} place not to.

And then, it was early to bed to get packed up as we were leaving at 5.30am the next morning to drive up to Naples and catch the ferry to Capri! Although we definitely could have stayed here for another week or so, the perfect holiday kinda vibe.

Until next time, Puglia... <3

Have you been?

Back next with the Amalfi Coast instalments of this travelogue.

R <3 xx 

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