Picture Perfect Puglia
I’ve been to south Puglia (Gallipoli, Salento area) and north Puglia (Vieste and Tremiti islands in Gargano area) so it was only fair that this year I give central Puglia a go!
Polignano al Mare has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy and has recently become a household name after American soap opera Bold & the Beautiful (known as Beautiful in Italy) filmed a few episodes here last year.
We wanted to visit the beach and were hell-bent on finally visiting the Trulli houses in Alberobello. So we instead decided to stay in Monopoli – a bigger town with a little more buzz located about 10 minutes drive from Polignano al Mare, 35 minutes from Alberobello and 50 minutes from Bari.
Here’s what we got up to:
What can I say about this town other than nothing can prepare you for it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’d seen pictures but it’s just truly spectacular. While trulli houses can be seen throughout Puglia, Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It looks like a smurf village!
Trulli are like dry stone huts with cone roofs. Their origins lie in the theory that dry wall constructions could be easily dismantled when inspectors came around to avoid paying high property taxes. Watching the sun set over this white washed old town was a moment I won’t soon forget.
It was really hard to capture but these short clips will give you an idea:
The postcard perfect cove at Polignano al Mare sure gets busy but it’s worth it. Stunning from every angle we spent an afternoon here battling with the rocky entrance to beautiful pristine waters.
Capitolo is the local Monopoli beach stabilimento area (beach clubs with sunbeds, food and beverage services). We spent most of our days here at one called Sabbia d’Oro. The water was warm like a bath. A little choppy but turquoise and crystal clear.
Orecchiette, burrata & more
Because of its terrain, Puglia is the region in Italy which produces the most olive oil. And put simply, it’s amazing. Everywhere you go, the oil, whatever it’s serves with and the fresh produce in general is of outstanding quality. Orecchiette pasta is the staple pasta dish and being on the coast we had our fair share of seafood.
The amazing food started with a panino of roasted eggplant with cheese and lard on arrival and ended with creamy burrata with a whole lot of other treats in between!
One of the highlight dinners – because of the location and view – was at Grotta Palazzese in Polignano al Mare. Part of a hotel, this restaurant is set inside a grotto.
It was pretty damn special. Food was just ok (saying that is even a stretch), but how many times in your life are you going to eat inside a grotto??
The actual ‘because-of-the-food’ highlight dinner was in Alberobello at La Cantina. The kitchen is located in the dining area so you see your food being prepared fresh in front of you. The mix of antipasti was fantastic, the orecchiette with fresh tomatoes and ricotta to die for and the sfogliatina with crema (delicate pastry with homemade custard) the perfect finish.
Another food highlight was the burrata. Creamy off cuts of buffalo mozzarella filled with cream – need I say more? It’s local to this area and the best one we found wasn’t at a restaurant but at a small family run alimentari (food store). For €3 (total!) we sat and had a pre-dinner snack – burrata, fresh bread and taralli (round shaped snacks similar to bread sticks and found throughout Puglia).
The pre-serata as Italians like to call it (drinks after dinner but before going out to dance) takes place at Cafe Venezia in Piazza Garibaldi (which was also where our hotel Palazzo Indelli was conveniently located). We headed back to Sabbia d’Oro (which by night turns into a dance club) and danced the night away to Italian tunes of the 70s, 80s & 90s (for those of you who know Italian music, think Raffaella Carrà, Ricchi e Poveri & Renato Zero!) after a special guest performance by DJ Wankelmut and Emma Louise (ironically from Australia – their track My Head is a Jungle is currently a massive summer track in Europe).
With our eating, drinking, swimming and food appetite well and truly whet, the first leg of our south Italian coast holiday came to close.
Until we meet again Puglia.
Signing off (a long way from Trastevere)