WHY PUGLIA SHOULD BE YOUR FAVOURITE AUTUMN DESTINATION
As Autumn settles here in Holland, temperatures drop, and it seems like we encounter a little rain almost every day. Man, do we crave a sunny escape, and it doesn’t have to be far. Puglia, a region located in the far southeast – ‘the heel’ of Italy – is gaining popularity for all the right reasons.
It’s an ideal destination to explore, especially during Autumn. As the summer’s heat gently slips away Puglia will continue to warm your heart. If you’re planning an autumn trip to Puglia, don’t miss out on these destinations. And, of course, add to your experience by enjoying the best restaurants and aperitivo spots.
Discovering enchanting towns and the best aperitivo spots
The crowds thin, and the landscapes take on warm, golden hues. Many claim that the local cuisine reaches its peak during this season, thanks to the harvest in September and October. With temperatures lingering around a pleasant 26 degrees Celsius, you can still enjoy the beautiful beaches and, if you are lucky, the seawater will be nice and warm from the hot summer. But first, let’s start with the enchanting towns you shouldn’t miss on your trip.
Lecce: The Florence of the south
Lecce, often acclaimed “Florence of the South,” invites visitors with its beautiful Baroque architecture. The historic center is a maze of intricate details, charming alleyways, and hidden gems, seamlessly blending history and modern Italian life. Stroll the cobblestone streets and don’t miss a visit to the bustling Piazza del Duomo, where the Lecce Cathedral takes center stage. Puglia, along with the Veneto region, is a big player in Italy’s wine production scene. The area around Lecce is overflowing with wineries, making it a perfect place to go out and explore a vineyard. But if you prefer staying in town, there are also plenty of cozy wine bars where you can enjoy some fantastic local wines without needing to hop into a car.
Where to dine: Restaurant Blu Notte, Vecchia Osteria, La Cucina di Mamma Elvira
Aperitivo spots: Alvino, Quanto Basta
Ostuni: The white city
Perched atop a hill, Ostuni is a mesmerizing destination known as the “White City” of Puglia. Its white painted buildings create a striking contrast against the blue sky. The panoramic view over the surrounding countryside, will leave you in awe. If you feel a bit touristy, be sure to take a Piaggo tour through the city, crossing by all the highlights. The best spot for an aperitivo here is Avenida 40. The cheeses and charcuterie are simply amazing and even better combined with a cocktail and a grand view over the countryside, while still being surrounded by the liveliness of the old town.
Where to dine: Il Posto Affianco
Aperitivo spots: Avenida40
Mesagne: Puglia’s hidden gem
Mesagne is truly a hidden gem in Puglia with its charming historic center, encircled by ancient walls. The town is known for its rich gastronomy, with local specialties and wines to savor. Mesagne hosts traditional festivals and lively markets, providing a glimpse into the vibrant local life. The town’s strategic location makes it an ideal base for exploring the broader region of Puglia.
Where to dine: Osteria del Leone, Ristorante Guidomino
Aperitivo spots: La Pecora Nera
Alberobello: A fairytale town
Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Puglia, is renowned for its trulli houses. These unique, conical-roofed structures give the town its distinct character. Alberobello is not only an architectural wonder but also a hub for local artisans, offering handcrafted goods and regional delicacies. As you stroll through its picturesque streets, you’ll feel transported back in time. Be sure to be on time though as it is a popular destination to visit, so it will be very crowded in the afternoon.
Where to dine: Restaurant L’Aratro, Trullo D’Oro, Trattoria Terra Madre
Aperitivo spots: Trulli e Puglia Wine bar
Best beaches in Puglia according to locals
While the autumn chill may have arrived, Puglia’s coastline still amazes. The locals know the best spots, and we’ve uncovered a couple for you to explore.
Porto Cesareo is located on the west coast of the Salento peninsula. Spiaggia di Torre Lapillo is a coastal gem just 28 km from the city center of Lecce. In the same area you will find Goa Beach and Togo Bay Beach which you can check out if you are looking for a more luxurious beach experience.
Spiaggia di Pescoluse
In the far south of Puglia, you’ll find Pescoluse, a beach destination that’s like Puglia’s own version of the Maldives. With its beautiful white sands and dreamy blue waters, it’s simply paradise.
Polignano a mare
In Polignano a Mare, you’ll find one of Puglia’s most stunning bays. With many caves perfect for snorkeling and diving, and several sandy beaches hidden among the rocks. The Blue Flag beach is a hit with the locals, and Lama Monachille and Cala Ponte Marina are also worth a visit.
*Written by Renée Engbersen, a freelance journalist with a passion for travel & food. She will discover the world for us!