In the heart of the historic centre of Massafra there is a little jewel, the Falsopepe. This vinery and restaurant offers an unusual menu. It will surprise you with its sweet and sour dishes made with simple organic ingredients and lots of imagination.
The terrace with a view over SS Medici piazza and the sea is something that can't be missed. The place is also run by extremely nice staff.
A friend from Bari brought me to this small restaurant just outside Alberobello. From the moment you step inside, it becomes immediately obvious that this is a local fave. They serve good, hearty Pugliese Italian food at affordable prices - think 25 euros per person including wine. In the evenings, this restaurant is packed with locals - some who come all the way from Bari (a 20 minute drive away). I highly recommend their spaghetti alla carbonara, cold cut meat platter and cheese platter.
It is the best Italian restaurant I've ever been to - friendly, authentic, affordable and has a beautiful outdoor patio perfect for summer dinners.
Do be warned, though, that it is closed on Wednesdays and it is best to reserve a table before heading over to avoid disappointment.
Santa Maria al Bagno is a beautiful little town on the Ionian coast. The sea front is compact and low key, fronted by old Italian town houses which double as waterfront cafés. Here you can pick up a gelato or an Africano (espresso with Disaronno, fizzy water and ice) for the tiny but perfectly formed beach. The beach gets busy, especially at weekends, but is a fantastic spot for people watching as the crowds are an eclectic mix of bronzed locals.
I’d recommend spending the afternoon swimming in the crystal clear sea and as the sun begins to set head south a few miles down the coastal road towards Lido Conchiglie to one of the fish restaurants (one is called La Maruzella). These restaurant sit right on the water's edge and you can watch the sun disappear into the sea while enjoying their wide range of basic but delicious and incredibly fresh fish dishes (sometimes you can watch the fisherman arrive at the restaurant’s jetty with their catch and see it on your plate 30 minutes later). Bring a phrase book!
Via Cristoforo Colombo (lido conchiglie), Sannicola,
Google map: bit.ly/MsTqIW
Torre dei Preti is an agriturismo located 2km outside the beautiful coastal town of Peschici, on the north Puglian coast on the Gargarno peninsula. It's a family-run business, and owners Oscar and Lucrezia are fantastic hosts, and even more fantastic chefs.
Rooms, mostly apartment-style, are located out in the well-kept grounds, are spacious, modern and comfortable, and are kept spotlessly clean. Balconies have a view out to the ice-white buildings of Peschici framed by the blue sky and olive trees. Near to the main house is a large, well-maintained and heated swimming pool with a sun-terrace and loungers, so while Torre dei Preti is a great base from which to explore the Gargarno, it's also a lovely place to spend time relaxing.
And of course, the food, the food, the food! Half-board at Torre dei Preti is a gastronomic experience, with almost all of the food being locally sourced and expertly cooked and served with love. Breakfasts are buffet-style, with a vast array of fruits, breads, yoghurts, cheese, meats and preserves, plus juice, coffee and cake, yes, cake - and all homemade. Dinner offers a table groaning with fish, meat and vegetable antipasti, followed by a choice of primi (usually pasta or risotto) and a choice of meat or fish secondi - again, everything is local and super-fresh. If you have room after all that (which you may not, but Lucrezia will convince you otherwise) desserts are homemade and generous, or you can simply enjoy a plate of fruit and an excellent coffee. Wine, all local, is superb.
All in all a stunning find, well-priced in comparison to other agriturismi in the area - an absolute gem.
Whatever your itinerary in Puglia will be, don’t miss out this town. It is a real gem cast on a cliff overlooking the Adriatic sea. You can have a cheap and delicious ice cream at Il Super Mago del Gelo topped up with coffee whipped cream and hazelnuts praline or a pricey and succulent dinner at Donna Gina listening to the waves crushing on the bay. Now that you have satisfied your appetite head into the old town and reach one of the terraces while reading about the poetry of 'Guido il Flaneur' painted on the old houses’ walls, because this must be the place.
A beautiful restaurant/bar overlooking Polignano's old town. It's OTT italian chic and a bit pricey, but come here in the evening to see one of the most spectacular sunsets in the region. After dinner walk down the authentically dilapidated roman road to a pebble-beached cove, to enjoy the view of the caves and the old town built into them. The sounds of the sea, the giggles of young locals, and the odd poorly but enthusiastically played guitar.
Viale San Francesco D'Assisi n.c. - Polignano a Mare (Ba)
It is simply the best fish restaurant in Salento, south Puglia. I have lived here for 10 years and am always on the look out for a good fish restaurant. Freshly caught fish by fisherman owner. Very small so book in advance by phone (if you don't speak Italian send an SMS!) These guys don't do computers. It is extremely basic in decor and the quality of fish and how it is cooked is a sublime experience. If you like fancy, forget it. And then get out of Salento, because Salento doesn't do fancy.
Go for a swim in the port before lunch. Do not be put off by switched on televisions in restaurants in Salento however much they annoy you - they prove the place is run by a local family offering good local food. I have a friend who only eats in restaurants where the TV is switched on. He is very well fed.
Lungomare Critstoforo Colombo, 73040 Tricase Porto
+39 (0)339 7984291
Google map: bit.ly/MrmeGD
Come see the locals dancing the tango in the town square of this beautiful hill top village and if you are feeling hungry visit La Taverna del Duca for excellent rustic Puglian food and wine. Bellissimo!
Via Papatotero, 3, 70010 Locorotondo, Italy
The best place to base yourself in Puglia is a trulli and I think you would be hard pushed to find one more idyllic than Trulli Stella. It's a little off the beaten track and surrounded by farmland, olive groves and locals escaping (from nearby Ceglie) to the country for the weekend. More importantly it has it's own fully equipped outside kitchen and pizza oven and if you like, Maria, the trulli's manager, will visit with her mother, and cook you an amazing meal with enough food to last you for the entire week using ingredients from the garden and the local market.
When you can bring yourself to leave the tranquility of the trulli you are truly spoilt for choice as to where you head. There's the market cafe at Locorotondo where you can pop in for a sweet cake and deliciously strong espresso, before heading into the market to buy more ingredients for cooking those long leisurely lunches in your trulli. You can join the locals doing their morning shopping in nearby St Michele, but be aware you need to be assertive in the bakery queue if you don't want all the good bread to be sold before you get your turn.
A trip to the coast is essential and Villanova di Ostuni has some of the best local beaches: crystal clear waters, acres of white sand and a sweet marina where you can choose between a glass of icy cold rose at the local bar or a gelato on the other side of the square.
The white washed, hill top town of Cisternino is not to be missed; head to Pizzeria Da Angelo for some delicious wood fired pizza, sitting down to eat among the local teenagers, young families and grandparents alike. Take a stroll after dinner to listen to music playing in the piazza, or come back during the day to explore its warren of back streets and alleyways.
Finally no trip to Puglia is complete without participating in the evening passeggiata and there is no place better for this than Martina Franca with its mixture of shops and wonderful architecture. Sit with a glass of beer in the main square and absorb the wonderfully convivial spectacle.
This local trattoria does the most amazing seafood! The grilled octopus is to die for. The atmosphere is jovial and the place no nonsense, offering great value food that really stands out from the rest especially in this town which is full of great seafood places. It was so good that when we came back to Bari a year after visiting this place for the first time, we spent an hour trying to find it and squeeze in a last minute lunch before catching the plane back.
Vico X Corsioli, 3, 70122 Bari, Italia
+39 080 5289382
Google map: bit.ly/O3YBSS
Santa Maria al Bagno is a beautiful little town on the Ionian coast. The seafront is compact and low key, fronted by old Italian town houses-cum-waterfront cafés. Here you can pick up a gelato or an Africano (espresso with Disaronno, fizzy water and ice) for the tiny but perfectly formed beach. The beach gets busy, especially at weekends but is a fantastic spot for people watching as the crowds are an eclectic mix of bronzed locals, young and old.
I’d recommend spending the afternoon swimming in the crystal clear sea and wait to watch the sun begin to set into the sea before heading south a few miles down the coastal road towards Lido Conchiglie to the fish restaurant, La Maruzella. This restaurant sits right on the water's edge and you can watch the sun disappear into the sea while enjoying their wide range of basic but delicious and incredibly fresh fish dishes (sometimes you can watch the fisherman arrive at the restaurant’s jetty with their catch and see it on your plate 30 minutes later).
Fantastic restaurant that's in what appears to be a private house. It seems to be run by a bunch of friendly, bustling, chatting women - it's like being invited into an Italian family's private meal. The restaurant serves Salentino 'cucina povera' specialities which are all superb. No English spoken so just wait for what the kitchen brings out: blanched chicory in white bean puree (we were shown by a very kindly waitress how to blend it with olive oil and crumbly fried bread) ; home-made oreccheitte di cima di rape; potatoes baked with mussels and cheese. Dish after dish appears. See if you can find my old BBC business card stuck among the hundreds in the walls of the dining room! A neighbouring diner with some English insisted we have a glass of a local tipple with our expresso. It was on the house. One of the best lunches we've ever had.
Via Colonnello Archimede Costadura, 19
73100 Lecce, Italy
+39 0832 245178
Google map: bit.ly/N2vaUb
This is a lovely restaurant set near the gorgeous village of Peschici (at Punta San Nicola), with a beautiful view of the bay and sunset if you go there for dinner. The trabucco is an old fishing structure typical of the Gargano. This restaurant offers fresh fish and is a great place to end a hard day at the beach. The sunset views are to die for. Finish off with a gelato in Peschici itself.
Localitá Punta San Nicola - 71010 Peschici (Gargano)
+39 0884 962556
This little taverna is hidden away down the back of the cathedral, on one of the tiny white wash streets. All that is visible on the street is a sign and gateway, with steep steps leading down into the dark.
My mother and I had the most fantastic meal here that we've ever had in Italy in the eight years we've been visiting.
With only three choices for a primo course (and no English!) we made our pick and had an amazing meal of wild boar ragu, and black rice with spinach.
Drinks were served in homely terracotta mugs and jugs.
Dessert was a delicious pannacotta with chocolate sauce, so delicate and artistically dressed with sugar flowers.
The only down side (for my mum) was that they were unable to serve coffee as they did not have a coffee machine, but that may have changed now - being as we visited in 2009.
Prices were reasonable, and the location was stunning - the taverna is perched on descending steep steps, with white washed terraces and flowers in full bloom.
We knew we were on to a winner when the placed filled with Italian customers and locals.
A fantastic location, in a beautiful city, with amazing food!
The Masseria Fumarola is a converted masseria, now a beautiful boutique hotel. Every room is unique in its style and decoration and trully delightful. The outside space at the Masseria is fantastic, from a drink on the terrace, al-fresco eating, to the beautiful pool and the surrounding fields. It all adds to your feeling of well being.
But most importantly, the food there is divine!! From the breakfast offering which I still dream off; the amazing cakes (you have to try the carrot cake) to the best ever antipasti buffet ever seen in my life. If I could only eat Masseria Fumarola's antipasti & cake selection, I will have reached heaven.
The restaurant is called Bina and it's located in the cutest town of all Puglia: Locorotondo. Bina is all about providing amazing local Puglia produce; beautiful mouth watering dishes combined with fantastic service. We even had the pleasure to meet Bina. If only it was closer, I'd be there every week.
As the name says, eat all you can for one fixed price. Good on veggie food and Indian cuisine. Cheap drinks make it ideal for a group.
This crumbling medieval town sits beside one of the "gravine" (ravines) which score the landscape on the border between Puglia and Basilicata. Hewn from the rock on which they stand, many of the buildings are worth seeking out; look for the church of San Michele delle Grotte and the osteria Grano e Vino. Cave dwellings found in the gorge are said to date back to the bronze age and are typical of the whole area. The big attraction for outdoorsy types is the nearby Alta Murgia National Park, an environmentally protected plateau. Excursions can be arranged from the town.
Via Firenze, 10 - 70024 Gravina in Puglia (BARI)
+39 080 3262268
Google map: bit.ly/MeFkzF
Osteria Grano e Vino:
Via Fontana la Stella, 39, 70024 Gravina in Puglia (BARI)
+39 (0)80 237 74 84
Google map: bit.ly/MYjgdN
What's not to love about this beautiful Italian seaside town in the province of Puglia?! The organic nature of the buildings in the centro storico, morphing from the limestone cliff tops offer a spectacular view from the bridge over Covo dei Seraceni or from one of the multiple balconies, out to the vast azure of the Adriatic ocean. The hometown of Volare's Domenico Modugno has become famous of late for its associations with Red Bull diving and the hotel Grotto Palazzese with its restaurant that sits nestled amongst the escarpments but we much prefer it's simple pleasures. Evening strolls among the narrow, labyrinthine streets, pizzas at Terra Marique or piadine (Italian flatbread filled and folded with your preferred choice) at Il Gabelliere, followed by a gelato in one of the many ice cream parlours dotted among the town - with even potato flavour on the menu at Peppino's Bar if it takes your fancy! Swimming, of course, features high on the agenda but take heed and take a pair of jelly shoes to brave the stony shores - you have been warned. If you want a taste of la dolce vita, quite simply, look no further.
Discover where the creator of Italy's famous song "Volare" got his inspiration in this small town just south of Bari. We love to wander around the little streets of the whitewashed medieval centre, perched precariously on the edge of the limestone cliffs and watch the waves crashing against the rocks beneath. For a truly special experience, eat at the Grotta Palazzese – this ‘summer cave’ with its views over the Adriatic was carved out of the rocks by a local lord to create a party venue in the 1700s.
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