Charming towns, stunning landscapes, long siestas and mouthwatering Italian cuisine are just some of the characteristics that make Southern Italy a must-see!
Referred to as the “Mezzogiorno” or “Midday” region, Southern Italy consists of the provinces of Abruzzi, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basicilata and Calabria, as well as the Islands of Sardinia and Sicily. The entire region is also known for the intensity of sunshine during summer months, leading to much longer lunch and siesta times. This factor combined with other characteristics such as more simple Italian dishes and a much slower pace of life make Southern Italy a lot more traditional and authentic.
I absolutely love Italy and it is certainly one of my favourite countries that I have visited. After my short trip to Puglia, I was so moved by the tiny towns filled with so much charm and unique atmosphere that Southern Italy completely stole my heart!
Located in the heel of the boot, Puglia is the perfect off-the-beaten-path location offering beautiful hidden gems. My short trip of just four days was absolutely not enough to cover everything that this stunning region with ancient towns, charming narrow alleys, fairy-tale resembling houses, seas of olive trees and welcoming, genuine locals, has to offer.
Keep reading and find 40 stunning photos of 4 lovely little towns in Puglia, which will inspire your wanderlust to plan a trip to Southern Italy!
Sitting on the Adriatic Sea, Bari is not only a major port town, but also the capital of the Puglia Region.
Compared to the other towns located in the Southern regions of Italy, Bari has been developing steadily and is now one of the top commercial centers in the country. As a result, Bari has become an important transportation hub with an international airport served by various European Airlines.
Even though getting to Bari is now extremely easy, the capital of the Puglia region is often overlooked by tourists.
Bari may not have as many tourist attractions as other Italian cities. The stunning old town of Bari – Bari Vecchia, with its small winding cobblestone street is certainly worth the visit! You will step back in time as you enter the ancient part of the town fortified by thick walls. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the old town has barely changed and yet the old streets are still bursting with life and vividness. Follow the twisting alleys and you will find yourself in the center of a small piazza. Locals live in small houses with wide open front doors barely covered by semi-transparent curtains. The tiny streets smell like fresh laundry hanging over the little balconies.
If you are planning a visit around Southern Italy and the Puglia Region, Bari is the perfect starting point. Completely immerse yourself into the Italian life and habits, become an explorer and travel to the nearby small towns via train. You will not regret it!
With its unusual Trullo architecture found nowhere else, Alberobelo looks like a town from a magical world.
Alberobelo is home to more than 1500 unique trullo buildings. Dating back to the 14th Century, these dry-stone buildings are characterized by their whitewashed walls and conical roofs.
The prehistoric building method used to construct the trulli makes them extraordinary and as a result they have been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The trulli in Alberobelo are spread across two districts – Rione Aia Piccola and Rione Monti.
For a more authentic and better tourist experience, explore the hidden streets of Rione Aia Piccola, where trulli are still used as private residential homes. Rione Monti, on the other hand, is the commercial area of the town with a large number of shops and restaurants.
Alberobelo’s architecture is truly unique. Wander through the winding streets and admire the beautiful views of the town. Get lost in between the narrow alleys of this small fairy-tale town. This is the best way to explore Alberobelo and enjoy its charming atmosphere.
Lying on the border between the regions of Puglia and Basilicata, Matera is most popular for its unusual limestone carved houses.
The ancient town of Matera, known as Sassi di Matera, consists of two neighborhoods with a complex system of cave dwellings.
With its unique and authentic atmosphere, Matera has been announced as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. The town was also one of the European Capitals of Culture in 2019.
Matera’s history is quite extraordinary. The Sassi di Matera is known as one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world. Evidence has been found proving that the area was inhabited as early as 7000 BC, however, it is commonly believed that people lived there much earlier.
Before the 1950s, the Sassi Di Matera was known for its poverty and bad conditions. People were even living in caves with donkeys without any electricity or running water. Thus, the prime minister declared the town “the shame of Italy” and the residents were forced to move to the new developing part of the town.
Approximately 30 years later, the district started a restoration program and many of the caves were transformed into restaurants, cafes and accommodations. Nowadays, Matera is continuously gaining popularity among tourists. As you are strolling down the narrow cobble-stone alleys between houses piled on top of each other, you will feel like you have stepped back in time.
Built on top of a hill and surrounded by fortified ancient walls, Ostuni is also known as “the White Town”.
The old part of the town is a maze of narrow alleys, tiny staircases and arches. White houses with colourful wooden doors and window shutters are hidden behind every corner.
Tiny staircases have been transformed into private little gardens with pots of red and pink flowers and green cacti.
Ostuni is not as popular among tourists and has a very chill, relaxed atmosphere. The locals are extremely laid back and no one seems to be in a rush. It is a real pleasure just to stroll down the streets of Ostuni and experience a more authentic and simple way of life in Southern Italy!
Each of these four towns – Bari, Matera, Alberobelo and Ostuni has its own charm and quirky atmosphere. Even though they are all located in the Puglia region and just a few kilometres away from each other, they are all so different and unique. This short four day trip to Southern Italy left me awestruck and stunned once again by the beautiful Italian towns. I am certainly planning to go back to Puglia and explore the other tiny towns of this off-the-beaten-path region!
Have you been to Southern Italy and the Puglia region? Which towns did you manage to visit? Did you enjoy the slower pace of life in Southern Italy? Please share in the comments section below!