Pix of the trip: Puglia
Chalkmarks: Alberobello, Puglia, Italy, July 2023

It was a very warm welcome to Bari in July with the Italian summer on full blast. It was so hot, we never saw a cloud in the sky for two weeks. As the mercury nudged towards 40C, the unofficial advice was to stay by the pool or in the sea. It was either take a splash or get drenched in sweat, just walking around. Our happy place was in the shade and – even better – indoors under the air conditioning. Some days we only went out at sunset when the temperature dropped – just like the Italians do. But on others, to keep cool, we devoured gelato and ordered Aperol Spritz (in bulk) and sat in the piazzas – just like the tourists do. Over the years, we have spent lots of time in Italy with trips to the Aeolian Islands, Emilia-Romagna, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria and Venice. But we didn’t expect to see what we found in Puglia, on the southeastern tip. It has fewer visitors compared to the west coast with its call of Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, Herculaneum, Naples, or the bank-busting Amalfi Coast and Capri but Puglia too has all the goodies and could easily win in the battle for the hottest Insta-backdrop. We stayed in Bari, the capital of the region, but we also travelled around – to Polignano a Mare, famous for its cliff diving, the Unesco village of Alberobello (see above), Monopoli, Gallipoli, Lecce, and Santa Maria di Leuca, right down on the heel where you can take a boat trip and swim in two magnificent seas: the Adriatic and the Ionian. It’s so undiscovered even Lonely Planet hasn’t been here. This underrated region is set to become Italy’s next big destination. Head for the heel! How Bari is the gateway to Italy’s best kept secret.

Here are our favourite pictures from Puglia!

Come on in! The water’s warm in Monopoli
Bellissima: Bell tower of Cathedral Maria Santissima della Madia in Monopoli
Secret Italy: The Unesco World Heritage Site, Alberobello
Ultimate high: Polignano a Mare, famous for its cliff diving
Summer holidays: A packed beach in Polignano a Mare
Chalkmarks: Spiaggia della Purità, Gallipoli, Puglia, Italy, July 2023
Bird’s-eye view: Spiaggia della Purita, Gallipoli
Summer escape: The narrow streets of Monopoli
Seas the day: The great dividing line between the Adriatic (left) and Ionian (right)
Suspended in time: Roman amphitheatre in the heart of Lecce
Italy’s secret isle: The Angevine-Aragonese castle of Gallipoli
Chalkmarks: Santa Maria di Leuca, Puglia, Italy
Water-view: Looking down on the harbour in Santa Maria di Leuca
Hot summer nights: Diners emerges after sunset
Chalkmarks: Old Town, Bari, Puglia, Italy
Streetness and light: Old Town, Bari
Green, white and red: Building lit up in the colours of the the Italian flag in Brindisi
What do you call a dinosaur that plays the piano?
Perfect Puglia: Città Vecchia (Old Town), Bari
Trying to decide: Couple reading the menu outside a restaurant in Bari’s Old City
Divine: Lecce Cathedral
Chalkmarks: Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy
Paddling in paradise: Sunbathers and swimmers at Polignano a Mare
Chalkmarks: The night sky in Bari Old Town, Puglia, Italy, July 2023
Blue sky thinking: The night sky in Bari Old Town
Chalkmarks: Santa Maria di Leuca, Puglia, Italy
On tap: Summer sun in Santa Maria di Leuca