One of the best things about Puglia is that, for the most part, it’s relatively untouched by commercial tourism – you’re not going to find a Hilton or Four Seasons here and that’s the beauty of it. With Italy specifically, I like to find the places where Italian’s vacation. That’s how I landed on Ischia a few years ago and Puglia this year. It felt laid back and (for the most part) unpretentious, like I was amongst Italians and other Europeans simply enjoying their vacation.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to Puglia I highly recommended it. We went in what technically is the off-season (probably more shoulder season) so it wasn’t as busy as it can be. From what I read, typically July, August, and early September are the busiest times. It was a bit of a haul to get there, especially coming from the West Coast of the US, but once you’re in Europe it’s not too bad. We took a two hour flight from Paris directly to Bari where we rented a car for the entire time that we were there.


We opted to stay in hotels mostly because we didn’t want to bother with cooking or finding food every night, but I would love to go back and rent a villa with friends or family – there are some amazing looking ones!

Our two home bases while staying in Puglia were La Peschiera {north} and Palazzo Daniella {south}.  La Peschiera was wonderful simply for it’s direct beach front access and amazing pool, but I wouldn’t say the food was anything to write home about.  Then again I’m far from their standard eater.  I certainly appreciated the various juices in the morning! Their vegan options for dinner and lunch could use some work though.  

Palazzo Daniela far exceed my expectations in every aspect; from the staff, to the food {it’s rare that I like hotel food}, to the linens and body products. {You can view a quick walk through here.} It’s located in Gagliano del Capo, a small town that, aside from the hotel, felt very much so populated by locals. It felt like I was staying at a well-curated home and integrated into their family.  And don’t get me started on the property – it’s as stunning as it looks. 


Explore Polignano a Mare – Day one we popped over to Polignano a Mare for lunch and to check out the town.  Perhaps it was the late afternoon sun or that it was our first day out in Italy, but it was quiet lovely to stroll the streets and take in the water front. 

Explore Alberobello – One of the things that Puglia is more or less known for is ‘trulli’ and the town of Alberobello has a fair amount of them.  A bit touristy for my liking {we had hoped to get there earlier in the day}, but nonetheless cool to see.  The best part about our time in Alberobello was by far our lunch.  More on that below. 

Rented A Boat at Santa Maria di Leuca – after our excursion in Ischia, rented a boat without a skipper has become one of our favorite things to do on vacation.  We explored the coast and it’s many caves for a while, but otherwise spent most of the time anchored in the ocean so that we could splash around in the Adriatic. 

Orecchiette Cooking Class at Palazzo Daniela – After making our way down south to the Salento area we booked ourselves a pasta making class {something we had yet to do despite our previous trips to Italy} to learn how to make the local pasta – orecchiette. Again, far exceeded my expectations. Chef Ana {the resident chef at Palazzo Daniella} is quiet literally a bundle of joy and her kitchen was a blast to be in.  While another member of the kitchen translated, she taught us how to make orecchiette pomodoro the way her mother used to make it.  We capped off the night with a 3 course meal with a bottle of red by the pool.

Morning swim at Il Ciolo – One of the mornings we popped over to the coast near Palazzo Daniella for a hike to discover an unassuming “beach” tucked under the highway.  We sat on the rocky shore, taking in the locals morning gossip and snorkeling before diving in ourselves and swimming over to a nearby cave. 

Beach time at ‘Maldives of Italy’ – I couldn’t go to Puglia and not checkout the beach on the west coast of the Peninsula.  Because it was the shoulder season, (beach name) otherwise known as the “Maldives of Italy” was not as packed as they normally are so we got to enjoy the clear waters and sandy shores without much fuss. 

Massage at Palazzo Daniela – Our last day in Puglia we were so beat from the previous 6 days of exploring, driving, and figuring out where to park and eat, that we decided spend the day hanging out at the hotel.  I took the opportunity to get a massage in the morning and I’m so glad that I did.  Again, far exceeded my expectations {I have pretty low standards for hotel massages unless that’s the hotels bread and butter}.


Mint – A quaint little lunch spot in Polignano a Mare that had lots of vegan options.  I went with the chickpea quiche and side salad and finished it off with an espresso and vegan creme brûlée 

Le Carrube – One of my favorite dinners in Puglia.  The restaurant is entirely vegetarian and could easily accommodate dairy-free and gluten-free*.  They also source everything either from their garden or near by and make most everything in house.  

Terra Madre – Another top contender for best meal and the highlight of our time in Alberobello.  Everything is from their garden {either on-site or near by} and is designed to highlight their seasonal vegetables.  The meal started with 7-8 fixed starters and finished with an entree of your choice.  We practically had to be rolled out of there we were so full.  

La Calce at Borgo Egnazia – Even if you don’t eat at either of their restaurants, I highly recommend stopping by just to see the property – it’s stun-ning.  We sat outside in a little nook looking over their pool, which, I could only imagine is beautiful during the day time.  Our meal was delicious and the service was even better {their attention to detail and dietary modifications was top notch}.

Palazzo Daniela – We had dinner here several nights, lunch a few days, breakfast every morning and of course, cocktails {the only place I’ve had a Negroni that I liked}.  They were super accommodating and respectful of us being dairy-free and egg-free and even made us sandwiches to take with us when we checked. 

Ristorante Santa Maria – A beach front spot great for an easy lunch and afternoon spritz. Food was pretty average {not bad, not mind blowing}, but the view was *chefs kiss*.

Il Tempo Nuovo at Castello di Ugento – I had high hopes for this restaurant since they have a professional cooking school on site, but honestly, it wasn’t earth shattering for me.  The dishes were certainly creative {very Chef’s Table vibe}, but I didn’t leave thinking “that was the best meal of my life”.  I always wasn’t impressed with their non-dairy and vegan options {or lack there of}. 

*{I’ll usually eat gluten in Europe because it doesn’t bother me as much, but sometimes I like to try restaurants gluten-free options, especially if they’re making them in house}

Planned, But Didn’t Get To

Lecce – It’s supposed to be the “Florence of the South”.  I would love to walk around Old Town whenever we go back. 

Otranto – One of the many coastal towns and provinces of Lecce and another one that I would love to stroll around in the afternoon. 

Taverna del Porto – I had every intention of taking us here, but I totally blanked on making a lunch reservation ahead of time and they were booked by the time that we got there.  It looks like amazing seafood in a cute little port town. 

Gotta della Poesia {near-ish Lecce} – A swimming spot near Lecce that looked cool!

October 15, 2021



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