Who doesn’t love quaint towns?? If you are in Italy or traveling there anytime soon, this list is a keeper. You will feel blessed to be in a country with so many varied choices of charming towns. Although this list is not exhaustive, it certainly includes many of my favorites. I will keep adding more to this list as and when I can. If you have any favorites, feel free to share 🙂
With an annual chocolate and jazz festival to its kitty, Perugia is quite a catch. It is still quite unknown to a first time Italy traveler so take a chance next time you are in Italy. Visit this medieval town before it gets run down by mass tourism and selfie sellers.
Deep in the green heart of Italy and quite close to Perugia is another small town with an ancient castle, a single yet fabulous Bar and the historic convent of La Scarzuola. Need I say more? For more details check this.
Gubbio is Gothic, strange and charming at the same time. It belongs to the Pre Roman era and has a beautifully preserved Roman theatre at the entrance. Although slightly difficult to access, there are regular buses to reach Gubbio from Perugia and the region of Marche.
Tuscany has a special magic to it and there are countless towns in the region with something special. Monteriggioni is one such town, off the beaten track from the usual towns of Pisa, Siena, Montepulciano, Volterra that most travelers visit. This Tuscan town is walled and has an old world feel with its small piazza.
Liguria is filled with colored houses and expanse of the Ligurian sea. Popular because of the Cinque Terre too, travelers overlook the little gem of Portovenere. The town is close to the main city of La Spezia hence easy to reach. It has a stupendous sea view, an old castle and history from Lord Byron’s times. Check here to know more.
This town deserves attention. Only 30 minutes from the under appreciated Trieste, Muggia is precious. It is well known for sea food and has small yatches and boats clung to the sea giving an inkling of an Enid Blyton adventure.
A town every chocolate lover must visit even though there are so many in Italy that its hard to keep track. Modica is special because its a town in Sicily- a region so diverse that it puts the rest of the country’s diversity into perspective for me. The locals are usually home by 8 p.m. and its fun to wander the streets by yourself.
Another Sicilian town that needs attention from foreign visitors is Scicli. It is so quaint and forlorn that you will feel slightly biased for it once you are back. It has ancient cave dwellings and crude cliffs. You might probably see men at the piazza more as women stay confined to their homes and probably gossip or cook.
Probably everyone’s favorite because of its colorful vibe, Burano is only half an hour from Venice. It is famous for handmade lace and bussola which is a kind of a biscuit. According to legend, the island was colored so that the fishermen could find their way in the fog.
Perched on a hill top and filled with white lanes and maze like streets, Locorotondo will outsmart every other town you visit in Puglia. Make sure you have its local wine and visit the nearby olive groves and trulli homes in Alberobello.
Ciao a tutti! Hello everyone!
Hope you enjoy a selection of pictures from my Instagram this month. Would love to hear your favorites 🙂
In my past posts you would have read about Gio and Francesco from Green Italy Tours (picture below) who very happily showed me around Puglia. One of my favorite places that I visited with them was the adorable town of Alberobello.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 1996, Alberobello is a fairy tale town in the Itria Valley of Puglia. The entire town is dotted with little cone shaped homes called “Trullo” (plural: Trulli) which makes it a very popular tourist destination. See for yourself 🙂
I walked around the town and saw the Hobbit type homes and shops lined with neat colored pots of flowers and creepers. The locals were warm and welcomed us to their shops to showcase hand made products. I bought two sets of beautiful hand made table mats for home along wiith a few postcards.
It was enchanting to be in a town like Alberobello where people were going about their normal life. For instance I heard a couple fighting about the way lunch was made from inside a trullo. It wasn’t pleasant to the ears 😉
Next time my wish is to spend a night in a “Trullo” and feel like a Hobbit 😀
I have always believed that 24 hours does not do justice to any town/city. Especially if one has time at their disposal, one must make the most of seeing and living a place.
This is what I wanted to do in Polignano a mare– a seaside town that is made on a limsetone rock. So I checked places to stay online and narrowed in on B&B Grottone– a quaint B&B in the heart of the town on a quiet ancient street.
I emailed the owner, Gianni, who was quick to revert to me with information about the town and his B&B. He was patient till I decided and not only gave me a blogger discount but also a superb room at his B&B. I stayed in Grottone’s Attico for 3 nights and couldn’t be more pleased. I had a huge terrace for myself, a kitchen to cook in and a nice yet tastefully done bedroom.
I wanted to relax and make the most of my time.
I reached Polignano in the afternoon after a lovely day trip with Green Italy Tours. Gio, me and Francesca (whom I wrote about earlier) had a lazy stroll through the town and after checking in and meeting Gianni, we went to see the statue of the famous singer Domenico Mudungo. A celebrity in his home town and singer of the famous song “Volare” Dominco’s Volare continues in my head as I write 🙂
Green Italy Tours was so helpful to me throughout my Puglia trip and while I was bidding goodbye to Gio and Francesca they suggested me places to eat in Polignano. I was on my own after that where I had a an aperitivo at Bar Millenium – a popular bar in the centre which also turned out to be my breakfast place for the next three days.
I went to see the main Piazza after my drink and went to a local shop where I bought lovely jewellery. The owner Rosanna and I befriended each other immediately and even though I am not very good with my Italian, she and I knew how to make each laugh.
On my second day I woke up early to a fabulous sunrise on the terrace, I made coffee and enjoyed the view of the sea. It was exceptionally quiet and I savoured it fully. On reaching Bar Millennium at around 9 I found it to be full. The clink of glasses, smell of fresh coffee and the hustle bustle of a daily commuter made me smile 🙂
A German couple – Marlen and Ken sat next to me and we ended up talking about the town only to realize we were staying in the same B&B. It was great chatting with them and their two kids – Pepita and Tillmann were an eye candy. We eventually decided to hit the beach and relax together because why not 🙂
That walk to the beach and then the soothing color of the water gave me goosebumps. It was lovely basking in the sun at the beach and relishing the sweet life. La dolce vita!
After a couple of hours we went around the town to the Piazza for some people watching. A fresh fruit serving at Joya Canti di Stagione was enough to help us from the strong sun.
It was around 2 p.m. when I decided to head for lunch while my companions chose to go back to the room and attend to the kids. Here’s my lunch of blue cheese pizza along with a glass of Puglian vino rosso- Negroamaro.
It was a long savoring lunch and I got time for some reading. Around 4 p.m. I was back in the room for a nap and the evening was spent shopping, gelato tasting and more people watching. Dinner was at a restaurant Gianni had recommended to me for its seafood.
After another long breakfast with my friends from Germany at Bar Millennium we went to see a vintage car exhibition (more on that later). This was again followed by more eating and people watching at the piazza.
After some time in the late evening I tried a very famous take away fish joint in the town where there was fresh calamari and octopus. Sea food is not my favorite but this was fun!
Thank you Polignano a mare and Gianni for all these wonderful memories of a lifetime.
-B&B Grottone (including breakfast) only 3-4 minutes walk from Piazza Garibaldi.
-Joya Canti di Stagione for fresh shakes and salads.
-Bar Millennium for super coffee and service.
-MINT great option for fresh vegetables, cheese, wine and salads. Don’t miss their cheesecakes!
-Pescaria and Monaco for fresh seafood.
-La Terazza for a wide variety of pizza.
-Super Mago el Gelo for one of the best gelatos. Try their Cafe Speciale for a different espresso with lemon and liqueur.
-Sottolarco for hand made jewellery and knick knacks.Say Ciao to Rosanna for me 🙂
I was hunting for day tours in Puglia just before my trip. I found a travel company called “Green Italy Tours” and contacted them through email. The owner- Giovanni Fasano was quick to respond back and asked me what I would like to see in Puglia. After a few mails back and forth we agreed we will start the journey with Ostuni. Known as the White City or La Città Bianca, Ostuni is a sight that I will not forget for a long time.
Gio and I left Lecce for Ostuni. After about an hour, from afar I saw an amalgamation of white houses on a hill top. It was Ostuni. And it was surreal. Akin to a painting.
We stopped for some pictures but I don’t think any of them would do justice. After a steep climb (thankfully we were driving) and halt at Green Italy Tour’s office, Gio being the kind gentlemen that he is, got me a cornetto from the bar and also took me to show his office.
I met his staff members- two very sweet ladies. One of them, Francesca, was from Ostuni and was joining to show me the town with Gio. I immediately hit it off with her and it was special being with her throughout the day. I learnt so much about Italy and daily life and Italian words thanks to Gio’s excellent English and Francesca’s help. I didn’t feel that I had met them both of them only in the morning!
Meanwhile Ostuni was wonderful. White washed houses all around me provided a sense of freshness and calmness. How different from the other towns I had seen. Our first stop in Ostuni was its piazza with its usual buzz after which we went to see its cathedral-Santa Maria Assunta. It was beautiful but a quick stop as it was lunch time by the time we reached.
It provided me more opportunities to click pictures of the white streets. Quite addictive really. One corner of Ostuni had the town with small shops, piazzas, trattorias and bars while the other side showed the sea far away with its quiet glamour calling out to me.
I loved the white houses with its neatly displayed potted plants and beautiful lace curtains. A woman selling hand made kitchen accessories had such a sweet voice that my small conversation with her lingered on for hours, while another man selling fruits in a corner shop had a smile that made me feel welcomed.
How you are being missed, Ostuni. I wish I had stayed longer and walked those stark white streets and savoured a little more of the coolness of your alleys.
A day in Ostuni wouldn’t have been possible without Green Italy Tours. I owe a big thanks to Gio and his team for helping me make my day trip such a success! Gio, I hope I can visit your hometown in Puglia next time. Stay tuned for more on Green Italy Tours and Puglia guys. And if you visit Puglia, you know Gio is only an email away 🙂
Disclaimer: I received a discount in exchange for a blog post for this day tour but as always the opinions here purely my own.
Its convenient to base yourself at one place and take day trips from there. In Lecce one such day trip that I made was to the town of Gallipoli.
I was initially a little doubtful using the local train service of Puglia, (not the national service which is Trenitalia) however after confirming from a couple of locals which reinstated my faith, I hopped onto a mini version of a toy train to reach Gallipoli. Let me tell you that the train looked as if it was never polished or painted in years 😉 But it was on time and there were no problems at all.
The journey took about an hour and gave the real taste of the Puglian countryside. I passed through olive groves and semi barren land while reading a book that I was hoping to finish. I reached when the sun was very strong. However, that did not dampen my spirits in any way.
I was very curious to see the seaside town of Gallipoli which was full of pastel colored homes. The smell of the sea was very inviting and walking past a lovely harbour reflected the town’s charm.
I made my way to the Centro Storico (historical centre) and I could hardly see any tourists around. It seemed I had the little town to myself 🙂
Moving further, I saw the influence of baroque architecture just as I had seen in Lecce. I was in awe.
Gallipoli was just adorable. There were shops lined with local Pugliese produce- sandals, wine, food and olive oil, several type of sauces, seafood, souvenirs etc.. I passed by narrow alleys where I could hear locals talking, cooking and just relaxing. (I could hardly understand anything as they were so fast)
It was almost 1:30 when I realized that it must be time for everyone to head home for lunch and take their siesta. I longed for a warm bowl of pasta and some local wine but soon forgot all about my hunger pang when I caught a glimpse of the ocean in front of me. It made me feel alive again.
A long walk to then find the perfect place for pranzo (lunch) and I was happy. Gallipoli’s warm sea was so inviting that I didn’t mind the scorching sun on me.
What do you think about Gallipoli?? Would love to know your thoughts.
Ciao a tutti! Hello Everyone! 🙂
Just thought of posting a couple of pictures from my Instagram account. I know a lot of you are not there so thought it would be worth adding them here.
For the rest of you on Instagram, do hit a Follow or give a Shout Out 🙂 Comment below when you do, so that I can follow back!
Hope you enjoy these top 5 pictures from my current Trip to Italy:
Which one is your favorite? 😀
As I write this post, I remember a magical evening spent with Lili and Robert in Lecce. The lovely couple form part of Espressino Travel– a boutique company that specializes in tours in the region of Puglia (both Group and Private).
I met them at Piazza Sant’ Oronzo – the centre of town in Lecce. Both immediately made me feel comfortable in their presence and explained me the history of the Salento while we walked around the Column of Saint Oronzo- the patron saint of Lecce.
We then went to one of the most acclaimed bars of the town – Bar Avio where I was privileged to try the famous “Caffe in Ghiaccio” -coffee with sweet almond iced milk. Absolutely delizio!
We were only 2 seconds at the bar and it seemed Lili and Robert knew everyone in town. It was their sweet home and I could see their passion for the town and the warmth for the people when they met them. Every time they would meet someone, they would also share a little anecdote about about how they had known them or who those people were. One such incident was when we bumped into a painter they had known. It was a treat to visit his studio and see the talent behind beautiful maps of the Salento region. (sadly I don’t have pictures) Check more here.
Later we went to see the Teatro Romano which I was pretty familiar with because I had seen it in an episode of Italy Unpacked. There is something about these Roman theatres isn’t it? Well this one is really special as it also holds concerts in the summer and goes on to the very top of my wishlist now. I really want to attend one!
More walking around and lot of churches and names which I don’t remember completely. I felt the need to have something sweet and Robert was quick to read my mind 😉 We went to one of the many bars in the town- (but not just any, as the duo sure know their way to the best ones) to try more unique flavors of Puglia with its famous Pasticciotto-a crisp pastry filled with the goodness of custard..Yumm!
I love it when I say Pasticciotto. Its so beautiful ❤
We ate so much, actually I did most of it, but thankfully the walking sure made up for it. Robert and Lili are fabulous at their job, they showed me around Lecce from its famous piazzas to its hidden corners. We whizzed past quaint bookshops, pretty trattorias and baroque churches.
One of my favorite stops was the Basilica di Santa Croce. What a sight it was! The detailing of each and every facade from the rose windows to strange figures to griffins and lions, I was smitten. I think I easily stood there for 10 minutes just to take it all in. I was gaping. Robert and Lili did tell me that every time they come to the church they see something new, something different.
All in all, it turned out to be such a fantastic evening. Towards the end of our 3 hour walk was a HUGE surprise. Food of course! A big slice of pizza from Pizza & Co– a favorite spot for Lili and Robert and also one of the highest rate places of Lecce.
Owned by two brothers from Napoli, Pizza & Co is where they pour their heart into the food. Trust me I have had a lot of pizzas in Italy and otherwise, but nothing beats this one. I am salivating just thinking about it.
It was wonderful experience learning about the history of Salento from my very passionate and enthusiastic tour guides. I could see from the very start of the walk how much in love with Lecce they were. Grazie mille Robert and Lili. I am immensely grateful to you both for making Lecce and Puglia so very special for me. Those little tips and things to do helped me make my travel so smooth. And I hope you know I will be back again and we have a vino due together 😉
Last year when I was in Italy I met fellow blogger and author-Victoria De Maio of PostcardZfromVictoria. Her vibrant and friendly personality coupled with her passion for Italy, immediately got us talking about everything from Italy to India to yoga and books. Needless to say we struck a friendship for a lifetime. After more chit chatting, I learnt that Victoria takes group tours to Puglia twice a year (from this year also to Liguria). When she mentioned Puglia I thought to myself, “Puglia? Where might that place be?”
Believe me, being an Italophilie myself, I had little or no idea about Puglia.
I came back to India and thoroughly read Victoria’s blog and saw through her eyes the glorious region of Puglia which forms the southern eastern part of Italy.
Puglia enticed me completely with its white washed towns, stunning coastline, olive trees and trulli houses. The more I read about it, the more I wanted to be there. But I wasn’t really sure when I could go and if I could go at all. So I kept the plan aside and let the universe conspire it 🙂
And then it happened.
I traveled to Puglia in April this year 🙂 It was one of my most precious trips to Italy and also my very first to the South. It is like a whole other country in down there. For starters, Puglia had me with its very friendly people, unmatchable delicious food, baroque towns and winding streets.
My love affair started with the baroque town of Lecce.
In Lecce, I was to stay at Palazzo Rollo‘s Fanfulla rooms but when I reached via train from Rome, groggy and tired, I found Fanfulla rooms closed owing to lunch time. (Mostly in the south from 2pm-4pm a lot of places shut down for lunch)
I called Palazzo Rollo and the owner-Elena, a very cool and kind lady with whom I had earlier corresponded, told me that they had upgraded my stay from Fanfulla rooms to Palazzo Rollo. I was ecstatic! 😀
A 17th century palace, which is now converted to a B&B, the Palazzo is where Elena grew up with her family. I was impressed with its simplistic yet traditional furniture. My very traditional room on the second floor had a lobby with a drawing room and a private kitchen. Elena and her staff were very helpful and gave me insider tips while chatting about my love for Italy. I immediately struck a friendship with Elena and Simona– one of the staff members. It was also the start to a wonderful Southern Italian journey- so warm, beautiful and clear hearted. I felt blessed to be among such friendly people.
While in Lecce, I made the most of my stay in Palazzo Rollo. Located right in the middle of the town, I could come and go as many times as I wanted as I was just 5 minutes away from all the main attractions. During the day when it was too hot, I would come back to take a nap. The mornings at the Palazzo were pampering with fresh breakfast of delicious Italian pastries, cold cuts, juices, coffee and fruits.
On one of the days I had a lovely evening on the terrace which had a fantastic view of the bell town of the town’s Duomo (cathedral). It made me feel as if I was trapped in time.
I will not forget this special stay at Palazzo Rollo and thank Elena and her team for making my stay so special. I hope to be back soon again.
Grazie mille, amici ❤
Disclaimer: I was a guest at Palazzo Rollo but the opinions expressed here are solely my own.