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.
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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 24 hours does not do justice to any town/city. Especially if one has time at their disposal, it is best to spend knowing a place better. This is what I had in mind for Polignano a mare– a seaside town in Puglia. Staying in B&B Grottone, a quaint B&B in the heart of the town, was one of the best decisions I made as it was only 5 minutes from the main piazza.
I usually enjoyed mornings in the huge terrace at the B&B and had coffee at the local Bar. The B&B owner, Gianni, had a tie up with the Bar so it was fun spending 3 days of this town frequenting the same bar twice a day. Here’s how you can spend 72 hours in this gorgeous town:
Polignano is a town made of a limestone cliff. So on my first day, I went to see that very sight which makes the town so famous. And just next to the huge rock was a statue of the famous singer Domenico Mudungo. You might remember him from his most famous song- Volare! It continues in my head as I write…..that’s the first thing you should do!
Take a stroll around the town in the afternoon and have lunch at the main Piazza. Pick any place! All are so fabulous. In the evening have an aperitivo (drinks+snacks) at Bar Millenium. Next to it is a store selling jewellery and the owner Rosanna us adorable. She and I befriended each other even though I was not as well versed with my Italian that time. It is a good shopping spot!
On the second day, enjoy another fabulous sunrise on the terrace like I did. I made coffee and enjoyed the view of the sea. For breakfast, I went to Bar Millennium and enjoyed the local vibe amongst the clink of glasses and smell of fresh coffee.
A couple from Austria, Marlen and Ken, ended up telling their tale of visiting Italy often. We realized we were staying in the same B&B and eventually hit the beach because why not! This is the best part of travel. Meeting random strangers …..
Polignano’s beach is breathtaking and it was lovely basking in the sun and relishing the sweet life. La dolce vita! That is something no one should miss + a doze of people watching at the main piazza. Try fresh fruit from Joya Canti di Stagione.
My lunch consisted of blue cheese pizza with a glass of Puglian Negroamaro.
The evening was spent shopping, gelato tasting and more people watching.
Polignano is a trip of relaxation! End your third day with breakfast at Bar Millenium like I did. Later I chanced upon a vintage car exhibition and ate fresh calamari and octopus from a famous Pescheria. This was follows by more wine and another round of pizza.
Things to Note:
-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 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 and caffe Speciale.
-Hand made jewellery and knick knacks from Sottolarco.
If you are in Puglia and looking for day tours or travel planning options, go with “Green Italy Tours“. The owner- Giovanni Fasano is my friend and is very thorough and professional, not to mention kind. He took me to a lot of places in Puglia, Ostuni being my favorite. Known as The White City or La Città Bianca, Ostuni is a an amalgamation of white houses on a hill top. It is akin to a painting and gives very Greece like vibes.
The white washed houses give a sense of freshness and calm. Ostuni has a buzzing piazza full of souvenir shops and I found the people of Puglia to be very nice too giving back a friendly Buongiorno. You could start with the town’s main cathedral-Santa Maria Assunta like I did. It is a good stop before you take a walk elsewhere. Everything is so near and easily walkable.
A stop at a Bar or two always helps as it provides perfect opportunities to click more pictures of those insanely white streets. On the corner of a street you can see the sea in its quiet glamour.
Just next to it are small homes with neat potted plants and beautiful lace curtains.
It was a lovely afternoon in Ostuni and wouldn’t have been possible without Green Italy Tours. I owe a big thanks to Gio and his team member Francesca whom I really hit it off with.
How to Reach:
Ostuni has a train station but it is a little far from town. Though it is an option to travel to, I would recommend hiring a car or taking a tour with a local agency.
Disclaimer: I received a discount in exchange for a blog post for this day tour but as always the opinions here my own.
Also, there are “ affiliate links” on my blog. If you click on a picture, it will take you to Amazon.in. and if you purchase something through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting my blog and keep reading Italophilia! 🙂
Its convenient to base yourself at one place and take day trips from there. In Lecce one such day trip that I took was to the town of Gallipoli. Initially a little doubtful using the local train service of Puglia, (not the national service which is Trenitalia), I took a chance and hopped on to a toy train to reach Gallipoli. The train looked as if it was never polished or painted in years. But what mattered that it was on time and took me to Gallipoli safely. It was only an hour’s journey from Lecce and I so enjoyed a taste of the Puglian countryside. Olive groves and semi barren land were a common sight. The smell of the sea was inviting.
I made my way to the Centro Storico but I saw very few people around. It seemed as if I had the little town to myself.
Baroque architecture welcomed me and I was smitten by a little harbour.
Gallipoli was already feeling to be so adorable. There were shops lined with local Pugliese produce- sandals, wine, food, olive oil, seafood, souvenirs etc.. In narrow alleys you could hear locals chatting, cooking or even fighting. I could hardly understand anything they were saying in dialect.
Since it was lunch+siesta time, I too felt my stomach take a turn and longed for a warm bowl of pasta and wine. Passing by the Adriatic sea made me feel alive again.
I found a perfect little place for pranzo (lunch) with the warm wind happily calling out to me.
Gallipoli is lovely! I don’t know if I would go back but it certainly is worth one trip.
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? 😀
In Lecce I remember a magical evening spent with Lili and Robert of Espressino Travel– a boutique company that specializes in tours in the region of Puglia.
We started with a walk from Piazza Sant’ Oronzo where after greetings and mutual love for Italy, I was told about 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!
It seemed Lili and Robert knew everyone in town as I saw them exchange greetings with so many people around. 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 person was a local painter who invited us to visit his studio and see the beautiful maps of the Salento region that he had drawn. More can be seen on his website here.
Walking around in the town we went to see Teatro Romano which I was familiar due to an episode of Italy Unpacked. Teatro Romano holds concerts in the summer and I could only imagine how fun that must be!
Lili and Robert later took me to one of the many bars in the town to try unique flavors of Puglia with its famous Pasticciotto-a crisp pastry filled with the goodness of custard..It was heavenly! There were a hundred other delicious treats and I was oggling like a little child.
We ate so much, actually I did most of it, but thankfully the walking sure made up for it. Robert and Lili 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. It was an incredible sight and the detailing of each and every facade from the rose windows to strange figures to griffins and lions, was amazing. I think I was gaping. Lili told me how every time she comes and sees something new each time.
Towards the end of our 3 hour walk was a HUGE surprise. Food of course! A big slice of pizza from Pizza & Co– one of the highest rate places of Lecce. Owned by two brothers from Napoli, Pizza & Co is where their love for food is poured on the late. I have had a lot of pizzas in Italy and otherwise, but nothing beats this one. I am salivating just thinking about it!
I cannot thank my passionate and enthusiastic tour guides for this evening in Lecce. Those little tips and things to do helped me so much. If you are heading Puglia do book through Espressino and check out their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. I especially love this podcast by SavoringItaly.
How to Reach Lecce:
Lecce is very well connected by train from all parts of Italy. I took the direct Trenitalia from Rome and was there in exactly 5 hours. There are direct flights from many major cities of Italy and rest of Europe to Bari. From Bari, Lecce is only a train ride away.
Disclosure: There are “ affiliate links” on my blog. If you click on a picture, it will take you to Amazon.in. and if you purchase something through these links, I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks for supporting my blog and keep reading Italophilia! 🙂