Today is a very special day for me! Three years ago I found out I’m carrying the most precious gift life has given me. Even though I could not imagine back then how dramatically our lives will change, it still brought a lot of happiness in my soul.
I remember I told Andrei on the phone “I have to tell you something big when we meet!” And his reaction was “You got some vacation days, are we going somewhere?”. He was as excited as myself about the big news and suggested we should go somewhere to celebrate. “Let’s have our first holiday in “three”! Let’s enjoy this together, before anyone else finds out!”
So we searched for a short escape not very far from Cluj, as we only afforded one long weekend. The cheapest, shortest and most convenient flight was to Bari. What could be better than Italy, our beloved vacation destination?!?
Full season and just a few days before the trip, finding accommodation is not easy, most of the properties are reserved months in advance! We booked our stay at Grande Albergo Delle Nazioni, in Bari, a beautiful location right on the seafront. Choosing a hotel in the city was a great option for us,. We could plan the day during breakfast, on the top floor terrace overlooking the sea. Right on Bari city centre, we were close to public transportation, as we wanted to explore the whole area. For a beach-lover looking for a holiday to relax in the sun, it is probably more advisable to stay in one of the very picturesque villages on the coast.
The whole weekend was great! Puglia is a wonderful destination and we could easily spend one week here without getting bored! It is not that famous as other Italian regions, so it is less crowded and much more affordable. This also means it is not yet spoiled by the touristic hustle and keeps more of its own authenticity.
The first day we took the train to Polignano a Mare, an old village on top of a cliff, right above the sea. Lots of the buildings here are actually built in the limestone rock! We wandered for a while through the narrow labyrinth-style streets, that offer a surprise at each turn point. Stylish piazzetas and churches, old-style little houses where grannies stay on the front door greeting you or people chatting between balconies, they all create a genuine atmosphere where you want to get lost. Not to mention the panoramic terraces with spectacular views towards the Adriatic!
The sea is wonderful here, crystal clear, in various shades of green and blue. We tried to spend some time on the beach, but the famous Lama Monachile is way too crowded to fit our style. Instead, we decided to enjoy the scenery right from the sea and took a short boat trip across the coast. We admired spectacular houses built right on the cliff or bathe in a hidden cave and I truly think a boat excursion is a “must” here!
Next day, we took a trip to Alberobello. UNESCO World Heritage site, this small village is famous for the Trulli, traditional conical roof houses. There’s a whole hill with these funny shaped buildings, linked by a maze of cobblestone streets that seem to be coming from a fairytale. As you walk through, you tend to stop at each souvenir shops, as they all have a different offer, with a new story to be told. Everything is local, authentic, nothing like the kitsch-style souvenirs offered nowadays in top touristic locations. To enjoy the experience even more, we chose a Segway tour through the Trulli area, which was extremely fun and I highly recommend it!
Since our flight was late afternoon, we still had plenty of time the last day as well. Initially, we planned this for Bari only, but since the city centre it is quite small and we also covered it during the evenings, we took the train again, for a short trip to Monopoli. Charming little fishing town, we felt here like in old Italian movies. Wandering through the maze of streets with white buildings and potted plants, in a totally “untouristic” setup, was the perfect end to our wonderful Italian escape. And we had no idea that the next trip to Italy will be a huge adventure!
Have you ever visited Puglia? Can you recommend us what you liked there?