No panic! We are getting closer to September, but did you know that in Southern Italy the best part of summer hasn’t started yet?
If you still have to go on holiday and haven’t decided your destination, think about Puglia and prepare yourself for a serious gourmand affair, immersing in the most genuine Mediterranean flavours and lifestyle.
I have created this one-week itinerary for you to explore Valle d’Itria, the heart of Puglia, with a particular focus on the gastronomic landscape of the area.
This itinerary will help you plan your holiday, providing tips and highlighting some of the most practical “things to know” before travelling to Puglia.
Here, I also share some of my favourite things to do and places to stay, part of the selection I made for you to feel connected with the local culture. To learn more about BMJ’s Puglia full selection drop me a line here.
And to deep dive into the flavours and scents of this land, and learn more about where to go, what to visit and why I have also created a Valle d’Itria PDF guide that you can download from here.
Laying among two seas and being dotted by tiny white villages and millennial olive groves, Valle d’Itria is the right choice to experience a journey in contact with both the Apulian traditional culture and untouched nature.
While in this pdf guide you will find a detailed day-by-day one-week itinerary including tips on where to have lunch and more places not to be missed in the area, you can use this article and its sections; “things to know”, “day by day itinerary” and “where to stay”, to get inspired and start planning your holiday.
This section will answer some of the practical questions you may have, in case you’d be interested in any other specific aspect of the trip let me know here!
HOW TO EXPLORE VALLE D’ITRIA
First of all, with a local. Exploring at least some of the destinations with a guide from the area will allow you to go beyond the touristy places. When I was there I met some incredible people and I will be happy to put you in contact with them so have some of the experiences mentioned in the “day by day” section below.
Another important thing to mention is that all the main districts of Valle d’Itria are very close to each other and you will be able to reach them with a drive between 10 and maximum 50 minutes. This is why I suggest staying in one hotel and move around by car. Also, staying 8 nights in the same hotel you can get access to BMJ Plus extras in most of the properties part of my selection. However, if you prefer to combine two hotels, I would suggest you pick one in the countryside of Fasano or Ostuni and one by the coast in Savelletri. In the “where to stay” section below, you have an overview of the places I selected for your stay.
Most of the hotels and experiences of my BMJ selection are intimate and designed for a small number of people, so if you plan to travel in the high season it is essential that you plan your holiday ahead of time to be able to book them.
VALLE D’ITRIA’S DISTRICTS
The districts part of Valle d’Itria are; Martina Franca, Locorotondo, Castellana Grotte, Putignano, Noci, Alberobello, Fasano, Ostuni, Cisternino, Ceglie Messapica, Villa Castelli.
HOW LONG TO STAY
I believe that travelling at a slow rhythm is a way to experience a country bit by bit, getting to know all its nuances and connecting with the local culture. This is why I always suggest staying at a destination for at least one week.
WHEN TO GO
Puglia, like all Southern Italy destinations, has a mild climate all year round. I would personally suggest avoiding the month of August when Italy is usually too hot and overcrowded and opt for May, June, July, September or October instead. However, it is worth mentioning that most of the beach clubs in the area are only open from June to September.
HOW TO CHOOSE WHERE TO STAY
In Puglia, I would stay in a Masseria: one of the restored ancient farms typical of the area. With BMJ I made a selection of Masserie based on the authenticity of the places I visited as well as on their commitment to keeping local traditions alive, supporting the local communities and minimising their impact on the environment. I provide more information below in the “where to stay” section.
WHERE TO LAND
The closest airport to Valle d’Itria is in Bari (Airport Karol Wojtyła, IATA code: BRI)
HOW TO GET AROUND
The best way to experience Valle d’Itria, and Puglia in general, is by car so that you can be flexible and move around easily. In case you prefer to have a private driver please let me know so I can put you in contact with a trusted one.
I would plan one week in Valle d’Itria as explained below, but feel free to mix and match the proposals depending on your preferences. I have personally selected all the experiences mentioned here for you to get the most out of the Apulian cultural and gastronomic heritage.
This is just a high-level itinerary, to access more information and several restaurant and local shop tips download this BMJ guide.
DAY 1 ~ NATURE RECONNECTION AND WINE TASTING IN A VINEYARD
Start your journey reconnecting with nature by biking or taking a walk in the nature reserve Parco delle Dune Costiere, swimming in its clear waters and unwinding on the beach. In the afternoon, kick off the tasting journey with a wine tasting or aperitif in the vineyards. Puglia produces some of the Italian best wines and many producers follow organic or biodynamic methods. The place I selected for your wine tasting and aperitif experience has a peaceful and cosy atmosphere and you will also get a chance to flavour some local products. Prices start from 40 euro per person.
DAY 2 ~ SUNBATHING ON THE COAST
Spend a day sunbathing on the nearby coast of Savelletri, at Lido Bambù, and reach Polignano a Mare in time for sunset. The drive between the two towns is about 15 minutes.
DAY 3 ~ CULTURAL WONDERS
Explore Locorotondo, Martina Franca and Cisterstino. these villages are about 10km away from each other and in the BMJ guide I have included several tips on where to go for lunch and drinks
DAY 4 ~ OLIVE OIL TASTING AND NATURE RECONNECTION
Discover the town of Ostuni with a local and have an extra virgin olive oil tasting in the area, something you cannot miss in the land of millennial olive groves. In the afternoon move to Torre Guaceto nature reserve for a swim in some of Puglia‘s clearest waters. Ostuni exploration and olive oil tasting experience’s prices start from 160 euro per group for a private local guide.
DAY 5 ~ NATURAL WONDER AND GASTRONOMIC TRADITIONS
Uncover the underground beauty of Castellana Grotte exploring the natural caves, and have a traditional lunch in the little osteria I suggest in the BMJ guide. In the afternoon explore Alberobello with a local and join a burrata masterclass or a traditional cooking session to dive deep into the Apulian gastronomic traditions.
DAY 6 ~ ARCHEOLOGICAL EXPLORATION AND LOCAL PASTA CLASS
In the morning explore the Archeological park of Egnatia, a Roman Age wonder by the sea. After lunch, in the BMJ guide I suggest a special place where to go, spend an afternoon in a masseria that produces spelt and several durum and soft wheat together with one of their farmers who will teach you how to prepare typical pasta like orecchiette, cavatelli and strascinate. This is another chance for you to meet local people and get to know some Apulian culinary secrets. Local pasta class’ prices start from 40 euro per person.
DAY 7 ~ CHILL AND EMBRACE ITALIAN SLOW LIVING
The last day of every holiday should be dedicated to one of the most authentic Italian activities, il dolce far niente or the sweetness of doing nothing. However, if you will already be leaving on the 7th day, in the BMJ guide a suggest a stop-over on the way to the airport!
Here is the list of places that I have researched, visited and selected for you in Valle d’Itria. I would personally pick one of them and explore the area from there without changing hotel, but if you’d like to experiment with different atmospheres feel free to mix and match depending on your needs, budget and taste.
Masseria Montenapoleone is located in an enchanting plain full of centuries-old olive trees in the area of Fasano. After 40 years of abandonment, in 2010 the Monteneve family started the eco-sustainable restoration project of this property. The family chose to preserve the original soul of the farm creating an environment that combines experiences and emotions. Masseria Montenapoleone owns a certification by ICEA BIO as Organic Producer and the Monteneve family are committed to promote and protect biodiversity. Prices start from 120 euro per night. BMJ Plus: If you stay longer than 7 nights you will be treated with a room upgrade (upon availability) and a welcome gift. Get in contact to learn more
At Masseria Dagilupi, in Ostuni, you will be welcomed by Danielle and Jean-Louis, a French couple who fell in love with this place years ago and decided to move here. This is a former oil mill surrounded by 400 ancient olive trees. The oldest parts of the Masseria dates back to the 1600s and the whole property went through a sensitive restoration process to celebrate the history of the place and enhance the simple beauty of the original structure. With three spacious rooms, large bathrooms, and the best minimalist Italian design, the Masseriaoffers a new perspective of life. Prices start from 150 euro per night. BMJ Plus: If you stay longer than 7 nights you will be treated with a room upgrade (upon availability) and a welcome gift. Get in contact to learn more.
Masseria Cimino, in Savelletri, is located just a few meters from the sea, adjacent to the archaeological site where the ruins of Ancient Roman city Egnatia (founded in the 6th century B.C.) were discovered. In 2001, part of the land surrounding the Masseria was deployed to build the San Domenico Golf Club, with an 18 hole professional golf course overlooking the sea. In 2005, the Masseriawas completely restored making a great effort to preserve the original architectural features as well as the building materials and the colours of the old farmhouse. Prices start from 190 euro per night, including half board service.
Borgo Egnazia, in Savelletri. Every day of the year, in all seasons, Borgo Egnazia embodies a different concept of hospitality and wellbeing based on local and authentic experiences. A place unique in the world that brings the tales of Puglia to life through timeless architecture, the beauty of the territory and its centuries-old culture as well as the visionary and contemporary interpretation of tradition. The property has always dedicated the highest degree of care regarding the environment, through the use of standardised procedures and a daily effort in all areas of sustainability. Prices start from 260 euro per night.
Have you packed yet? Let me know if you need further information and buone vacanze italiane! Andrea