The ultimate motorhome route through Puglia
June, 27 2018
In the heel of Italy’s boot, spectacular Puglia is where you can set out with your motorhome on a never-ending journey of discovery. You’ll be amazed whichever road you take, thanks to the ocean panoramas, hills dotted with conical-roofed white houses, endless olive groves, meandering rivers, lagoons and extraordinary architecture. I happen to know the most spectacular route for a motorhome road trip through this province, which I’ll be happy to share with you.
In particular, this trip involves visiting the many beautiful historic towns in the area. However, be sure to also stop off at the many fishing villages, unwind on a beach day, and lose yourself in the countryside. Take time to take in Puglia’s true beauty. You’re sure to fall in love with it.
Start out in Vieste
Start the Puglia road trip properly by travelling to Vieste, a mediaeval town nestled on a rocky peak by the sea. Here you can stroll for hours through the many narrow streets in the town’s pedestrian area. However, it’s the 30 km of coastline that’s truly breath-taking. Driving down the coast here, you’ll see a wealth of grottos, cliffs and small islands. The coves with white beaches contrasting with the light-blue ocean in particular will instantly give you that holiday feeling. Don’t forget to wander through the dark woodlands of Forest Umbra.
Two for the price of one
Vieste – Bari – 190 km
After this, continue the journey to Puglia’s capital city – Bari. This port city is divided into two: a modern section teeming with shops, and the old city centre Bari Vecchia, which is where you want to be. Walk down the narrow streets with washing hanging out to dry overhead, taking the odd peak inside and seeing mothers making fresh pasta. Get lost in Bari, and you’ll discover the most enchanting of places. Stroll around the many squares and beautiful churches, including the San Nicola Basilica.
Extra tip: During this route, stop off at the majestic Castel del Monte castle; an octagonal edifice built with unprecedented mathematical precision.
Discover the ‘trulli’
Bari – Alberobello & Locorotondo – 60 km
Journey through the interior, through the renowned Valle d’Itria valley. What makes this region so famous are the special trulli – white houses with conical roofs. The picturesque village of Alberobello is where you’ll find thousands of these traditional dwellings. Their charming appearance is something you’ll never tire of. Slightly further along is Locorotondo; a village owing its name to its circular street plan. If you’re here on a Friday, be sure to visit the local market. Not to be missed is the view from the Giardini Pubblici municipal park, a real treat for the eyes.
Promenading like a film star in Brindisi
Locorotondo – Brindisi – 50 km
Continue along the motorhome route to Brindisi, where the boulevard is the place to be. This is where you come to see and be seen. Watch the locals while you yourself promenade down the boulevard. Take a seat on the terrace of a cool bar and savour an espresso that is exactly as it should be. If you still feel like taking in some culture, Visit Santa Maria del Casale, an imposing church with exquisite frescoes.
On route to the ‘Florence of the South’
Brindisi – Lecce – 55 km
Lecce is a city brimming with splendid, Baroque-style buildings, fine monuments and endless narrow streets; also known as the ‘Florence of the South’. The city is the perfect place for exploring by bike, during which you’ll pass by the most important places of interest, such as Porta Napoli, Piazza del Duormo, Centro Storico and Anfiteatro Romano. During your ride, don’t forget to stop off for pasticiotto leccese (a custard-filled pastry). Lecce is the perfect place for staying around slightly longer, since there’s so much to see here.
The tip of the heel
Lecce – Otranto – 45 km
Otranto is a historic town on the coast, and lies on the very end point of the boot’s heel. The most wonderful thing to see here is the special floor mosaic in Otranto’s cathedral. Neither will Castello Aragonese, a stout castle, escape your attention while wandering around here.
Extra tip: If you’re driving this motorhome route between 5 and 8 July and you happen to be in Otranto, be sure not to miss Scorrano. This is when the Festa di Santa Domenica is celebrated, with huge wooden scaffolds festooned with millions of lights. A feast for the eyes, where you can sample local dishes and watch fireworks as the evening comes to an end. This magically lit city is a true spectacle.
Jewel on a peninsula
Otranto – Gallipoli – 50 km
No road trip through Puglia is complete unless you’ve seen Gallipoli, which can be reached by driving down the motorway from Otranto. However, you can also take the road along the amazing coastline. This might take longer, but the view is certainly more spectacular.
Once you arrive in Gallipoli, you won’t ever want to leave. The old centre lies on a small peninsular, connected to the mainland with a bridge. Around every corner you’ll be astonished time and again by what you see, such as the fountain with a scene from Greek mythology, the 15th-century city walls, and the well-preserved Sant’Agata cathedral. There’s even plenty to see underground, such as the subterranean olive presses. However beautiful this city is on land, be sure to also view it from a boat.
Extra tip: Don’t forget to try the local speciality, la purpu a pignata; a dish cooked in a terracotta pot with fresh octopus and vegetables. Tuck in!
Cultural Capital 2019
Gallipoli – Matera – 170 km
Wandering around Matera is just like walking on a film set – so wonderful and special… Matera’s core is formed by dozens of centuries-old grotto dwellings. It appears that in the 8th century these homes served a refuges for monks fleeing from the Byzantine Empire. Monasteries can even be found in these cliffs. Matera has also been named the Cultural Capital 2019, and rightly so.
Campsites in Puglia
Does this sound like the journey of your dreams? I know for sure Puglia has found a special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to get back there. While you can decide for yourself how long you take on this special motorhome route through Puglia, I’d recommend taking time to explore everything without rushing. After all, this will be a journey not to be forgotten. If I’ve missed out any places or if you have other tips, please let me know.