Where to Stay and What to Do During a Road Trip in the Stunning Southern Region of Italy
Spending time in Italy during the summer is like jumping into a real-life Pinterest board. Puglia Itinerary
There’s, of course, Rome and Florence—full of art, culture and history. And let’s not forget about Tuscany, the rolling green hills filled with bountiful vineyards and breathtaking views. But then, located in what is known as the “heel of the boot” of Italy, there’s Puglia, which is a much more unassuming destination yet not to be overlooked when planning a summer getaway on the Italian coast.
With charming seaside towns (still rich in history), olive groves and some of the bluest waters where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas seem to meet, Puglia is a sweet spot in Italy where all of your worries will wash away. It’s where a slower, simpler pace of life exists. The freshest seafood is served with ocean views, the locals are passionate about where they live and the ocean is as clear as can be. Puglia Itinerary
The best way to explore Puglia is a road trip down the coast. Depending on how many different towns and areas you want to explore throughout the region, a road trip can be planned anywhere from four days to three weeks. Fly into the Bari airport, rent a car, let go of any and all expectations and get ready for sun-kissed days in paradise.
Masseria Calderisi—a 17th century farmhouse turned into a luxurious boutique hotel—is a destination not to miss. Just from looking at their website, you can feel the magic this hotel offers. About an hour drive south from the airport, located in the town of Savelletri di Fasano, Masseria Calderisi sits among 24 acres of olive groves and farmland. Among the picturesque pool, beach club, extraordinary on-site restaurant, airy rooms with private patios and a charming spa, it’s the epitome of a hotel you can only dream about staying at in Italy. With only 24 rooms, it’s quaint enough for guests to receive top-notch service and elegant enough without being too intimidating or posh. Puglia Itinerary
Massiera Calderisi offers an ideal location for adventuring to nearby towns like Polignano a Mare (go for that iconic beach view and a dip in the sea), Alberobello (a UNESCO site filled with those adorable white stone huts known as trullis), seaside towns like Monopoli and Savelletri as well as the all-white town of Ostuni. The beauty of it all is that your stay here can be filled with relaxation—slow mornings sipping espresso and indulging in burrata for breakfast, then staying cool in the afternoon with an Aperol Spritz by the pool—while still exploring the hot spots and culture of the overall region. While not indulging in the on-site restaurant La Corte, nearby restaurants worth noting include Pescheria 2 Mari, Osteria del Tempo Perso and Borgo Antico Bistrot—although you really can’t go wrong with popping into a restaurant you stumble upon (there aren’t many “tourist traps” in Puglia!).
There are countless masserias (hotels, villas and Airbnbs) in the region, depending on the vibe and location you’re searching for. There’s also the iconic Borgo Egnazia—a nearby deluxe property that hosts around 500 guests each night. Celebrity weddings (hi, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Alba) have been hosted here, and the property has just about everything you can imagine on-site: a gelato shop, seven restaurants, various pools and a golf course. Everything from the castle-like feel to the stunning architecture are sure to make a few nights here beyond memorable. Puglia Itinerary
While driving south along the pristine coast, beach stops are necessary. Unlike the long stretches of sandy beaches in California, most of the beaches in Puglia consist of tanning on the warm rocks and jumping off cliffs to keep cool. There are some iconic beach destinations along the way, such as Torre dell’Orso, but you can also pull off on the side of the road to find magical hidden coves and crystal clear waters.
Down south in Salento, Palazzo Ducale Venturi offers an elegant stay in a 16th century aristocratic castle that’s been converted into a hotel. It features an underground heating swimming pool, a special Chef’s dinner and memorable offerings like cooking classes and whiskey tastings. Stroll over to Origano Cibo e Vino for dinner, where each decadent dish is paired with a glass of wine. Puglia Itinerary
The month of May is a brilliant time to visit Puglia—the locals explained the true summer months are June through August when the area has more tourists. However, May offers warm summer weather without being scorching out (temps range from the low to mid 80s) and the towns aren’t crowded. Boat rentals are available, and you very well might be one of the only boats out in the water in early- to mid-May. Pro tip: book at the local harbor instead of through your hotel for a much less expensive excursion.Credit: The Hoxton Rome
While one could only wish for an Italian summer to last forever, it sadly has to come to an end. To wrap up the trip and make your way back home, taking the train from Bari to Rome (a four-hour ride) is a pretty seamless experience. Break up the travel and experience another beautiful Italian city by spending a couple additional days in Rome. Stay at the lovely The Hoxton Rome (only a five-minute taxi drive away from the train station). The Hoxton offers a welcoming stay that feels like a home away from home due to their multiple, worldwide locations. Relax with one last spritz and pasta dinner before hopping on your flight home in the morning and saying ciao to Italia.
Taylor is a graduate from the University of Southern California with a degree in journalism. She is our Los Angeles and Orange County editor. You can find her dining at a new restaurant, in the ocean or planning her next adventure. Say hello!