A car route I know pretty well and recommend, from the sea of Puglia to the parks in Basilicata.
People close to me know that I come from Puglia, I have Lucanian origins, which means I still have my dearest family ties in Basilicata, and that I’ve never truly shrugged off the “Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris” thing for both these regions. (ehm, sorry, as an Italian I can’t help writing some eloquent latin sentence every now and then).
Besides, those who know me are aware that if I can, I refrain from travelling by car.
Yet, today I’m going to tell you about a car route you can use, especially considering that on this lovely and extremely poetic path, with nature, wine and adventure as main subjects, public transport is scarce and, unless you have a lot of time and particularly strong muscles, you can do it comfortably by sitting in a car.
Here’s thus a route to follow on the road, which combines zero-mile wine cellars with wine tasting, adventure with nature, sea with moon watching nights.
Brindisi-Ostuni-Monopoli-Polignano a Mare – Bari
(or vice versa)
The stops I recommend you make, which join the two airport cities in Puglia, can be reached both from Bari and Brindisi, before going on the route that leads to the bordering region, a different sister.
1 – Ostuni for your pictures!
Needless to say, Ostuni is universally known as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Let me add that it’s the ideal place to successfully feed your Instagram gallery as well as your collection of favourite shots.
Ostuni is lit by a light which is reflected and amplified by the white limestone of the houses: it is the perfect setting for photography lovers.
While walking down the alleys, every door turns out to be a source of inspiration (as well as increasing your Instagram likes and followers).
Before I get insulted by someone, let me remind you that Ostuni is full of historic buildings, churches and also architecture and materials engineering gems, such as the Aragonese Cathedral dating back to the 15th century, made of soft stone and boasting an immense rosette (one of the biggest in the world).
2 – Alberobello
Let’s stick to the gems topic…so unique that they have been listed among the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Alberobello is nothing short of Ostuni in terms of peculiarity and beautiful views to take pictures of.
The geometrical alternation between white and grey is almost hypnotic; what many people don’t like about Alberobello is actually the widespread presence of souvenir shops. My advice is to look up and pass by because you’ll eventually bump into small craft shops where you can find old people working with wood or papier-mâché, or women weaving precious fabrics and who will be more than happy to show you inside and tell you about the history of the Trullo.
For peasant anthropology enthusiasts, I suggest the Museum of the Territory at Casa Pezzolla, where tools and evidence of the local life and folklore of the Murgia are on display.
3 – Polignano a Mare and Monopoli
If you only have half a day available and then want to head to Basilicata, just choose one of the two (either Polignano or Monopoli). If you can stay a couple of days longer, enjoy the experience and visit both places because they’re really worth a visit.
For example, I’ve decided to spend an afternoon-evening in Cala Porto, a small but precious beach to go to especially during the low season.
Everybody tells me you get premium fish (and not just that) here and the places you need to look for are Tuccino (a restaurant know all over the world but remember the prices are not those of an eatery) and Grotta Palazzese, a restaurant set in a cave by the sea. Even the latter is very famous and worldwide known.
On the other hand, if you decide to visit Monopoli, don’t go there just to have a tour of the city, but take a closer look at the countryside, full of rocky churches and limestone caves.
The countryside of Monopoli is amazing, with century-old olive trees that seem to dance on the red soil with the crystal clear sea and the blue sky in the background.
I instead suggest you visit the city starting from the port; from here, you should walk to the historic centre and then to the ancient natural harbour, where you can see the “vozz” (dialect for “gozzo”, a small double-ended fishing boat that reminds of the typical Maltese boats).
Let’s move down towards Basilicata
I suggest you go to Basilicata especially for the activities related to nature and adventure (in contact with nature).
Driving from Bari, you’ll bump into a number of parks once you enter Basilicata, such as:
the park of the Murgia Materana, basically on the border with sister Puglia, the park of Gallipoli Cognato (or Small Lucanian Dolomites), the Lucanian Apennines national park and the Pollino national park.
The wildlife in all these places is definitely one of a kind. There are also expert environmental guides who can tell you all about them, and even show which is the best way to be wise travellers when visiting the green areas all over the world.
As I mentioned earlier, this area is also good for adventure, which means that tourism in the territory is increasingly focused on the activities that let you be in contact with nature, breathe fresh air and experience the local green areas as an essential part of the experience.
The important thing is to keep your eyes up all the time, because the eagles you’ll see in this area are nowhere else to be found.
The same applies to foxes.
And beware of wild boars.
Here are then the places you can’t miss if you’re a woman (or man) of action.
Flights and suspended paths:
let’s begin with the Flight of the Angel.
The zip-wire is located on the Small Lucanian Dolomites and you’re supposed to start your flight from the Pietrapertosa side.
Eagle flight: the location you’ll be leaping from to experience flying like an eagle is San Costantino Albanese, a municipality within the territory of the Pollino National Park.
A new addition to the adventure experiences offered in Basilicata is the crossing of the Tibetan Bridge, a one-of-a-kind suspension bridge in Europe, named Ponte alla Luna (or “Bridge to the Moon”).
It’s made of a combination of suspended bridges (falling within the Tibetan type) followed by a sky-walk on a see-through platform.
The attraction is located in Sasso di Castalda.
Actually Basilicata is also a land perfectly suitable for contemplation, thanks to its landscapes, rivers, lakes and woods. And you know how much I love contemplation.
And you, do you like car trips? Are you a contemplation-traveler or and adventurous one?