Italy
Apulia

Here you’ll find travel reports about Apulia. Discover travel destinations in Italy of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

106 travelers at this place:

  • Day6

    Ferry - Train - Ferry

    June 9 in Italy

    The 4 berth cabin I had booked on the Sicily - Naples crossing was only made up for 2 - yes, no fighting for space. However, on catching sight of my bunk mate I suddenly wasn’t so sure. A hefty built Sicilian wearing leathers and chewing gum, I assumed he was one of the many bikers I had seen on boarding at Palermo. He was monosyllabic and made no attempt at conversation, despite my best efforts in pidgin Italian. He sported a permanently startled look with high eyebrows - wait a minute - he didn’t appear to have any eyebrows - could they have been painted on, like a bus conductress of old? Surely not - and yet if I closed my eyes I could just hear the gallus announcement of an SMT matriarch ‘this is a country bus, ye cannae get aff afore Faifley’.

    The sail away from Palermo harbour was beautiful. It was a lovely sunny evening as we pulled away from our moorings and the splendid back drop of rolling hills that surrounded the capital. I felt guilty I hadn’t seen much of the place, but the purpose of the trip was as much, if not more, about the travelling experience itself, and doing a bit of a recce for places I would like to return to. Arrivederci, Sicily.

    By the time I was tucked in my comfy berth, my room mate was getting ready to hit the nightlife of the Atlas, with a garish outfit which, coupled with the aforementioned eyebrows, gave him an uncanny resemblance to the drag queen, Divine. In the process of his ablutions, he managed to break the shower head off, leaving it in pieces on the floor. Ah well, I thought, it’ll be a Paisley boadywash for me in the morning.

    After the usual Italian disorganised disembarkation, I made my way to Naples Central and caught the train across the width of Italy to Bari on the Adriatic coast. Like most Italian cities, Bari grew on you with a little perseverance. Newly pedestrianised streets lined with designer shops, and a lovely old town complete with the ubiquitous cathedral. And then on to another ferry - this time from Bari to Patras in Greece. Here’s hoping Divine doesn’t have the same travel itinerary.
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  • Day226

    Today we reached the sea on the start of a trip round the coast of Italy's south eastern peninsula. Although there was sand in places, hard rocks projected out a defence against the waves of the crashing in from the Strait of Otranto. The many seaside resorts were closed and empty but ready to spring into life once summer arrived. Luckily for us they provided lots of seafront parking that was free this time of year.

    At Rocca Vecchia we discovered ruins in and on the rocks from as far back as the 7th century. While Will fished from the natural pier, Vicky took Poppy for a wander then went exploring. Spaces for compact dwellings had been hewn into the hard stone, carved steps led down to the blue coves and the remains of an old brick castle stood on the headland. Relics of fireplaces whose warmth had left them long ago, were now left exposed to the elements.

    Moving on, we passed wire fenced military camps and reached the Capo d'Otranto. The cape is the most easterly point in Italy and is marked by a lighthouse that we were able to walk down to and around. Although the strong wind cooled the air, the sun was out and we saw two little butterflies fluttering by. Below the lighthouse lay sharp rocks that would shred a boat to ribbons, the wind had fuelled the waves and the sight of the white surf pummelling the cape was enhanced by the sound it made as it hit.

    Our base that night was the free sea view car park at Santa Cesarea Terme. From the low wall in front of the van, the cliff fell away down to the sea about 50m below, from where the thunder claps from thousands of tonnes of water hitting the land could be heard. Small red fruit (prickly pears) sat on top of the cacti and some pale narcissi bloomed, reminding us of the daffodils over 1000 miles away in Netherton.

    At quarter to 7 the next morning the sun rose over the sea for a few minutes before disappearing behind a strip of low cloud. We are really appreciating the 10.5 hours of daylight this part of the world receives. It makes a positive difference to Vicky's mental health and while the van remains the same size, being able to look out for longer gives us the illusion of more space!
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  • Day218

    Lago di Lésina wild camp

    January 30, 2017 in Italy

    We'd been making an effort to reach more southerly climes where the daylight would last longer, the temperature would be warmer and we wouldn't feel the need to top up on LPG every 5 days. We were consequently excited to reach the Gargano peninsula (or the dew claw of Italy as Vicky has nicknamed it).

    The terrain we travelled through changed from rolling hills and winding roads to flat land and Roman straight roads. Some plants struggled to grow in the fields either side of us and were replaced by palm trees and the large wild cacti that seemed to thrive in the sandy soil.

    We passed a group of three young women / girls at the side of the road. It broke our hearts as we then drove past eight more standing by themselves in laybys or at junctions. Prostitution itself is legal in Italy but soliciting or prostitution organised by a third party is not.

    At lunchtime we stopped at a beach car park down a dead end road near Lésina Marina. The tourist infrastructure was in evidence but standing empty and the winds had blown the fine sand over much of the parking area. It was a super beach, long and soft underfoot. We fought the temptation to stay and instead continued to the thin stretch of land separating the long Lésina Lagoon from the open sea. The area was sparsely populated and it was a relief to get away from the resorts and into what we felt was a more authentic rural Italy. However, the roads that came with authentic rural Italy were not a relief! The map had shown a small through road along the seaward side of the lagoon so we turned off the heavily cratered main road and after a while, came to a heavily cratered, compacted gravel track. We carried on until the compacted gravel turned to compacted sand and the bushes either side closed in and threatened to scrape the sides of the van. The one advantage of these 'roads' was that not many people used them! On the way in we'd seen a grassy area just 50m away from the water and made the decision to park up there for the night.

    There was a considerable amount of rubbish about but tge sky was blue, the air warm (12°C!) and the sun sparkling on the water as it started its journey downwards. We did the only logical thing and went on a canoe paddle to Lésina, the town 3km over the other side of the lagoon! It was so relaxing to be on the water feeling the warmth on our faces. We returned 90 minutes later just in time to see the sun set as Little Egrets flew to their night roosts, silhouetted against the amber glow in the sky.
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  • Day219

    Parco Nazionale del Gargano wild camp

    January 31, 2017 in Italy

    We could have stayed longer at our lagoon wild camp but are keen to see as much of Italy as we can and are already 4 weeks in to our 15 weeks here, so we carried on along the coast road of the Gargano peninsula.

    We are now in Puglia, a region known as the bread basket of Italy and which produces amongst many other things, 80% of Europe's pasta! We could certainly believe it when we looked around us and saw miles of lemon, orange and olive trees, cabbages, artichokes and other crops.

    The peninsula has wonderful access to the coast and, Will being Will, wanted to go for a swim. Vicky reckoned that although the air had warmed to double figures, the water would be far too cold so stood by with the camera. She was right. Thankfully Will was
    unusually restrained and when he'd got up to his ankles he turned around and we sought warmth inside the van.

    There were some beautiful shells on the beach but they were surrounded by rubbish, the majority, brightly coloured plastic nets. Rifling through it was a pack of three dogs, a mother and her two grown pups. We'd seen an increasing number of loose dogs and worryingly had to dodge them on the roads. It seems the culture in this region, like in Croatia, is to let them run free.

    We passed by the whitewashed towns of Péshici and Vieste, perched impressively on the rocks as they led down to the water. Near Vieste we were flagged down by the Carabinieri (local police) doing standard checks. Not understanding quite what it was they wanted, we fished out and handed over our passports, driver's license, insurance and V5 documents. They were patient and took the license and V5 papers, checked them and waved us on, unlike the other person they'd detained!

    South of Vieste we pulled up for the night in a gravel layby overlooking a cove like the sort you'd see in holiday brochures. The sun highlighted the rocks on the headland opposite as we clambered down the steep slope and over the sharp rocks where we found a place to sit. Will set up his fishing rods and we stayed there together for about an hour, soaking in the peaceful sounds of waves lapping and gulls calling.

    Overnight the temperature didn't drop below 11°C and when morning came Vicky was able to do her Pilates outside for the first time in ages!
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  • Day227

    Torre Vado

    February 8, 2017 in Italy

    Well yesterday we visited the lighthouse at the most easterly point in Italy and today we stopped at the most southerly town on the heel, also with a lighthouse.

    Continuing on our coast road journey we didn't travel very far, but there were numerous 'stick 'em up' white washed resorts with swimming pools and roof terraces. 'Vende' signs assailed our eyes in trying to sell investment properties. Many places had marinas with large leisure cruisers alongside the fishing boats. It was a far cry from the poverty of inland Puglia that was still fresh in our minds.

    The coast here is beautiful and varied, from high cliffs, jutting headlands and sharply incised bays to gently rounded curves that dip low to the Ionian Sea and support harbours and villages. It was in one of these places that we chose to stay. Torre Vado had a gravel car park just a stone's throw from the sea. There was easy access to the working harbour from which small fishing boats journeyed, while the ropes fastening larger tourist excusrion boats to their moorings creaked lazily as they were lolled gently by the wind which had now calmed to a warm breeze. At the end of the harbour, behind the protection of some large chunks of rock, lay a little beach where we whiled away a few quiet hours in the sun. Will had his fill of scenery and fresh air (if not fish) when fishing from both here and the rocks by the car park!
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  • Day228

    Punta Prosciutto

    February 9, 2017 in Italy

    Travelling north up the Ionian coast of Italy's boot heel we passed through Galipolli (not the famous one) and saw its long and urban island stretching out to sea. There were also several pop up stalls selling sea urchins ready to eat.

    The colour of the sea was an amazing azure blue and where the waves weren't crashing you could see how very clear it was. We persisted in searching for an overnight spot by the sea but out of a town and had the privilege of turning down a few good ones that weren't quite what we were looking for. Luck was on our side when we pulled in to Punta Prosciutto, a small village on an outcrop of low rock. At the end of the small headland we found a gravel car park with a view of the sea on 3 sides. To the left was a long arching beach, ahead were hard, pebble pitted rocks and to the right, a smaller secluded beach leading to a narrow canal cut at 90° to the shore to moor the 2-person wooden fishing boats. The spot wasn't quiet, but the only noises we could here were natural. The wind roared and buffeted the van, the rain lashed against its side in sheets. Large waves relentlessly thundered against the hard shore ahead but broke before they reached the end of their passage to the two beaches, where their white surf shwooshed into the sand. Small purple ground flowers were blooming at the border of the gravel and rocks and daisys had scattered themselves along the narrow grassy tracks to either side. We stayed two days watching the mesmerising sea and felt truly refreshed by the time we departed.Read more

  • Day220

    Lucera

    February 1, 2017 in Italy

    Our drive through the Gargano National Park forest was bewitching. Pines, whose bark was reddish brown grew around us but the sun was high so they didn't block the light. On the ends of their branches grew pine cones and on more than a hundred of these, we saw large woven silk balls with a slight yellow tinge. We thought at the time they were spiders' nests and had a closer inspection. The silk was extremely strong when we touched it with our walking pole. With a little amount of research we found out they were the nests of Processional Pine Caterpillars, described as 'one of the most unpleasant creatures you will find'. The hairs of the caterpillar are harpoon like and the chemicals can cause harmful reactions to humans and other mammals. Depending on the stage of their life cycle they can even shoot hairs out as a porcupine type defence mechanism. They irritate the skin and in some severe cases can cause shock. They march in a nose to tail procession eating pine needles. We are going to have to be a bit more careful about investigating local wildlife!

    Elsewhere, pines were replaced by olive plantations as far as the eye could see while closer to, the blue flowers of wild rosemary bloomed at the side of the road. On flatter land, vibrant green wheat fields stretched out into the distance and the seed heads of wild fennel balanced on long stalks as the plants grew wild like nettles would in the UK. The road we took kept our eyes entertained as it wound in and out, giving us glimpses of beautiful coves, beaches and cliffs.

    Upon leaving this gorgeous peninsula we headed south west onto flatlands. The town of Lucera had a large car park with the basic facilities, so we got ourselves settled for the night. Palms grew on the grassed patches at either end of the area but there was a mass of broken glass, dog mess and litter strewn around. The atmosphere was a lively one, many people having driven there to socialise with friends. As evening wore on the sounds of car engines revving, tyres squealing, horns beeping, people calling out and a few fireworks being let off became increasingly intrusive and it was not until close to midnight that the place quietened down.

    We hadn't formed a good impression of Lucera but before leaving we decided to give the it a chance to change our minds. Heading up into the old town, the streets were no less dirty and the much of the pavement not fit for the purpose, but through the high arch and within the town walls, Lucera's character started to show through. Around our car park we'd seen a handful of individual fruit or fish stalls. These continued within the old town, adding vegetables and clothes stalls into the mix. It couldn't be described as a market as they weren't collected together, just erected wherever the stallholder thought best. There was a buzz to the place as groups gathered on the street to chat. We wanted some fennel and thought we might try some intriguing looking loose leafed broccoli (cima di rappa) on sale at the same stall. The seller was very keen that we got the right amount, prepared and cooked it correctly. He threw back the two plants we'd selected and gathered about 4 times as much, which he then started breaking off and slicing in a particular way, instructing us that it must be boiled, then cooked with pasta and eaten with olive oil. We came away with this and three times as much fennel as we'd wanted but it only cost €3 so we weren't unhappy. The experience had given us a better flavour of Lucera and the character of its inhabitants.
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  • Day224

    Today we passed by Castel Del Monte, an interestingly designed octagonal castle built back in the 13th century by Frederick II. The land changed from flat expanses that lent itself to huge agricultural fields, through to gently rolling hills on a rocky red soil. Dry stone walls partitioned the area into small plots which were tended by single people by hand, weeding between the newly planted greens, spraying the vines or using a handsaw to prune olive trees.

    The distinctive conical stone roofs of the Trulli appeared frequently and the further south we drove the more we found had been modernised, their individual stones plastered over and whitewashed. There were even some new ones being built!

    Thw town of Ostuni bills itself as the'white city' and it certainly made an impression as we rounded a corner and saw its lime washed buildings sitting on the crest of the hill. We pulled into a clean gravel car park under the shade of pines (no evidence of Processional Pine Caterpillars on these ones!). A clamorous cacophony of chirping came from the trees and shrubs around and we decided to stay the night. There was a charge for the parking but after so many free stopovers we were happy to pay, especially as van facilities were provided.

    After lunch we went for an amble around the stunning old town. There were several other tourists there, including an English foursome - the place was set up for a lot of incomers. Today however, the streets were quiet and because of the winding cobbled lanes, connected via quaint courtyards and flights of steps (whitewashed of course), we often found ourselves with no one else around. There was a Moroccan influence, gleaming white walls were everywhere you looked and the jewellery, clothing and crockery on sale stood out against them with warm yellows, blues, oranges and reds. Making decisions about where to explore next at every junction, we often discovered ourselves to be wandering up the same lane twice without having realised, but that was part of the joy of the place. Another thing we came across was several instillations by #OstuniGreenRiot who had planted greenery in and around the town. There were vintage suitcases containing cacti, a string of small spherical planters hanging in an alleyway (together with a sign offering free kisses!) as well as other guerilla gardening projects using pallets, window boxes and old tree branches. It brought to mind our local Transition group back in Stourbridge.

    The temperature had risen to 16°C and we were dressed comfortably in a couple of layers, in contrast to the Italians who were still bundled up in puffa jackets, hats and scarves (coupled with the obligatory cool sunglasses!) There was a warm wind and the next morning it brought very heavy rain, sleet and thunder. We were glad we'd chosen the previous day to explore!
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  • Day230

    Taranto

    February 11, 2017 in Italy

    Continuing north west up the coast of Italy's heal we passed some beautiful wide sandy beaches and saw a couple of groups of surfers enjoying the sizeable waves.

    In one of the towns we passed through, there seemed to be people coming away from a fayre. We soon discovered the road we needed was closed due to the festivities. There were police controlling the traffic and an officer removed the barrier and waved us through. Just as we were wondering how on earth we were supposed to squeeze the van between an ambulance and a car parked opposite, another officer approached and told us we needed to back up. We duly obeyed until the first officer came and started to argue with the second! Feeling like a yoyo we ended up driving forward again and passing the ambulance at snails pace with just a few inches to spare. We had a few seconds of relief before we needed to mount the pavement in order to pass a car parked on the T junction. The police officer leading us through did get out of their vehicle to photograph the offender before turning to us, shrugging their shoulders and gesturing for us to 'go wide' before nipping off in their little car!

    The large port town of Taranto was a much less stressful experience. We were welcomed to its streets by juggling unicyclists in fancy dress who entertained traffic waiting at the lights. We love the power of surprise that comes with travel. Even if you've read up on a place beforehand, you can never know what is going to be round the next corner!

    There were many street stalls selling mussels or sea urchins but as we drove alongside the harbour, we saw a short, white haired weatherbeaten man standing at the entrance to his fish shop, next to a table displaying sticks of mussels still attached to the lines of net they grew on. He caught our eye and played the fisherman with us, luring us in! He turned out to be a real character, we bought some mussels and small fish before we asked if it was alright to take a photo of the impressive display of fish. At this request he ushered a bemused Vicky behind the counter, and demonstrated the pose he thought would look best. He then enthusiastically guided Will to the position he thought the photo should be taken from and urged him to snap away! What could we do?!

    Taking our fish and dodging the crazy helmet-free scooter riders, we made our way along the harbourside, past nets of oysters like Christmas chocolate coins in the water and a stall where men scrubbed mussels clean. We bought an interesting looking vegetable from one of a small cluster of stalls and asked the seller what it was called. When he realised we didn't know what it was, he told us it was called Puntarelle, broke off and washed a piece for us to try before telling us a couple of different ways it could be eaten. We've come across so many warm and helpful people on our Italian travels, it makes a great difference to the way we feel about the country.
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  • Day223

    Putignano

    February 4, 2017 in Italy

    Today we drove a long way in the region of Pulgia without finding anywhere suitable to stay. We passed by large fields of green ground crops, unknown leafless fruit trees, olives and vines all planted in grids. There was a number of animals that had been killed on the roads, including a porcupine! We are noticing more and more differences in the wildlife and vegetation between where we are now and back in Britain.

    We again saw scores of women being prostituted at the side of the road, many of them black. The state of the area was poor and we wondered how much local officials were in the pockets of criminal gangs who siphoned state money off for their own purposes. There was a noticeable increase in inequality, with very poor areas set aside from the gated communities; their security guard standing in front of the chained entrance.

    As we progressed southwards, Trulli (traditional stone built conical huts) began to appear in the fields. Many were too dilapidated to be of use, but others were being used for storing things and a few were in such good condition that people were living in them as part of their houses.

    We'd hoped to stay outside a town, but nowhere presented itself so we stayed in the most suitable place we came accross; a layby type car park off a dual carriageway and near a rubbish site. Given the number of prostitutes we'd seen, Vicky was a little on edge walking up and down the layby, albeit with Poppy, but we weren't disturbed and it turned out to be a reasonably quiet spot.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Puglia, Apulien, Apulia, Pulla, Puilla, بوليا, Апулія, Пулия, Apulija, Апули, Apulie, Απουλία, Apulio, Apuulia, پولیا, Pouilles, Poulye, Pulie, Apûlje, Phú-li-â, פוליה, पुलिया, Ապուլիա, Apúlía, プッリャ州, აპულია, Апулия, 풀리아 주, Apuli, Puggia, Püja, Apūlija, Апулија, पुलीया, Pùglia, Apulië, Polha, ਪੂਲੀਆ, Poulles, Pulia, صوبہ اپولیا, Apúlia, Pugghia, แคว้นปูลยา, پلیہ, Puia, 蒲利亞, 普利亚

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