Enchanting Puglia: Discover the region's authentically rustic villages
Grandiose palazzos, premium olive oil, sloping streets cobbled with history and a captivating atmosphere: the charms of Puglia run as deeply as the aquamarine waters of the Adriatic and Ionian seas that embrace this peninsula. A world-class destination, Puglia in southern Italy offers a generous share of European coastline set upon sparkling watmer, and picturesque towns to inspire adventurous travel on your next holiday.
Enjoy villa holidays in Puglia with The Thinking Traveller — let us help you plan the rustic adventure of your dreams.
Rustic Puglia: The best towns in Puglia for an authentic holiday experience
Puglia may be one of the most beguiling destinations in all of Italy. Rustic seaside towns like Polignano a Mare and Santa Maria di Leuca invite visitors to enjoy the ocean breeze while ambling across spacious sandy beaches. Meanwhile, leisurely meandering through the narrow streets of towns like Martina Franca and Ceglie Messapica persuade travellers to admire the craftsmanship of the centuries-old Baroque architecture, which is prominent throughout much of southern Italy.
Puglia is filled with rustic villages like these that allow visitors to truly sink into the local traditions, culture, culinary delicacies and rich history of this southeastern Italian province. Here are three of our favourite destinations — the perfect spots for an authentic holiday abroad.
Galatina is the type of place one dreams of getting lost in. The historic Baroque architecture that fills this Puglia village is only a small slice of the beauty and charm on offer. The streets of this twelfth-century city are laced together with a seemingly never ending network of cobbled alleyways, framed by astoundingly ornamental doorways and the breathtaking courtyards of strapping palazzos.
Nobly resting in the centre of town, Palazzo Gorgoni is the perfect place to enjoy the local delicacies of nearby pasticcerias. This cathedral-like villa marries historical architecture with contemporary comfort. Cool off in the enchanting private courtyard pool before enjoying a brief stroll to a nearby restaurant for a taste of Galatina.
Galatina’s iconic cuisine is filled with traditional fare, exemplified by the beloved pasticciotto, a sweet pastry with a delicious custard filling - the perfect dessert to end a perfect day.
Among the best villages in Puglia, Corigliano rests amidst the most beautiful examples of Italian countryside. This enchanting town in southern Puglia is home to a mosaic of centuries-old streets, anchored by ornate monuments such as the Castle of Otranto, with a façade sculpted in the seventeenth-century featuring detailed Baroque filigree.
Take a brief road trip from this seaside town and you’ll begin to feel the serene embrace of olive bows and flowering plants on the way to Montekore, our idyllic villa encapsulated by a lush 20-acre organic farm. This is an ecologist’s dream estate, as it fosters more than 100 fine examples of Italian flora, including aromatic plants and medicinal herbs. After enjoying the gorgeous gardens, guests can retire inside to enjoy the comfort and serenity within the villa’s vast interiors.
When you’re ready to emerge from your secluded home-from-home, it’s only a 12-minute drive though the Italian countryside to the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea.
An inspired holiday in the heart of the picturesque landscape of the Italian countryside is easily accessible with a visit to the lovely village of Oria. This petite village is situated atop three hills, as if its beauty is being showcased on a pedestal.
Upon first glance, the Swabian Castle dominates visitors’ view of this hilltop town. This historic landmark was built in the early thirteenth century by request of Emperor Frederick II. To this day, the town hosts an annual celebration of its mediaeval history every August, which features one of Italy’s most outstanding pageants.
After a day trip consuming the rich history of Oria, you could stop at villa Casa Romigi on route to Ceglie Messapica, allowing travellers to find prompt refuge in an authentic trulli accommodation. This characterful villa is a fabulous retreat for up to eight guests and is perfect for lounging by the pool, dining al fresco late into the night or relaxing under the shade of an olive tree.
4. The villages of Presicce and Specchia
For travellers looking for a leisurely holiday, we recommend visiting the villages of Presicce and Specchia, both of which can easily be explored in just a few hours. This will allow you the perfect balance of sightseeing and relaxation, as you can easily retire to one of our gorgeous nearby villas, like the vervant estate that is Masseria Cisterna Rossa or the expertly restored Masseria Acquadolce.
The intimate village of Presicce welcomes visitors to its piazza, the heart of the city, which features fine examples of Baroque architecture. This is a hamlet for travellers with a hunger for historical architecture, as Presicce is a picturesque illustration of a traditional Puglian village.
About a 30-minute jaunt from Presicce rests the romantic village of Specchia. Historically a fortified city, Specchia remains an enchanting hilltop town to this day. Situated in Italy’s ‘heel’ and close to the shores of the Adriatic Sea, the charms of Specchia include seasoned olive groves and luxury places to stay like Villa Specchia and Masseria Curti Vecchi. We think this area is best enjoyed in early to late summer - the time of year when the weather encourages afternoon walks through the town and glasses of refreshing white wine in the evening.
Only 14km from Specchia, Diso is a destination ideal for lovers of the sea. It is just inland of the Adriatic, making it easy for travellers to spend their days by the water and their evenings in one of the delicious local restaurants or bars. It features a quiet community, lovely architecture and a fascinating history - it is one of our favourite rustic and relaxing villages in all of Puglia.
Our peaceful villa, Il Tabacchificio, is just 1km from Diso, and complements the gentle atmosphere of the village perfectly. This estate has been impeccably redesigned from its original roots as a tobacco factory, and its home cinema and other luxurious amenities can be enjoyed by up to 12 guests.
Italy is teeming with historical villages and scenic retreats, calling to those who wish to unplug from the bustle of city living and discover the untouched corners of the country, from the Sicilian countryside to Puglia beaches. While Galatina, Corigliano and Oria are among the best towns in Puglia, the area is bountiful in seaside towns and outlet villages that beckon day trips through olive trees, and are each worthy of a spot on your holiday itinerary.
Should you wish to begin planning your holiday to Puglia, please contact our team of experts. We’d be more than happy to help you find the best villages in the region to ensure your Italian getaway is an authentic taste of the local culture.