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Trulli a road less traveled...

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Martina Franca, Puglia

We took a trip very different this summer. As the movie Barbie just released this month, this trip and post seems apropos. There were no men on this trip and it is one that required a lot of grit, intelligence, resourcefulness and savvy. A few more hands and some strength would have been helpful in many instances, but we made it work and instead, my child, who will someday become a man, helped me with some heavy lifting.

Puglia has been a hot destination for several years now. I am late in the game, but my mom had already been to this region several years ago. She always seems to visit the best places and conceptualize itineraries before they become trendy. I, however, had never been to this part of Italy and had been wanting to explore it for some time. I wanted to take this special trip with family and friends to usher in a milestone birthday. The heel is very different than the rest of the boot. The Trulli homes seen above are unique to this region and you will see them all over the area. We stayed in a small town, Martina Franca, just 15 minutes from magical Ostuni. Elegant Lecce, which is called the "Florence of the South", should also not be missed on a trip to Puglia. Disappointedly, I did not make it to ancient Matera, due to the extreme heat, but would definitely add that to your list.

Italy was overrun by American tourists this summer...more than ever. However, Puglia's crowds remain manageable and that will not last long. For the first time, we stayed in Airbnb's in Italy as I had invited a friend and her daughters to come along. These trips serve as not just "research", but precious time for me and my son to be with his nana who is always on the move! We had a group of six, ranging from a young child who had never left the U.S to a my incredibly well traveled mom and it provided a few challenges. However, those challenges the crazy stories, navigating unmarked roads in the pitch darkness ( sans navigation), a foreign home full of quirks, temperatures in the triple digits and doing all of our own moving, driving, cooking and cleaning, made this trip one of the most memorable.

We grew. The kids grew even more.

I would hesitate to send our clients to Puglia in this manner. I would highly suggest if you plan on renting a home, to have some staff on hand as many issues can arise and you are definitely off the beaten path. However, now that we made this journey, I have the most valuable feedback to share. You will not find it online or on Instagram. Whether it be where to stay ( as I visited an exquisite, smaller hotel in Monopoli) and there are several wonderful properties to choose from, the best places to dine, where to sightsee and how things have changed in Italy since 2018 so don't think you can " wing it". I know the best boat to rent, tour guides to hire in these towns, how to see them with ease and drivers if you need them.

Puglia is very close to Sicily to it's West and Greece to its East. It's architecture, cuisine, traditions, scenery and energy is very unique and should be on your travel list. You can connect from many European cities to Bari airport if you choose to stay a bit north, or Salento in the South ( which by the way has delicious rose wines). Here I thought I only liked ones from Provence. If you plan to rent a car to explore, which is pretty much a must if you want to see this vast area, beware that you are not only on roads with speedy Italians, but also a lot of tourists, twenty somethings who have been partying and have no idea where they are going...The driving is not difficult per se, but the signs are not great.

Do not depend solely on your navigation. Often it worked and sometimes it got us lost.

As a general rule, it's never great to rely on technology, but rather before you depart, know where you are headed. Have a backup map as antiquated as it may seem. Most people stay in hotels which are not out in the countryside on dark roads as we were, however always good advice to heed.

Twists and turns aside, we ate farm fresh eggs in the morning. My friend whipped up amazing salads from the garden in the evening. We shopped the local market/ butcher for our Parmesan, cured meats, rotisserie chicken. We met incredible local people like our house manager Maria Pia who invited us to her Trulli in Alberobello for an aperitif. I am so proud of these children who seemed to embrace this area and way of life in the freshest way only children could.

Ciao Puglia.


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