Budget Trip – Puglia, Italy Part 1
We love traveling and we believe this is one of the most important things in life. That’s why we make it a priority and try to travel at least 4-5 times a year.
However, we know this is not always easy, especially if you’re trying to save money.
If budget trips are your thing then you probably know you should check websites like skyscanner.com for cheaper tickets, to book in advance and to choose affordable accommodation. There are plenty of sites and apps that will help you with that, including Airbnb, which is our personal favorite.
And if budget trips really are your thing, then keep reading as today we will share our most recent trip in the lovely Italian region Puglia.
Dates – 16th – 19th of February.
Places – Bari, Matera, Ostuni, Alberobello, Monopoli and Polignano a Mare.
Type of transport – plane, a rental car (the cute Fiat 500 – we were in Italy after all).
The Beginning of the Journey
We had a good 1-hour flight and we landed in the middle of the day which was perfect. The day was sunny and warm despite the wind. People were friendly and nice and we went into vacation mode immediately. Bari Airport is quite close to the city – around half an hour with a bus (depending on traffic) and the ticket costs €4 per person. The bus stops at a few stations and the last one is the main one – Bari Centrale (the central station). The GPS was clear that our Airbnb is 12 minutes away. We went on the side streets, not knowing that one of the best streets in Bari is just in front of the station, going in our way.
With the vital help of a Google translator, we managed to understand our lovely host Maria when we arrived. Her apartment was huge, very cozy and warm and had the vintage feeling you would expect when you’re in a city like Bari. The apartment was in a great location near both the center and the sea. A lovely place to rest after a long day of exploring the city.
The Capital of Puglia
Bari is located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It has a population of over 300 000 people and is the capital of the Puglia region. As with most Italian treasures, it has mostly narrow paved streets, old but well-preserved buildings, great food, wine, and coffee. Since Puglia is considered a poorer part of the country, the prices are very reasonable. It’s certainly cheaper than Rome, Florence or Milan.
We had luck with the weather as well for this time of the year. As our rental home was close to the sea, it was logical to start our great endeavor from there. Bari has a nice road next to the water and an even better walking area. It was designed for long, possibly romantic walks while listening to the engine noises on one side and admiring the endless sea on the other.
Walking was nice but we were hungry – and being the foodies we are, food was one of the main reasons to visit Italy. So before anything else, we were determined to get some food. The whole world knows Italy has probably the best cuisine so you would imagine that finding a good spot would be easy. So did we and we were quite disappointed. Being outside of the touristic season, some places were closed, some were packed, and some were closing soon. Obviously, most of the restaurants open only for lunch and dinner and unfortunately, we were looking for one in the mid-afternoon. We finally managed to find a great restaurant called Tiella, next to the Petruzzelli theater.
We had to act quickly and we did – one big pizza coming for each of us.
Review of Bari
We spent our first and our last day in Bari and we managed to get around 35 kilometers of walking during that time. After the 4th hour, we started repeating some of the sights. Google recommended visiting the San Nicolas Basilica, the Margherita theater, the Castello Normanno Svevo castle, the San Sabino cathedral, the old city. The castle was closed but it looked great from the outside – especially with the huge red peppers in front of it which looked surreal in this surrounding.
I would recommend my two favorites walking destinations – the main street going from Bari Centrale all the way to the old town. It’s wide (which is rare), has a lot of shops, restaurants, people and amazing buildings. One of the main universities is on the left (if you start from the station). There were many young people there, some of them graduating.
On the other side, you will find a small but lovely park. The tall palm trees, the warm weather, and the people eating gelato made us forget it’s actually February.
Beware of the crossing streets though as Italians are not very gentle on the pedestrian crossings.
Secondly, there is a higher walking part closer to the sea. It starts from the Archeological Museum and it goes down to Teatro Margherita. You have a better viewpoint of the sea, a wider street with little to no cars and a great experience.
Conclusion for Bari
It’s a lovely place to visit which definitely won a place in my heart. Bari doesn’t have a huge city status with lots of sightseeing for everyone. It’s not a megapolis waiting for its conquerors on foot. It has its own charm you soak up immediately, making you want to live the dolce vita just like Italians do. A full day of walking can be enough to see all the landmarks. But you keep wanting to get purposefully lost in the tiny streets. I think that’s where the Italian magic is. Where you get the smell of a homemade lasagne and you observe the everyday life of people who live there.
I wouldn’t call Bari a must-see city but with its cute parks, good weather, amazing food, and space for great walks, I would recommend spending some time to actually explore the city. Most people view it as a stepping stone to start their trip in Puglia as there are more interesting places to visit. However, don’t underestimate the capital of this region – it has a lot to offer.
P.S. Parking is a nightmare even if you have a small Italian car.