Things to do in Puglia

I’ve visited the major cities of central and north Italy, and feel like I know the culture and cuisine relatively well… but the rural region of Southern Italy was completely unknown to me. I’d heard fellow travel fanatics talk about the growing trend to visit Puglia, the less visited part of Italy which is known for centuries-old olive groves, whitewashed hill towns and crystal clear sea. The reality was even more idyllic than it sounds.

PugliaMasseria Moroseta

To stay

Masseria Trapana – Located on the outskirts of Lecce and surrounded by sixty hectares of ancient olive groves. Rob Potter-Sanders has transformed a derelict 16th farmhouse into one of the most luxurious hotels in Puglia. There are ten sumptuous suites to choose from, each with a grand four-poster bed and giant bathtub.

Masseria Moroseta – This stunning, minimalist bed & breakfast is found on the outskirts of Ostuni, and feels like it was built with Instagram in mind. The contemporary masseria was designed by Andrew Trotter and is set around a central courtyard, with six charming bedrooms, a beautiful pool and lovely common areas to enjoy.

Puglia foodPuglia seafoodPuglia food

To eat

Cielo – Tucked away in the Ostuni maze of white streets is the enchanting Cielo restaurant, inside the luxury hotel, La Sommita. Sit down for lunch and you will be treated to lots of little surprises throughout from foie gras chocolates to aperol liquid sweets. The plates of pasta are refined and delicious and the innovative Egg and Flour dessert is not to be missed.

Cremeria alla Scala – The best gelato in Ostuni. There are several branches of this ice-cream parlour in Ostuni, pop in for a cone of the speciality flavour, Sant’Oronzo (almond and mandarin).

Il Principe del Mare – Cheap and cheerful this basic seafood restaurant is found at the sea’s edge in Fasano. The family-run eatery offers the freshest fish straight from the ocean, while you sit watching the waves crash to shore.

Angelo Sabatelli Ristorante – There are only a handful of good fine dining restaurants in Puglia. Angelo Sabatelli is among the best, serving up inventive recipes based on the traditional dishes from Puglia. The Orecchiette pasta with 30 hour cooked meat ragu and canestrato cheese fondue is a triumph… Puglian cuisine at its very best.

Il Cortiletto – Located on the edge of Ostuni this neighborhood restaurant is a favourite with locals and tourists alike. The courtyard dining room has a lovely atmosphere and serves simple but authentic anti-pasti, pasta and wood-fired meats.

Gelateria Natale – Universally referred to as Lecce’s best gelato, Gelateria Natale is always busy and has enough flavours to satisfy everyone. I tasted the ricotta and fig and rum baba flavours which were both creamy and delicious. There is also a range of traditional Italian confectionery.

Places to Visit


Matera – This ancient town carved into the canyon is famous for its cave dwellings, known as the sassi. This World Heritage site is unique and enchanting, transporting you back to centuries ago.


Otranto – This historic town is on the east coast of the Salento peninsula. Visit the Romanesque cathedral to see the twelfth-century mosaic and if its hot take a dip in the crystal clear turquoise waters.


Lecce – One of the largest cities in the Apulia region Lecce is known for its magnificent baroque buildings. Visit the amazing Cattedrale di Lecce and the Basilica di Santa Croce, before cooling off with a delicious ice-cream from Gelateria Natale.


Gallipoli – The lazy town of Gallipoli has fantastic beaches and a charming historic old town to explore.


Alberobello – Although touristy it is worth visiting Alberobello to marvel at the amazing trulli, a traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof. Head a cafe with rooftop seating for the best panoramic views.


Polignano a Mare – Perched on top of a limestone cliff, Polignano a Mare offers a dramatic coastline and a beautiful beach in the centre of town. Wander round the streets and grab lunch in a local cafe before soaking up the sun.


Monopoli – This quaint town is centred around a lovely fishing port. Charter a sailing boat for the day, and sail up the coast to the St Stefano monastery where you can admire the amazing caves and take a dip in the azure Adriatic sea.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MISS: Wildebeest, Falmouth

Falmouth’s vegan restaurant, Wildebeest, offers a cosy atmosphere and beautiful attention to food, with a small and well-thought out menu that wouldn’t be out of place in a fine-dining restaurant.

Wildebeest Restaurant, Falmouth

The service is friendly and welcoming in this tiny Scandinavian-style café, with walls adorned with animal-loving chalk scribbles and floating cacti. Nothing is too much trouble, there’s never a rush, and three courses while away easily amongst a relaxed and warm setting, surrounded by happy eaters.

When the food does arrive, the delicacy, colour and conception of the plates is inspired. Turnip carpaccio, pickled shallots, mustard cream, dill, German rye bread: we spend a few minutes admiring the attention to detail in the plating of the food, and then after tasting, the intensity of flavour that’s condensed into a dish so small and beautiful. The mustard cream cuts through the sweet turnip and tangy shallot, perfect with the crunchy texture of the rye. This dish was the highlight of the evening.

Wildebeest, Falmouth

For the main course- a spicy Laksa with butternut squash and flat rice noodles, mange tout, pea tendrils. The soup was a little tame, but packed a warm ginger-y punch and was presented well, considering the difficulty in making a broth look good.

The star of the main dishes was, however, the crispy polenta with a tomato and oregano sauce. Served with kale, oyster mushrooms, almond ricotta, crunchy butterbeans and micro garlic chives, this dish exploded in flavour that was rich and comforting, despite the complex combination of ingredients.

For dessert we shared a warm chocolate and raspberry brownie and some peanut butter and chocolate fudge swirl ice cream. The perfect indulgence after a delicious supper (and you couldn’t tell it was all dairy-free).

Wildebeest accept walk-ins (apart from on Tuesday’s, when they’re closed, in the most Cornish-life way), but booking ahead is advisable- with less than 20 seats available- this restaurant is only getting more and more popular in a county that’s expanding its food expectations and broadening its culinary horizons.

More information and book a table at Wildebeest here.

Written by Jade Phipps.

Masseria Trapana, Puglia

After a few days in Southern Italy I began to adapt to the slow pace of life and became accustomed to my beautiful surroundings. For the final stop of our Puglia tour we drove our little Fiat 500 hire car down to Lecce, for a two night stay at Masseria Trapana.

Masseria TrapanaMasseria Trapana

This boutique hotel took my breath away. When owner Rob Potter-Sanders bought the 16th century farmhouse a few years ago it was in ruins and had been neglected and untouched for over 100 years. After extensive rebuilding and sensitive renovation works, the hotel opened for business in October 2015, complete with the original olive press and the chapel of Santa Barbara, where the old frescoes have been restored.

Masseria TrapanaMasseria TrapanaMasseria Trapana

Masseria Trapana is set amongst sixty hectares of ancient olive groves and has six gardens in the hotel grounds, where fruit and nut trees produce an abundant crop each year. Every corner has been carefully considered, with charming decor and furniture making it a blissful place to walk and spend time in.

There are just ten suites which gives the hotel an intimate and special feel, and there is also the option of renting out the whole masseria exclusively as a private villa, on a weekly basis, for special occasions.

Masseria TrapanaMasseria TrapanaMasseria Trapana

We were extremely comfortable in our very spacious and airy Garden Suite. The design is similar in all the suites, a subtle cream colour scheme with accents of red. All the furniture chosen is of the finest quality, and a luxurious four poster bed is topped with lovely bespoke linen.

A small private garden brings light into the room and also provides the perfect place for a giant bathtub, so you can bathe outdoors beneath your own orange tree, which has the most exquisite floral scent.

The bathroom was a sanctuary of honey-hued stone and indulgent features. Kitted out with a powerful rain shower, dual sinks and chic striped towels. I was more than excited to discover our bathroom stocked with Aesop miniature toiletries – my favourite beauty brand from Australia.

Masseria Trapana

If you decide to spend your days at the hotel, the pool is a lovely place to unwind and soak up the sun. For day excursions there are plenty of charming towns nearby to visit. Lecce is the closest, just a 15 minute drive away, slightly further afield you will find picturesque coastal villages like Gallipoli and Otranto. The helpful staff at Masseria Trapana will help you plan every aspect of your Puglian itinerary so you can make the most of this enchanting area.

Masseria Trapana

Local restaurants can be hit and miss in this area, so after a few nights exploring the culinary options in Lecce you may prefer to enjoy a leisurely dinner at the hotel, where local chef Maria Carla serves up delicious traditional dishes. We enjoyed the flavoursome speciality ‘Trapana’ pasta dish and a perfectly cooked piece of chicken wrapped in parma ham. For dessert, I was delighted to be served panna cotta, one of my all time favourite Italian puddings. Wine from the region is served with dinner, or the waiters will make you an aperitif of your choice.

Breakfast is always served outside, in the dewy morning light beneath the trees. A buffet of continental treats includes traditional pastries, fruit, meats and cheese. Being Australian, Rob caters specially for his guests from down under with lamingtons (sponge cake coated in chocolate and coconut) and vegemite! Don’t miss the fresh juices made from the citrus trees that surround you.

Masseria Trapana

Masseria Trapana is a paradisiacal retreat in the idyllic Puglian landscape… as soon as you’ve visited once you’ll be planning annual return visits to this magical home away from home.

More information and book a stay at Masseria Trapana here.