When you own a holiday home in Puglia, you can escape to your own feel-good space surrounded by trees, sea and sunshine. Where else can you find countryside villas, townhouses and apartments, a short distance from the sea, at such great prices?
Puglia has a simple charm that makes you feel immediately free and relaxed. More like a comfy pair of flip-flops than the heel of the Italian boot. Many tourists return year after year and are given a warm welcome by the locals as if they were family. If you rent out your holiday home you can make a good income, as it’s a very popular summer holiday destination.
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Summer evenings revolve around the main piazza and the enjoyment of fresh produce, delicious dishes, gelato and local wines. Summer events include religious festivals with amazing street illuminations and celebrations of local seasonal produce, such as melons, almonds, and the region’s traditional orecchiette pasta.
Puglia has a simple charm that makes you feel immediately free and relaxed. It is more like a comfy pair of flip-flops than the heel of the Italian boot.
Italians flock to the coastal towns of Otranto, Gallipoli and Vieste for their lively summer nightlife. While foreign tourists tend to prefer the tranquil privacy of a countryside villa with a pool. Popular locations are within 45 minutes drive of Brindisi airport and within a short drive of the coast between Bari and Brindisi.
A holiday home in Puglia’s Countryside
The countryside of the Itria Valley ( Valle d’Itria) is recognised for its beautiful old olive trees and dry stone walls. In fact, Puglia provides around 40% of the country’s olive oil. Other Puglian delights are the almond, cherry blossom and fruit trees, which you will often find growing in your own garden. Inland the landscape rises, creating panoramic views across olive groves towards the coast.
Nearer the sea and south into Salento, the land becomes flatter. Here you will see more vineyards, fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, artichokes and aubergines. In the summer, you’ll find prickly pears and figs, and in the winter, oranges and clementines.
You will find villas with roof terraces that have breathtaking views across olive groves and the sea. In the hot summer months, you’ll be grateful for a shady veranda and a pool. Shutters and mosquito nets are also a must.
As many of these villas were built to be used as weekend and summer homes, they tend to have small kitchens but large areas for dining with family. Cooking might be done on outside BBQs or in a pizza oven. If they are only being used in the summer, they might only have a fireplace for heating.
Prices vary greatly depending on location, size and condition. It is possible to buy a simple two-bedroom villa for €65,000, but three-bedroom villas with a pool, like this one near Francavilla Fontana, start from €250,000.
For innovative ideas on raising the money to buy your Italian home, read How to Pay for an Italian Property.
Apulia is famous for its Trulli, the typical dry-stone buildings with conical roofs. On a drive through Apulia’s countryside, it’s fun to see how many you can spot scattered all over the central and southern part of the region. Trulli are particularly widespread in the Itria Valley, especially in Alberobello, where the entire historic centre is made up of them. Indeed, since 1996 the Trulli of Alberobello have been listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Many countryside trulli have been transformed into holiday homes. Their stone construction and small windows help to keep the heat out. Their quirky design appeals to tourists and many leave feeling like they have stayed in something authentically Puglian. You can find small Trulli that need renovating from €20,000. However, if you want one that is ready to move into, they start at around €165,000, like this one near Ceglie Messapica.
Another type of traditional countryside house is a Lamia. Sometimes you will find properties with a combination of Lamia and a Trullo. It’s certainly easier to fit a kitchen into a straight-walled lamia than a round Trullo. They may look boxier on the outside, but they often have lovely barrelled stone ceilings on the inside.
Trulli have a quirky design that appeals to tourists
Utilities in countryside holiday homes
Countryside holiday homes in Puglia are usually connected to mains electric, but that’s about it. You’ll probably need to pay for water to be delivered and stored in a “cisterna” or water tank. If you are lucky your property will have an artesian well. A well costs around €5,000 to be drilled, so take this into account when comparing property prices. It’s worth having it for the convenience of free water pumped up to the house. Sewage is also likely to be going into a tank. Ask if it’s a soakaway or one that needs to be emptied.
A solar panel for hot water is a real bonus in your holiday home in Puglia. Electric can work out expensive for a water boiler. However, you will need a backup for heating water, for the odd cloudy day. This may be part of a gas, wood or pellet heating system. If you intend on using your holiday home in the winter you will also need some form of heating.
Summers in Puglia can get very hot. July and August temperatures are around 35 centigrade. Fans are essential and many people have air conditioners in their bedrooms, just to cool the room down before bed. A dip in a pool is another great way to keep cool.
Townhouses and apartments
If you want to be near to restaurants and evening entertainment, an apartment in the historic centre of a town or village is a good option. In the old “Palazzo”, buildings have ceilings that are often high and star vaulted. Location is important. Some parts of the town will be more appealing than others.
Want a holiday home but worried about the cost? Why not pool finances and buy with family? Explore our guide, Buying Abroad with Family.
You’ll pay more for a property with a balcony or roof terrace with a view. In summer people stay up late, so be aware some streets may be noisy with music and chatter. If hiring a car, take note of where the nearest parking is. Houses in the winding medieval streets rarely have parking.
Beautiful inland towns
While driving through the Puglian countryside you will come across so many lovely towns. Always seek out their “Centro Storico” on foot, as these historic gems may be hidden in the centre of a more modern residential area. Less well-known towns, with an authentic Italian charm, include, Mesagne, Francavilla Fontana, Oria, Grottaglie, Nardo, Cisternino and Manduria, to name just a few. Below are some of the most popular inland towns for holidays:
The hilltop town of Ostuni, also known as the “Citta Bianca” (White City), is a popular holiday destination. It’s easy to get to from Brindisi airport and is a short drive from the sea. In summer there are many evening events and there is a fine selection of restaurants, bars and gift shops. Many pleasant hours can be spent exploring the narrow streets that wind around the hill, leading up to the cathedral. You can find studio apartments in Ostuni from €55,000. However, for €180,000 you could buy this three-bedroom townhouse with a sea view from the roof terrace.
Lecce is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture and is one of the region’s most prominent cities. Often referred to as the ‘Florence of the South’, it is packed with beautiful architecture, including a Roman amphitheatre. There are elaborately decorated churches and palaces at every turn. An elegant backdrop for the evening passeggiata and alfresco dining.
Listed as one of most beautiful small towns of historical interest (I Borghi più belli d’Italia), Locorotondo is a hilltop town in the heart of the Valle d’Itria. A stroll around the historical centre always delights with its white townhouses and balconies bedecked with pots of flowers and decorative ironwork. A typical house style of the town of Locorotondo is the “cummerse”, a small house with a regular geometric shape and a sloping roof.
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One of Puglia’s most beautiful towns, Martina Franca is overflowing with elegant Baroque architecture and delightful trattorias. The walls of the historic centre are entered through Baroque & Renaissance gateways. Inside there are narrow twisting alleys that lead to sunny piazzas, centuries-old palazzi, and ornately carved church facades.
A holiday home in Puglia by the sea
Puglia has more than 860 kilometres of coastline. At the point where the region becomes a peninsula and the famous “Heel of the boot”, you are rarely more than 30 minutes’ drive from the sea. On the Brindisi side you have the Adriatic sea and on the Gallipoli side is the Ionian sea. This area is called Salento and is loved for its sandy beaches, amazing rock formations and crystal-clear waters. No wonder it’s been likened to the “Maldives”.
The Salento peninsula is the place to go for kitesurfing, paddle boarding, wind-surfing and wakeboarding. Particularly, at Torre dell’Orso and Lido Marini, Gallipoli and the beaches of Frassanito and Alimini. You’ll also find ideal wind and waves for surfing, kite-surfing and windsurfing in the bay of Torre Guaceto, Palese, Santo Spirito and Giovinazzo. In the north of the region, on the Gargano promontory, Vieste is a popular destination for surfers and windsurfers, especially the bay of Santa Maria di Merino and Manaccora.
If you want a holiday home near an interesting diving spot, check out Porto Cesareo on the Ionion coast and you might see a caretta-caretta turtle. If you dive the waters off Torre Canne, you can explore the wreck of the Gulten Islamoglu. Then, at Torre Ovo there is the amazing seabed of the Petrified Forest, the only forest of fossil remains in Italy. However, some of the most popular diving spots are around the Tremiti Islands, an archipelago off the Gargano coast.
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Popular seaside towns in Puglia
There are a few seaside towns that have grown around fishing harbours and ports. Two important ones are Bari and Brindisi, which are large seaports. Ferry companies operate routes to Greece, Albania, Croatia and Montenegro. These two towns also have an international airport. However, most tourists don’t choose to stay in these towns, despite their pleasant waterfronts and historic buildings.
Monopoli is a delightful coastal town with ancient churches and winding stone streets. Adding to the charm of its tangled medieval old town is a lovely cathedral, an old fishing port, and a series of fortified seafront walls. The town is also near a lovely sandy cove with crystal clear waters. An apartment in Monopoli will cost you about €220,000.
Polignano a Mare
Clinging onto a rocky cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Polignano a Mare is famous for its sea caves and cliff diving. One of the sea caves even has a restaurant inside it. The rocks shelter a small Blue Flag beach, and perched on the edge are the houses of the old town. There is a maze of winding streets revealing and old churches, street cafes and glimpses of the sparkling blue sea.
Tucked away in Italy’s heel, in the province of Lecce, is the picturesque seaside town of Otranto. Art and history lovers come here to admire the gorgeous 12th-century mosaic floors of its Romanesque cathedral. The castle of Otranto watches over the town and hosts exhibitions and events. Days can be spent on the nearby beaches and evenings at the seafood restaurants lining the scenic waterfront promenades.
The easternmost town of the Gargano peninsula, Vieste enjoys a gorgeous position on a promontory that juts out into the azure waters of the Adriatic Sea. Whitewashed limestone walls encircle the town, and there’s a wide sandy beach on either side. The coastline is lined with sea caves, grottoes, and secluded sun-drenched coves waiting to be explored.
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Seaside villages in Puglia
Between the seaside towns, you can find a varied coastline with rocks, coves and long stretches of sandy beach. Near the roadsides, you’ll see a sprinkling of holiday villas and at regular intervals, small villages with holiday homes. These villages come alive in July and August when Italian’s traditionally take their holidays.
The local beaches are the most beautiful I have ever seen.
They can be particularly busy around the Ferragosta bank holiday in August. Coastal villages tend to have small single story villas at prices from €90,000. A particular favourite is Porto Cesareo on the Ionic coast. The local beaches are the most beautiful I have ever seen.
Events in Puglia
Time your holidays right and you could see one of Puglia’s big events. Like the Carnival in Putignano, which is one of the oldest in Europe, starting in 1394. The large floats are sensational. In July, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series comes to Polignano a Mare.
Then in August, thousands of people flock to the Notte della Taranta, a folk music festival that takes place in various locations in the province of Lecce. Between July and August, is the Festival of Valle d’Itria, with opera music shows. Followed by, the Locus Festival in Locorotondo, which showcases music from all over the world.
While many towns have medieval processions the most popular is the Medieval procession and tournament in Oria (Torneo dei Rioni).
Time your holidays right and you could see one of Puglia’s big events, like the Carnival in Putignano
What is Ferragosto?
Ferragosto is on the 15 August. It is a holiday that goes back to Roman emperor Augustus’ times and coincides with the Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary. In 18 BC, Augustus introduced the ‘Feriae Augusti’ which was a long period of rest after the harvest.
In the 1920s the working classes were encouraged to take a trip during the three days around Ferragosto and were offered cheap train travel. To this day large numbers of Italians drive, fly and train down to Puglia to celebrate Ferragosto with family and friends. As many people are on holiday during this period it’s not the best time to contact estate agents and view property.
Flying to Puglia
Before the Covid pandemic, international flights came into the airports of Brindisi and Bari all year round. Direct flights to Brindisi with Ryanair from London Stansted, Manchester, Dublin, Paris, Bruxelles, Berlin etc. Plus, internal flights to Bari and Brindisi from major Italian cities such as Rome, Milan and Venice, for those arriving from further afield, such as the USA and Australia. Airlines are predicting a good summer for 2021.
Many foreign buyers choose to buy a holiday home, with the intention of retiring there in a few years’ time. If this is your plan you may want to consider if the location and style of your holiday home is suitable for year-round living. See my previous article Let’s retire to Puglia. For more holiday inspiration visit the official tourism website for Puglia.