The Puglia region has a proud traditional style, with the emphasis more on agriculture than the heavy industries found elsewhere. Well over half of the olive oil produced in Italy comes from this area, plus you will find some of the very best wines. It has a rugged charm that will appeal to the lovers of the real Italy, wanting to escape the British influence of Tuscany.
Flying time from UK to Bari or Brindisi Airport will be just under 3 hours.
The Amalfi coast is on the opposite western coast of southern Italy, with Naples the main gateway airport. This is one of the most beautiful parts of Italy, with little villages surrounded by high sea edge cliffs. Romantic with obvious glamour but still wonderfully authentic in style.
Being in the heel of Italy in the south-east corner, the Puglia region is drier than most, so it attracts visitors year round. During the autumn/winter months, the focus is on sightseeing, golf and cuisine. The beach season tends to be late May through to mid-September.
The Amalfi coast is more lush and green, with hotels tending to open April through to October only.
Despite being conquered by the ancient Greeks, settled by the Romans and then occupied by various marauding northern European tribes, Puglia still feels remarkably undiscovered. Come for the open hospitality, the fantastic cuisine, some of the best golf courses in the region. There are many picturesque villages close by the Borgo Egnazia, with attractive restaurant options and some incredible historical sites.
Car hire will certainly assist your flexibility to discover the region.
Why Cinque Terre, Liguria?
Cinque Terre literally means five lands and is found on the coast in the region of Liguria, 45 miles south of Genoa. There are five little villages, each with their own individual style and personality. Each is linked by train – from Monterosso in the north to Riomaggiore in the south will take you about 15 minutes travel time, with tunnels between each village. For the more energetic there are hiking trails or more gentle walks, indeed this is one of the main reasons to visit. It is part of the larger Cinque Terre National park, an area known for its spectacular scenery.
Monterosso is the largest of the 5 villages and the only one to have beach access. It has the greatest choice of restaurants and bars, especially in the spring and summer months. There are car parking facilities.
Vernazza is an attractive village, centred around the small marina.
Corniglia is different as the village is located on the mountaintop, so from the station, you walk up for about 10 minutes or you can take a shuttle from the station. The main attraction here will be the views of the area. There are car parking facilities.
Manarola is a wonderfully authentic village with just about the right balance of restaurants and bars both grouped around the marina and then up on the hilltop, with a delightful atmosphere.
Riomaggiore is equally attractive, again with several restaurant options around the marina. Some of the most colourful local houses, so one of the most photographed villages.
Also within the region, but not officially part of Cinque Terre, is the town of La Spezia, the 2nd largest city in Liguria after Genoa, and is the rail gateway if you are approaching from Pisa and the south. La Spezia is just 4 minutes by train from Riomaggiore.
You come to Cinque Terre for the views and the scenery, this is an integral part of what you are purchasing. You do need to be reasonably fit and agile as there numerous steep hills and many steps within each village. The most popular months tend to be the spring and autumn when the climate for walking is at its best. July and August are also popular, although the heat generally limits the attraction to walkers. The autumn and winter months tend to be the lowest priced and attract the well wrapped up hikers and curious travellers wanting to explore the area.
For those looking for a more obvious glamour, we suggest the jet-set resort of Portofino. it’s just up the coast but has a more luxurious style – with prices to match and especially in the peak summer months when it is one of the places to be seen.
We can suggest a night or two in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria. It has a classic, almost crumbling elegance, and the medieval quarter is the largest in Europe. It has an edgy excitement, with the main streets linked by a myriad of small alleyways, leading down to the old port area.
The stunning scenery, with little villages and towns sandwiched between towering cliffs. Our two chosen hotels (listed below) are dramatically perched at the cliff edge, with incredible views of the bays below. It is jet-set elegance, in a way that combines contemporary comforts with traditional designs. The beaches tend to be pebble coves, but the water clarity and colour contrasts are wonderful.
Charter a small boat to take to some little coves that are only accessible from the sea.
If We Were To Be Critical...
The Puglia landscape is tough and in places barren. This is one of the poorest areas of Western Europe and this does show, especially in the two main towns of Bari and Brindisi, which have little obvious attraction to visitors. The mid-summer months can get noticeably busier – particularly evident on the beaches, especially with domestic visitors. The beaches have a coarse sand with some shale underfoot so off rocks swimming is popular.
The Amalfi area is one of the most expensive areas in Italy, and probably the many repeat visitors would not have it any other way. The hotels tend to be open for 6/7 months of the year, with probably the 3 mid-summer months the time for hotel profit. Demand totally exceeds supply, so the rates are “maxed” out.
See comment above on beaches.