By Hayley Lewis for Metro.co.uk, Traveller. Adventurer. Foodie. Blogging at www.alovelyplanet.com. Follow on Instagram @alovelyplanet
Sunday 26 Aug 2018 8:00 am
Italy isnt exactly short of romantic locations – the rolling hills of Tuscany, gondolas of Venice, and of course Juliets balcony in Verona.
But after a recent trip to Puglia, I think it might just take the top spot.
A combination of beautiful scenery, historic towns, great food and gorgeous hotels make it the perfect destination for a romantic getaway.
Arriving into Bari, we immediately headed south to the highly photographed town of Alberobello, A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The town is full of trulli, small stone houses with conical roofs.
Its incredibly picturesque and, for a romantic evening, you can spend the night in one of the trulli, as some have been converted into tiny hotels and B&Bs.
Truly not to be missed spots in Alberobello include Trullo Sovrano, a two-floor trullo (singular of trulli) thats also a museum, and SantAntonio Church.
A 30-minute drive from Alberobello is Cisternino, one of Italys borghi piu belli (most beautiful towns).
It draws less tourist attention than Alberobello, making it a bit of a hidden gem, which is great if youre looking for quiet alone time.
Wandering through the historic centre is a lovely way to spend an afternoon before heading out to explore the surrounding countryside from Piazza Garibaldi.
While in Puglia, make sure you stay at a masseria. These are farmhouses that have been converted into boutique hotels and B&Bs.
We spent the night at Masseria Le Carrube, an old frantoio (an olive oil producing mill).
You couldnt ask for a more romantic spot; secluded by fruit trees, bougainvillea covering the white walls and vines hanging from the trellises – all to be enjoyed while you sip on a spritz by the two swimming pools.
The vegetarian restaurant is a great spot for an intimate dinner.
It serves local specialities and, of course, the regions excellent wines, made from grape varieties like primitivo and negroamaro.
South of Masseria Le Carrube is the stunning city of Ostuni.
It really is one of the most striking places Ive ever visited – imagine whitewashed buildings perched on top of three hills, surrounded by miles of olive groves.
The city is a jumble of narrow lanes and roads, full of stylish bars, excellent restaurants and lovely boutiques.
For an immersive dining experience, head to Masseria Il Frantoio, just outside of the city.
This masseria offers a delicious tasting menu using many of the herbs and vegetables grown in the gardens.
After a tour of the olive press and beautiful grounds, you sit down to dinner where youre given an intro to each delicious course.
If its crystal clear water and white sand youre after for your romantic break, well, you will find plenty in Puglia.
Punta Prosciutto is a long, sandy beach tracing the west coast of the heel. There are a few small bars for cocktails, but there are also plenty of quiet spots for a dreamy afternoon at the beach.
Stay at the nearby Don Totu, the ultimate hotel for a romantic getaway.
A concealed 18th-century palazzo, with charming courtyards, gorgeous lounges and a divine swimming pool, Don Totu has only six bedrooms, so it feels like you have the whole place to yourself.
Then there are the bedrooms, featuring a bathroom larger than my living room, and a huge four-poster bed.
I could have stayed in the room the entire trip.
Leaving Don Totu, we headed north for the seaside town of Polignano a Mare.
This Instagrammable town is perched atop limestone cliffs on the Valle dItria coast, which is dotted with caves and small bays.
The central beach has become a popular spot for cliff diving, with a competition taking place each year.
With plenty of bars, Polignano a Mare is also a great place for an aperitivo or two.
Our final night was spent at Masseria San Domenico. This was a fortified farm that resembled a castle, with a watchtower belonging to the Knights of Malta.
It also has the largest swimming pool Ive ever seen – a huge free-form pool surrounded by natural rocks.
We ended the trip at the poolside restaurant, devouring freshly caught fish and sipping on wine under the stars. A fitting end to a romantic break in beautiful Puglia.
Where to stay in Puglia and how to get there:
Masseria Le Carrube has rooms from €140 per night, based on two adults sharing a double room on B&B basis, including VAT.
Double rooms at Don Totu start from €210 per night on a B&B
Masseria San Domenico has rooms from €363 per night, based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Double room on a B&B basis, including VAT.
British Airways flies from London to Bari from £84 return.