We are planning a trip to Puglia this July for 23 nights (yes, I know, not the ideal time to go but that's life with a schoolteacher) - plane tickets are already purchased to Bari. We are seasoned Italy/world travelers, but the Puglia itinerary has us a bit perplexed. Geographically, the region is large and diverse and the sites are well spread out. Our typical agenda is to see quite a few cultural/historical sites and museums, have a relaxing beach stay somewhere or two, and enjoy the cuisine and soak in the atmosphere and culture; the less running around the better and with a stay of this duration we would generally only want to move four or five times, using each place as a base from which to branch out either by rail or rental car.
This is proving to be a bit of a challenge in Puglia, as no sight or place necessarily commands one's attention for a long period of time. We will have a rental car. Here's the potential itinerary:
-arrive in Bari, take train to Polignano a Mare, has a nice beach and the town looks really nice, stay for (3) nights for a day trip or two to Bari proper;
-take train from Polignano a Mare to Lecce, stay for (5) nights and pick up rental car upon departure;
-drive to Martina Franca stay for (4) nights to visit sights around the Valle D' Itria , take a day trip to Taranto to see the city and the archeological museum;
-drive to Matera stay for (4) nights, perhaps a day trip to Metapontum;
-drive to the Gargano peninsula stay for (4) nights in either Vieste or Peschici for some beach time, and to explore the immediate area of the forest;
-drive to Trani; we have a particular interest in this area as the wife's family is from Monteleone di Puglia SSE of Foggia on the Campania border; stay for (3) nights before heading to Bari, dumping the car and flying home.
We could substitute time around the Salentine south of Lecce (Otranto, Sta. Maria de Leuca, beach near/south of Gallipoli) for the entire trip to the Gargano which is both isolated and quite a drive. A recommendation for a good beach base in the Salentine would be most welcome.
We'd be interested in your thoughts especially regarding duration in each place, as well as how you might plan it were you to fill 23 nights; are we missing anything inadvertently? Are we remiss in going someplace in particular that you'd recommend? For example, some folks regard the Gargano as essential and others not so much. We've seen a ton of itinerary suggestions for a week or 10 days, but nothing of this length (that I've found). Six places is a lot of moving around in my book, but we're finding it tough to consolidate anything due to the geographic spread of the region.
We look forward to your thoughts. Thanks,