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Visiting Puglia without a car.

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Edinburgh, United...
posts: 7
reviews: 1
Visiting Puglia without a car.

We are a couple with our 70th. birthdays behind us but youthful in attitude, we hope! We plan to visit Puglia this autumn in late Sept. October for 2 weeks. We got inspired by an interest in Magna Graecia and are interested in seeing historical sites e.g.. the cathedrals in the Bari area but also wandering the centres of old towns. We are reluctant to hire a car because we have read of the difficulties of parking in and around historical towns and have experienced this for ourselves in the past. We have also read that there is a good system of public transport but we are experiencing difficulty in finding timetables in English or even good maps of rail and bus routes on line.

At present the rough plan is to arrive in Bari, perhaps use it as a base for 2/3 days, or would Trani be better? Then, we would like to visit Gravina in Puglia for a couple of days, because it is off the tourist track and interesting. We are wondering if we could get to Matera from there and should we stay a night? We would then like to explore the south, Lecce and Otranto and even Taranto for the museum - I believe it has reopened and is very good. Is this too much? We are aware we have left out the Trulli area - should we try and include that ? Any advice will be appreciated.

25 replies to this topic
posts: 9
reviews: 1
11. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

Thanks Winterrose.

We plan to travel Nov beginning and No car. Only train and bus.

And prefer to stay in Centro areas.

Would like to know where you stayed. That would be helpful in planning.

posts: 9
reviews: 1
12. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

Also how should we start our itinerary?

If we land at Bari-Lecce-martina Franca-Matera in this order or vice versa. What would be better.

And will we have to catch a train from the airport or bus/taxi?

Any suggestions.

Florence, Italy
posts: 1,295
reviews: 278
13. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

Hi Katie 591

Please consider also my recent answer to a very similar question:



Edinburgh, United...
posts: 7
reviews: 1
14. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

We do no go until October - we set out on the first. We are staying for two nights in Matera and five in Lecce but not in Martina Franca - without a car it is too difficult to go everywhere! I hope to report back when we return home later in October. Thanks again to everyone who has replied to this topic, it has been very helpful.

posts: 196
15. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

Hi Katie,

How did you get on with the public transport - bus/ train travelling around Puglia? I am intending to visit the small towns/ villages you mentioned in January 2015. Would be great to hear about your travels. Cheers Ing55

Edinburgh, United...
posts: 7
reviews: 1
16. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

Dear ing 55,

First, apologies for the long delay in reply to your message. My husband has been ill but is now recovering and just after he came out of hospital we lost the internet for about a month. But if you are still there I am happy to encourage you to go to Puglia and use public transport.

We flew to Milan because it was a convenient entry for us and we then caught the 10.30 am train to Bari arriving there,no changes, at around 6,30pm. Our hotel, (Hotel Moderno), proved to be only a short walk from the station, unfortunately we took the long way round the first time! We stayed three nights in Bari and with hindsight could have stayed longer as Bari itself is far more attractive than we expected. The old city by the sea has been beautifully rescued from a run down area but is a living place where tourists do not dominate. There are 3 local lines as well as the mainline Milan to Lecce going through Bari. The hotel staff were extremely helpful and all the stations for these different railways are very close together. From Bari we went to Alberobello - not part of our original plan but we were persuaded by some Australians in the hotel that we could not go home without seeing it and indeed it is worthwhile. Its an easy walk to the centre and the trull from the station. The railway journey was interesting. Alberobello is a tourist trap but still fascinating - we watched a film crew doing a fashion shoot among the trull. We really enjoyed the quiet side of Alberobello on the opposite side of a main road and on the small hill facing the main site.

Going to Alberobello left us with no time to go to Trani - a pity I think and we would be going back to Puglia this year if illness had not got in the way.

From Bari we moved to Gravina again by train - this train was less well kept and busy but it was on time and we got there. The station is on the edge of town but our BandB owner came to meet us and took us back to the station. From Gravena it was on to Matera. Careful study of the timetables meant that we could go from Gravina by train to Altamura at 8.50am and have a 10 minute wait for a train to Matera. This connection was only there Mon. to Fri. and once a day. We loved everything about Matera - it is such a fascinating place and its food was particularly memorable!

Trains war difficult out of Matera and we wanted to go to Taranto. We discovered there was a direct coach and I would recommend that route. The coach wanders through the countryside stopping in the small towns and villages. taranto was an unexpected delight despite the fact that the museum, our main reason for going to the city had unexpectedly shut for 2 months! If you enjoy wandering in old cities untouristy with fabulous views , reasonably priced excellent food and a hotel that as truly welcoming - Go!

The last leg was to Lecce for 5 nights. We got there by direct coach from Taranto - again a cheap and interesting journey. Lecce is unmissable -it is very attractive with many baroque buildings in a small walled city. The train will take you south to Otranto (from an obscure platform) in the main station - ask, se real times if need be! You may have to change at Maglie - we were told that the train staff would look after you. Time prevented us getting to Otranto and had it not been unforeseen events at home we would be back this year. I hope we will make it next year!

As you will realise we did not get to the coast except at Bari. To do that you need a car though there is the train to Otranto and buses to Gallipoli which our lovely hostess in Lecce suggested was more authentic than much visited Otrantro though I guess for you in January both will be quiet and authentic. If we return we will seriously consider hiring a car for a few days from Lecce - the roads seemed quiet and to hire in Lecce is quite possible.

Have a wonderful time - I would do it all again with pleasure!

Katie 591

posts: 3,647
reviews: 146
17. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

Katie...thanks for coming back...we will be doing a similar trip without a car and your report was helpful. Glad you enjoyed the trip and hopefully can return in the future.

Edinburgh, United...
posts: 7
reviews: 1
18. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

Best wishes for your trip. We so appreciated the friendliness of people and the fact that the authentic daily life of this area has not been overwhelmed by tourism ( except perhaps at Alberobello) . We are now hopeful of returning next year and would ike to reach Otranto and the sea - perhaps also Ostuni. You can't do everything in one trip and we thought the itinery we worked out served us well. The local railway websites whih I fond are helpful and accurate and 2 out of 3 had English translation The SITA bus timetables are also useful for part of Puglia bordering on Basilicaata.


Dublin, Ireland
posts: 3
reviews: 14
19. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

I was just wondering if Katie 591 made that trip to Puglia and, if so, what her experience was like? My wife and I are planning something similar for September 2014 and like Katie we are not too keen on driving while there. Would you have any words of wisdom for us, please, on (1) where to visit or where not to bother with, (2) how did she manage with the public transport system, (3) any hotels or B/Bs she might recommend.

Thank you very much

Dublin, Ireland
posts: 3
reviews: 14
20. Re: Visiting Puglia without a car.

Katie 591,

My apologies but I somehow completely missed your very detailed and most helpful "report" of your trip above. Sorry for asking questions that you had already answered!

I hope you will soon be able to make that return trip.

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