'Know Before You Go'
To live like a local and get the fullest from your holiday in Puglia, familiarise yourself with these 10 tips, things you should 'know befoere you go' .
Nearest airports: Bari or Brindisi
Bari airport is 1hr 10mins and Brindisi airport 45mins from the beautiful hilltop 'White City' of Ostuni. We use both interchangeably. Some of our guests even choose to fly into either Naples (4-5hrs by car) or Rome (6hrs by car) and drive. Click here to see airlines and where we are >>
The 'siesta' or 'riposo'
The siesta, or 'riposo' as it is called in Puglia is sacrosanct. While most restaurants will remain open ('aperto') for lunch
during the riposo, you can expect that most other shops (including grocery markets) will be closed ('chiuso')
from 12:30/13:00 until 16:30/17:00.
Car Hire is necessary
To experience the most of your holiday in Puglia, a hire/rental car is absolutely necessary. There are too many beautiful hilltop towns, beaches and UNESCO World Heritage sites to explore. Public transportation is sporadic and not reliable. Limited taxi (aka car service) is available but you will need to pre-book. You can find a link to a reliable car service we regulary use here >>
Driving: do not rely 100% on 21st century technology (ie GPS), especially when not on main roadways. Try to orient yourself in daylight by landmarks as well. Your 21st century technology may lead you down a 16th century donkey path dead end which has been converted for cars.
There is, however, very reliable and very good value train service from Bari airport to Ostuni . . . and from Ostuni to both Brindisi and Lecce. So if you prefer to drive a bit less, park your hire car at Ostuni station and take the train, this is a realistic option. On occassion, guests will arrive from Rome or Naples by train to Bari . . . take the train shuttle to the airport . . . and pick-up a hire/rental car there.
Parking & 'Blue Lines'
Simple: parking spaces with white lines are free to park. But blue lines require payment. There will be a meter nearby. First simply enter your car's tag number/license plate number, some coins and then print the ticket and place on your car's dashboard.
'Centro Storico' is where it's at
When visiting any of the beautiful Puglian hilltop villages,
towns or cities, be on the lookout for brown directional signage
denoting / Centro Storico;. Centro Storico = "Old Town' or historical centre. This will be the area that you will most likely want to explore. Most Centro Storicos are pedestrian-only zones. So park nearby and walk a few minutes into the historical centre.
The 'antipasta' course . . . yum!
One of the cornerstones of Puglian cuisine is the antipasta course . . . a collection of small, tapas-type
dishes(6-8 dishes) which gives diners an chance to taste a variety of local and seasonal tastes.
It's OK . . . and encouraged, to share
Portions are quite large by anyone's standards. Don't be embarrased to share, it's part of the tradition. We often find it impossible to eat both a whole 'primi' plate AND a 'secondi' plate (we often share one or the other). And if you cannot finish your food, do not be ashamed to ask for the remainder to be wrapped up and taken home. Every restaurant will be obliging.
Tipping, while not expected or compulsory, is customary (10%) for good service in restaurants only. It is not expected in coffee bars or cocktail bars when food is not involved.
Avon's 'Skin So Soft'
As is the case across the Mediterranean, you may experience mosquitoes in the summer months. This is largely determined by the amount of rainfall during the Spring. Aside from the widely available coil and citronella candle repellents, you may want to find an Avon Lady and brind along some of Avon's 'Skin So Soft' spray, which is the secret weapon against the nasty's.