Puglia Diaries: Southern tip of heel pt. 2

 It's been a while, hasn't it? I was quite surprised to see that my last blog post dates back to November last year, damn. Now that all of us are stuck at home in this coronavirus lockdown, things aren't easy but I guess there are upsides. For one, everyone seems to have more time to spend on the things that make them happy. For me, one of those things is content creation. So here I am posting about our last days in Puglia, summer 2019. And a bit about life today. I don't think we will be able to travel internationally in 2020, and the sooner we all realize that, the easier it will be to get our minds in the right headspace. This is our generation's big crisis. This will change our world, just like 9/11 did. But we will get through this, and there is still so much beauty and happiness in our future if we do our best to be smart, responsible and kind right now.

I find that I need to get my mind off the pandemic as much as possible by focusing on things that bring me joy and peace. So let's stop talking about corona and start scrolling through beautiful memories of visiting Puglia last year.

Check out this post for our full itinerary roadtripping through Puglia. We've arrived at the last stop: Gallipoli, where I already explored Lecce, Santa Maria Di Leuca and Ponte Ciolo. In this last post I'm sharing our time spent in Otranto, visiting the Grotta Della Poesia, and the stormy night without electricity or hot water spent in our very cute Airbnb.

I have to admit, looking at these pictures hurts my heart a little, thinking about the people there and. how Italy has been infected by the current crisis. Otranto was a town we loved instantly. Small, unassuming, relaxed and with a spacious feel because of how it's laid out along the coastline. Even the old town had wide squares for the sea breeze to roll through. We also loved how peaceful the town was: surprisingly few tourists, although the tourists that were there were more likely to be from Western Europe instead of from other areas in Italy (unlike other places in Puglia we visited).

Otranto is absolutely worth a stop on your itinerary, and would probably also make a lovely home base for a few days exploring the beautiful rugged, Big Sur evoking coastline this side of the boot heel. From Otranto, it's just a 20 minute (and beautiful, scenic) drive to the next stop that you simply have to add to your plans: Grotta della Poesia.

Grotta della Poesia is a natural swimming hole with a small opening to the Adriatic sea, with steps carved into the rocks for you to climb up or down to the water. Most people there jumped straight from the edges into the blue, but I'm a very risk averse person so I took the sensible route and climbed down. So worth it, but definitely wear water shoes! The place gets pretty crowded in the afternoon but it's still a must visit. If you simply walk for one minute you get to other areas where you can climb down into the sea and have a more quiet but equally gorgeous dip. There's some amenities here (a hotel and restaurant nearby and a stand with some drinks), but don't expect, like, public bathrooms.

I just wanted to share this final shot of one of our last nights in Gallipoli, because the rooftop terrace there made this one of my all time favourite Airbnb experiences. I could spend every night on that terrace and not get sick of the sea breeze, the music floating in from the streets, people watching and, importantly, being way above all of the mosquitoes!

On our way back to Bari for one last night there before we flew home, my boyfriend surprised me with a quick stop in San Vito near Polignano a Mare. I fell in love with the place the first time around, and I was so happy to see it once more before leaving Italy. As you can see the storm clouds were already gathering, but we still had a lovely lunch here (I had the most divine ricotta ravioli in fresh tomato-basil sauce). After that we made our way to Bari and visited some shops (and sheltered from a hail storm), but I already talked about Bari in the blogpost linked earlier.

... And then we arrived at out Airbnb, a short drive away from the Bari airport (and the Molfetta outlet, where we did a blitzkrieg shopping sesh the next morning before flying home). Our Airbnb was absolutely gorgeous: a sea front, two story apartment in a historic building right above a pizzeria, lovingly restored by the owner's father (an art restorator!).

Our proximity to the sea, however, became a little more than we bargained for when the stormy weather returned and the parking spot where our car was standing quickly got flooded. My boyfriend was panicking about our rental car getting carried out to sea (I was a little more relaxed than him), so he put on his water shoes to wade through the 40 cm deep gutter water (yes, our street was flooded too) towards the car to park it uphill.

Oh, and did I mention we lost power for a couple of hours? I spent quite some time frantically trying to reach our Airbnb hosts (who did not speak English) to come help us out. So our last night in Italy was basically the apocalypse, but it made for some unforgettable memories and on the upside: the rain cooled down the air enough to make the lack of airconditioning in our bedroom much more bearable. And the next morning, the whole world looked like it was rinsed clean.

Here's some nice pics of our Airbnb - before the power went out.

... and that's the flooded car park.

Saying goodbye to Italy was difficult as always, but we had an amazing holiday and I can't wait to return when all of this blows over. If you ever need any Puglia tips, hit me up!

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