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Puglia, Italy

Puglia: within easy reach of the beach

Posted by Jonathan Broom on May 21, 2018
Puglia: within easy reach of the beach

Holidaymakers travel to Puglia for all sorts of reasons: the food; the quirky architecture (those conical ‘trulli’ houses); the history (not for nothing is the troglodyte city of Matera a UNESCO World Heritage Site); the laid-back way of life; the spectacular scenery...

...and the climate. But in summer the region can get hot, hot, hot! In July and August highs in the high 20°C to low 30°C range are common.

Time, then, to head for the coast. Situated as it is to the west and south of the Italian boot-heel, Puglia boasts some 500kms of coastline, and a 60km stretch along the Adriatic Sea, between Polignano a Mare to the north and the Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve to the south, is easily accessible from Coreggia.

The Adriatic coast, from Bari on downwards, is mostly rocky. It’s none the worse for that, of course – indeed many stretches are truly spectacular – but it’s not exactly ‘bucket-and-spade’ territory. However, the rocky stretches are punctuated by beautiful sandy beaches – some isolated, others abutting lovely seaside towns.

A 30-minute, 29km drive from Coreggia, Polignano a Mare is one of the latter. The town sits on top of a 20-metre-high limestone cliff, overlooking the crystal-clear Adriatic. The old town is both charming and fascinating, with lots of narrow whitewashed streets and ancient churches – nooks and crannies abound. But it’s the views over the sea and the coastline that are the big draw.

That – and the Blue Flag beach. With the town providing a beautiful backdrop, and flanked on both sides by high cliffs, the beach may be small, but it could scarcely be more enchanting. Soak up the sun; enjoy an ice cream (Polignano is famous for its gelati); and watch the children diving off the cliffs – a pastime that never seems to pall! (An aside: Polignano is a regular stop on the Red Bull Cliff Diving circuit. If you’re lucky enough to be holidaying in Coreggia on 23rd September 2018, head for the town to see the professionals in action.)

To reach Polignano a Mare, take the SP77 north from Coreggia; turn left (west) onto the SP81; then north (right) onto the SP187 and SP113; then north-west (left) on the SP114/SS16.

Of course you may not want to go that far – in which case, good news: your route takes you past Monopoli, at 21kms even closer to Coreggia, and with even more beaches to its name.

As with Polignano, there is much history to admire there. The castle which overlooks the town is worth a visit for the views; as is the cathedral, whose 60-metre tower completely dominates the skyline. Monopolises it, you could say. The defensive walls of Monopoli give onto a sandy bay, the Cala Portavecchia (pictured at top), ideal for a refreshing dip. But most of Monopoli’s beaches lie to the south of the town. The Lido Colonia is a five-minute drive; 10 minutes behind the wheel will bring you to the Lido Santo Stefano; and the Coccaro Beach Club and Lido Morelli are 20 minutes and half an hour away respectively.

But the best, in terms of distance (10 minutes), price (for parking, parasol hire etc), popularity (lack of crowds), facilities (refreshments, toilets, showers etc) and location (overlooked by the majestic Santo Stefano Abbey) has to be Porto Ghiacciolo. Though as a number of natural springs feed into the bay, the water can be a tad bracing!

Further along the coast, Marina di Ostuni lies directly to the east of Coreggia: a 36km, half-hour drive away. Nine kms or so inland, the town of Ostuni – known as ‘La Città Bianca’ or the White City – is once again steeped in history, and well worth exploring; but the nearby stretch of coast boasts some of Puglia’s most beautiful beaches – clean, with great amenities, and the recipients of five Blue Flags in recent years.

Some reaches, such as the Torre Pozzella, are predominantly rocky;

but others, like Quarto di Monte, are perfect for kicking back and working on the tan. In addition, during the summer there is a ‘night bar’. Balmy evenings on the shore with a cold drink or two in hand? Very heaven.

To reach Marina di Ostuni, head north from Coreggia on the SP77; turn east (right) onto the SP1; then north (left) onto the SS172; and then south-east (right) on the SS379.

Worth combining with a visit to Marina di Ostuni is a trip to the Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve (click here to read previous blog), a further 20-odd kms south-east along the SS379 – a nirvana for nature-lovers combining unspoilt woodland, dense ‘maquis’ vegetation, several kms of sandy beach and a protected marine reserve. Look out for the flamingos!

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Jonathan Broom
Author: Jonathan Broom

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