Day 2: Lovely Trani, Castel del Monte and Polignano a Mare

Having said goodbye to our very upset Neapolitan taxi driver, ( Day I :NAPLES naples, puglia and the amalfi coast) it was a surprisingly quick process to pick up the rental car from Sicily by Car and head off to the Adriatic coast. This outfit offered our cheapest option online….£86 for one week! We used Zest as third party broker as we have always found them to be good plus they offered full top up insurance for £29. So,  great value all in for one week’s car hire.

Off we drove in our smart little white Peugeot 208 headed east for the seaside town of Trani,  journey time 2hr 30 from Naples airport.

The motorway and roads overall were quiet and in much, MUCH better condition than roads back home where potholes are like the craters of the moon! In fact, the roads throughout Puglia were very easy to drive and quite quiet.

It wasn’t a hugely scenic drive once past the hills east of Naples and it was dark by the time we arrived in Trani. But it’s a small town and the excellent Google directions we relied on,  soon had us pulling into a free parking space right outside our apartment.


The castle in Trani

I have to say, Trani was an immediate delight, even in the darkness! It’s dominated by an impressive castle of pale stone framed by palm trees, all beautifully lit up when we arrived.Across the piazza sat the equally stunning Romanesque cathedral, an absolute beauty.After the chaos and noise of Naples, the seafront was ultra quiet and peaceful.

Our accommodation (Airbnb) was a lovingly restored stone building , very stylish inside and in a great location with views over the castle.

After dropping the bags off and getting a cup of much needed tea, we walked through the quiet, ultra clean streets to a small shop.Some local ladies were chatting with the owner and they greeted us with a smile and  we exchanged ‘buonaseras.’ Got supplies in for a light tea…prosciutto, Emmental, tomatoes, good bread, butter, milk and wine.The usual suspects but always food we enjoy!

Dinner enjoyed, we headed out for a short stroll nearby, admiring the moonlight on the water, the sweep of the sea wall, the gorgeous cathedral.So beautiful- we loved being here already!

The Duomo

Our accommodation deal gave us a voucher for a light breakfast next morning of in a small café a minute’s walk away.Sitting in the warm sunshine , surrounded by those beautifully restored buildings of pale stone in a pristine little backstreet,  not a bit of litter or graffiti…savouring a cappuccino and tasty croissant, I felt I could have sat there all day. Trani is a seductive little place with an off the beaten track feel, or certainly that’s how we found it in early March.

Breakfast cafe

The sweep of the sea wall at this end of the town is so lovely, with the cathedral at one end and the castle at the other.

Towards the castle..

Across the bay, the seaside town looked very appealing…


Begun in 1099, the duomo is Romanesque, my favourite style and it couldn’t be any closer to the sea.

Such a beautiful church…

I’d read that from the sea, it looks a little like a lighthouse.Inside it was light and airy though for once, I wasn’t drawn to the steps up to the bell tower which are usually catnip to me(Chris was very relieved as he’s been dragged up thousands of these steps over the years.)Trani was having some sort of calming effect and I was happy just to admire it all and relax!


There was a small fish stall on the quayside with local women inspecting the catch.

Plenty of fresh fish for sale

We made our way slowly past immaculately kept buildings and out to the far end of the bay where public gardens gave a fine view back over the town.


Another church on Piazza della Liberta looked very interesting but it was closed – the Catholic Church Dell ‘Immacolata Concezione.

Café time again and we found at a nice place on the seafront with views over the marina. 

Lovely cafe frontage

So…Trani –  a delightful small town of white stone and turquoise seas…just as I’d hoped to find in this part of Italy! In fact, this was the loveliest of all the towns we saw in Puglia, the one that appealed the most.



In all of its octagonal glory…

World Heritage Site Castel del Monte was only a 40min drive away on quiet roads, a stunner of a place whose enormous outline is visible on a small hill from miles away.Even from a distance the castle looked amazing.Drove up to it through a lovely pine clad road, parked for a small fee, only two other cars there and strolled up to the imposing structure.Built by the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily, Frederick II in the 1240s, it has a perfect octagonal shape with 8 towers; inside are 8 rooms.The castle seems to have been built mainly as an expression of Frederick’s power and status rather than for defence.He was known as a learned and cultured man, well ahead of his time.


We only walked round the outside, having read that nowadays,  it is empty inside.There were lovely views over olive groves and neat farmland in what turned out to be the most attractive countryside we saw in Puglia.Terrific site all in, stunning.

Nice countryside

Polignano a Mare

Although we were staying in Alberobello tonight, Polignano a Mare was only a 75 min drive away from the castle and promised a pretty seaside town.We had plenty of time for a visit and would then only be 30 mins away from our Trullo accommodation.


An easy well signposted route took us to the town and fortunately, we got parked easily for free again in Parcheggio San Francesco. It was only a short walk to the whitewashed buildings of the older part of Polignano, a place which reminded me slightly of a Spanish or Greek village. Polignano is built dramatically on a cliff and split in two by a small gorge and patch of beach.Lots of rebuilding going on and doing up of the many tiny apartments and houses which make up the pretty centre, sitting high above an aquamarine sea.

There’s no long walk as such along a sea front, but a series of little balconies that give a view onto the Adriatic.


Found a very nice bistro which did quite imaginative light lunch dishes…artichoke and pesto on toast for me and an anchovy salad for Chris.Quite a delightful spot overlooking the sea. The place had been chock a block when we’d first noticed it but now, at 3pm, it had calmed down.

Unusual light lunch

A very pleasant place to enjoy an hour or two, though I imagine it must get rammed in summer.

A very tiny beach

Got some ice cream on way back to the car from Bella Blu Gelateria – well, you have to in a seaside town! All the ice cream places in Italy seem to advertise themselves as ‘artigianale’ but I do wonder if it’s true that they really make their own ice cream on site! Pistachio for me and strawberry for Chris.Just ok…not the best we’ve ever had, we both agreed.We have many very traditional Italian – run cafes at home that would give any we’ve tried in Italy, a good run for their money!
A very enjoyable visit though to an attractive small town.


Onward to another World Heritage Site – Alberobello!

Other Trip Days:PUGLIA CONTINUED: alberobello, locorotondo, martina francA OTRANTO, LECCE AND MATERA


6 thoughts on “EXPLORING SOUTHERN ITALY – Puglia

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