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Puglia, Italy - A travel guide
 
Monopoli, Puglia
  
A fresh smell of rosemary and sea is the first thing that hits you. Then the serene sight of all white houses in the old town, combined with a glittery blue ocean. Also not to forget, the comfortable temperatures of 30+ degrees which embrace you like a warm hug from an old friend..
Monopoli is truly a bliss for all the senses and feelings: gastronomically, visually and culturally. Puglia, the Southern region of Italy which Monopoli is located in, has so much to offer and we have therefore made a guide for you to discover all the hidden gems.
  
  
 
 
SPECIALITIES
  
Panino: Special bread with burrata (a very creamy, almost liquid mozzarella) and grilled octopus.
Puccia: Another special bread that should be eaten with burrata and tomatoes or ham.
Panzerotti: A bread similar to pita which has been fried. Try with tuna and smoked cheese or pistachio and ham.
Bombetta: Pork wrapped around a piece of provolone cheese then roasted on skewers over charcoal or wood.
Tarelli: Small circular crackers which are served for aperitivo more or less everywhere you go.
Orecchietti: The special ear shaped pasta of Puglia (the word orecchiette literally means “small ears”).
Pasticciotto: Traditional sweet pastry usually filled with custard or ricotta.
Fiano: A nutty and textured white wine with highly floral notes, mainly produced in Campania. Best served chilled with seafood, meats and cheeses.
Verdeca: A white wine that can vary from herbal and quite neutral to more aromatic with citrus flavors. Works well with seafood.
Malvasia: Produces a varity of wines including white, sparkling and red. However, the Malvasia produced in Puglia is white and has a floral taste with hints of spicy musk and a discrete sweetness. Serve chilled for aperitivo.
Negroamaro: Mainly a grape for red wine, but is also used to make a dry summer fruited, cherry coloured Rosé wine which can be light to medium bodied and usually has a taste of herbs, plum and smoked. Works well with meatballs, lamb and grilled tuna.
 
(It´s said that wine produced in Puglia has a slightly more salty taste compared to wine produced in North of Italy, due to the sea)
   
  
 
EAT AND DRINK
 
Carlo Quinto: Lovely restaurant located by the port, with a sea view. Serves amazing seafood and bruschettoni (toast with stracciatella, sun dried tomatoes and grilled zucchini).

Caruso: Gelato place near the piazza in the old town, no more words needed.
Try the ice cream with fig and cinnamon, a zesty lemon granita, a creamy crema di caffé or why not a classic affogato.

Tuttoapposto: A tiny, super charming bar with a view of the port. Perfect for aperitivo, especially in the company of two..
Gallo Nero: Cute restaurant in a hidden garden full of fig trees, serving delicious fritto misto and crema di mandorle (ps. watch out for figs falling off the tree!)
Madia: Best panzerotti pugliesi fritti in town.
Zi Ottario: A traditional trattoria serving the most fantastic seafood risotto. Eat with a glass of fiano.
Duequattrodue: Truck serving street food in the form of dishes like calamari, raw fish dishes and fritto misto. Located just outside the entrance of the old city, by the beach. Note, only open from early evening.
Momopoli: Charming little aperitivo bar serving great wine and bombetta on hay bales in the middle of the street, in the old city.
Komera: Restaurant serving traditional food with a modern twist. Plus for lovely interior!
Caffe Napoli: The mandatory caffé and brioche should be eaten here. Notice! Every Sunday (because that`s the main church day) the bakery stocks up on all sort of beautiful cakes and pastries. However, for everyday they mostly offer the classics like filled croissants or the traditional pugliese pastry pasticciotto.
Osteria Ai Portici: Best pizza in Monopoli.
Gineri Alementari: Buy puccia here and bring it to the beach. Basta.
Lefocacceignoranti: Lunch bar located in Polignano al Mare, serving fabolous octopus panino.
Il re dello spaghetto: It might not look very fancy or appealing with its plastic chairs and beach-goers, but this is the best spot to indulge in the freshest fish and seafood (was recommended by a local old man we met at the beach. Better listen to the locals!).
  
 
  
  
SEE
 
Beaches:
The beaches are obviously one of the main reasons for visiting Monopoli, and the best way to find the sort you like (there are a vast mix of sand and “rock” beaches) is simply to walk/drive around the area. In some beaches you can pay a small fee to get a sunbed and parasol. Otherwise there are plenty of free beaches if you prefer it more natural and wild.
Alberobello: Alberobello is a Unesco protected village located in the mountains, around an hour from Monopoli. The village is famous for its iconic Trulli houses.
You might think the houses were built in that way because of the heat, but in fact they were structured this way so people could avoid paying taxes to the king(!). Every time the king arrived for inspection they would make the roof collapse, and hide. Then build back the house again the following day.
 
Polignano a Mare: This village is not as eye catching as Monopoli, but worth paying a visit to see the caves and the breathtaking view. And don`t forget to try the octopus panino while you´re there. 
The old city: Visit to eat dinner or for aperitivo, glance at all the stunning architecture and simply soak up all the history and Italian clichés. Another tip for early birds: Head to the beach at 5.30 to see the sunrise. Absolutely worth the lack of sleep!
   
 
 
STAY
 
Don Ferrante: Stunning hotel with a rooftop pool, sea view and a lovely restaurant located in the old city. The building and interior is all white and decorated in a traditional way. This is the hotel to stay at if you want to spoil yourself rotten.
Airbnb: If your budget is slightly lower, renting a flat in the old city via Airbnb can also be highly recommended. Packed with lots of great options for an affordable price.
 
Enjoy!
   
  
 
  
 
Photos and text by Thea C. Sneve Løvstad