Our Italian Adventure: Why go to Puglia Off Season?
Updated: Apr 10
PART 37: It might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.
We live in Puglia in the summer and then back again in the winter.
Step 1: Our first long experience in Puglia was last year, during the summer. We filled our days with evenings at the beach with friends, dinners out in groups, village festivals, outdoor concerts, and hiking in the hills above Santa Caterina.
But how would our experience be different when we came to Puglia in the off-season? Since we are just concluding our winter stay (following the 90/180 rule), it might be helpful to share what we found in Puglia during the off-season and how it has been a fantastic experience.
Step 2: Differences. Our local friendships are a big part of why we chose Puglia, and spending time with friends and traveling with them has been a big part of our summer experience here.
But several friends work in Rome as educators during the school year, and others work in northern Italy during this time. So we came to Puglia in the winter, knowing that it would be up to us to construct a fulfilling time here and that each day depended on us rather than friends.
Another difference is the absence of tourists. Our area can feel inundated with visitors in July and August because of the beaches nearby. The weather and water are warm, and everyone wants to be where they want to be. We navigated this just fine, but we did have to do more planning if we were visiting a high-density tourist area or town.
The third difference was the different options of things to do. In the summer, we dined in the open on the terraces of friends, hiked along hillside paths, and spent time at our favorite beaches. We also visited the cultural sites in the area; we enjoyed exploring Lecce, gazing at the 1000-year designs on the cathedral floor in Otranto, and looking at the meeting of the seas at Santa Maria Leuca. But in the winter, the weather curtailed some of these activities.
Step 3: Challenges. The challenges we faced included being more independent from our local friends in a land we are still learning, finding new activities and areas to explore that are compatible with colder weather, and expanding our horizons beyond what our friends have shown us until now.
Step 4: Opportunities. We decided to turn our off-season months in Puglia into opportunities. Some things that we have discovered:
The lack of tourists frees us up to explore areas in a more profound way than in the summer. Example: we drove to Otranto and spent over an hour in the cathedral, examining the ancient floor designs, with nobody in the church besides us.
We are exploring some beautiful beaches which are extremely popular and are hard to access in the summer months. Today we went to a popular, beautiful beach. We parked our car, walked out, and explored the coastline. We were the only humans from horizon to horizon.
We use our Puglia location as a base to explore other areas. Examples: we flew to Budapest to visit friends and see the city, and, another weekend, we drove to the Amalfi coast off-season.
We have taken opportunities to develop new friendships with locals we have met and with expats in our area.
We have integrated ourselves into our town community. Whether it be our gym, grocery store, butcher, or veggie guy, they all know the two Californians, and we always chat about how their lives are going while they inquire about ours.
We have taken the initiative and explored other beautiful areas we had not seen before, such as Monopoli and Polignano. We have many other towns and places still to be explored.
Insights: Being in Puglia during the off-season has been a fantastic experience because it enables us to dive deeper into the history and culture of this place, explore new areas, and develop new relationships.
Watch for my book soon: "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Puglia-Californians-Southern-Italy/dp/1913680649/?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_w=BQZLY&content-id=amzn1.sym.22f5776b-4878-4918-9222-7bb79ff649f4&pf_rd_p=22f5776b-4878-4918-9222-7bb79ff649f4&pf_rd_r=139-2813617-8702466&pd_rd_wg=TLIBp&pd_rd_r=d7eb5db5-db2f-4be9-9668-bd03b855b59b&ref_=aufs_ap_sc_dsk.
More next time.