Featured Elopement Location: Puglia Italy, September 2023
If the idea of getting married in Puglia lights a fire in your soul — or was already on your elopement bucket list — and the dates I’m there align with when you want to get married, all of my travel fees are waived! My dates for Puglia are currently flexible in the month of September 2023. Want to come with me? Let me know ASAP.
What is a featured location?
Before I get to the GOOD STUFF, I wanted to tell you about my featured locations. A featured location is somewhere I already have plans to be. If the dates I’m there align with when you want to get married, all of my travel fees are waived! (A $1,000 savings!) So yeah, you could technically count this as a reason to shuffle the budget and fit in an epic activity on your big day. That’s enough cash for a private wine tasting, a beachside horse back ride, or even a massive upgrade to wherever you’re staying!
What could a Puglia Italy Elopement look like? Read on for all the details.
Written by the wonderful Sam Tatro of Undiscovered Path Home
Planning to elope in Italy? If you’re looking to skip the popular destinations like Rome or Venice, and go somewhere more adventurous and authentic, there’s nothing more fitting than eloping in Puglia. The Puglia region is located in Southern Italy, on the “boot of the heel” – if you’re looking at a map. This charming region has it all: crystal-clear waters, romantic cliffside spots, authentic Italian food, and that laid-back vibe that is perfect for a more relaxed, luxurious elopement.
It can be difficult and overwhelming to figure out how to plan an elopement in Italy, let alone an elopement in Puglia, an off-the-beaten path destination. But if you’re looking for the best place to elope in Italy, this is IT. That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to planning the perfect elopement in Puglia.
Where to elope in Puglia
Puglia is, hands down, one of the best places to elope in Italy. This romantic and charming destination has it all: rocky cliffside views, crystal clear waters, sprawling, private beaches, handmade pasta, groves of olive trees, and Santorini-like white cities. I promise you’ll fall in love the second you step foot off the plane!
I’ve broken down each Puglia elopement location based on the nearest big city – but that doesn’t mean you have to stay in Bari, for example.
For those adventurers looking to cut down on driving time, Bari is the perfect base in Puglia to plan your elopement. This rustic city has it all: authentic restaurants, seaside views, history at every turn, and that relaxed vibe. From Bari, you can take trains to two of the most beautiful spots in the upper region of Puglia: Polignano a Mare and Monopoli.
Polignano a Mare
Polignano a Mare is one of the most breathtaking and popular spots in Puglia, and for a good reason. This romantic city has a picturesque cove nestled between jutting cliffs. There’s also a cliffside restaurant overlooking the water that went viral online a few years ago. Polignano a Mare has some beautiful, secluded spots to the south that make gorgeous spots for your intentional elopement.
If you’re looking for the best beaches near Bari, look no further than Monopoli. This forgotten-by-time town, a melange of pastel-colored buildings, has stunning cove beaches all along the southern stretch of its coastline. Some of the cliff sides? EPIC elopement spots. Plus, you can spend the day renting bikes for a couple euros and cruising down the coast, stopping at your favorite beaches.
Otranto is located further down the eastern coast of Puglia, and it makes for a perfect base to explore some of Puglia’s hidden treasures. The Otranto region is also home to some of Puglia’s most beautiful beaches – all untouched. If you’re looking for a rocky, cliffside elopement, we can find THE spot in this area. There are dozens of secluded spots south of Otranto.
There are few places as breathtakingly beautiful as Torre Dell’orso. This unique stretch of coastline, complete with jutting rock fixtures off the coast and cliffside viewpoints, is one of the most beautiful destinations in Puglia. In fact, you’ve probably seen the turquoise waters of Torre Dell’orso on Instagram!
This stretch of coastline, a one-hour drive from Otranto, offers several unbelievable places to say your vows and commit to spending a lifetime together. During the summer, this beach can be quite busy, so I’d recommend planning a sunrise elopement to avoid crowds. Likewise, nearby spots offer amazing views with fewer crowds.
You won’t find most of Puglia’s hidden gems on a map. Most of these beautiful beaches are discovered by local word-of-mouth or zooming in on Google Maps. Grotta delle Striare is a great example of a hidden favorite along the Puglia coast, just south of Otranto. This beautiful cove offers stunning waters with a grassy field atop, overlooking the cliffside.
Gallipoli is nestled on the western side of the “heel of the boot,” and this lively city offers a great mix of nightlife and beautiful beaches. This old town makes a perfect base to explore some of the nearby treasures: Porto Cesareo, Maldives of Salento, and Lecce, to name a few. Gallipoli literally means “beautiful city” in Greek, and it lives up to the name. Surrounded by water on all sides, you’ll still find authentic parts of Italian life here: fishermen fixing their nets, or bringing in the daily catch. At most restaurants, seafood is the most common thing on the menu – especially octopus and mussels.
The small town of Porto Cesareo may be one of the most beautiful places in Puglia. The tranquil, crystal-clear waters stretch out for miles. It may be one of the most beautiful locations for a peaceful beach elopement. During the day, this elopement spot tends to be quite busy, so it’s best to plan for a early morning elopement.
Maldives of Salento
The Maldives of Salento, located south of Gallipoli, are another beautiful beachside spot for your elopement. Much like Porto Cesareo, this stretch of beach offers turquoise water for miles, a beautiful destination to say your vows.
There are countless amazing, hidden locations in Puglia for a private elopement. Let’s get in touch and find the best fit for you both!
What to do on your elopement day in Puglia
Puglia is the perfect destination for couples seeking out that authentic Italian experience during their elopement. Couples eloping in Puglia will have endless opportunities for adventurous, intimate, and intentional activities around their wedding day. Here are some of my favorite things to do on your elopement day. Of course, we can work together to plan out the perfect day depending on where you plan to stay and where you plan to elope!
- Take traditional cooking classes: Cucina in Masseria, a 17th century olive mill turned cookery school, offers authentic and seasonal cooking classes – made straight from handwritten family recipes. You can book a one-day class where you will visit the farmer’s market to pick up ingredients, then learn to cook the dishes.
- Enjoy the beach: If you’re visiting Puglia in the summer, there’s no better way to spend a summer day than lounging by the beach. Puglia is known for their breathtaking beaches! The best beaches in Puglia include Lama Monachile (Polignano a Mare), the divine Maldives of Salento, Torre Dell’Orso Beach (Otranto), and Torre Lapillo Beach (Porto Cesareo). There’s so much endless beauty in Puglia!
- Take a trip down to the Cave of Poetry: The Grotta della Poesia is located near the beachside town of Roca, near the well-known Torre Dell’Orso Beach. This sheltered natural pool is the coolest swimming experience! You can jump into this pearl-shaped cave, or simply sunbathe on top and watch others take the leap. Either way, it is gorgeous!
- Plan a visit to The Tremiti Islands: Looking to plan a romantic excursion? How about renting a boat and visiting the tiny archipelago of the Tremiti Islands, a part of Gargano National Park. These islands are surrounded by clear, turquoise water and lush vegetation. They’re such a beautiful spot, and make for such a romantic day (or half-day!).
No matter what you have in mind, we can make it happen!
The best time to elope in Puglia
Most people don’t know what to expect when they’re planning a trip down to Puglia weather-wise, because they have never visited. The Puglia, Italy weather tends to skew more towards a Mediterranean climate, so expect hot, dry summers and mild winters. If you’re looking for that beachy vibe, I’d recommend visiting sometime between July and August. Temperatures can reach up to 30C (or 90F), and sometimes higher. There’s nothing like Puglia in the summer – you’ll love the gelato and pizzas under shaded patios!
However, if hot weather isn’t your thing, don’t worry: Puglia is still beautiful the rest of the year. I’d recommend visiting during the spring or fall if you want to avoid crowds but still catch some of that gorgeous sunshine. Keep in mind, though, that the shoulder seasons (and winter) have more clouds and more rain.
Where to eat in Puglia
Italy’s southernmost region has its own unique cuisine, and it’s so unique compared to other parts of Italy. Puglia is home to some of the most beloved Italian staples, including orecchiette and panzerotti. But there’s so much to love about authentic Puglia food. Here are some of the most traditional foods and meals in Puglia:
- Pane di Altamura: a Bari specialty
- Taralli: crispy bread dough in the shape of rings. You can find this literally everywhere in Puglia, in a variety of flavors, and it is delicious!
- Focaccia: This traditional Italian bread is made a little differently in Puglia, and is often served with tomatoes or olives baked on top. It’s the perfect summer snack!
- Orecchiette: Orecchiette is the traditional pasta shape of Puglia. The classic dish includes orecchiette with broccoli rabe or parsnip, topped with anchovies, and it tends to be quite bitter.
- Panzerotti: these deep-fried pockets of dough are THE summer snack of Puglia.
- Pasticciotti: Pasticciotti are shortcut pastry tartlets commonly found in the Lecce and Gallipoli areas of Puglia. These dolci are traditionally filled with cream, but bakers have started experimenting with different fillings.
- Spumone: A traditional ice cream in the Puglia region (specifically Gallipoli) which has flavors tucked away in the middle of the scoop.
And of course, don’t forget to try Puglia olive oil! When you’re driving through Puglia, you’ll notice groves and groves of decades-old olive trees. Puglia produces around 40% of the olive oil in Italy!
Okay, now that we’ve covered the types of food you can’t miss, let’s dig into some of my favorite restaurants in the region. Puglia has more than its fair share of jaw-dropping restaurants with authentic, homemade meals. Keep in mind: most meals are served later in Italy – it’s cultural. Expect to eat dinner no earlier than 7 or 8 p.m. for example. Most people also grab lunch much later in the day.
That being said, let’s dive into it. Here are some of my favorite Puglia restaurants:
- Grotto Palazzese, a romantic restaurant built into the side of a cliff (if you’re in the area, this is a must-visit!)
- Porto Ghiacciolo (Monopoli)
- La Cantina di Cianna Cianne, a seaside spot with local classics (Bari)
- Pescharia 2 Mari (Savelletri)
- Lido Bosco Verde (Savelletri)
- Da Pino e Vincenzo, a local spot serving fresh sea urchin (Savelletri)
- Le Zie Trattoria, a wonderful place with homemade pasta using local ingredients (Lecce)
- D&D Gastronomia and Salumeria, a no-frills spot with amazing olive oil and preserved food (Speziele)
- La Ciccio Gelateria, gelato made by three generations of women (Ostuni)
- Il Bastione (Gallipoli)
- Osteria Briganti, a cute little restaurant with a great selection of fresh fish (Gallipoli)
- Balconcino d’Oriente, a family-owned restaurant with to-do-for pasta (Otranto)
Where to enjoy the nightlife in Puglia
The Puglia region is all about enjoying the nightlife and evening hours, especially during the summer when the temperatures can get too hot during the day. In southern Italy, dinner doesn’t start until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. (normally later!), so most people will end up staying out and talking with friends and loved ones until midnight – or later, especially Puglia. It’s a big part of the laid back culture.
If you want to enjoy the nightlife in Puglia, check out these cool spots:
- Quanto Basta (Lecce)
- La Ciclatera (Bari)
- Laurus Cocktail Bar (Lecce)
- Mavi Bistrot (Bari)
- Camilluccia Wine & Cocktail Bar (Specchia)
- Mezcla (Bari)
- Opus Pistorum (Bari)
Where to stay in Puglia
The “heel” of Italy is a huge area, and there are so many sick places to stay around the Puglia region. Whether you opt to stay in a romantic “Trullo” in Alberobello or luxury hotels in Puglia with a sea view, there’s truly something for everyone in this incredible area. If you want a truly private experience, I’d recommend booking an Airbnb in the region. And don’t worry, no matter where you decide to stay, you’ll never be *too* far from the all-important pizza or gelato supplies.
Here are some of my favorite (and truly awesome) accommodations in the Puglia and Campagna region:
- Cliffside apartment (Polignano a Mare)
- 19th century stone house (Ostuni)
- La Torre Di Merlino (San Gregorio)
- The Dream of Benedictine (Ostuni)
- Casa Coco (Gallipoli)
- Central apartment with pool in historic center (Lecce)
- Cozy seaview apartment (Polignano a Mare)
- Palazzo Scotto (Alberobello)
- Ottolire Resort (Locorotondo)
- Il Melograno (Monopoli)
- Don Ferrante – Dimore di Charme (Monopoli)
- Villa Infinity (Marina di Marittima)
- Trullo Del 1800 in Valle D’Itria (Alberobello)
- Trulli Tramonti d’Itria – Trullo Luna (Alberobello)
Vendors I recommend in the area
Hair and Makeup Artists
- Rotondo Catering
- Chez Toi Catering
- If you plan to have a smaller ceremony, consider reaching out to a local restaurant to ask about catering as well.
How to get to Puglia
To get to the Puglia region, the best airport for Puglia is the Bari Airport. However, there are two airports that get flights to Puglia, Italy: the Bari Airport or the Brindisi Airport. Which should you pick? Well, it’ll depend on where you fly from. Brindisi caters to more European connections, especially from the UK, but you will probably find more general flights to and from Bari. Budget airlines RyanAir and Wizz Air both fly into Bari.
From Bari, you should plan on renting a car and driving either north or south, depending on where you are staying. One thing is certain: the Puglia region is perfect for road trips!
Alternatively, if you’re planning to spend time further north in Italy before coming down to the Puglia region, you can take public transit to Bari (or your final destination!). Bari is home to a big train station which has connections to several popular spots further south, including Monopoli and Lecce. However, if you plan to stay off the beaten path, you will more than likely need to rent a car.
How to legally elope in Puglia
I’d personally recommend getting legally married in the U.S. to make it easier on you both and then have the symbolic ceremony in Italy.
But if you want to legally get married in Italy, here’s how:
Foreigners planning to get married in Italy do not need to have legal residency for a wedding. Italy will recognize both civil and religious wedding ceremonies (which isn’t always a given if you want to plan a European elopement!).
All your need to get legally married in Italy is the appropriate paperwork, which includes your passport, both your birth certificates, an affidavit, and two witnesses (I can be one of the witnesses!). If you plan to elope in Italy, you will also need to submit a declaration of intent to marry. To learn more about legal marriages in Italy, consider contacting the US Embassy in Italy.
My tips for exploring Puglia
Puglia is such an untouched part of Italy, and it’s the perfect road trip destination. If you do plan to elope in Puglia, I’d recommend renting a car and making a whole trip out of it! After all, Puglia beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world!
Consider visiting these spots along your road trip:
- Polignano a Mare/Monopoli
- Porto Cesareo
Don’t be afraid to rent your car and head off the beaten path to explore the true Italy. There’s nothing more exciting than exploring a new area!
If you want to elope in Italy, there’s no place more relaxed or beautiful than the Puglia region! The turquoise waters, the tiny cove beaches, the orecchiette…what’s not to love! If you’re feeling inspired by this post and may want to consider an Italian elopement, don’t hesitate to get in touch.