A friend’s wedding was the reason for this quick three day trip to Monopoli, in Puglia, Italy. Our two evenings were going to be taken up by wedding functions, and I’d not even heard of this town before getting the wedding invite, so I didn’t anticipate there would be a great deal else to do, and was worried I wouldn’t have anything to write for this entry. Nevertheless, I was excited to be returning to Italy for a third time, especially as it was to a region that doesn’t normally make it on to most tourists’ itineraries.
However, the whole thing nearly got scuppered the night before we were due to fly out. We were booked on an early morning Alitalia flight out of London City Airport to Bari via Milan. At about 10pm, we got a text message from the airline saying our flight was cancelled! This has never happened to me before, and I felt a surge of anxiety as you’d expect, but also, surprisingly, a fresh wave of excitement. I promptly called the airline, and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, they put us on an alternative flight out of Heathrow instead, allowing us to keep our original connection and arrive in Bari at the scheduled time.
From Bari, the journey to Monopoli was straightforward. We opted to take the metro to Bari Centrale and then a Trenitalia to Monopoli for a total cost of €18 for all for of us. The stations are all well signposted, and there were also plenty of helpful staff available. It is possible to catch a taxi or rent a car instead, but we were quoted about €80 for the cab, and were advised that parking in Monopoli was very difficult, especially in the Storico Centro (historical centre), where we were staying.
As we walked from the train station to our AirBnB, we immediately got a sense of how much of a small town this was. A taxi driver pulled alongside us to ask if we were here for, ‘The Wedding’, and our AirBnB host turned out to be the bride’s cousin. After settling in, we took a stroll in search of something to eat. My eldest daughter commented that the old buildings and cobbled streets were, ‘just like India,’ and I too, couldn’t help be reminded of my ancestral village.
We stumbled upon the Tamborr – Legend Bar & Restaurant, next to the Castello Carlo V. The simple food and wine were amazing. A perfect example of everything I love about this country. We then took a short walk along the coast to Spiaggia Porta Vecchia, one of the free beaches in Monopoli, before heading back to get ready for the evening pre-wedding drinks. This was held on the Piazza Palmieri, catered by My Italy – Street Food e Dintorni (owned by another one of the bride’s cousins).
The next day, the wedding was in the evening, so we had most of the day to ourselves. We decided to go back along the coast again visiting beaches at Spiaggia di Cala Porto Bianco and Spiaggia di Cala Porto Rosso. Stopping off for more food and drink along the way. Both beaches were heaving, but we managed to find a quiet spot on some rocks from where to dip our feet in the warm water.
The main event was held at a farmhouse a short drive out of town, called Masseria Torrepietra. The setting was perfect. The pace, the food and the drink made for one of the most relaxing weddings we’ve been to.
I had been told before coming out here, that Puglia is where Italians go to holiday, and now I understand why. I’ve learnt that the region has a lot more to see beyond what we could fit in on our tight schedule, and is well worth a longer visit.
Lovely wedding, in an absolutely amazing country. Congratulations Hari & Federica!