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The Best Way to See Puglia, Italy: On a Scooter!

Big & Small traveled to the southern Italian region of Puglia to see if we could pull off the unthinkable—getting around without a car. Now, most people will tell you it’s damn near impossible to see this region without a good set of four wheels, but we like to prove most people wrong. We also hate driving.

So, we made our way to scenic beach towns via buses and bustling inland cities via trains. But to really get a sense of the charming, quiet countryside and stunning undeveloped coastline, we opted to try out Italy’s most beloved mode of transport—the scooter!

Enjoy our video above, and keep reading below for more info on all of the towns we visited on our epic scooter trip through Puglia, Italy.

We rented scooters in La Citta Bianca (the white town) of Ostuni from Road Runner Scooter Rent. Over six days, we took our humble 125cc scooters over 400 kilometers (roughly 250 miles). Because we were working with smaller scoots, we had to avoid the long stretch of highway along the coast—and, admittedly, that wasn’t always easy.

Despite a few problems along the way—play the video to see what happens!—we had a blast exploring the quaint villages speckled throughout the olive groves and vineyards. Each town has its own special air and aesthetic. Here are the spots we stopped in.


Of all the “white towns” in Puglia, this one is perhaps the most striking from afar, with its small, bleached buildings piled up on the hill. From the old town, you’ll find plenty of posh cafes and restaurants, and you can catch some spectacular views of the countryside as it blends into the Adriatic Sea. Ostuni is very touristic, which, for us, made it far less charming than other surrounding towns.


Heading deeper into the Valle d’Itria, you’ll start to see trulli dotting the roads—these are the enchanting little huts with conical roofs, and they’re truly adorable, though you’ll need to head to Alberobello (more info below) to get your fill of them. But a stop in Cisternino is just as much a treat, with its narrow, winding alleyways and great viewpoints of the sprawling countryside below.


Just west of Cisternino is another spectacular white town standing proud atop a hill, this one strategically framed within a circle (Lorocotondo means “round place”). Many people have claimed this one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and though that would be a tough competition, we’re likely to agree. Walk along the circular edge, which is partly lined in vineyards or get lost among the elegant whitewashed buildings. We recommend this spot for an excellent lunch.


This is the fairytale-like home of the magical trulli with a dense concentration of over 1,500 of them. While their origins are a bit of a mystery, the oldest one dates back to the 14th century. While Alberobello is a hot tourist spot, it’s easy to see why, and it’s an absolute must when in Puglia. Walking among the trulli is like nothing you’ll ever experience. What stands out most are the symbols painted on the roofs, some “primitive” from ancient cults, some Christian, others based on “magic” or astrology. If Small had her way, she’d happily live in a trullo!

San Vito dei Normanni

This small town just 20 km west of Brindisi was actually our home base. It’s probably the least touristy spot in the region, so you’ll definitely get a nice taste of the laidback, local flavor, and you’ll likely catch a live music show, which seems to happen nearly every night in this tiny town! Speaking of flavors, San Vito is home to the best restaurant in Puglia (and, boy, is that saying a lot!). Book a reservation at La Locanda di Nonna Mena for an authentic Puglian “slow food” meal using all local and seasonal ingredients. And enjoy it all at a reasonable price (we spent less than 30 euros for a lunch for two with two glasses of wine and dessert.


Between San Vito dei Normanni and Ostuni is another quiet, less-touristic small town, which is centered around the Dentice di Frasso Castle and more affordable and exceptional restaurants serving up plenty of the locally produced olive oil.

Costa Merlata

This is merely just a beach area, but the blues of the water here are so stunning it’s well worth a mention. I mean, look at this! Did you know Italy had such pristine beaches?

Torre Canne

We also didn’t spend too much time in Torre Canne, but did scoot through it a few times and spotted some pretty incredible white sand beaches and quite a few pull-offs along the coast, where you could enjoy a little of the sea all to yourself.


Our initial scooter goal was to make it all the way from San Vito dei Normanni to Monopoli via the coast, but as you’ll see in the video, we couldn’t quite make it happen! However, we did later make our way to this scenic coastal town, which is just a 30-minute train ride from Bari. Monopoli feels big in comparison with all its surrounding towns. As you make your way through the old town en route to the beach, you’ll pass by a lot of churches (yes, more than your average Italian town). Be sure to step into the main cathedral (Santa Maria della Madia), which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the Church of Purgatory, where you’ll find a few mummified bodies of past church brethren. Once you reach the sea, we recommend walking along the exterior of the city wall, following the line of the coast and watching the yachts come in and out of the harbor.

Polignano a Mare

We also had to hop on a train from Bari to get to this chic town, which hugs the Adriatic in one of the coast’s most dramatic displays. Going onto the water will grant you access to cool sea caves and grottoes, but if you’re more comfortable on land, Polignano a Mare has got one of the most picturesque beaches in all of Italy. Wind your way through the quaint alleyways—often packed with tourists, unfortunately—and then find some breathing room along the Roman bridge, where you can then make your way down to the cozy, crowded beach.

Check out the video above to follow our journey and catch a glimpse of each of these charming Italian towns. If you like the video, please hit the “thumbs up” button and subscribe to our Big & Small Travel YouTube channel!  

6 thoughts on “The Best Way to See Puglia, Italy: On a Scooter!”

  1. Hi, loved your video. We will rent a scooter in Monopoli (or Polignano a Mare). Looking for advice on the best route to take (and which roads to avoid) on a scooter.
    We plan to go from Monopoli to Alborobello (stay 1 night) then to Locorotondo/Cisternino and Ostuni, then back to Monopoli via coast.
    Any advice greatly appreciated, especially best roads to take and which roads to avoid.
    Also, which direction do you think is best from Monopoli – Ostuni first or Alborobello first?
    PS We are experienced scooter riders, have licence.

    1. Hello! Thanks for watching! Happy to hear that fellow scooterists will be following our path! Puglia is an awesome place to enjoy a scooter. So, we didn’t quite make it all the way up to Monopoli or Polignano a Mare (we were staying south of Ostuni, and it was quite a drive to do round trip in one day), so I’m not sure of the best path between Monopoli and Alberobello. It looks like taking SP113 may be your best best, but you should ask the person you’ll be renting scooters from – they should be able to recommend you a good route. That said, I think your plan to do Monopoli – Alberobello first sounds good. From Alberobello, you can easily reach Locorotondo via SS172 then Cisternino and Ostuni via SP11 and SP17. If you can, I would recommend staying one night in Ostuni, because that would be a lot of driving to head back to Monopoli that same day (though it’s certainly possible). Really the only big road you’ll want to avoid is the SS379, which is the highway that runs along the coast. We were able to take the parallel service roads for much of the way, but we did get hung up somewhere around Diana Marina or Rosa Marina when the service roads on both sides of the highway were closed off to private resorts. Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly where that was. I do know that once you get near Torre Canne, you’ll be able to easily ride along the coast, I think all the way back up to Monopoli. In general, we felt safe and comfortable riding throughout most of Puglia, so don’t be afraid of getting a little lost, too! I hope that helps and I hope you have a wonderful trip! When will you be heading to Puglia?

    2. Thank you SO much. I posted on TripAdvisor and the only advice we got was ‘don’t do it’! We have used scooters in other countries and we think it’s a great way to travel.
      We will be in Puglia in June. We’re now thinking of doing a couple of one-day trips as one scooter hire place wouldn’t hold our bags and another wanted to charge €1.50 per hour, which becomes pretty expensive for 2-3 days.
      Thanks again.

  2. This looks so fun! I toured by bike in Thailand, Laos, and Bali and would like to try this.
    And I love to travel by train, am currently doing it in Italy now and it sure is fun to have a glass of wine and not worry about where to park.
    The ferries, bus and train service are excellent in Italy, love how each service is linked to the next.
    Thanks for writing this, it’s inspiring!

    1. Thank you for reading! If you’ve been around SE Asia on a bike, Italy will be a breeze! It really is the best for traveling by train and ferry and scooter. Where are you in Italy right now? Have a glass of wine for us! We can’t wait to get back there. 🙂

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