Puglia, the region of Italy known for its authentic villages, sun-bleached sandy beaches and fairytale olive farm landscapes, makes up the southern heel of the ‘boot’ of Italy. It’s a popular tourist destination for those wanting to avoid the crowds of Venice and Rome, with a warm climate and nutrient-rich soil that makes it famous for the production of the country’s olive oil supply and spectacular red wines.
Offering a more laid back, sleepy atmosphere, holidaymakers in Puglia can properly wind down and relax amongst the whitewashed villages and conical stone huts known traditionally as ‘Trulli’. The city of Alberobello is famous for its pretty and architecturally unique collection of Trulli, although beyond the cities, the beauty of Puglia is hosted within the expansive farmlands in the form of fresh food, ancient forests and expansive coastline.
The heat of the southern Italian sun means the sea and land temperatures are maintained beyond the peak holiday season compared to other regions within the country. This, coupled with the reputable warmth of the locals, makes visiting Puglia in October especially appealing.
Typical seasons in the Mediterranean consist of hot dry summers and cooler yet mild winters, and Puglia follows this trend. Puglia can reach scorching temperatures of 30-35°C in the midst of summer between July and August, so to dodge this heat and the crowds, one of the best times to visit Puglia is in October.
The average maximum temperatures in Puglia in October is between 19-22°C, with average minimums of 12-15°C providing perfect conditions for walking and cycling around the region. The sea retains much of the heat from the summer sun until the end of the month, with an average temperature of 21°C, meaning opportunities to swim in the beautiful blue sea are still plentiful.
There is an average of 6 hours of sunshine per day in Puglia in October, although when the sun starts to descend the temperatures will drop quickly, so packing a light jacket or an extra layer on hand for the evenings if you’re enjoying dinner outdoors on a terrace or on the coast.
Although the region is on average dry, Puglia in the middle of October can become more unpredictable in terms of rainfall. The average rainfall for the month is 25mm but with only 8 rainy days on average, chances of a totally dry holiday are pretty high.
Bari and Brindisi are the two international airports in the region, the former being the larger and more accessible of the two. Brindisi Airport in the south of the region is smaller but particularly well run, meaning waiting times are generally kept to a minimum.
Alternatively, some tourists opt to fly to one of the larger airports in Italy like Rome or Naples before hiring a car and driving across to Puglia. This is a particularly feasible option for those who enjoy a scenic road trip through the Italian countryside.
The drive from Naples to Ostuni in the North of the region is roughly 3.5 hours, depending on how many pit stops are made to admire the sights and plethora of olive oil farms. If driving abroad isn't for you, high-speed trains are also a very accessible and relatively inexpensive option to get from Naples or Rome to Puglia.
Once in Puglia, the best way to get around is by car. There are some bus and train services available, but they tend to connect only the main towns and cities. As the region's beauty resides predominantly in the remote countryside, hiring a car will be the most efficient and flexible way to see the best of what Puglia in October has to offer.
As October in Puglia avoids the peak of the tourist season, car hire this month is a relatively inexpensive option that allows the freedom to explore the region at your own leisure. No one wants to spend precious holiday time waiting for public transport when there is so much to see and do!
The 12th edition of this festival happens annually and runs from September 25th – October 2nd in 2021. The event is organised by the Apulia Film Commission and attracts both film professionals and film lovers, showcasing the best feature films of the year with multiple highly acclaimed awards up for grabs.
As well as being one of the leading cinematic and cultural events in Italy, the screenings are hosted within some of the world's most beautiful theatres; Teatro Petruzzelli, Teatro Piccini, Teatro Margherita and Teatro Kursaal which are worth visiting even outside of the film festival.
The Bari21 is one of the most renowned half marathons in Italy. The singular event hosts 3 different races; 21km (half marathon), 10km and 5km – all with the option of being competitive or noncompetitive races. If you’re a keen runner this may be an event to sign up for, immerse yourself in the atmosphere, run a race of your choice and then reward yourself with some of the best Italian cuisine the country has to offer!
However, exercise on holiday isn’t at the top of everyone’s itinerary, so if you’re on holiday to relax, eat and enjoy the wines of the region, it may be worth avoiding the city of Bari when the event is on.
Towards the end of October, Halloween and All Saints Day celebrations will start to emerge in the form of candle lit pumpkins known as ‘Cocce Pruatorije’ that represent the memorial of the dead coming back to earth. The Festival of Fucacoste (bonfires) also takes place at this time of year to represent a guiding light to the wandering souls.
In the city of Orsara, all public lighting is switched off at 19.00, allowing bonfires and candles to light the streets. Despite sounding rather spooky, this festival is a fun experience of social sharing and commemoration.
There are a number of other Halloween-esque events held throughout the region including ‘Hell in the Cave’ held in Castellana Grotte in Bari. This spectacular underground aerial show is a theatrical performance incorporating a showcase of dancing, lights, voices and arts, all against the backdrop of the largest of the Castellana Caves.
Bari is known as the ‘gateway to Apulia’ and has an abundance of cultural and historical attractions such as the Basilica San Nicola, constructed in the 11th and 12th centuries. Visiting the city in October is a great idea if you want a less crowded tour of the region's capital during the less touristy months of the year.
Also, milder temperatures in Puglia in October means exploring the bustling harbour and narrow streets of the old town will be more comfortable, although it will still be warm enough to lie out and enjoy the autumnal sunshine on one of the many beautiful beaches that are nearby.
Cooking classes are a great way to take home a slice of Italy to show off to your friends and family when back home. Plenty of places in Puglia, particularly the larger towns and cities, offer cooking classes for tourists and locals that either give you a crash course in culinary magic or focus on particular flavours from the region.
To accompany the cooking, there will be ample opportunities to enjoy and sample the wines of Puglia. The grape harvest takes place in September, so October is arguably the best month to enjoy the aftermath of this harvest.
As well as being a great option to sample Puglia’s culture in the form of food and drink, cooking classes are a great option if you happen to be visiting over one of the rainier days in October. Shelter away from bad weather in a cosy kitchen surrounded by fresh pizza, pasta and wine – what more could you want?
Immerse yourself in the culture of Ceglie Messapica, which is less of a tourist hotspot than other popular attractions in Puglia and perfect for those who want to see an authentic part of the region. This ancient town has plenty of atmospheric, intertwining narrow lanes where you will find sights such as the historic Ducal Castle that dominates the skyline of the town.
Ceglie Messapica is often overlooked by those wanting to avoid the heat of the inland and head to the coast. However, as the temperature drops in October it is an ideal opportunity to explore the narrow lanes, grottoes and caves that make up this fascinating part of Puglia.
Whilst the sea is still warm enough to enjoy swimming, why not spend a day relaxing on one of the vast, white sandy beaches within the picturesque Gargano National Park? After a hike through the nature-rich trails, the beaches here offer the perfect opportunity to unwind and dip your toes in the water.
If you’re more of an action seeker, there are plenty of steep and winding coastal paths that reward you with terrific views of the surrounding Adriatic Sea. There are also a number of historic towns within the park, such as Cagnano Varano, which are home to ancient churches, cathedrals and castles that are all worth a visit to marvel at the architecture that dates as far back as the 5th century.
Life moves at a slower pace in Puglia. The locals here are partial to a siesta and take life in a more laid back way. We recommend that you take a lead out of their book and unwind by slipping into the rhythm of this relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle whilst you’re on holiday in October.
If you are looking for a more action-packed trip and thrive within the hustle and bustle of fast-paced Italian city breaks, bear in mind that Puglia may not be the region for you, especially with October being noticeably quieter than the peak summer months.
As mentioned, buses and trains are an option in Puglia, but if you’re a traveller wanting to explore the rural landscape that hosts the true gems of the region, public transport will likely take more time than you have, so hiring a car is strongly recommended.
Be warned however that driving around the region may not be as straightforward as driving in your country of origin. The roads can be rather ropey, particularly in and around the ancient and coastal areas within the region, so ensure you are a confident driver before planning a road trip.
When visiting one of the many cafes and restaurants, be aware of the ‘coperto’. This is an additional service fee charged per person irrespective of how large the bill has come to. This is not a tip and is typically around two euros per head, however this can vary.
The busier and more touristy restaurants in Puglia will often charge more than smaller, local eateries. The corperto is a non-negotiable charge, so it is important to bear it in mind if you’re someone who enjoys regular cafe pit stops, as this additional rate could add up to be an unexpectedly large cost.
Finally, remember that the weather in Puglia in October is on the turn towards the end of the month. The nights can be cooler and there is the chance of getting caught in a shower, so to avoid feeling the chill or getting soggy whilst out exploring the sights, it is a good idea to check the weather forecast for the day ahead and ensure you have a light jacket or waterproof at hand just in case.
Puglia is a region of Italy with incredible scenery, peaceful atmosphere and unique architecture, and October is a brilliant time to come and enjoy it whilst the crowds are smaller but the weather is still pleasant. For other information on holidays in this beautiful part of the country, explore the rest of the Italian Breaks website and find out more.