Driving in Salento, south of Apulia (Puglia), Italy, is like driving in the American far west. Yellow fields in summer – green in winter and spring – and olive trees, rocks and little white villages. This was the first time I opted for a self-drive tour. And it’s worth the stress of driving a car.

I arrived to Bari, the ‘capital’ of this southern region, on a direct flight from London. In my head, one dream: discovering the Salento, where the horizon melts into the sea, where there are so many architectural jewels that my mind can not even imagine. And where the food is superb, as I learnt in a ‘pugliese’ restaurant in London.

To organize my trip, I relied on Discovery Puglia, an online travel agency based in Dublin but rooted in this region. The guys who work in it know this area as they know their parents. And I made the right choice.

Before heading to Lecce, the biggest town in Salento, I decided to visit Bari as well. This is a metropolitan area on the Adriatic coast. Its historical center is worth a stroll, with the San Nicola Cathedral, more and more churches, the Bastions on the sea, the lungomare (a promenade along the coast) and with a 18th century area full of shops, both chains and independent ones.

After a long drive towards Salento, I arrived to Lecce, called ‘The Florence of the South’. I was here just for dinner and had a guided tour of the city center organized by Discovery Puglia.

Lecce has got very ancient origins and is almost…

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