For tourists and visitors in Italy’s Puglia region – travelling by bus, boat, train and bicycle has suddenly come back in vogue. The reason may be that travellers are searching for alternatives to combat the amount of vehicle traffic on Italy’s highways (which has eclipsed whatever was considered “unbearable” last summer and even before then), or maybe it’s because the tourism industry has opened it’s eyes to other modes of getting visitors from “here to there”, whether it’s for a day, a weekend or even longer.
Case in point: The Gargano Train Station – coincidently the very first in Italy to convert to electric tracks on it’s railroad line back in 1931 – is pushing an “Olive, Ocean and Rocks” tour which takes tourists on a casual 79 kilometre venture through some of the most scenic areas in and around Rodi di Gargano (for more on Gargano check the AC Travel Archives). Gargano is one of Puglia’s most cherished areas as this region combines a pristine coastline with mountains and forested areas. The “OOR” trip takes passengers around the stunning Lago di Varanno, through Gargano National Forest and the seaside village of Peschici. Passengers are encouraged to take a camera as the scenery viewed from their window seats is worth a thousand words. For more information on departure times and prices check out www.ferroviedelgargano.com
A little further south in the capital city of Bari, where the bicycle club “Ruotalibera” or “FreeWheel” is offering different cycling trips in the Puglia region through September 9th. In fact, this is the first summer that a serious effort is being made by the Puglia Department of Tourism to map out cycling routes throughout Puglia. For more information call (0039) 080 – 523 – 66 -74.ï¿½
A brief sidenote begs attention here: for the last 30 years or so, the Puglia Region has been routinely ignored by tourists and travel writers because the region “hardly compares with the North”. Thirty years later, the lack of crowds, low prices and relatively clean beaches have all of sudden made the Puglia Region one of Italy’s bigest tourist attractions.
Meanwhile over in the coastal city of Taranto, two touring boats – the “Clodia” and the “Adria” offer visitors a canal-ocean “mini-cruise” that shows off the best parts of the city’s new and old. The Adria ships through the day from 9am to 7pm while the Clodia has evening cruises only at 9pm. Call 099-779-55-27 for more information and “yes” the operators speak English. Tuesday evenings a “Jazz Cruise” is offered which features dinner and music. Call 339-298-65-84 for reservations.
For those of you looking to learn a little about the history of the area while you relax and take pictures, then maybe the “Greek Profile Archaeology Tour” offered by the Manduria Tourism Office is more your style: A guided air conditioned bus takes you through the Salento Region – famous for it’s Greek temples and other archaeological wonders. Visitors get lucky this summer, as the itinerary includes a stop at an active archaeology dig-in-progress. For more information check out their site: www.profilogreco.it or call 099-973-71-31.
While the risk of rail, bus and plane strikes is always present during the summer months in Italy, these particular offerings operate outside of regular passenger service modes of travel so unexpected cancellations are not the norm in this case.
As more and more tourists are discovering the “undiscovered” wonders of the Puglia Region, the area itself has opened its arms to tourists from all over Italy, as well as Europe and even farther abroad, more so this summer, then any other summer in recent memory. As a result, everyone comes out a winner – merchants, tour operators and most of all the hundreds of thousands of tourists who are descending upon Puglia looking for good deals and great vacations.