As we all know, 2020 was a tough year. Due to all of the restrictions that had to be respected to travel outside of Europe, I decided to visit southern Italy. Despite being Italian, I have never had the opportunity to visit the southern area of my country so freely. So I took a road trip from Milan to Otranto, passing through all the Italian regions, and therefore also Vieste.
Vieste is one of those typical villages of Puglia. It’s located at the heel of Italy, in Gargano National Park. Before visiting, I had no idea how beautiful this region was and that I would fall in love with it! Being a lover of Greece, I perceived how that area reminded me so much of Greece – and it didn’t feel like I was in an Italian town. I stayed in that area for four nights.
When I think of those days, I have in mind the beautiful sunsets that Puglia is famous for in summer, the sounds of cicadas and the ever-present sea. It’s a wonderful Mediterranean destination full of beauty and charm.
I like to call Vieste “a small Italian Greece” because it’s a town made up of white houses and buildings that overlook the sea, healthy food and a peaceful atmosphere. For those who love the Mediterranean, I can only recommend this Italian pearl! There are many such places in my country and Vieste is just one example – with lots of other places to visit nearby.
Gargano National Park offers many wild landscapes and beaches where you can relax and enjoy the sound of the sea. Being very green, everything is always accompanied by the song of cicadas that makes the environment dreamy! Visiting the area with my car, the Gargano coastal roads offer an experience of total freedom and connection with your vehicle.
The road overlooking the sea on one side and the cool woods of the park on the other, I can say that you can do the same things as I did but with a motorbike. This experience would certainly be much more interesting!
Capturing Epic Sunsets in Vieste
As mentioned, the sunsets in Puglia are incredible. The Apulians I met explained to me that the light of the sunsets in this area of Italy are epic. I didn’t believe it until I stopped to take some pictures, and I was thrilled.
Vieste is amazing with its white houses that extend towards the sea, sunsets with light that illuminate the clouds and houses – thus generating red and orange glows and a lovely contrast. Of course, I took my camera and did some long exposures in those few moments of magic. I think these photos are some of the most beautiful I have ever taken.
5 Best Things To Do in Vieste
- Admire the Sunsets in Vieste: The sunsets in Puglia are unique with clear skies and so much warmth and colorful light.
- Explore Gargano National Park: This park represents the lungs of Puglia – it extends for 1,181 km² and is rich in forests, roads and paths. The Umbra Forest is one of those places worth exploring. For those wishing to escape the summer heat, the forest generates a significant thermal difference thanks to its tall trees. This coolness is really pleasant just to take a breather from the fierce summer heat. For camping lovers who are on holiday by the sea, coming here will be like feeling totally in another place.
- Take a Boat Trip on the Gargano Coast: The coast around Vieste is full of caves, beaches and high white rock cliffs. Taking a boat trip guarantees a visit to many points that unfortunately are not reachable by road. For example: the Arch of San Felice and Grotta Sfondata (Broken Cave). In many of these open-air caves, boats are able to enter safely and you can swim around the cave waters freely.
- Visit Baia delle Zagare and Spiaggia di Baia dei Mergoli: Symbolic beaches on the Gargano Coast thanks to the presence of high white cliffs and two beautiful sea stacks. You can enjoy a nice swim at the foot of these two giants or you can admire them from a distance from a path that leads to the beach. Taking photos here is a one of a kind experience. It’s not dangerous swimming close to the stacks but personally I found it much more enjoyable to look from a distance.
- Spend an Evening at a Restaurant of Vieste: There are some nice small restaurants overlooking the sea in the old village of Vieste. For couples, I highly recommend spending an evening at one of these places for a truly romantic sunset. The locals are very friendly to tourists and therefore the experience will surely be a memorable one.
Meeting the Locals of Puglia
When I went to Vieste, I didn’t have the opportunity to interact much with the locals due to the pandemic. Being a traveler from the most affected areas of Italy, it was difficult for me to have a spontaneous approach with them. Instead, with the hosts of places or with the people who worked in restaurants, hotels, etc., I got the sense that Puglia is calm.
People are very hospitable and helpful. Everyone goes out of their way to ensure the best for you. Some owners of the B&B’s where I sayed offered me their products from their companies such as fruit and vegetables. Hospitality is typical for the people of southern Italy and those who visit these areas of my country will be treated very well without any doubt!
Phenomenal Food of Vieste
Vieste is a seaside town where fish is of excellent quality. The town is characterized by the village and the modern area that extends from the coast to the hinterland. Here we can find many places to eat – from luxury restaurants to take-away pizzerias. Being in Italy means you eat well wherever you are – as long as you like Italian food then you will be fine!
I recommend taking a tour of Vieste where down those narrow white-washed streets you will find small taverns and restaurants. My favorite was a spot called Ristorante & Pizzeria Guarda che Luna. Here you can order pizzas of all tastes and fish dishes of all kinds. And the best part? The view is amazing! You can take lots of long exposure photos at sunset.
People eat on this terrace overlooking the sea, with the sea breeze blowing gently and the scents of the dishes that make the whole experience unforgettable. The quality of the food is really high and delicious overall.
Where to Stay in Vieste
In Vieste, I had the opportunity to stay in only one place since this was a transit destination for me. I booked the Residence Villa Coppitella that I recommend to all travelers! I didn’t have the chance to look at other properties because my car trip was organized at the last minute, so in these circumstances it was the only solution to stay near this small town.
The main feature of this residence was undoubtedly its location. The hotel is located on one of the highest hills in the hinterland of Vieste, guaranteeing a breathtaking view of the village! It has a large swimming pool that is surrounded by a transparent glass barrier. This allows guests to enjoy luxurious and fresh swims with a truly priceless view of the village.
I recommend booking Residence Villa Coppitella in summer. I think this area of Vieste is beautiful in all seasons of the year but being a seaside place, everything is better experienced in warmer months.
Cherished Memories Along the Way
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of this trip is the old village. I never thought that I could ever experience the same emotions and sensations that I felt in Greece while traveling through my own country.
Another sensation I felt was that while I was traveling by car the sense of freedom was absolute. Nothing and no one could tell me where to go, and when, how I should drive, etc. and so I was free. I felt I could go anywhere!
Need to Know Before you Go
My first piece of advice is to organize your own means of transport. This is not for the village of Vieste itself but rather the surrounding areas that are best reached by car or scooter. You can explore Vieste on foot, however areas like Gargano and other villages are best reached by car.
The second main tip from me is to book a boat trip. I think a coastal tour would be really stunning with all those caves and white rock cliffs. Even better if you rent your own! My third tip, which I recommend for everyone, is to spend at least one night eating at sunset (restaurant or not). Even if it’s just a sandwich by the sea, you will not forget this incredible experience.
Finally, Puglia is full of many typical products that can be purchased at low prices. You just have to keep this in mind before arriving there without knowing what to get. Thanks for reading everyone and enjoy Vieste!