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First, I would like to thank (Hideaways travel consultant) Katia for all her help with our trip to Italy. We had a great time and enjoyed the region of Puglia very much. Our car worked great and was the best way to see the area, other than on a bus tour. Since we were there in May, we were about a month too early for water activities like boating and swimming, but it was a great time for sightseeting in general.
Here is some insight on the hotels where we stayed, plus others we saw along the way that looked interesting.
We first stayed at the Palace Hote Vieste in the medieval city of Vieste. It was a very nice hotel in a good location and looked like it had just been remodeled. In Polignano a Mare, we stayed at the Hotel Ristorante Grotta Palazzese, which is in a great location on the cliffs right above the sea and has a wonderful restaurant (but very expensive, so we didn't eat there). The rooms here were small and a little tired-looking. A better choice, also on the sea and right across the inlet from this hotel, would be the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni ("Den of Saracens").
In Alberobello, we stayed in a great small hotel called Le Alcove, in one of the actual "trulli" houses (traditional stone dwellings with conical roofs). This unique experience was the best hotel room of our trip.Our next stop was Lecce, where we stayed at the Patria Palace Hotel, formerly an 18th-century aristocratic mansion. This was very nice and centrally located in the historic district. Two other hotels here looked very nice as well: the 4-star Sata Chiara Suite Hotel and the 5-star Risorgimento Resort, which is done in a more contemporary style. While in Lecce, we took a day trip to Gallipoli, a very charming seaside city with the old historic section located on a limestone island just offshore and linked to the mainland by a 16th-century bridge.The fascinating city of Matera was our next stop, where we stayed at the Locanda di San Martino, which offers the experience of rooms that recreate the cave dwellings that have been inhabited here for thousands of years. This hotel was a good value, with simple furnishings and a good location just a short distance from the city center. It also has unique thermae baths in a subterranean cavern. Three other hotels here looked nice, including the 5-star Palazzo Gatinni on the Duomo Plaza--the luxury place to stay, with rooms starting at €300+ per night--the 4-star Palazzo Viceconte Matera, located just down from the Duomo Plaza, and the nearby 4-star Hotel Sant'Angelo Luxury Resort. All three would be good places to stay and seemed fairly new in terms of furnishings and amenities.
In summary, Puglia is a great place to visit, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in seeing a unique part of Italy.