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A gay traveller’s guide to Puglia, Italy

Nomadic Boys Stefan and Sebastien bring you the lowdown on stunning Southern Italy.

By Will Stroude

Puglia is the most southeastern region of Italy, the heel of the famous boot. It is a popular holiday retreat and has more recently transformed into a prime hotspot for gay travellers, especially Gallipoli.

There are many cultural gems to discover, delicious food, beaches, and of course many sexy guys. As most of the tourist highlights are quite spread out, we recommend renting a car to get the most out of your trip here, especially as public transport is expensive and quite scarce. 

We did a road trip to discover the gay scene of Puglia and have put together our 5 favourite highlights in Puglia from our trip, which you can’t miss out:

1) D’Ayala gay nudist beach

There are many gay friendly beaches to visit in Puglia, which are quite remote and hard to reach. As a result, they offer a great deal of privacy, making them popular with nudists.

Our favourite gay beach in Puglia was D’Ayala beach, located around 1 hour drive North from Gallipoli. The official name of it is ‘Spiaggia D’Ayala’, which is also the point of reference to put in your GPS or Google Maps.

We love it because it’s not too complicated to reach, and it is a long coastline of powdery white sand that is separate from the main road by a large forest. The forest gives it the privacy which makes it attractive to gay travellers and nudists.

2) Partying in Gallipoli

Gallipoli is the pink gem of Puglia. It’s where you’ll want to base yourself. It’s a buzzing cosmopolitan city, full of life, excellent restaurants, lounges, boutique shops and gay hangouts. It also has some of the best beach clubs in the region – whilst these aren’t exclusively gay, they are gay friendly.

Gay bars and clubs in Gallipoli to look out for include the LED Cafe, which is the main gay bar to start the night. Then depending on the season, there will be numerous ad hoc gay parties taking place at different venues, in particular at Village Picador.

Also if you’re heading to Gallipoli during the summer months, check out Salento Pride in August.

3) Lecce baroque city

Lecce is one of the cultural highlights of Puglia that every traveller should visit. It is famous for its many Baroque buildings, as well as the many cute narrow cobblestone roads and impressive Cathedrals.

It is nicknamed “the Florence of the south” because, like Florence, it’s like an outdoor museum of Baroque era architectural gems. Lecce was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 2006.

For gay travellers, we recommend watching the 2010 Italian movie called Loose Cannons (‘Mine Vaganti’ in Italian), which is about a family in Lecce who own a pasta making business, and also have two very cute sons.

Both sons are gay and try to come out to the rest of the family, but all hell breaks loose when the first one tries. It’s a very funny film, but also gives a good insight about Lecce and local life in Puglia.

4) The trulli of Alberobello

The trulli of Alberobello are one of our favourite and unique UNESCO listed sites we’ve been to in our travels.

A trullo (singular) is a limestone Hobbit-like hut with a conical roof. They are unique to the Itria Valley region of Puglia, particularly in Alberobello.

The trulli (plural of trullo) were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 because they are regarded as “remarkable examples of drywall (mortarless) construction, a prehistoric building technique still in use in this region”. 

As such Alberobello has become a very touristic town, but for good reason. It has the cute cobblestone narrow streets, which have over 1,500 trulli lined on each side.

The trulli today are preserved and used as cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops, and some as inns which you can stay in overnight.

5) Polignano A Mare

Polignano a Mare is a small coastal town in Puglia, which is famous for its beautiful cliffs which submerge into the crystal clear blue water below. It’s one of those Instagrammable spots in the region you need to check out.

There is one spot in particular in the centre of the town which is the most famous, the most stunning, where the waves come crashing onto the rocks on the beach. When it’s not too windy, it’s perfect for swimming. When we went, the waves were too strong to swim in.

As a result of the high cliffs here, Polignano a Mare has become a notorious diving spot and even hosted the Red Bull Cliff Diving competition on several occasions.

For more inspiration, check out the Nomadic Boys’ guide to the sightseeing highlights of Puglia, and our five best gay friendly hotels in Puglia.