People seem to keep saying "Hey you should go see this random thing while you're in Italy." Whether it's a seaside town or a mountain, or in this case a cave restaurant. Fun fact though, Italy is really big and not super easy to travel around. But before one more person posted the cave restaurant that's all over Pinterest on my wall I had to go dine there. We made the reservations at Ristorante Grotta Palazzese (that's the actual name of the cave restaurant) in April or May for July, which I would recommend if you plan to go there. It's not actually in Bari either, it's in Polignano a Mare, which is a little ways outside of Bari. We drove all the way from Sicily and it took about seven hours. I'm sure there are easier ways to get there, Bari does have an airport, but this worked for us. I'm so glad we went because it was a once in a lifetime experience.
For sure it is scenic and gorgeous.
The only way you can get in is with a reservation, you can't just pop down for pictures.
But it's worth it to say you've done it.
This was one of the most expensive meals I've ever had, they had several set menu options at different price points and offered wine pairings for each of them I think we went with the "middle of the road" option, and it was still over 150 euro a person.
The food was quite good, the ambiance was interesting (a little loud with the crashing waves), and the staff was very attentive and knowledgable. It's also worth noting that the restaurant is only open May-October, so if you go make sure you plan ahead. And maybe don't wear a flowy dress because it's a little windy and you don't want to have a Marilyn Monroe moment.
The town of Polignano a Mare was charming in its own right, walking back to our B&B we were privy to a concert in the square.
I also went for a delightful run along the coast in the morning.
There were four of us on the trip and each person sort of got to choose an activity, mine was dinner of course. The next was the Zoo Safari park. It was very neat to drive through and feed the animals but I would recommend against going into the actual zoo part, it is super depressing, the smallest enclosures I've ever seen. That being said....
Look an elephant!!!
They had lions and tigers and bears, and you were advised to keep windows rolled up during those portions.
The animals were so cute and feeding them was really fun.
I think my favorites were the giraffes and the zebras. Had no idea how much they would like peanuts and carob.
We also visited Alberobello, the UNESCO World Heritage Site where the famed Trulli houses are. You can see them throughout the countryside, but when you actually get to the town you feel like you are walking around a smurf village.
Expect to walk down some winding paths and up some hills.
There are also some areas where you can climb up and get vista views.
Make sure you check the weather or you may find yourself actually looking like a smurf with a five euro poncho.
The last stop was Matera, known for its maze of caves built into the hillside, being one of the oldest known inhabited areas, and for the filming of The Passion of the Christ.
Lots of churches. They have some fantastic old paintings that are nearly as old as Christianity itself. You can pay for a pass to see all the churches, which is probably the smarter way to go.
Lots and lots of churches.
For a quick weekend trip we saw a whole lot and marked off many Italy Bucket List items. None of them warranted a dedicated trip, each could be seen in a few hours so I'm glad we combined them all into one trip.