For once, we’d like to tell you about our experiences abroad: as interns or travellers, we share our daily lives with you, to help you find the destination of your dreams for your internship abroad. And this year we set off to discover Puglia: south-east Italy. And, my friend, once again, Italy did not disappoint us: the people, the landscapes, the climate and, of course, the good food. Puglia 2022 edition.

We chose to take up residence in Bari, via Principe Amadeo, because it’s quite central: 10 minutes’ walk from the old town, 7 from the station, 15 from the beach (and given the temperatures we’re about to experience, being close to a bathing spot is almost a matter of life and death!) On the evening of our arrival, we visited the old town of Bari, its narrow streets full of pots of Cactus, Alocasia and other succulents: it was a feast for the eyes. We settle down on the terrace for a little aperitivo (we’re not going to let ourselves down!) with two traditional Spritz: for that alone, Italy should light up our aperitifs more often. From the very first evening, the heat was almost overwhelming, but it was appreciable – we’d just left Nantes with 18 degrees, and found Bari with 40. The difference was painful on the first day, but we soon got used to it. The first thing that struck me in Bari was the culture of the South. I felt like I was meeting my grandmother in every corner of the old town: everyone talks to each other, old people sit on chairs in front of their homes to enjoy the shade and the ‘coolness’ of the night as it falls, families bring out their chairs and tables to eat in the street. In short, the culture of sharing and family in all its quintessence: I’m at home. Italy is a bit like the cliché of Florence Foresti’s Jewish mother (if you don’t know the sketch, don’t hesitate to watch it!): you eat, you talk, you meet people.

Our stay was very pleasant: visits in the morning, meetings, and always a beach to round off the day. We visited Monopoli, Lecce, Torre a Mare, Polignano a Mare, Taranto and the must-see Alberobello.

Monopoli is absolutely incredible, but don’t forget your sunglasses: the walls are dazzling white everywhere, and it’s very difficult to get around without your glasses, otherwise you’ll shatter your retina and call your mother crying. Without abuse, of course. In fact, if you’re photosensitive (hello facial vascular disease team, we’re in this together!), sunglasses are a must, and don’t hesitate to use sun cream either, especially if the whiteness of your skin would make the first snowfall redden. There are quite a few tourists, like us, strolling through the streets and then washing up on the little beach in the old town. We’ll have to go back later: we forgot the beach towels in France… and it’s impossible to find any in the city. Death. But this unpleasant episode was quickly forgotten and we set off again for Bari, heading for H&M to pick up some towels, then the beach a few steps from the town centre: the water was clear and very pleasant. One small detail: if you want to travel, you might as well take the train, they’re really cheap in Italy. In fact, to help you work out your budget for your work placement in Italy, I suggest you read our blog post.

Lecce, the “Baroque Florence”. LOL. No, in reality, the city is nice, but to compare Lecce and Florence is such a huge gap that it’s almost indecent. The town is pretty, and you can wander around the old town and the cafés to drink the traditional Caffè Freddo or Iced Latte, which is very pleasant, and even vital from 9am to face the scorching Apulian temperatures. Once again, I feel like I’m at my grandmother’s house. In France, we have latches or locks to go to the toilet or bathroom: not in Italy. So you find yourself taking a piss and doing a big splash to avoid someone barging in. But in Italy, safety is everything: you need someone to be able to open the door immediately if something happens. It’s the other way round for private front doors: why put one lock when you can put three? You never know. My grandmother (and I say wallah!) I used to go and eat at her house (and at Papi’s, who was Maltese!) twice a week at school: I’d arrive at about 12.10, and Grandma would close the 3 locks while my parents arrived 5 minutes later. Quite a story. She’s absolutely scandalised when I don’t lock the door to go to sleep.

Torre a Mare: a shithole. There, I’ve said it. It’s dirty, the water’s dirty, the town’s dirty. In short, we really wasted 3 hours of our lives. Only the fish-shaped rubbish bin in the marina is worth a look: and even then, it’s really just to find something to tell you about the town. I didn’t even go for a swim despite the sweltering heat.

Polignano a Mare is absolutely sumptuous. The town is truly magnificent, with a beach in the very centre that’s worthy of the Caribbean: the water is clear, you can see down to 6/8 metres with disconcerting clarity; I’ve actually been to the Caribbean since, and no kidding: this beach has nothing to envy it. The old town is really radiant, the bars dance, in short: it really is a must-see place in Puglia. There are quite a few small, inexpensive restaurants, with very simple, fresh food. The more Italian I eat, the more I understand why the kids we meet say to me “Ma, Sébastien, I really miss Italian cuisine, you know! “. And, yes, I understand: the straciatella, dried tomatoes and mushrooms in oil are absolutely exquisite. In fact, if anyone wants to open a small Italian grocery shop in Nantes, I’d love to become a loyal customer!

Taranto, the other big city in Puglia. It’s very nice, very lively: and it’s beautiful. The old town isn’t incredible either, but the spirit and dynamism of the city are particularly appreciable. The beach is right in the centre, and like all the others, the water is unbelievably good. Hugo, at the sound of the word “good”, would surely have a good word to say about a member of my family, but as I write this Cas Psy is currently struggling around Nantes on a scooter: to each his own, I hope he shits.

Alberobello, don’t look at the photos before you go: you’ll spoil the whole surprise. Go and enjoy this little Italian town. It’s really very, very beautiful and astonishing. Without any qualms, you can browse the little souvenir shops: it’s cheaper than the Duty Free at Bari airport (I know, it’s very disappointing). By the way, if you’re a smoker and pro-cancer (I do smoke…): buy your fags BEFORE the airport, as they don’t sell them in Duty Free. You can imagine how disappointed I was when I realised what a big mistake I’d made. On the other hand, if you’re disabled and in a wheelchair, find out how you can get help, as I think the city is extremely complicated to get around.

And apart from these beautiful cities, what else is there to say? Italy is still talking. Even if the young people are less friendly than the older ones, we had the pleasure of meeting the excellent Lorenzo at a semaphore, 80 years old, with whom we shared a beer “ja m’appelle Laurent j’ame la mer en France” (I’m called Laurent and I love the sea in France), or two charming ladies of advanced years with whom we sang between two swims in the Baresse Adriatic. It’s always amazing, it’s easy to meet people, they’re patient even with your broken Italian and always a bit playful with tourists: be careful what you order haha. I love Italy: culturally I’m always there, whether it’s the way you speak with your hands, the way you address people, the kindness, the excess of words, the tactile side.

Italy, again and again: I recommend it. Contrary to popular belief, Italians speak better English than we do, and better French than Esteban. Enjoy yourself. Do you also want to go to Italy to do your work placement abroad? Don’t hesitate to contact the team, it’s completely free and without obligation.

For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.