Even Digital Nomads Need Vacations

One of the most common misconceptions about being a digital nomad is that we're constantly on vacation. Yes, Brent and I are traveling indefinitely, and, yes, we are usually living in some pretty cool location -- Malta, Italy, Miami, Bali. But the fact of the matter is we are are mostly working on our projects while we are living in those places. 

If anything, we're working more than we did before, weirdly enough.

Which means every once in a while, we do need to take an actual vacation! In fact, after working our tails off in Malta for almost two months, we took a week off between relocating to our next co-living spot, Matera, Italy. 

When you think of Italy, you probably think of Rome and Venice, the Cinque Terre, the Vatican, and Pompeii. Somewhat less known is the region of Italy known as Puglia, down in the heel of the boot. 

But that's where Brent and I headed for some rest, relaxation, and lots and lots of gelato. Seriously, the Italians are bonkers for the stuff. Within a five minute walk of our Airbnb, there were no fewer than twelve places to buy the incredibly delicious stuff.

It's seriously addictive. I'm not saying we ate it every single night, but I'm also not denying it either.

Our Puglia headquarters were in Polignano a Mare ("a mare" means "by the sea," which Poligano definitely is). Much of the old city is built directly on top of these fantastically rugged cliffs with waves crashing against them. There are also a few very narrow inlets that create some pretty spectacular beaches where you can swim out to the sea caves and grottoes at the bottom of the cliffs. 

Monopoli is a bit more upscale, with beautiful stone streets and an "old town" that harkens back to 500 BC when it was established by the Greeks, which were all over this region long before the Romans took over. 

We also dropped in on the port city of Brindisi, which was mostly interesting as a way to see how a typical Italian lives in Southern Italy. Which is to say they eat a lot of gelato, stop what they're doing between twelve and four, and generally seem pretty content with life. 

By far the most interesting place we visited was Ostuni. Unlike Polignano, Monopoli, and Brindisi, this ancient city isn't right on the coast. Instead, it's built on a hill about eight kilometers from the sea, though it's easily visible from the ocean thanks to its very distinctive profile. Inhabited since the Stone Age, Ostuni is famous for its white buildings, very twisty cobblestone streets, and amazing views of the Adriatic Sea from the top of the city. 


This is another city that was established by the Greeks, but it was also sacked by Hannibal during the Punic Wars, and today is home to a huge number of British retirees here for the beautiful weather. The streets are so tiny and so narrow, they can only fit incredibly small trucks and cars designed for these ancient cities.

In all four cities, we were intrigued to see that many Italians still get their drinking water from public water fountains called "nasoni," which is Italian for big nose! We took advantage of them, buying one plastic bottle of water, then just refilling them as we went along!.

After five days, our vacation was over and it was time to head back to work. But we definitely enjoyed our time in Puglia and recommend it to anyone, digital nomad or not.

Michael Jensen