Are the beaches nicer on the east or west coast of Italy's "heel"? Any recommendations for places to stay to enjoy the beach and explore the area?
I'd say beaches on the East (Adriatic) coast are "better", but it depends what you are looking for. Puglia is full of great beaches, mostly tourist-free. You could visit the Unesco World Heritage Site of Alberobello or University town Lecce. Many of the towns link to each other and are all beautiful hill-top towns. almost 5 years ago