After a wonderful 14 weeks in Puglia we spent our last few days resting at Pantanagianni beach, doing some training walks for the Camino, and had a really nice long lunch with our hosts of the last 10 weeks – Andreas, Pasqua and Tobias Staude. Adrienne cooked a pavlova and we introduced them to the delights of Taylors Cab Sav, (thanks to Paul and Bruce for bringing the wine all the way from Sydney). The Staude family were excellent hosts and helped make our long term stay very easy.
In the middle of last year we signed up for 4 months in Puglia with some ideas, but having never been there, it was with a degree of trepidation that we drove into the area and dropped anchor. We need not have worried – our stay was full of new experiences, wonderful scenery, history at every turn, brilliant food and wine, great beaches, authentic rural Italy at it’s best and whats not to put on the “to do” list from –
Beautiful towns – Ostuni, (our ‘hood), Alberobello, Polignano a mare, Savelletri, Otranto, Matera, Leuca, Gallipoli, Lecce, Cisternino, Barletta and more
Beautiful beaches – Torre Guaceto, Santa Sabina, Pantanagianni, Lido Morelli, Pescoluse, San Vito, Trani and more
Scenery – Itria valley, (the Trulli capital), Castellana Grotte, endless olive trees, (60 million in Puglia), the coastal drive between Leuca and Otranto
History – the Greek, Roman and Byzantine ruins at Egnazia and Cannae, the Sassi in Matera
Castles – Castel del Monte, Barletta, Bari, Otranto
Masserias – we have talked about a few of these reborn, fortified, great farm houses that we visited and loved, but there are dozens if not hundreds in Puglia – all with histories of 400 years and more that are now getting a new lease of life as agriturisimo B&B’s with restaurants serving the freshest, most authentic food we have ever had
Restaurants – La nonna menna in San Vito dei Normanni, pizzas in the piazza in Ostuni, Osteria del Porto in Savelletri, and many, many more for meals that were overwhelmingly really good
Wines – Puglia classics – Primativo, Anglianico, Negroamaro – 4 euros buys some really good local vino
Shopping – enough said!!
Our advise to all is Puglia is a little known gem – get here soon, allow plenty of time and just dive in – once you get past the total lack of road rules and mind numbingly inconsiderate parking, the locals are friendly, it’s cheaper than any where else in Italy, the food and wine is brilliant, you will love it!
Wednesday we packed the car early and headed for Caserta near Naples. We had three goals here – to visit Montecassino, Reggia di Caserta, and Pompeii – all in two days, all in 35oC temps – see week 15b for the outcomes