Week 13 – Heatwave in Europe

    • Monday morning we were up early to beat some of the heat and headed south via Gallipoli. We were stunned by the widespread devastation of the olive trees and have found it to be caused by a pathogen called Xylella. Swaths of ancient olive trees are standing dead – around Gallipoli it looks like a moonscape – really sad.
    • We drove down the coastline and arrived to a rather overcast Leuca – bliss!! Leuca is at the very southern tip of “the boot”. It has a lovely “lungomare” waterfront, so we went for a stroll, and up to the lighthouse. This is the point the Adriatic sea meets the Ionian sea.
Leuca from the lighthouse – the waterfall at the front only flows a few times a year, and the statue at the bottom was moved there by Mussolini
After our walk we had lunch. Note the lifeguard doing it tough sitting in the restaurant
  • We were amazed by the many huge villas in the town and with a bit of research found that Leuca was the place for the rich and famous about a century ago. This was to get away from the summer heat in the cities.
Typical “beach house”
  • Tuesday we were up early and walked around the point to the grottoes – you can’t really see them from above but we couldn’t stir ourselves up to taking a boat tour.
Grottoes in the rocks – Pescoluse off in the distance
In the heat you find any spot you can to cool off – even on the rocks
  • We found a really nice sandy beach in Pescoluse and sat under our umbrella watching the poor African and Bangladeshi beach vendors wandering up and down the beach selling anything and everything to make some sort of  living. The heat is intense and they carry a huge array of sunhats, towels, jewelery, leather goods, toys, sunglasses and more. Some even carry mobile changing rooms so you try stuff on right there on the beach. These poor sods do it really tough, but it must be better than where they are from – pretty sobering.
  • Wednesday we slept in having been kept awake for some time in the night by a couple of Germans having a very loud domestic in the house across the alley. We then headed north up the Adriatic coast and the first 30 kms are stunning scenery – absolutely desolate rocks and cliffs. The next pictures are Canale del Ciolo.
    We decided not to go for a swim because by the time we got back to the top we would be drenched in sweat. The shadow is the bridge we were standing on.

    The swimmer in the red shorts had just jumped from quite high up the cliffs
  • And from this scenery we found the next photo just a few kms up the road – Santa Cesarea Terme – a huge thermal swimming pool complex with restaurants, bars and even a DJ.
Just what you need on a hot day – thermal pools
  • After this it was on to Otranto for some lunch, (read large gelato and berries), in the old town and looking for sandals for Adrienne. She couldn’t find any sandals in any of the ten or so shops selling said footwear, but did manage to find another necklace to match another new dress, (see last weeks visit to the outlet shops) – what luck!
  • Thursday we found a new beach just down from Santa Sabina so headed there. I spotted a buoy about 400 metres off the beach so swam out to it. The waves were up a little so I allowed them to carry me at right angles and landed at the far side of the beach. Unconcerned I then strolled back past all the lovely ladies, (gut in, chest out, doing my best “bronzed Aussie” impression, not a care in the world), and wondered why Adrienne was standing with the lifeguards waving her arms around – unbeknown to me she had lost sight of me, and thought I’d done a Harold Holt!! So still in no hurry I dutifully arrived and was publicly assaulted by my wife who thought I had drowned and was trying to stir up the lifeguards in a mixture of Italian, French and English. The lifeguards were doubly relieved as there were a couple of young lovelies in tow and to take the boat out would have been an uncalled for distraction from their main aim of the day….
  • Friday we went for a Camino training walk – 2 hours 15 minutes to do about 12 kms along the beach. We were pretty pleased with ourselves, but buggered in the heat, and had to have an afternoon nap before going back to the beach 😊  for a cool off. The beach actually fills up after 5pm as people come down for an evening socialise. We played spot the POM – they are the ones who after a day on the beach are beetroot colour!!
  • The last three photos are from our roof terrace. Carovigno is not a “pretty” town but we like it.
    Our local green grocer and wine shop
    Every morning they ring the bells at 7 am

    Last night’s sunset. With the clouds we were able to have dinner outside on the roof terrace – it was a very nice change from looking out from the air con.




Week 12 – Time for a road trip

  • Sunday night was our last night with Anna and Cally, so we had an early birthday dinner for Anna at Masseria Frantoio – see week 9 – unbelievable degustation menu again, and almost totally different to week 9 – but no photos due to I.T. issues, (Cally forgot to Airdrop the photos).
  • Monday we delivered Anna and Cally to the airport – they were off to Malta. Mother and Father a little sad to wave goodbye – kind of really good to have your kids involved in your “gap year”.
  • Adrienne and I had quiet beach time on Monday and Tuesday with some serious training for the Camino – we walked for two and a half hours on Tuesday – about 15 kms.


Camino training at Torre Guacetto
  • Wednesday was a domestic day – we went to La Colonne shopping centre in Brindisi. The summer sales have started and Zara was “mental” – man talk for lots of scary sheilas going ISIS in shops!! Adrienne went into “sales meltdown” and bought nothing, and I found good bargains on shorts – Italian linen for the cost of two coffees in Sydney.
  • Thursday and Friday we went on a road trip to the north – first stop was Cannae – where Hannibal beat the crap out of the Romans in 216 BC. It was 37oC and we bumped into an American “nutty professor” wandering about the citadel ruins. In amongst the conversation I discovered that Roman soldiers carried a “sponge on a stick”, (nowadays we have Sorbent – work it out!)
  • 2300 years old – no wonder it’s a bit worn out
  • After Cannae was Castel Del Monte – a spectacular octagonal Norman castle built in the 1240’s by Frederick II.
All the doorways are coral limestone – spectacular red “rocky road”


Castel Del Monte – 8 towers
  • Grant at the front gate – all the walls are about 2 metres thick and we are at the top of the hill – don’t mess with us!!
  • But by about 3 pm it was high 30’s and we really only wanted Nastro Azzurro, (the world’s best beer), a cold shower and rosato, so we headed for our B&B in Barletta. Great B&B, but Barletta is a working town and from 1.00pm until 7.00pm don’t expect to find anything open – how hard is it to get a beer!!! I almost ate the waiters arm when we finally found a restaurant that operated during daylight hours!!
  • Friday morning was “hot, real hot, so hot I could cook things …” so we were up early and went to Barletta castle


This is a serious castle with a moat – fabulous medieval art collection and really impressive use of a spectacular castle and setting – the courtyard has open air cinema – beats the crap out of the Eastern Creek Drive In!!
  • We spent most of the morning here and then headed south to Trani, but as nice as it was we had had enough heat so headed home.
Trani – another lovely beach
  • As we drove south we noted the signs for “Puglia Outlet Village” – this is serious label shopping so “we went in” and the summer sales were on – what bliss – Adrienne heaven. This was the biggest, fanciest, outlet place I have ever seen – I hate shopping but even I enjoyed it!! So it was hot – but they have mist sprinklers in all the open areas, (brilliant), and we went to a pizzeria – the best pizza ever for Euro 8 – we shopped hard!!
  • Saturday was so hot we never left the apartment until about 6pm when I was driven to walk over the road to the enoteca, (wine shop), for a few bottles of red …
  • Next week we are doing another road trip to Leuca in the far south, before our next visitors, Joy and Alison, arrive at the end of the week.



Week 11 – Heating up in Carovigno

  • Sunday was Helen and Rob’s last day, so a final day of sightseeing and shopping. We had not been to Gallipoli, so into the car early and off to the Ionian coast for a Sunday drive. Gallipoli proved to be very nice with a very interesting Norman castle and lots of better quality shops in the Centro Storico.
Gallipoli Harbour and Norman Castle
Where old Apes, (pronounced R pay), go to die – Helen, Adrienne and Rob grabbing any shade on offer
  • Helen and Rob left for the long trek back to New Zealand on Tuesday morning and we prepared for Anna and Cally’s Wednesday arrival with a few hours on the beach and another haircut for me. I got Adrienne to come with me and explain “a trim” to the hairdresser, (who did not have a word of english), and success after the almost skinhead first cut about 10 weeks ago.
Our local beach at Santa Sabina is now really filling up with Italians taking their summer vacations – we hear very little english or are we just much quieter?? 
  • Anna and Cally arrived from Munich on Tuesday, so first stop Ostuni for dinner and the first of many mango gelatoes for Cally
  • Ostuni piazza at about 10.30 pm. Due to the heat everyone comes out at night

    I never get sick of this view in Ostuni
  • We moved from Vista Mare on Wednesday morning into the apartment in Carovigno. We thought we would like to be in town for a spell, but it might not be a good idea in the summer heat.
  • Our Vista Mare house was perfect – sea breezes and huge porticos to make being outside bliss
  • And after another afternoon at the beach on Wednesday we went to Alberobello on Thursday to show off the trullis.
Adrienne, Anna and Grant
Anna and Cally at Alberobello
  • Friday was another rest day at the beach, and then Polignano and Monopoli on Saturday. There was heavy incoming traffic on the roads and the beaches are now getting really packed.


Monoploi Beach – not a square metre unfilled by bodies being grilled, roasted and fried
  • Another beach day on Sunday before we had an early birthday dinner for Anna at Masseria Frantoio. No photos, (I was going to get them off Cally but forgot when I took them to the airport at 5 am this morning), but see week 9  with Helen and Rob – the meal was again just fabulous local produce and wines, almost completely different to that we had 2 weeks ago, and we may not eat again until about Wednesday!!
  • Anna and Cally have now gone to Malta before heading home to Australia, so it’s just the two of us for almost two weeks before Joy arrives. We have road trips arranged both to the north and far south of Puglia, but a few days of domestic chores in the meantime.






Week 10 – Summer arrived, and Anna as well.

  • Summer has now hit us  – every day this week over 30oC, so with the sight seeing we have had beach days and consumed plenty of Nastro Azzurro to keep the fluid levels up, (and with Rob discovering San Marco Primativo the local wine bottle recycler has gone into overdrive).
  • We have tried to be a little cultural and spent a morning at the Egnazia ruins near Savelltri. The ruins are Roman but the site has been occupied since before the bronze age – the museum is excellent and site really quite special.
  • Roman baths – hot and cold running water
  • The afternoon was, (of course), spent at our favourite seaside restaurant in Savelletri, home for a swim and a “picky tea”. Rob is now something of an olive oil connoisseur so we are using a lot of the top class extra virgin from Masseria Brancanti.
Byzantine pottery found intact in the burial tombs
Burial tombs carved out of the rock
The main Roman road – the grooves are from chariots – it takes a lot of chariots to grind 12 cm deep ruts in marble!
  • Anna arrived on Wednesday, so after a spot of lunch in Ostuni it was straight into shopping for the ladies, and people watching for Rob and Grant.
  • Thursday was a scorcher so we headed for Polignano a mare and after some more sight seeing, (did I say shopping??), it was down to the spectacular beach for a dip in the crystal clear water, and lunch at the first pizza place that could offer a breeze, shade and beer, (lots of beer!!)
Beach at Polignano
LtoR – Helen, Rob, Anna, Adrienne
  • Friday was a rest day, (did I say shopping at Brindisi Zara!!!!), and home for a swim.
  • Saturday we delivered Anna to Bari airport, (heading to Munich for a few days – only so much time needed with your parents), and the stayers went to Castellana Grotte – the largest, deepest cave system in Europe, (have I overused the word spectacular this week?), where the explored caves are over 4 kms long and are really quite spectacular – fantastic stalagmites and stalactites, but you need to google the caves as no photos allowed after the entry chasm.
The entry chasm is the largest and the only one open to the outside – bigger than a football field and 120 metres deep
Down, down into 16oC all year round
When discovered in 1938 the locals had used it as a rubbish dump for so long the rubbish was within 10 metres of the hole opening – the clean-out took years but revealed openings that are still being tracked and explored
  • Rob and Helen head for home in NZ on Monday and Anna and Cally arrive back from Munich on Tuesday night so more sight seeing planned for next week. We are really enjoying showing our visitors around our “hood” – Puglia is a gem just waiting to be “discovered”, (which means overrun and spoiled like Tuscany and Amalfi), but until it is readers – get here and enjoy the real Italy!!


Week 9 – The whanau from New Zealand join us

  • The three days after we returned from Crete were very quiet because the weather was stormy and rather cool – so we chilled out with domestic chores and administration – unaware of the whirlwind we were about to have unleashed upon us!!
  • Adrienne used some of her Greek honey and local produce to make some delicacies to impress the whanau, (NZ Maori meaning “family”).
  • Goodies from Crete – the donkey even gets a soap
  • Friday dawned sunny and warm and Helen, Rob and Georgina arrived. Georgina had 48 hours “to do Puglia” so we gave it a red hot go, with the undoubted highlight being Saturday night dinner at Masseria il Frantoio near Ostuni.
  • Adrienne and Grant

    Helen and Georgina
  • The masseria is about 70 hectares and almost all food served is grown on the farm with the best cooked by a group of nonnas, (no pretentious chefs here), just old ladies who cook on Saturday and Sunday nights, and extract every bit of beautiful local flavour for adoring guests who get what they are given, (no menu), and love every morsel of it! The meal was spectacular with every course cooked and presented superbly in the masseria courtyard, with advice as to the background of the dishes and wines.
Masseria il Frantoio – 8 courses of fabulous food and wines
Dessert – chocolate crepes with local variety of blood mandarin and green pistachios
  • This was after Saturday morning when we went to Ostuni and Helen, Georgina and Adrienne did their best to help the local economy – shoes and handbags were on the radar.
  • For one of us it was all too much – the insult was I only got 50 cents in my beggars cap
  • On Sunday we went to Alberobello, (the trulli town),  home for a swim and then delivered Georgina back to the airport to return to London.
  • Very touristy but UNESCO listed and quite spectacular
  • Check out my new ride at the Ferrari show- V8, twin turbo – the nonnas will be all over me!!
  • Helen and Rob are with us now until the 9th, so some beach days and more leisurely sight seeing coming up.