After the lovely feature from Husband Chris about our trip to Naples, I continue with our tour of Puglia, Southern Italy.
The premise of this trip was gluttony. Chris, and our friends G & H were at Nopi in London, enjoying burrata when they decided to ask where in Italy they could find it. They discussed options with the waiter, kept eating and drinking, everyone went home, months passed. December, we meet G & H in Brisbane and Chris was convinced that they were just as excited as he was about this potential trip. G & H had no idea what Chris was talking about, considering wine was involved in the preliminary discussions, but the fog cleared up and we started planning a mini tour. As a result, the week after Naples was spent driving around Southern Italy.
Our first stop was in Lecce. A lovely city centre, filled with young people and a student buzz in the evenings. We were there for the weekend, at a beautiful B & B at Casa Elisabeta. This was my first time in Italy and my second experience after Napoli, so the Roman Theatre was an impressive sight and induced a quick mind game trying to imagine the number of generations it has witnessed. Other important Italian highlights were checked off during this part of the trip: buratta, espresso bar, gelato, pistachio of course, a couple of lovely dinners and a small purchase. We were lucky to travel during the week prior to the Catholic Easter so we admired a plethora of Easter Eggs and witnessed some interesting religious traditions, more on that when I get to Galipoli. Our little rented car suffered a rough start in Lecce, with two parking tickets and a side scratch in the parking lot. One of the parking tickets was a result of an illegal parking in front of a gun shop. A furious owner started screaming at G, asking her if that is how she parks in the country she comes from. She is Italian.
It was here where we had our first pasticiotti, a pastry filled with vanilla pudding. It sounds relatively plain, and maybe it is to the locals but to me, I thought it was the best discovery ever. Pasticceria Natale was just perfect to walk into for my first authentic gelato experience. We continued with lunch at Povero and achieved the goal of the trip on the first day, burrata done.
Our first dinner was at Ale due Corti. Although I do not recall food specifics, I remember we had an impromptu performance from an American choir and left happy from the restaurant. The second dinner was at a trattoria which specialized in traditional food from Salento, La Zie. We were lucky to get a spot without a reservation, the place was fully booked and we only got in because a couple was late. So we had a fast track experience with all the works: from appetizers, primi, secondi and dessert, all delicious, locally sourced and made. Buzz words galore to describe the place.
For drinks to wrap up the day, ‘La gatta al lardo’ opened up our taste buds for various flavours of amari.
There was a nice antiques fair where we found some excellent postcards and also we added to our growing luggage, a couple of plates from a great place called Div.ergo. A creative hub for people with disabilities to express themselves. We left the studio with two hand painted plates, not bowls this time, from a series dedicated to the seasons, one fall, one winter.
By the sea, it seemed happy tourists like us flocked to the place. I resisted the temptation of buying colorful platters from the souvenir shops all around and instead we enjoyed a walk on top of the fortress and through the lovely narrow streets and obsessively photographed as many house number as possible. We stayed in a great B & B Balconcino d’Oriente with a beautiful breakfast.
We continued our car stories, after the two tickets and scratch in Lecce, as we were packing our little car, we took out the trunk cover to make room for all our suitcases, and we drove off and left the piece on the side of the road. We kept driving for 10 minutes until, luckily Mr. H remember we left a souvenir in Otranto and it was still there for us to pick it up. I don’t think I ever felt more like Mr. Bean.
I had images, probably created from movies of staying at a farmhouse with olive trees all around, romantic music in the background, screaming grandmothers and food that simply makes you happy. We got it all except the music and the grandmothers at Masseria Palombara. Although it was a short stay, it was enough to go to a spectacular nearby village, Specchia, well worth a visit early evening when everyone gathers in the small center plaza to catch up and watch silly tourists like us. Here, we also met a gentelman very eager to share his love of Germany and the German language. Enough said. All around the area is beautiful to drive and walk around.
To be continued …