Why did the Puglia region, on the Southeast side of Italy, forming the heel of the country’s boot, intrigue me?
Exploration: First, it was an area of Italy that I had not yet experienced. One of the towns that was a must-see for me was Polignano a Mare. We spent an afternoon there, including time out for lunch, overlooking the sea and the beachgoers who knew exactly where to seek out the water and the sun.
Now, you say, what is Bill doing on his cell when there’s a view like this? Actually, I think he was trying to ferret out information we needed to make our tracks for the remainder of the day.
As you can see Polignano is cliffside, which adds to the visual splendor, even if it means seeing someone’s laundry in that view! Due to my ferreting efforts, we ate lunch at Donna Gina. Here is the website for the restaurant, Donna Gina.
Yes, we were not the only ones attracted to Polignano a Mare that May day. Although there were others touring, it didn’t feel like it was overflowing (remember it is May and not July or August), unlike when we were in Tropea (on the Southwest side of Italy, which was our next stop-more on this later in another blog post).
The heartfelt quotes of famous people were spread out amongst the ancient stone buildings and stairways. The music added a gentle soothing rhythm as we slow walked the maze of streets. I noticed the signage for this B&B, while exploring. Here is the website for the B&B Casa Dorsi. Take 2 minutes and 49 seconds of your life and watch the Polignano a Mare video.
Yet another town I was interested in was the white-washed stone village of Ostuni. When we arrived at the Masseria lodging, we had a mini-greeter guiding us to the reception desk.
Well, she happened to have parents with her! This German couple befriended us at the daily breakfast time. We ended up being invited to go to a restaurant in Ostuni one evening for dinner with their family and, we, of course, accepted. Exchanges like this make the experience of travel even richer.
Although we ended up not walking around the town, we did get a whiff and a delectable taste of Ostuni by eating at a relatively new restaurant just on the outskirts, called Dish. I recently looked it up and they are still in business and also have a beach location as well.
Take note below. There’s adult eating and then there’s the contrast of..ahem…child eating…and monkey eating…
The Five Senses: Sand between my toes, breezes to cool the air on an Adriatic Sea beach, forever water views, the sound of the sea being washed ashore, and a Beach Club restaurant serving fresh, ‘farm to table’ food such as sushi and pizza. The sensual combination leaned towards hedonistic! And, if you notice, in the photos to follow, there is an empty lounge chair, waiting for you!
The Lay of the Land: This region has what is known as Masserias. They are described as white limestone farmland estates with a reinforced farmhouse surrounded by a cluster of other farmers’ houses and barns used for farming supplies, typically from the 16th century. More to follow…
Trulli: And, then, of course, the town of Alberobello, a village of distinctive several hundred year-old circular limestone ‘huts’ with coned roofs called trulli, was definitely worth an up-close look too. The trulli were originally used for storage but now have been adapted as dwellings. The trulli were often decorated with pictographs. If you click on the word ‘trulli’ in the previous sentence, it will link you to an article that explains their historical importance. The four photos below show metal ‘plaques’ representing some of these pictographs. These plaques were spotted around the Masseria Torre Coccaro, where we stayed.
Puglia was just a portion of my 2018 travel. It was coupled with a short stop at a favorite beach resort outside of Trieste, then on to Rovinj, Croatia, followed by Puglia, then backed by a few nights in Tropea, on the southwestern coast of Italy, and finally a ferry ride, with our rental car aboard, to Taormina, Sicily. I say ‘final’ but, actually, in 2018, when this travel occurred, I was in Europe on a year long term visa so the excitement did not start and stop with Puglia but it was certainly a highlight.
With some research I did, Puglia was hardly recognized on the travel map a couple of decades ago. And, the Masseria Torre Coccaro, which was to be our home for several nights in May, hit the top 20 list in the world of lodging with Conde Nast in 2018. Yes, there are Masserias in Puglia that are even more extravagant and refined than this one, which, of course, means you have to open up your wallet a little wider. But, to me, the regional surroundings and this particular Masseria compliment one another.
Think rugged looking earthen landscape as well as stony rustic buildings renovated with the current day’s feel of luxury housing of the rooms and villas. Caves, garden, 800 year old olive trees, along with modern amenities such as a pool, spa, restaurant, bar, and the beach club just a few minutes drive away all enhance this resort. OH! and, of course, golf…somewhere nearby but no golf balls were tapped by us.
The promise of the Puglia region…whitewashed limestone (and metal for the entrance gate)…
The ancient olive trees could not be missed. An interesting mix of cacti represented the dry look, but then they contrasted with the green of the trees, lawn, and wildflowers, which were bursting out here and there, all adding up to a natural balance. Vineyards and more stones, whimsical gates, and a rooster popping up as a surprise nearby keep the eyes stimulated and wanting more.
What’s not to like about a pool and the potential for eats and drinks, without having to leave your poolside haven and the shade provided?
The cave you see below was the entrance to the spa! Read the description of the Masseria Torre Coccaro on their website, as they explain more about the property.
The pigeon tower was used during the wars for sending messages, for instance.
Up on the roof: Seating with a view of the region–a teensy boutique clothing shop that had elegant, yet casual ‘kaftan’ like dresses to dress up or down. And, yep, as they say, ‘to die for’.
As I stepped inside the main building, I almost felt like I was a guest of someone’s personal home, with possessions they had gathered over their family’s lifetime. There was a bar and seating for gathering up your companions during the day or for an aperitif before dinner.
And, then the dining room. I don’t know what your experience has been but when I have been invited for dinner at someone’s house and I arrive and see the table, beautifully and thoughtfully embellished for the evening, I feel graced. Well, I remember feeling that way when I set my eyes on the dining room here.
And, as the night drew nearer to that dinner hour, the welcome magic felt even more unified.
HINT: As I did research for this post, and others too, it has become more clear to me that I need to do more homework on an area I visit, BEFORE I go! The words, to name just a few that come to mind….appreciate, enhance, stimulate, fascinate, educational, historical significance.
Definitely Italian oldies but goodies…Do you remember these favorites?
These songs set the tone of Italy’s yesteryear but also their continued current day attitude towards living: ‘La dolce vita‘ as translated: the sweet life.
That’s Amore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnFlx2Lnr9Q
O Sole Mio: To see the smile on Pavarotti’s face while listening to Bryan Adams sing his part of this song makes this worth watching…and listening to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a0juQ0aeGI