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FROM PETTOLE TO PASTICIOTTi—A WEEK IN SOUTHERN PUGLIA

FROM PETTOLE TO PASTICIOTTi—A WEEK IN SOUTHERN PUGLIA

Old Nov 3rd, 2010, 04:57 AM
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I've done an album of photos that Puglia fans may enjoy:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...5&l=93dcbb02be
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Old Nov 3rd, 2010, 02:18 PM
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Your trip report is fantastic although I have not read it in entirety only because it is making me tear up. You see, my husband and I were planning a trip to Puglia a couple years ago before he had an accident which left him semi-paralyzed. After two years, he has regained some walking ability but only for short distances.

We recently discussed if maybe we could resume planning a trip to Puglia and you sound like a good person to ask about how it might be for someone like him to get around in that area. For instance, are most of the churches, restaurants and such on ground level without too many stairs? We have a transport chair (smaller & lighter than a wheelchair) that we would bring with us, but are the streets mostly uneven cobblestones as in most other parts of Italy? It sounds like you stayed in some fabulous hotels, but was there showers in the bathrooms? My husband could not sit down into a tub.

I look forward to and thank you for any info you could give us. By the way, I used to read these boards almost 24/7 and recognize a lot of the same people still adding their valued information!
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 04:04 AM
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Angela I am so sorry to hear of your husband's accident. A few weeks before our own trip to Puglia my teenage son broke his ankle playing rugby and was in a cast and not allowed to put his foot to the ground so he was there on crutches with pretty limited mobility. We had hired a lightweight wheel chair before we left and, whilst in Rome this was helpful, it was not really of any use at all in Puglia as lots of the towns in the part we were, near Fasano, are on hills and with very steep old cobbled streets so pushing a wheelchair was not really at all feasible. [Martina Franca was an exception to this and wlothough on a hill the centre was relatively flat albeit cobbled]. Our main and serious problem was parking in the centre of towns as many of the easiest places to park were too far from the centre for my son to navigate and hence we had some rather hair raising moments driving round the narrow winding streets of the centre in an unfamiliar car frantically looking for limited spaces with cars, bikes and pedestrians coming at us from all directions. There were quite a lot of steps up to things and down to things and we personally found Puglia much more dificult to navigate in these circumstances than Amalfi [which although built on a hill has lots of flat bits along the fabulous sea front and main street] or Rome which we had visited in our first week and where we managed to see virtually everything we had planned to so I suspect if you went to the area we were in you would need to plan v. carefully indeed. I think further south Lecce looks more accessible as is less on a hill but we did not get that far.

Ekscrunchy we too enjoyed Puglia enormously finding the place unspoilt a full of glorious buildings and are keen to return at some point in future. Enjoyed lots of good food both cooked by us with local produce in the lovely renovated trulli we had rented for a week [Trulli mandorla recomended in lonely planet and on a hill with amazing far reaching views www.trullomandorla.com] and at local restaurants.

Like you we went to "il ritrivo degli amici" in martina franca and had a great meal. Their house antipasto were out of this world lots of courses served sequentially including as highlights local ham, vegetable fritti, small crepes stuffed with spinach, and the most wonderful little cheese souffle.

We also hugely enjoyed the "piazetta cattedrale" in Ostuni.
piazzettacattedrale.it which is a tiny restaurant opposite the cathedral doors. Very pretty decor, clientele a mix of monks,locals and tourists and excellent carefully prepared food. Again the antipasto was exceptional.

Our only bad meal the whole week was in Alberbello in a place called Trlli d'oro where neither the atmosphere nor the food was a patch on these other places.

We did locate mushrooms but in Camp Fiore market in Rome rather than Puglia. They were so fabulously splendid [glossy porcini, chanterelle and a huge version which we could not name] that our buying got 'out of control' and we found ourselves eating mushrooms for several meals running in omlettes with scamorza, on bruschetta fried in butter and garlic etc !
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 06:10 AM
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Angela I am so terribly sorry for your troubles with your husband. I agree with Loncall that the area north of Lecce would be difficult. But the southernmost Salento area is much flatter and there are flat areas of Otranto and the nearby towns. Our hotel rooms all had showers except the last one, which had a bath with a shower inside. But we did not like that arrangement so much because the bath had high sides and was a little hard to get into. But that hotel, Torre Maizza, also has rooms with shower only. The hotels were accessible--located on flat surfaces that your husband could negotiate.

As I remember it, some of the towns in the area north of Lecce had streets that were not cobbled but were paved with large, flat marble stones which were easier to navigate than cobbled streets. But as Loncall mentions from personal experience, you might be best off waiting until he improves before tackling this area.


Loncall: I am so glad that you had a good trip! That trullo looks gorgeous! What was the nearest town or village? I know it is close to Fasano, which I thought was a great location for covering that part of Puglia..
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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Angela - how sad for you both. but i am full of admiration that you still want to get to Italy.

can I suggest that you google "disabled visitors to Italy"? there is a whole load of information there that may help.

and slightly off topic, when we were in Vienna we noticed that every underground station had a lift - and the city is relatively flat with good pavments. Just a thought!
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 03:52 PM
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Thanks so much for your replies. We thought that if we stayed out of the bigger cities where driving would be a challenge (especially since I would be doing all the driving!) that we might be able to negotiate the smaller towns. But I never realized that Puglia would be hilly. Thanks for your sharing your experience, loncall, it was a great help. And I will look into searching for info on travelling with disabilites. I just knew that you wonderful people on Fodors would have much more specific information.
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 04:07 PM
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Wow!
Sounds like an amazing trip!
I am so sad that we had to scratch puglia from our june 2011 trip.

I am still taking lots of notes from your report, though, because I am determined to get there soon!

Thanks for all the great details, as always!

dina
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Old Nov 8th, 2010, 02:13 AM
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Thanks, Dina!

You will get there someday and meanwhile, I am following along on your Istanbul plans!
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Old Mar 7th, 2011, 01:27 AM
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There is a good article on southern Puglia, the Salento, in this month's Travel and Leisure magazine.

For anyone at a loss for spring travel ideas, I recommend Puglia highly:

http://www.travelandleisure.com/arti...n-puglia-italy
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Old Mar 7th, 2011, 02:28 AM
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Great article, thanks for posting !! Brought back wonderful memories......
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Old Mar 26th, 2011, 01:10 PM
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Ekscrunchy, I'm obsessed with this trip report. I'm setting my sights on Puglia for our September trip. I don't know if you remember going back and forth with me, trying to help me find the perfect stay in the Amalfi Coast (we ended up going to San Sebastian instead), but now I'm looking for just the right place in Puglia.

So, I'm looking for a fun, walkable seaside town with some good restaurants, and a hotel with a view of the water. And, that would be a good base for exploring. What do you think - would any of the places you saw qualify? Would Ostuni, or does that not really count as seaside? I can't quite tell.

The masserie look great, but I don't think there are any in walking distance of a town. If I'm wrong, please correct me, because that would be great.

We'll have a car, but I go stir crazy if I can't walk somewhere. I like to take off on walks while my husband watches strange game shows and crime procedurals in Italian.

Eager for any tips. You always give good ones.

So glad I'll have your excellent food reports handy.

Thanks!
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Old Mar 27th, 2011, 02:59 AM
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Of course I remember you! And do you know that you are about the fourth person that has asked me for the same ideal place to stay? But the problem is, I do not remember a hotel with those requirements. I saw hotels in Otranto, for example, but not on the water. I saw hotels on the beach strip north of Otranto, but not within walking distance of the town. You might take a look at Gallipoli hotels, and see if any suit.

Is it ok if the hotel has a sea view but no beach?

There is certainly the option of the Grotta Palazzese in Polignano a Mare. But there is no beach right at the hotel; the town drops off sheer cliffs:

http://www.grottapalazzese.it/it/home/

Look:http://www.hotelfalli.com/index-en.php


http://www.isolaloscoglio.it/ENG/index.html





But here is the good news: We loved Puglia so much that we are returning in early May for another week. We will try three hotels, including the Torre Maizza near Savelletri, which offered a very appealing early booking package. So now that I know what you are looking for, I will be more aware.


I agree with you emphatically about having a town nearby and feeling isolated in the countryside, even with a car. I will be looking myself for a place such as you describe.
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Old Mar 27th, 2011, 03:57 AM
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And these:


http://www.hotelpalazzodelcorso.it/h...mosco-inn.html


http://www.otrantohotel.com/hotel/en/home.html
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Old Mar 27th, 2011, 08:36 AM
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I love that you're going back so soon! Thank you for your suggestions. My dream is for sea view from the room, and The Grotta Palazzese looks perfect except for all the reviews about the indifferent service.

OK, I have a zillion questions for you. Ready?

-You didn't see Porto Cesareo on your trip, did you? That one also fits the bill, but I haven't heard anything about the town.

-Of the beach towns (in the event that I give up on the room w sea view quest), which was your fave? Did you have one? How did you feel about Gallipoli vs. Otranto vs. Polignano?

- Any place you feel, both atmosphere- and food-wise, you'd love to stay for several nights? Which towns are you most looking forward to going back to?

- And...say we were to do a few nights by the beach, and a few in another town: would you choose Lecce or Ostuni for the non-beach town? Or maybe I should split it into 3 parts...hmmm. My husband likes to stay put, but I like to get a feel for different places so I may argue it if it's worth it.

-Think it's worthwhile to do one masseria even with my reservations about being isolated in the countryside? Is it that awesome an experience?

- Am I driving you crazy?
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Old Mar 27th, 2011, 08:59 AM
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Oh - in answer to your question, I don't care about the beach itself. Just water outside my window.
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Old Mar 27th, 2011, 09:31 AM
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pps Would love to get in touch by email. I owe you a drink for all your help. (Though who doesn't?) I'm at laura (at) talkingshrimp dot com.
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Old Mar 27th, 2011, 11:04 AM
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Laura: I really enjoy "discussing" so you are not at all driving me crazy! I only wish I coudl be of more help.

We drove through Porto Cesareo. Although we did not stay there, I would have no hesitation doing so. We did stop to gaze at some bathing platforms in the water along the main road and I am telling you, that sight alone would convince me to spend a few nights there, the water is so beautiful. I don't think it much matters which town you choose in the Salento coast..they all had appeal--to me. Remember that I only did a drive around the coast, from Porto Badisco, around the tip, and up not as far as Gallipoli. The entire coastline has appeal. There are no hideous new developments that I remember. Sandy beaches more on the western (Gallipoli) side of the peninsula. Good roads. Easy to get from one town to the next.

I did not see beaches in Polignano, although they exist. I think they are removed from the town center. Otranto town does have a nice enough beach, but the really pretty ones are either a bit to the north, or to the south near Porto Badisco and south. Somehow I have the feeling that many of the hotels that are actually on the beach are those "villaggio" types places common in some beach resorts in Italy..with lots of activities, etc.

I am still looking for the perfect town/beach combination.

You do not have to worry about the food, although you will find plenty of places oriented towards tourists in the popular towns. I will be looking for more great places to eat on this next trip. Unfortunately, we are not going to have time to get to the Salento, though, as I wanted to include Matera and we have only 7 nights.

Ostuni is a large town while Lecce is a small city. Both are charming. Tell me how many days you will have. Is this for late September?

Maybe combine a stay in Porto Cesareo with a night in Lecce and a few days in or near Ostuni (??)

If you do not want to be isolated in the countryside than a masserie will not be good. All it means is that it is a country hotel with certain architectural characteristics. I imagine that there is a huge variety among them..some are very upscale and others are very plain....Torre Maizza is in the first category and Gattamora in the second. But they were, or are, farms, so they are in the more rural areas.

Puglia does mean a lot of driving, but it is easy driving.


One good location that you could check out would be the masserie located along near SS 16.
this would put you near Ostuni and near the beach:

http://www.masseriaspetterrata.it/Masseriaing.htm

http://www.borgosanmarco.it/

http://www.masseriaparcodicastro.it/ (great food here)
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Old Mar 27th, 2011, 07:58 PM
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You are awesome.

I should be more clear about what I mean when I say "beach town." I don't really care about the beach, per se. More about just being by the water. I'd like to see some great beaches and maybe go swimming once or twice, but where we stay doesn't have to have one.

I'm thinking 10 nights or so in September. My husband really wants to spend some time in Naples, but I don't think I'd want to allot more than one night. Not a fan of Palermo, don't think I'll love Naples either - though I do want to try the pizza. My husband didn't love Palermo either, but he has a revisionist love for our stay there now. I remember a lot of sketchiness and dog poop. I'm from NYC, grew up here in the 70s and have a fondness for grit, but....

Oh, lord, just thinking now about renting a car and driving out of Naples. That sounds hairy, maybe not worth the pizza.

Anyhow, sorry for the ramble. Let's say 7-10 nights in Puglia. I'd say 3 locations there would be our max.

Which masseria did you like more: Montelauro or Maizza? Will check out the others you posted here. I actually started looking into Parco Di Castro earlier after reading your food report.

Did you happen to see the Sommita in Ostuni? That one has always looked nice to me. Every time I research a Puglia trip, it catches my eye. Service there seems to have improved since I first checked it out on tripadvisor 2 years ago.

I'm getting so excited for Puglia. Your trip report sealed the deal. One day, we'll still make the Amalfi Coast but I'm more into the less-charted, if not uncharted, route.
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Old Mar 28th, 2011, 02:20 AM
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Hi! Three locations with 9-10 days or so is perfect!

Will you stop at Matera en route from Naples?

We passed Somita in Ostuni but I did not look in. I am not sure that this is the best location because it would be a pain to drive there, unless you are very skilled with driving on those narrow roads of hill towns. When we got into Ostuni we parked pretty far from the old city because I kept getting nervous about continuing along those typically narrow streets and just wanted to ditch the car. But then I am from NYC, too, and am not the most confident driver once I am out of the city, and I have a fear of getting wedged into onoe of those narrow lanes and scraping the rental car. (Don't ask!) (Oddly enough, I drive a lot here in Manhattan with no problem!)
Anyway, if you want to use it as a base, you have to have good driving skills, as it is high on the hill of the oldest part of Ostuni. Views should be great, over the plain with the sea in the distance.

Montelauro and Maizza are both in the drop-dead gorgeous category but Maizza is more luxurious overall. We had the least expenswive room at Montelauro and it was simple but charming. The rooms at Maizza are the most beautiful I've seen in an Italian hotel, but remember that I do not usually stay in properties of in that luxury category.. .

Both of those places are well placed for daytrips, to different areas. From Montelauro you can be in Otranto in 5 minutes; Otranto itself is good for an afternoon of wandering, not much more.
From Maizza you can be in the tiny port of Savelletri in 5 minutes, but there is not much there except the marina, a few fish restaurants, and a few shops including a good cheese shop. Ten minutes from Maizza is the larger town of Fasano. Maizza is also a minute or two from the main north-south highway, so easy to take trips to towns like Polignano, Monopoli, and to the Brindisi and Bari airports.

The drive in and out of Naples airport? I only wish I was brave enough to do that. I do understand the pizza quest. I am trying to find a place in Agerola so I can try the famous cheese from that town..

I am so happy that more people here will be headed to Puglia.
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Old Mar 28th, 2011, 08:20 AM
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What a trip report! Replete with ideas and specifics. You are terrific, eks (I like to call you that cuz those are my initials)

We will definitely plan a trip to Puglia, after first reading Ted Gale and now you.

Puglia should give you a medal.
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