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My Party in Puglia (11 Fabulous Days and Nights!!)

My Party in Puglia (11 Fabulous Days and Nights!!)

May 25th, 2007, 02:56 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Thanks - really good report on an area not reported on very often. I have friends who are driving through Puglia and then back over to the Amalfi Coast, so I know they are reading this report with great interest.
Barb is offline  
May 25th, 2007, 11:01 PM
  #22  
 
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Yes, Flame, more please. I am taking notes! Sounds like a wonderful trip
SeaUrchin is offline  
May 26th, 2007, 07:30 AM
  #23  
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Barb - glad someone can make good use of this report.

SeaUrchin - thanks for the compliments, indeed it WAS a great trip.

And here is Day EIGHT:

Day EIGHT
Breakfast today was the worst ever, not even bread was served even though I asked for some. Very very meager offerings for breakfast here.

We packed up and were on our way for Lecce, after receiving some wine bottles with the MontePaolo name as gifts and purchasing olive oil and almond liquer made on the premises. We stopped on the way at Torre Guaceto to see the beach which was supposed to be astounding. It was nice, beautiful blue water, etc. but nowhere near astounding. We arrived at B&B Villa Guiliana right before noon, got settled in. Price here is 70 Euros for a double, 40 Euros for a single. We met Andrea and his Mom, he speaks perfect English which is nice after a week of trying to manage in broken tongues. It is really really hot here now so we went to a FAB restaurant for a light lunch on Andrea's recommendation not far from here and I believe we will be frequenting it often. It is called Li Spilusi Pizzeria Trattoria on via Gramsci in Arnesano Phone 0832-323576. There were only three other people at one table there for lunch. The proprietor received us and we ordered. He first brought out some outstanding homemade breads with a very nice cheese, on the house. We had some insalata mista which was more than just a dollop of veggies, it was nice after so long without, 2 pasta dishes, one omelet and water. He rounded off our meal with some freshly cut watermelon, on the house, 3 coffees on the house, and then asked if we would like to taste a special house liquor. It was THE BEST ever. It was made with a special wine from this region (Negroamaro), added cherries and alcohol and was served almost frozen. It was ecstatic!! I want to buy some but he says he has no more left and the old lady who makes it only has so many she can make!!! Strange.

We decided to have a siesta on this very hot midday and went out to Lecce in the late afternoon around 4:30. The weather much much better. We drove to centro storico and parked the car right at the entrance through one of the old gates to the city. Fabulous old center, many many gorgeous churches and baptistries, small streets with quaint shops. We stopped for a gelato around 5 PM. We walked to Piazza Oronzo, the main piazza, where there is an old Roman amphitheater. Santa Croce church which is just amazing in size and intricate work outside in stone. We wandered some more and more "getting lost" in the maze of streets. We returned around 7:30 to B&B and decided to go back to dinner at Li Spilusi. We had a fabulous antipasti of grilled veggies, special breads, fried meats, cheeses, etc. We chose the pureed fave with chicory and bread crostini for meal. Tasty. Very strong red and white wine was delicious. The proprietor insists once again to finish our meal with the luscious cherry liquor of lunch, to which we cannot say no.

We slept really really well.

Flame123 is offline  
May 26th, 2007, 08:23 AM
  #24  
 
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hi, flame,

I am really loving your descriptions of this area - as i said above, i have a friend with a house in puglia and I've already asked her about renting it some time next year. May sounds ideal.

any disadvantages?

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
May 26th, 2007, 08:50 AM
  #25  
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Ann - glad you are enjoying the report.

Where does your friend have the house? Disadvantages in what respect? The time of year? The area? I am not sure I know what you are asking, please be more specific and I will try and help.
Flame123 is offline  
May 26th, 2007, 12:52 PM
  #26  
 
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hi, flame,

I suppose i meant parts you didn't like so much, traffic, roads, etc.

I can't remember exactly where the house - one thing I have to find out.

thanks for the offer to help - I'll come back to you if I may when i fnd out where it is.

regards, ann

annhig is offline  
May 26th, 2007, 12:55 PM
  #27  
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Sure, it's OK. I will be happy to help with anything you need, if I can.

As to "parts we did not like", the only day I thought was a bit "wasted" so to speak was Day 3 where we traveled to visit some small towns in the area around Trani. These were very small and quite poor towns and they were completely unoriented to tourism (not a bad thing in my book per se), but they were just uninteresting and we did not really see anything great.

Our favorites? We loved Trani, Monopoli, Lecce, Otranto. Alberobello and that whole area was very interesting. And Matera (not really in Puglia, it is in Basilicata but close enough to visit while there) was also fascinating (the cave city).
Flame123 is offline  
May 27th, 2007, 04:23 AM
  #28  
 
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thanks, flame.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
May 27th, 2007, 04:39 AM
  #29  
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Day NINE

Breakfast was so-so. No real coffee to speak off and except for several very nice homemade cakes, nothing great. Oh well, breakfast is a disappointment in Italy. We had a lovely chat with Andrea before embarking on our day's adventure and we started off towards Otranto. What a very lovely and interesting city. One of the nicest yet. A very big beautiful port, well developed and a bit more geared towards tourists. A big castle with moat and fort at the entrance to the old city and a very special cathedral with a huge mosaic floor and some frescoes inside. We had a drink in a little cafe along the walk by the water and enjoyed some nice cooler air. We then drove down to S. Ceasarea Terme which is along the coast on Route 378 which was one of the nicest drives ever. This is more of a Moorish Arabic influence on the town and there were many fine buildings and restaurants in the area, again right on the beach. At this point we were a bit hungry and went looking for a little bar to have a snack. We had a sandwich and drinks nearby at Alcazar Bar. And then we decided to continue along this route down the coast all the way to the tip of the Salentine Peninsula to S. Marina de Leuca. Here we saw a very big lighthouse and then we turned around the tip and went up the other side of the coast (Ionian sea now instead of the Adriatic) towards Gallipolli. Gallipolli is a very big port and city, much dirtier and more run down than others. We stopped in the center and walked around a bit and then made it back to our B&B, albeit with LOTS of getting lost right before Lecce. In the end after SO SO many times of missing exits, etc. we finally stopped at a gas station and we asked one of the guys there if he would drive in front of us and lead us to where we need to be. He happily did so and finally we got to our B&B, by then it was after 6:30 already.

I fell exhausted onto the bed, and then got up and took a shower. Dinner was again at our favorite Li Spilusi. Tonight we had some appetizers of delicious fava beans and a warm salad of marinated beets and turnips with their special bread baked with olives. A very fresh garden salad, insalata mista, together with veal scallopini in white wine was our main dish tonight. We shared some red wine, finished a bottle actually between the three of us. And then Francesco kind of insisted we try a very special desert which was like a homemade ice cream in chocolate and nocciola flavors, very good, which you then pour some special liquor onto. YUM YUM YUM

Flame123 is offline  
May 27th, 2007, 07:35 AM
  #30  
 
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Still loving this report, thanks for posting! what a wonderful free wheelin' trip!
SeaUrchin is offline  
May 27th, 2007, 11:45 AM
  #31  
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Thanks SeaUrchin. It truly was a marvelous and well thought out trip.

And here are the LAST TWO DAYS :

Day TEN

We had another mediocre breakfast and another too too hot day. Today was market day in Lecce so we drove into the city, after getting very good directions from Andrea and looked for the market which was easy enough to find. It is huge and has just about everything you can think of but there was nothing unusual or out of the ordinary so we just wandered for about half an hour and then took the car and drove to the newer part of the town where we tried to do some shopping but with not much luck. We passed by and went into a very unusual church (La Chiesa di S. Antonio) and we found just a few things to buy afterwards. We thought about having lunch at Il Giardino recommended by Andrea but when we asked someone closing his shop where it was, he told us but then said we would be better off at a place right next to it called Osteria degli Spiriti and we decided to go with that Via C. Battisti 4; Tel : 0832-246274; [email protected]) . Boy were we NOT disappointed. It was a very nice place and the food was outstanding and not expensive. We started with a 6 plate antipasti which included some quiche-type veggie offerings, all sorts of marinated and cooked veggies and wonderful special breads and crackers. We each had a very good pasta dish and finished with coffee.

Back to the car and had a good siesta today, again much too hot during the day but gets cooler and nice at night.

After packing and a shower, we lounged outside in the great afternoon air and then went again to Francesco for our last dinner here. We started with the regular cheese and breads, a fabulous insalate caprese with buffalo mozzarella, beefsteak and fava beans (got the recipe!!!) and ended with the famous cherry liquor!! Said sadful goodbyes and took some pics.

Day ELEVEN

Had coffee and wonderful fresh orange cake at 7 AM, packed up and said goodbye. By 7:30 we were on the road, there was no traffic and everything was fine. It was exactly 200 kilometers back to Trani from Lecce, and then another 200 to Napoli. Another 200 got us to the Rome area. We stopped once around 11:00 for a strong espresso to keep me awake at an Autogrill. Continued the drive basically till almost at Ciampino airport, where we filled up gas for the last time and dropped off my cousin around 3 PM. Then we drove back to the GRA and got to Fiumicino, managed to deliver the car back to Avis and walked to the Hilton Hotel. From there, we had a shuttle take us to the new Hilton Garden Inn which is fabulous.

We enjoyed being "back to civilization" so to speak, in the sense that the hotel was very new and geared for executives, we had free Wi-Fi internet connection in the room, big fluffy towels and a great king-size bed with great big pillows as well. We ended up having a very decent dinner there in their cafeteria and had a truly wonderful night's sleep before our early morning departure the next morning.


Comments and Observations :

Puglia is NOT Tuscany/Umbria. You will not be "wow-ed" at each turn with beautiful rolling hills, lots of green and gorgeous views. Puglia is almost completely flat, mostly you will see thousands of very old and beautifully intertwined historic olive trees, many fruit trees, gorgeous wildflowers in the springtime.

Food is outstanding. They use basic and very fresh ingredients and make the most delicious dishes. These are no-nonsense and not fancy. They are filling, interesting and fun to try and learn about. Wine is much stronger than Northern typical wines, 14% alcohol in most!! Very delicious. Food is not expensive here and you get more than value for your money.

Accommodations can be very basic and inexpensive mostly. But there are fancier and costlier hotels available in some places if that is what suits your fancy.

Breakfast, even in those places where I read would be fabulous, was less than adequate even. Maybe it was because we were not there in high season and there were very few other people and they just did not want to make an effort.

Drivers in Puglia seem to be even more aggressive and fast than their Northern counterparts. They mostly have little patience and enjoy using their horn. However, they do seem to be safe drivers, and that does count for something I guess!!

People will go out of their way to be friendly, helpful and accommodating. They love their country and they respect it. Even in the very poor small towns that we visited or passed through, they were very very clean, flowers were on every balcony or windowsill.

We had a great time and now we are just left with beautiful pictures, memories, and an ever-strengthening yearn for more and more of Bella Italia!!!
Flame123 is offline  
May 27th, 2007, 12:16 PM
  #32  
 
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Thank you for your report, I will follow it in a few months.

Is that the best way to get to the Garden Hilton, to take the shuttle from the other Hilton? Is the price much lower? Do you know the shuttle hours?

I can't wait for my trip in that same area!!
SeaUrchin is offline  
May 27th, 2007, 12:36 PM
  #33  
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SeaUrchin -

When are you going and where to exactly??

The shuttle from the "older" Hilton airport hotel to the Hilton Garden Inn is free. Since we returned the car to the Avis counter at the airport, it was very easy just to walk over to the "older" Hilton. They received us very warmly and when I told them we had reservations at the Garden Inn, the clerk immediately called for their shuttle, which arrived in about 10 minutes and drove us to the Garden Inn (about a 7-8 minute ride).

The shuttle hours, as far as I can remember are 6 AM till 11 PM but they wrote me if we needed it at a different time, all we needed to do was ask or reserve it. We did not but I am sure they would have done it. The have a fabulous staff !!

So yes, for us it was the best way.
Flame123 is offline  
May 27th, 2007, 01:06 PM
  #34  
 
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Flame - will you be posting some of those beautiful pictures online for all to see?
Holly_uncasdewar is offline  
May 27th, 2007, 06:30 PM
  #35  
 
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Hi Flame, I will be there in Sept/Oct. I am renting a car in Rome and just driving off without a plan, but now that I have read your report I may follow your ideas for the most part.

The night before I fly back I like to stay as long as possible wherever I am and just drive up to an airport hotel late that evening. I usually stay at the "old" Hilton but I have been reading nice reports on the Garden. If it is really less expensive I may go there instead. I don't want to cut my last day short just to go back into the city of Rome.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 04:48 PM
  #36  
 
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I am bookmarkin this as I am going to Puglia at the end of the month. FYI, a brand new travel book dedicated completely to Puglia was released June 1st, I am waiting for it to arrive. It's called:

Travellers Puglia (Travellers - Thomas Cook) by Thomas Cook Publishing (Paperback - Jun 1, 2007)



AP6380 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 06:11 PM
  #37  
 
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I just noticed that another book to be released very soon--date wasn't provided on Amazon.com--Lonely Planet Puglia & Basilicata, Feb. 2008. Puglia is quickly becoming popular!
Angela_m is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 06:20 AM
  #38  
 
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You are my guardian angel. We are planning almost the same trip and you have provided my wife and myself with a lovely blueprint to follow. Thank you so much.

I am reviewing in depth and will probably have questions but thanks again for now.
skedoo is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 08:14 AM
  #39  
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skedoo - your post is just about the loveliest I have ever read. Thank you so much!!! Feel free at any time to ask questions, etc. and I will be more than happy to answer and help however I can. When are you planning your trip?
Flame123 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 05:44 PM
  #40  
 
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thanks for the info, it was very helpful. i have family outside of troia in northern puglia and we will be spending the month of august there. we have reservations for a place in matera, but we are still deciding on what other cities we want to see and you post was very informative.

how did you find the driving in puglia? we have a car for the time we are there, but i don't know how much time i should figure in for traveling. from my experience in northern pulgia, sometimes we find empty flat roads where you can go as fast as you want, and some run through the villages and remind me of ireland. what was your experience in the south? thanks
bridonohue is offline  

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