Gabi Goes to Puglia
This month, we travel to Puglia with Gabi, the charming seaside region located on the ‘pugheel’ of Italy known for its orecchiette pasta and 800km of crystalline coastline. Check out our vetted spots to stay, visit and savor.
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re looking for a luxury resort with all the amenities: Borgo Egnazia is the perfect spot. Travel influencers Mr. and Mrs. Smith said it best, “Borgo Egnazia is castle-like and candle-lit, built in imitation of a borgo (traditional Italian village) except with luxurious add-ons, including a Michelin-starred restaurant, championship golf course, and two beach clubs with private beaches, and a knock-out spa that bases its treatments on ancient Puglian rituals. Rooms are styled with rural romance: almond-filled baskets, birdcages, egg-shaped ornaments, and rope-strung keys are just a few of the trimmings.” Sign me up!
Looking for a more intimate feel with a dash of history? Palazzo Daniele, built in 1861 (Italy’s reunification year) by local architect Domenico Malinconico has been reshaped by the Milanese duo Ludovia + Roberto Palomba, who while restoring the historical features such as the ornate frescoed ceiling and original floors, mastered a space to house contemporary artfusing 19th century art, history, architecture and tomorrow’s masters. Oh! I forgot to mention the dreamy views of the central Piazzetta of Gagliano del Capo.
Stay at a masseria- authentic fortified farmhouses, typically building the 16th century found throughout Puglia. Masseria Moroseta is our top pick. Being that Puglia is the largest producer of Italian olive oil, what better way to experience Puglian heritage than staying at this exquisitely reconstructed farmhouse situated on a 5-hectare olive grove. A day at sea to get the full experience of the Adriatic is a must. If you are staying at Masseria Moroseta they have boat rentals available. Masseria Moroseta is an enclave of relaxation and rural simplicity framed by its complimenting contemporary interior design which follows the traditions of the forms and spaces of the most typical farms in Puglia– the blinding white, the sheltered courtyards, the arches, the cement, and the stone.
WHAT TO DO
So many fabulous places to visit and experiences to commemorate and so little space to share, so below are a few of my personal favorites!
Some refer to Lecce as the Florence of the South, but Lecce holds its own with its beautiful baroque buildings and magnificent Duomo. It’s Centro Storico (old town) flaunts narrow streets lined with honey-colored limestones. The pretty Piazza Sant’ Oronzo is lined with cafes, restaurants, gelaterias and shops overlooking a 2nd century Roman Amphitheater. In addition to the more obvious destinations (Basilica Santa Croce, the Piazza del Duomo, the archaeological Museo Faggiano and the Lecce Cathedral), San Matteo has to be the loveliest church in Lecce, and definitely off the beaten tourist path. Below are two of our ‘must experience’ moments while in Lecce.
Trulli di Alberobello:
Visit this UNESCO World Heritage site home to the Trulli, a typical structure found in the Mediterranean region made of corralled dry stone, a prehistoric building technique still in use in this region. These beautiful white limestone dwellings are notorious in this region and make for a truly picture-perfect moment.
Take a Cooking Class:
We recommend reaching out to Cooking Puglia in Lecce for their wide variety of cooking classes. Come home making orecchiette like a local. (By the way, they also offer on-line lessons!
I would be remiss not to include visiting Grottaglie for ceramic lovers (dating its origin as center of ceramic making to over 3,000 years ago, when it was part of the Greek empire and the Greeks extracted clay from the area for earthenware production). Listening to the caves at Castellana Caves is said to trigger intense emotions and be an ‘unrepeatable experience’
WHERE TO EAT
So you made it to paradise or as the Italians say “paradiso” and you are not sure what to do. Don’t worry, just do as the Puglians do and Mangia Bene. You can find delicious cuisine in Puglia and we have narrowed down some of our favorite spots below.
Taverna Del Porto:
A pescatarian dream, popular with the locals, yet a destination for global gourmands. This unpretentious taverna, with few tables and quick service, is located steps from the sea. The Taverna is a favorite of food connoisseurs who appreciate the freshness of local produce and fresh fish– the spirit of Puglian cuisine. For the intrepid foodies: Do not miss the linguine with cicadas!
Castello di Ugento:
Located inside an ancient castle, the restaurant run by the talented hands of Chef Tommasi Sanguedolce allows guests to experience a traditional Pugliese cuisine with a contemporary twist, against the setting of an ancient Norman tower within walls of an imposing castle. Request the Chef’s Table in the former 17th century storage and bakery kitchens, now turned into a sophisticated state-of-the-art kitchen where you can follow Chef Tommaso as the dishes are being prepared.
Masseria Il Frantoio:
As we mentioned earlier, Puglia,is renowned for its Masserias. Stop in Il Frantoio during your visit. This masseria, located in Ostuni, offers a traditional dinner, most of it cooked with home-grown organic ingredients, served in a stunning plant-filled courtyard.
Thank you for joining me on this virtual journey through Puglia! Stay tuned for our future trips and don’t forget
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