Ceramics and Temples


Thursday morning I managed to convince Larry that schlepping down to Vietri sul Mare would be just the thing. “What’s there?” My mumble of “ceramics” got me an eyeroll. Yes, we’re traveling with two carry-on sized bags. No, I do not need any more Italian serving platters. But hey, I can get those cute little ceramic number tiles for the front door! They’re little, right?

We decided to try taking the coastal route past Battipaglia (which I think means “ugliest truck-stop town in the Cilento” in Italian) instead of the crazy-making A3 through Salerno. We turned toward the sea, driving through what I dubbed “Tomatoland.” Fields and fields of tomato plants, with the occasional cornfield or used car graveyard thrown in.


Once we reached the coast, we went through a few kilometers of sad looking lidos and empty hotels before emerging into the chaos of Salerno during rush hour.

Salerno is a big city, and it seemed that those who were not trying to edge their cars in front of us at intersections were walking right in front of us. The good news is that traffic was so thick it all took place in slo mo, so at least we got to enjoy the show of elderly ladies dragging their shopping carts, people drinking espresso in cafes, and shop owners leaning in doorways. It’s a lively place, with some attractive streets and a nice waterfront walk.

We eventually emerged and followed a bus around a 180 degree turn to get to Vietri sul Mare. It’s an old ceramics town, where much of the stuff sold on the Amalfi coast is produced. It’s the southernmost town on the Amalfi, so I can tell my MIL I went to the Amalfi Coast. (she cannot understand why we’re not staying there).

We immediately pulled into the small parking lot the road dumps you into when you reach Vietri. Nice view from the parking ot, huh?


And yeah, they sell some ceramics here.


We walked round the small streets. There are many ceramics shops, but also everyday stores, and there didn’t seem to be many tourists yet. We poked around the shops, seeing lots of differences–many sold what are obviously mass-produced pieces from the big factories, but there were also some independent craftspeople working in some of the shops. I bought number plaques for the house, and then wandered into a shop because of the delicacy of the painting on the ceramics in the window. She had a large multisectioned antipasti platter I adored, but there was no way we were going to be able to carry it home. Instead I got a pretty plate, white with a lemon pattern in the rim, edged in blue. (sorry, it’s embalmed for travel now, photo later)We also learned the Italian word for bubble wrap.

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Drove back up the coast (took the A-3 this time) and got off in Capaccio. There re many hotels, lidos, agriturimos, and restaurants in this area, to take advantage of visitors to the beaches and Paestum. We followed a sign for a restaurant down a small road, and found it open for lunch. We shared a primo of a plate of pasta, sauced with chunks of fresh tuna, zucchini blossoms ad a few shrimp. The secondo of bufula tagliata (Makes sense that the rest of the buffalo should be of use occasionally) was overcooked to my taste, but that seems to be how meat is generally cooked in southern  Italy. Also got a nice plate of grilled vegetables.

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By now the heat had abated, so we decided to head over to Paestum. The GPS led us to the ancient walls, but instead of following the signs to the site, it led us around the walls and then through a gate and down a little road that was blocked at the end. We parked under a tree, and saw that the site was just across the street. We entered the museum to pay, and decided to visit the museum first. This was a good orientation, with displays chronicling from the prehistoric times, through the Greeks, the Lucanians, the Romans, and until the area was abandoned in the middle ages, probably because of  malarial conditions. Lots of relics found on the site, and signage in Italian and some English.

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Afterward we wandered the site, somewhat aided by the crappy audioguide. Signage at the site is in very bad condition, so unless you have a printed guide you’re pretty much on your own.

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The three temples are of course amazing, but also of interest are the remains of the Roman homes, baths, and meeting places. There were perhaps another 20 people on the large site, and most of the time we didn’t have anyone else in view. After the crowds of Pompeii, this was a treat to experience the place in the quiet.

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Back home for sunset on the beach, then cooked up some more fabulous vegetables for dinner.


Clutching the Jesus Bar


We began Wednesday with some time on the beach. The weather was starting to change, with grey skies and a stiff wind. The formerly calm water was now pushing rolling swells to shore, looking more like the Atlantic than the Tyrrhenian Sea. (I just looked at the map–the Mediterranean seems to divide from the  Tyrrhenian  at Santa Maria di Castellabate) Most of the chairs on “our” lido were deserted, except for us crazy New Englanders who still considered this a nice beach day.

We eventually got into the car and started driving south, first stopping at the nearby village of San Marco. Similar to Santa Maria, it’s a former fishing village now well supplied with beach hotels, restaurants, and a marina with mostly pleasure boats. There’s a nice view up toward Castellabate perched on the hill.

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We followed the road inland for a bit, and then took the turnoff for Licosa. This is a lovely, isolated area with just a few hotels and a nice stretch of beach. You can walk out along the point through the pines.


Back on the 267, the road started to climb and twist as it followed the coast. Interesting driving, with the rock wall on one side, the sea on the other down a sharp drop, and trucks barreling down the hill toward us. Will admit to clutching the bar and gasping every now and then. But beautiful views at the villages and towns clustered along the bays. These towns were very quiet, with the beach season not yet started.

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A bit of rain started falling as we reached the beach town of Marina di Casel Vileno. Not much was going on, but we followed a sign leading from the main shoreline street to an open restaurant. I think we and another gentleman were the only people who showed up for lunch that day. We ordered a seafood antipasto for one, and enough little bits arrived to serve four–octopus salad, smoked fish, marinated shellfish, smoked seppie, fish crostini, fried baccala. Next, I had my standard spaghetti con vongole, and Larry had a special of frito misto of just fish. And quite a mix–there must have been five different kinds of fresh fish, all lightly friend whole and piled on a platter. The tiny ones like alici (fresh anchovies) you just eat whole, as the bones are extremely soft. The larger ones you carefully take the meat off, which takes a while.

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After lunch, we pointed the car inland, first going through an agricultural valley, and then climbing the hills, up and down steep winding roads. Very small towns, lots of pine forests and a few grape and olive fields. We eventually found the road back toward Agropoli, and headed home.

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Tuesday morning we got up early to drive to Pompeii. I had arranged for a guide with Emiliano Tufano (pompeiin.com) to meet us at 9 am. The drive took a bit over an hour, though we hit traffic and the usual interesting Italian driving habits getting through Salerno. It makes Larry crazy that Italian drivers leave getting over to the exit until the last possible minute; and then when they enter the highway from an entry ramp, unexpectedly slow down instead of smoothly merging.

In any case, we easily found the Zeus parking lot near the Porta Marina entrance. After a series of texts and phone calls our guide arrived (he’d been given a different meeting point by the office). Although he claimed to be an archaeologist, he only gave us the bare bones of what we were seeing, and we found we had to ask a lot of questions to get more details out of him. At least he did know the back ways through the site, helping avoid the incoming huge groups from the cruise ships. (note to self–when heading to a popular place where cruise tours go, check the port schedule for the days with the fewest ships in port!)We were very glad we went so early, as by noon the place was packed and very hot. Pompeii is also not for those with difficulty walking–you’re constantly walking on ancient Roman stone roads, and have to be careful of your footing as you cross different levels of stone. I felt sorry for the many red-faced older or less fit people we saw struggling.

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It’s an enormous place, with even more areas not yet excavated. Because of costs and labor issues, some of the areas were closed or under restoration–but there’s still plenty to see. I find I’m particularly drawn to the few remaining (most was either carried off by the Bourbons, or is in the museum in Napoli) frescoes and mosaics.

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Speaking of frescoes, we opted to take the walk out to the Villa dei Misteri , at the far end of the site. A good choice as the crowds were building, and there were few people at this end of things. More importantly, it’s a fantastic house with wonderfully preserved frescoes, currently undergoing preservation. The “mysteries” refers to the subjects in one of the room, suggested to be of some sort of female rite. At the end of our visit Larry walked the 10 minutes back to our car along the road, much easier than returning through the site itself.

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A few other tips for others–go as early as you can, preferably when the gates open at 8:30; or after 4, which our guide suggests is also a quiet time. The Zeus parking lot and Marina entrance are also easy to find and not as busy as other entrances. Bring water, and perhaps a lunch to eat in the shade above the theatre. The only food sold inside the site is from the Autogrill, though we did take advantage of their air conditioning for a rest. Also, be warned that the bathrooms are filthy. I was amused by the sign above the sink that asked people to not wash their hair or feet in the sink.

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For lunch, we found Nonna Sceppa in Capaccio, a large restaurant with a breezy covered terrace. Groups of businessmen and large families had huge plates of seafood. We started by sharing an antipasto of polpo(octopus)  salad, dressed simply with olive oil and lemon. Loved this. Then I had a slice of tuna in a sweet and sour sauce, with more gorgeously cooked zucchini. Larry had what I call fish french fries, alici (fresh anchovies) fried to a crisp. With a salad of lemony green beans, a delicious lunch.

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After driving home we stopped at a roadside truck for cherries,  relaxed in the late afternoon on the beach, listened to the Italy game from the beach bar tv (lots of silence from the watchers at the end) and had a simple dinner of bufala, bread, and wine. Then a stroll along the beach to the village, where the evenings entertainment were two local teams playing sand soccer on a field built off the Piazza. Gelato–fig and coconut for me, chocolate and pistachio for Larry.

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Matera to Santa Maria


After a nice hotel breakfast, we collected the car and began the drive to Campania. Basilicata seems very empty after the density of Puglia. Lots of rolling hills covered in grain or pastureland, rocks, mountaintop villages and market towns in the valleys. We passed one of the towns Carlo Levi was banished to in the 30’s. I’ve been reading Christ Stopped at Eboli, and it paints an evocative picture of the poverty, social malaise, and harsh physical and spiritual conditions of the area. The road to and from Potenza skirts the Dolomiti Lucani, an impressive mountain range.

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We arrived at Santa Maria di Castellabate in the early afternoon. Santa Maria is a beach town that gets very lively with vacationing Italians, a few Germans,and as far as we can tell, two Americani. The village is cute, with a nice pedestrian area, a tangle of hilly streets above, and the sea at the bottom. Way up on the hillside you can glimpse the Castello of Castellabate and the village above.


We rented an apartment through Summer in Italy (great agency, BTW!), one of a bunch of apartments a short walk from the village. Our apartment is cute, simple, and has views to die for from the terrace and patio. And what seems to be the best parking spot in the complex, alone on a slope, not crammed in among other cars on the perilous hillside you inch down from the rapidly-closing gate at the top.

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We wandered down to the beach bar and had a late lunch, then hit the village for essentials like bufala, vegetables, and wine.

Dinner on the terrace after a spectacular sunset. It was so clear, we could see the shape of Capri in the distance.

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Monday was spent doing a bit more grocery shopping, and lazing on the beach. I love the Italian attitude toward beachwear and body shape–anything goes, with everyone from youngsters to grandmothers in bikinis or speedos. (except young children, who wear sunscreen and a smile). Italian beaches are set up with chairs and umbrellas very close to each other. Our favorite parts of the day are early morning, or after 4 pm.

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We took a drive up to Castellabate. Made the mistake of taking the very steep way up, which the poor Panda did not appreciate. Lots of restaurants and hotels up there, with wonderful views down.

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Santa Maria was quiet at lunchtime, we had a good lunch of mussels, pizza, and fantastic zucchini finished with mint and vinegar.

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Back to the beach for the afternoon, watching the vacationing families try to keep the kids from smacking each other. Made bufala ricotta-stuffed fiori and fried eggplant for dinner, with a little salad.

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I’ve wanted to visit Matera for several years, especially after reading more about the city.  We left Ostuni and drove up to Matera, parked in the new part of town, and walked over to our hotel in Piazza Sedile.


An ancient settlement that had a succession of rulers, Matera developed an impressive system of cisterns and water supply for the homes built into and around caves, called Sassi. Rock churches were built around the ravines between the 8th and 13th centuries, the population and fortuns of the city ebbed and flowed with economic changes and for a short time it was the capital of the province. More and more people crowded into the  Sassi in the 19th and 20th enturies. Carlo Levi’s “Christ Stopped at Eboli” describes the poverty and illness suffered by the residents, with his sister recalling starving children begging for quinine from passerby to help the ever-present Malaria. Large families lived with their animals in one-room Sassi, with the only ventilation coming from the entry.In the 1950’s, infant mortality was near 50%. After an outcry, Italy forcibly relocated the 15,000 residents to housing on the outskirts. From what I’ve read, the results were mixed–although health conditions were improved by the move, the social impact on families was less positive.In the 80’s, the Sassi were declaided a UNESCO site, money was available for restoration, and tourism discovered the city. Restaurants, bars, and B&B’s now inhabit many of the caves, with some residents as well. Our guide told us his father thinks people are crazy to want to live in the Sassi again.

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The Sassi are divided into two areas, Sasso Barisano and Sasso Caveoso. Barisano is the area where most of the restoration has taken place, with Sasso Caveoso more reflective of the hardscrapple past. Across a large ravine is the area peppered with rock churches and caves dug by nomadic monks.


In any case, it’s a fascinating place to visit. The Sassi are eerie and give a fascinating glimpse into history, and the more modern city above is lively and engaging. We went on a walk with a guide from Ferula Viaggi, which was extremely helpful in orienting us in the Sassi and getting a deeper understanding. It’s a challenging place to walk around, with steep stone steps, and “streets” that are the top of rock homes. We also visited one of the rock churches that had wonderful mosaics from the 10th and 16th centuries ( no photos allowed) and a small museum set up with furnishings from when the Sassi were last inhabited.

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We chanced into a place for lunch that turned into one of the best meals of our trip. We had a fantastic plate of mixed antipasti–fried zucchini, figs stuffed with ricotta, the best suppli I’ve ever had, faro salad, marinated zucchini, mozzarella, polenta. After that we shared a plate of a regional specialty, Pasta Con Peperoni Cruschi , Mollica Fritta. e Pancetta (pasta with fried hot peppers, bread crumbs and pancetta). Great stuff. Stano Ristorante, via Santa Cesaria, Matera.

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The evening passagiata was great fun, with the streets and piazzas in the upper town busy with people chatting and having an aperativo. People kept going into the night, with the balcony of our hotel room giving a great view. We had a late dinner at Le Botteghe, which I must admit was disappointing, with rather bland and oily orecchiette and dried-out lamb.

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The Sassi were particularly evocative at night. Rather ironic, as at the time the residents were relocated, there wasn’t electricity in the Sassi.




Last Day in Ostuni



Friday was bright and sunny, though very breezy. We decided to drive over to Martina Franca, one of the larger of the town in the area. Like others, it has a beautiful Baroque core, with elegant piazzas and winding, tiny streets. Using Jonathan’s directions, we easily found a parking space. We enjoyed walking around, and got thoroughly lost.

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Our plans for the afternoon had been for heading back to Pilone to sit on the beach, but with the wind so strong, we didn;t think that would be too comfortable. So instead, we had a lazy afternoon of reading up on the terrace, using the time to relax before heading to Matera tomorrow. Just before six, we began hearing air gorns and cheering, as the Italy game was about to start. From the terrace we could hear singing, groans, cheers, and at the end of the game, silence as Italy lost. Our neighbor’s cat was unimpressed.



For dinner, we had reservations at Osteria Piazzetta Cattedrale, one of the nicer places in Ostuni.We wandered down the hill and then climbed up to the restaurant. It”s a beautiful room, and the owner very charming and helpful. We began with a special antipasto of stuffed eggplant, really delicious. Larry had scallops and their roe, glazed with balsamico and served over greens. I had baby lamb shops, simply grilled with herbs. We had a bottle of wine that was much better than what we’ve been buying, and ended with a torta della nona, with dark chocolate in addition to the usual nuts. Wonderfully enjoyable meal, and extremely reasonably priced.

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Good night, Ostuni!

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One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to go to the tourist office and look through the brochures for local sights that don’t make it into the English-language guidebooks. The Brindisi province one was quite thick, with lots of beautiful photos that corresponded to an index at the back of the book. I was able to identify three nearby sites to visit, did a bit of internet research, and threw them on my Google map.

A short drive from Ostuni is the town of Montalbano near Fasone, and the “blink and you’ll miss it” sign pointing to the Dolmen of Montalbano. The small road leads to an even smaller one, and finally you turn down a stone-walled track barely wider than a Fiat Panda. And just off the road, in an abandoned olive grove, is a bronze age dolmen. Depending on which source you read, it’s been dated between 11 and 15 B.C. Not something you see every day. http://www.visitfasano.it/en/discover/the-dolmen-of-montalbano-066.html

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Next up, also in the Fasone area, was the site of a medieval village that had been built into caves, Lama D’Antico. Surrounded by fields is an overgrown area ringed by caves where people lived for hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years. Archaeological finds such as Roman coins and bronze age metals and pottery found in the cisterns show that this place was inhabited for long periods of time, and was abandoned in the 15th century. There are cisterns, grain storage pits, caves used for living spaces, and even churches built into caves. It’s incredibly eerie to step into a crumbling church built into a cave, and see faded 10th century frescoes. There’s a little visitor center, and good signs around the site giving info, with some English as well. http://www.lamadantico.it/en/home/

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Twisting through more small roads (turn right at the eggplant field in Egnazia) led to the excavations at Egnazia. There’s a small museum where you first go to buy your ticket, and then go across to the ruins. Near the museum is a necropolis, one part from the Messapian and the other Roman. A short drive leads to the main excavation, of a Roman settlement,  Gnathia . There are helpful signs around the site, identifying the various parts of the city and explaining the history and functions of what has been found. It’s a lovely, quiet place, although I’m sure crowded in Summer from people visiting the nearby beaches and the huge water park you can glimpse. http://xoomer.virgilio.it/egnazia/index_file/Page413.htm

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By now it was lunchtime. We headed over to the nearby town of Salvelletri. It’s a cute beach resort-looking town, and people seemed to be settling in for lunch at a place called La Taverna di Umberto . We started with gratineed mussles (salty to our tastes), then I got spaghetti al volgole; and Larry a sort of faro or local grain with an assortment of seafood. Both very good, especially Larry’s.

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Drove the hillsides around town.


Back home, walked through the park. The old guys in the neighborhood have their benches staked out.


We met up with Jim and Anne (Alpinista from ST) and had a really enjoyable time walking them around town and sitting in the Piazza having drinks and a chat.

Salad, zucchini carpaccio, and a simple pasta for dinner at home.











City and Towns


Wednesday morning was sunny though with dark clouds hovering on the horizon and the weather report promising more afternoon and evening rain. We drove up to Bari, an old port city that from what I read had spent years being somewhat the Bronx of Puglia, now benefitting from several years of fresh initiatives and well-placed money. There is an interesting area near the port of centuries-old buildings surrounding two churches called Bari Vecchia. We’d plotting out some parking lots using Parkopedia, and once in the city dodging insane drivers, found a lot just past the  Castello . We walked into the Barrio, through tiny streets lined with plant-filled balconies and strings of laundry. The doors open right onto the street, sometimes covered by a lace cloth if the family wants privacy, sometimes open. Peeks inside as we walked past showed surprisingly large rooms with steep stone staircases leading up.

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We wandered over to the Basilica, where well-dressed people were greeting each other outside, waiting for the bride to arrive for her wedding. We spent some time inside, and then with everyone else went outside to see the bride arrive–in a Ferrari. The two tiny flower girls were convinced to walk down the aisle, and we continued our walk.


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There are two small streets where women sell  their hand-made orecchiette. This morning with the threatening rain most of them we working inside, but a few had tables outside. As we walked the winding streets, we noticed women lowering a bucket from their high balconies to a friend or delivery person on the street below, so they could haul something up without resorting to the steep stairs. We stopped for a coffee and cornetto, and sat for a while at a corner where we had a good view of the scene, everything from local kids playing soccer to a herded group from a cuisse ship, clutching their bags and cameras. There’s a lovely new seaside promenade, and unfortunately we did not get to walk over to see the fish market. From what we saw of the newer part of town, the buildings are well kept and the streets lively. I would like to spend more time in Bari.

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The weather was turning worse, so we drove out and down to Polignano a Mare, a pretty town on the water. Parked, walked around admiring the houses and edges of town perched about the sea, and then found a recommended place for lunch (after the one we really wanted to go to was found with a Chiuso sign)

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We ate at a table inside, with was smart because after 1/2 hour a thunderous rainstorm began, with heavy sheets of rain. We shared an antipasti of tuna crudo; and after Larry had frito misto and I had tiella, a layered dish of rice, mussels, vegetables and potato. We met the only other Americans we’ve seen in Puglia, two couples from Pittsburgh.

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After lunch we drove around, following a sign for the Selva di Fasano. We went up and up and up a curving road, through pine woods and large, beautiful houses, many multi-coned trulli, some new ones, and one very odd thing–a Venetian-style villa.

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Back home, we dried off the slippery stones of the roof patio, and were able to enjoy the view–and finally, a rainbow!

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For dinner, we wandered through he park and over to the Tavola Calda. This is sort of an Italian fast food place, where you can get cooked food to eat there or take away. Lots of local people doing just that, and the place was doing a huge business in fried potatoes. We got a plate of ravioli, a plate of tagliata (beef strips on a bed of arugula, topped with parmesean, and a plate of sautéed zucchini and peppers. All good home cooking, huge portions, and 3-5 euros a plate. And wine.  Beats McDonald’s any day.






Over and Under the Valle d’Itria


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We’ve seen trulli, those cone-shaped houses characteristic of this part of Puglia, as we’ve been driving around. One of the nearby towns, Alberobello, is famous for its concentration of them. It’s become very much a tour bus destination, so we figured we’d want to get in and out early. We had a lovely drive on the roads connecting the towns–from Ostuni to Cisternino, to Locorotundo, and then into Alberobello. You can see many of the multi-coned trulli have been renovated into fancy vacation homes, but also many that are gently crumbling.


We easily found free street parking on the main road just past the train station, and walked into the trulli district. There are actually two hillsides covered in Trulli–one has been transformed into shops selling every sort of trulli-themed made-in-China junk you can imagine; the other is more residential and much quieter. Guess which we preferred? There is also a sweet little public garden between the hills, a nice place to sit. We wandered around, snapping photos. Ominous rumbling in the sky prompted the shopkeepers to quickly haul their junk indoors, and soon enough the rain started.


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Back in the car, we considered our options. We weren’t far from the Grotte di Castellana, caves that I’d heard were interesting to tour. I was a bit hesitant, what with my lizard-brain fear of slipping on slopes, but figured, I’d just clutch Larry when needed. http://www.grottedicastellana.it/en/the-caves/

You can take a long or short tour; we opted for the short. The next one in English wasn;t until 1, so we tagged along on the next one in Italian. You first walk down an immense staircase, which gets wetter as you descend. We entered into a huge cavern, with a hole in the ceiling letting in light. This is the only place you’re allowed to take photos, which everyone but two gentlemen complied with as we were led through the caves. It really was magical, with the stalactites and stalagmites highlighted by lighting as you walk from large to small spaces.

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And happily, there is an elevator to get you back to the top, hooray for my knees!

The area around the caves is filled with cheap cafes and stands selling trinkets, we decided to get far away before looking for lunch options. We ended up in Cisterina, found parking just outside the old part of town, and walked in. Spooky quiet, as shops were closed for lunch, and probably half the restaurants a well. It’s a charming old place, with white houses and tiny alleyways.

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The town specializes in butcher shop-restaurants, where your selections are grilled and served.  We found an allyway table at Trattoria Bere Vecchie, just because there were good smells coming out of the door. We didn’t want a huge lunch, so ordered an antipasto of fave y chicoria (mashed favas topped with sautéed chicory, a popular dish here, classic poverty food that tastes great), then a mixed grill for one, and a contorni of grilled vegetables. We loved everything-the mixed grill had two kinds of meat rolled around fillings, pieces of lamb, sausage, and delicious livers. Good stuff.

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After lunch, we explored the back roads for a while, enjoying the scenery. My map has scenic routed outlined in green, and its fun to just follow those.


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Back home, we stopped at one of the guys selling cherries from a truck. He kept adding more and more to the bag in spite of Larry’s protests–“it’s a gift!” (probably his boss doesn’t want him bringing a ton of cherries back!) Anyone want some cherries? What I wouldn’t give for my canning equipment.


Burrrata. It’s what’s for dinner.




Morning in Lecce


We headed down to Lecce this morning. Mondays can be funny in Italy, with many businesses (and so town centers) closed down tight. We figured that Lecce, with more of a big city and touristic influence, would be “open.” It was an easy drive into the city, and we found parking around the public gardens.
Lecce is an old city with a partially uncovered Roman amphitheater, but really came into its own during the 15th century, when there were a staggering number of churches and palazzos built. The local limestone carves easily, and as the Baroque was in full swing, thousands of putti and swirly columns decorate just about every surface. It’s a bit dizzying, actually, but since the interiors of many of the churches are usually decorated in the carved stone, there’s a lovely lightness to what are usually dark spaces.
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We enjoyed walking around the city, following walks detailed in a little book we found in our rental. When our feet gave out, we rested in the public gardens and searched for a restaurant. Just about all the choices I had researches were closed Mondays. We ended up wandering into a simple place, and had decent though forgettable lunches.

By 3, the clouds were gathering and the wind was picking up, so we decided to drive home. The skies opened, and a thunderous rainstorm began. When the water started sheeting on the road, we pulled off into a gas station, where many cars, and several police officers all convened to wait things out. Hailstones dropped for a while, bouncing around the pavement. When things slowed down we got back on the road.

Back home, Larry walked over to the fish store, and bougth some large whole scampi. Not like they’re sold at home–these guys had heads and claws, the real deal. I marinated them in oil, garlic and salt, and we threw them onto the grill. Divine. You know when people say shrimp are sweet? These really were.