What a glorious region of Italy to discover! For those who have been to Italy multiple times and would like to get off the beaten path, the heel of Italy awaits!
First stop was to Puglia, on the Southern Adriatic coast. This is a magical and authentic destination full of Italians and Europeans enjoying the beaches – far less crowded and at a more attractive price point than the Amalfi coast.
Nearby historic towns and cities to visit make this a relaxing hub from which to sight see and enjoy downtime at the seaside.
I checked out two fantastic properties which I can highly recommend.
In the Puglia region, the “masserie” were large agricultural centers used for farming the land and became self-sustaining villages.
The Masseria where we stayed is Masseria San Domenico -an absolutely drop-dead, sophisticated, romantic and serene resort which was originally a XIV Watchtower used by the Knights of Malta.
We had a fabulous time enjoying San Domenic0’s beach club where each afternoon they serve a buffet of fabulous fresh seafood and fresh produce (with spectacular wines, of course!) For guests wanting to stay on the beach, San Domenico al Mare offers 4 guest rooms located at the beach club. They share a common living area and would be perfect for a family of a group of friends.
Another fantastic option for guests who prefer a larger resort with cutting edge design, is Borgo Egnazia. The resort consists of the main building which is sleek and contemporary, multi bedroom villas which are fantastic for families, and a fabulous Borgo (neighborhood) built to resemble and feel like a traditional Puglian village (No, it is not like Disney and yes, I can assure you that it is exceptionally high quality and very, very well done!). This is the place I would suggest for families that would like golf, tennis, gym, multiple pools, several restaurants, kids club, a large beach club and many amenities in one place including excellent service!
We were fortunate enough to be at the Borgo the night of their big festa. Local food artisans came in to serve so much wonderful local produce and food from the region including the most wonderful Burrata (fresh mozzarella stuffed with creme)!
A fabulous day trip to Alberobello – Alberobello famous throughout the world for the characteristic, conical houses known as “trulli”, is divided into two districts: Monti and Aia Piccola, both national monuments and UNESCO world heritage sites. The history of this unusual little town dates back to the second half of the 16th century, when the Counts ordered the farmers to build the limestone houses in dry layers, so that they could be destroyed if there was a royal inspection, since the creation of an urban settlement meant that taxes had to be paid. This area is definitely one of the hidden gems of Italy!
Superb wines are found in Puglia!!
The best grapes for the white wines are Vedeca and Fiana and for the red wines, Negromaro and Primitivo! Salute!
Another great day trip is the charming town of Polignano al Mare –
The highlight of the trip was visiting Matera in the region of Basilicata. Matera has been settled since the Paleolithic period and is famous for its Sassi, or cave dwellings, thought to be among the first ever human settlements in what is now Italy. The Sassi are habitations dug into the calcareous rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata. In the 1950’s some of Italy’s poorest people were still living in these caves until the government relocated them to the modern part of the city. Matera has now become a very hip place to visit with excellent restaurants, hotels and shops. Go quickly as in 2019, Matera will be the European Capital of culture and you may have a hard time finding availability once the word gets out!
If you have ever wanted to sleep in a cave, I highly suggest you spend a night or two at Sextantio.
Now we are off to explore this gorgeous city!
The best pizza of the trip!! Fantastic and we each finished our entire pizza ourselves!
Everyone needs to stop for some ice cream and this place was well worth the calories!