Taste of Apulia: a journey in search of traditions and a return to life in the slow lane where the colour white is all the rage

text and photos by Machi di Pace ©

Travelling in Puglia is a journey through both place and time, where you can get a taste of the genuine, old-fashioned Italy of 50 years ago. The natural landscape is at times dry and desert-like with silver-tipped olive trees extending as far as the eye can see and sandy white coves lapped by turquoise waters. This easternmost area of Italy is blessed with an idyllic coastline, which has received countless awards for the quality of its waters. It is a place to stop and enjoy the climate, the food and the slow pace of life which will continuously permeate your stay.

The Salento, which covers the more southerly area of Puglia, is steeped in history, archaeology, architecture and natural landscapes. The impact is awe-inspiring. Lecce is the focal point of the Salento with its gleaming local stone; a limestone tuff with colours ranging from bright white to a creamy yellow. The story of Lecce is told in the stones of the old churches, walkways and antique buildings. Otranto, Leuca and Gallipoli form a triangle in the heel of Italy’s boot and boast some of the most beautiful beaches in Puglia, easily comparable to exotic, tropical paradises.

This region offers unique flavours just begging to be relished in the grapes of the vineyards producing fine wines like the Negroamaro, Salice Salentino and Primitivo, which are all characteristic of this area. Here, in the heart of the Salento, Casina Vigna Negroamaro is a marvellous place to taste the wines in the vineyards surrounding the villa. The visit includes a trip to the wine museum and a 16th century castle. The villa sleeps up to ten guests.

Ostuni, known as the white city, is located further north and sits high and proud on the hilltop. The favourite pastime of her many visitors is to ramble through the labyrinth of little lanes, getting lost in the discovery of an authentic south. You’ll pass colourful doorways dotting the white walls and lines of washing hung out to dry while the not-so-distant sea whispers through her streets.

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The charming Masserie Le Anfore is only 15 minutes by car from Ostuni. The style, design and elegance of the traditional farmhouse blend seamlessly with the characteristic stone structure. This is a place to enjoy the peace and quiet of the surrounding countryside. The Masseria is set in five hectares of olive groves and some of the trees are hundreds of years old. It is an ideal location for discovering the tastes and flavours of the land and for admiring the contemporary art collections which embellish the bedrooms. The Masserie Le Anfore sleeps up to 18 guests.

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Perhaps one of the most surprising elements of Puglia is the warm, dry climate. You can live the springtime whilst sensing the arrival of summer. It makes for a perfect holiday destination from April through to June. And even October and November will give you the chance to swim in the azure waters without the mayhem of high summer chaos on the beaches.

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Things to experience

  • Taste the delicate pastries in Lecce; ideal for breakfast or with a coffee after lunch. These exquisite pastries are bursting with custard cream.
  • Pick the luscious, purple Indian figs that grow along the roadsides. Be careful of the thorns but the inside fruit is sublimely sweet and contains a myriad of anti-oxidant and anti-stress properties.
  • Sleep in a trullo. It’s a unique experience which can only be enjoyed here. Many top quality Masserie (farmhouses) offer the chance of doing so without renouncing any of the modern comforts that make a holiday great. We recommend these places:
    Masseria Le Anfore (for up to 18 guests)
    Le Grand Bleu – 5 star trulli (up to 8 guests)
    Trulli La Pergola (up to 5 guests)
  • Take a walk through the majestic olive groves which adorn the land. Linger to look at the roots and twisted trunks. Work out the age of the trees from their base.

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To spend an entire stay surrounded by olive groves, we suggest the following place:
Masseria Olive, which sleeps up to 7 guests. It’s situated in the High Salento along the road connecting Bari and Brindisi. Again, you find both modern comfort and old-world charm in the stone structure. The interior boasts wooden beams, old fashioned troughs and unique pieces whereas the outside offers a playground of fruit trees, Indian figs and grapevines which adorn the stone walls hugging the swimming pool.

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