Terre e Mare Copyright Carla Coulson
I am back! And a big thank to you for all your lovely comments on my trip around Puglia.
I am full of inspiration, energy and enthusiasm for more photography. One of the fabulous things I love to pieces about being a photographer is that I rarely feel sick about coming home from a holiday, in fact some times I just can’t wait to get back to get my hands on my camera and to put all the ideas whirring around in my head into action.
It has been six years since Francesco and I holidayed in Italy and along with a guzzillion other Italians we went to Puglia. To escape the masses at the beach (see photos below) we headed to the Valle D’Itria, a little triangle of beauty and calm dotted with stone ‘cone’ adddorrabbblleeee trulli’s, wonderful villages, fresh air and amazing food. Puglia didn’t disappoint.
First stop was in the town of Ceglie Messapica, that I had only seen previously in mid-winter, this little white jewel was rocking, concerts every night in the main piazza, cool little ‘frutteria’s serving up delicious fruit cocktails and food (and prices) to break my Parisian heart (err and waistline)…We stayed with the fabulous Pamela, a young local who has converted a 19th century building into a wonderful B & B named Sant’Anna. Great hospitality and a wonderful little gem in the heart of this great town.
Cisternino and Ceglie Messapica Copyright Carla Coulson
After three days exploring the nearby villages and countryside, the glorious Cisternino, Martina Franca and the wonderful ceramic town of Grottaglie we headed to a little B & B called Terre e Mare in the countryside near Cisternino(see above).
A wonderful couple, the fabulous Danish, Caterina and her Pugliese partner, Guiliano packed up life in northern Italy and have recently opened this rustic little piece of paradise under the olive trees. They are living their dream and we were thrilled to be along for a couple of days of home-made bread, jams, tarts and great company.
Under the olive trees I delved into ‘Ultimo Giro della Giostra‘ by Tiziano Terzani, a writer I already loved and enjoy in his celebrated ‘A fortune teller told me‘. ‘Ultimo Giro della Giostra is wonderful if you read Italian and it is a big book in all the senses of the words, about life, love, spirituality, evolution and dying.
What Puglian holiday is complete without the sweets, gelato, cakes and many hours at the table with a carafe of cool white wine and big chunks of smoked scamorza. Francesco constantly shooshed me each time I grabbed the menu and uttered ‘it’s almost free’! An antipasto that consisted of 12 portions of food that costs only 7 Euros.. What else was there to say other than I’ll take two? I kept thinking about all those plates and the poor person who had to wash them up…
Chiesa Sant’Anna Ceglie Messapico Copyright Carla Coulson
Whilst in Ceglie Messapica, the fabulous Pamela organised a private viewing of the Church of Sant’Anna just steps away from her B & B of the same name. This frescoed church is cared for by the local ladies, all elderly now and risks being closed permanently even though it is built on a Greek temple that dates back to BC.
If you are in Ceglie ask around to have a look inside, it is something else.
And although we trundled around Italy at a slow speed, I have never felt safer on Italian roads than when I called into the local Agip petrol station to fill up only to see his holiness watching over all Italian (and foreign) drivers. Maybe that is why they drive so fast, they know someone is on their side!
My Puglian Address Book
My tastes in accommodation are modest and I loved these two places.
Terre E Mare
Caterina and Guiliano will show you true southern hospitality in their adorable Trulli B & B just kilometres from Cisternino.
B & B Sant’Anna
The young, beautiful and hospitable Pamela (pronounced Pammm eeeellllaaa) runs a B & B with a super terrace in the heart of Ceglie. She will point you in the right direction for all you will need in Ceglie.
Via Orto Nannavecchia,
Ceglie Messapica, Italia
This humble Osteria serves great quality traditional food in the beautiful white stone side streets just off the main square. We left with change from 20 Euros for the two of us (and a I have a husband who likes to eat!).
Set in a 15th Century convent Cibus was at the heart of the gastronomic culture that Ceglie Messapica is now famous for. Continually searching to mix the local products of the highest quality in new and interesting ways. Loved this place.
This is the kind of restaurant I would never have expected to find in Ceglie Messapica. The gang at Botrus have brought ‘nouvelle cuisine’ to Puglia and have created new flavours that would have nonna throwing salt over each shoulder warding off the bad ‘spirits’. A dining experience of the grown-up kind.
In a beautiful ancient Piazza with towering trees and bounded by white buildings, grab a seat and a drink made from your favourite fruit and enjoy the calm.
Cool bar with low chairs and ‘cafe del mar’ music in one of three of Ceglie Messapica’s main piazza’s. For late night lounging at it’s best.
Quartiere delle Ceramiche
All the marvels of southern Italian ceramics in this wonderful baroque town in the Valle D’Itria. Entire quarters of the city are devoted to this Italian art, both decorative and minimal. Back the truck up!
Buon Viaggio e buona dieta!!