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Puglia and Basilicata


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We have arrived in Ostuni! The flight went well. Driving out of Bari airport was kind of insane. We saw an Ape on the road (that's when I know I am in Italy), a hooker and lots of olive trees. Found our way into Ostuni but could not follow the owner's complicated directions. Luckily @jonathan went over the town map with me and we did a lot of street view and The GPS and I figured out where we were. We ended up parked where we were supposed to, then found our way to the apartment.

Ostuni is beautiful! Narrow lanes, stone staircases up to front doors, views out to the sea. Our apartment is really nice. Spacious. Good kitchen. No fragrances on the bedding or in the apartment. Incredible two level roof terrace.

Got groceries at local shop, walked around for an hour, had coffee at Parisi Caffe that J recommended. The pizza places and one restaurant that J recommended were closed. The good one by the cathedral was open and the menu looks great. We will go there one night. I ended up cooking pasta and zucchini for us.

The only downside. I seem to have been attacked by midges in England (that is our best guess - I didn't see them). One eye is irritated and swollen, bites on my head and forehead (itchy and painful), another bit on my jaw! Bastards! I have reacted to bug bites before, but it has been awhile. Maybe the Italian sun will heal me.

View from our terrace when we arrived this evening.

We went to the bakery, Forno 31, that everyone recommends (@jonathan , Amy from ST, the apartment owners) and it is very good. Piles of bread, wonderful potato focaccia that we had for lunch and some good looking cookies and fruit tarts that we will try. All behind a very nondescript door on a small street.

All of their focaccie are lovely! The best thing is seeing inside the oven when they've just put a new bale of wood twigs in: spectacular flames.

Advance warning: they're not open on Sundays. Should you need bread then, or just fancy a change, Foggia (the bakery at the corner of the park, diagonally across from Top Shop) is also good: their bread has a more tender crust than F31's, which can be quite challenging...
An update on the driving. It was only insane around Bari airport. Driving in Ostuni is fine and the roads around here are empty almost. If you do the speed limit, cars pass you recklessly, but that is to be expected. I even drove today.

I had booked a small car but we got a Toyota Auris station wagon! It just fits in between the lines in a parking spot. Booking an automatic car gives you much less choice, especially at a small airport like Bari. At least it is a hybrid and they are always entertaining. And it has that cool camera for backing up.

This morning we headed to Locorotundo, recommended by Jonathan, but couldn't decide on parking and were suddenly out of the town so kept going to Alberobello, the touristy town. We missed the small brown sign for the trulli area and were not sure where to go, but parked and were right in the center of town. It was market day. If we wanted cheap shoes and underpants, we were in the right spot.

We found an area with trulli, went inside one that was 2 storey (the only one they said) and was a museum. Then found a map showing the main areas - that hill with 1000+ trulli. Very beautiful.

This was the tourist area. We got coffee and had the slow count but Steve noticed the missing 1 euro. Saw a few Japanese tourists on a Segway tour. Saw a large German tour. Lots of Italians touring, a few Brits. Didn't notice any of our countrymen.

I loved the streets lined with trulli. We walked all around. Many of them are shops and some shopkeepers were pretty aggressive.

The drive from Ostuni to Alberobello was beautiful on a pretty country roads with olive trees, stone walls, trulli and some ugly new expensive looking houses. I drove back.

I kind of know my way around Ostuni now. We have to park about a 10 min walk from the apartment and we haven't fought it out for the free parking yet, but we will. We park in a paid area by the public gardens.

My eye and head are still bad (bug bites from home). It was sunny and hot today. We had lunch at home and enjoyed siesta time. In the later afternoon we walked around the historic center. This is a beautiful town. I really like it.

British election debate streaming on the computer now!

Photo of trulli in Alberobello.

Another hot and sunny day. We drove to the Montalbano Dolmen, named for the town not the detective. It is small for a Dolmen, but quite old. We walked along the pretty lane through groves of old olive trees. Then we drove on to see the Roman ruins at Egnazia. They were very interesting. Thanks @Roz for telling me about them. The small museum was good and had a few mosaics from the site. I liked the Roman road running through the remains of the town - Via Appia Traiana. The Appian Way from Rome to Brindisi split into two routes through Puglia and this was one. It goes near Ostuni and the road from Ostuni to Montalbano goes along its route.

Late lunch back "home" and when the town woke up at 5pm we walked around more of it. @jonathan we found the agricultural coop shop. Also parked in the free parking today! Saw pocket coffee in a caffe and remembered that we like them. We will bring some home.

We love the Tarallini from Forno 31. Onion flavor is the best.

My eye is still swollen and more irritated at night, so we have been eating at home. This better clear up soon!

Old olive tree.


The Roman road.


Bakery things.

Ack, bug bites! Maybe tiny spiders? I have reactions to those brats.

Locorotondo is very pretty! It's small enough to walk all around but has pretty atmosphere and a few good restaurants.

We like the seaside town of Polignano a Mare, south of Bari. We also liked Otranto.
We will go back to Locorotundo and park this time. Also to Martina Franca. I am not sure we will get to Oltranto on this trip, but will try to get to Lecce. This area is very pretty with lots of lovely spots close by.

I thought spider bite too, because we have a lot of them and one had been on my neck a few days earlier. But Steve saw midges and I have reacted to no-see-ums in Santa Fe and I think they are like midges. And a Painswick friend said we don't have biting spiders in England (??).

Tomorrow is the market which Jonathan says don't miss. And it will be hot tomorrow so we will drive down to the water. I want to do more exploring of Ostuni too.
I'm curious what the flowers are like at this time of the year. We had tentatively planned a trip to this region a couple of Aprils ago. It is supposed to be a good time for orchids which are plentiful in Puglia. We were going to be going North of Bari so I'm not certain if you'll see as many near Ostuni or if they have already bloomed mid-April. Gargano and Alta Murgia are supposed to be good places for orchids.
Martina Franca was a favorite...also Locorotundo. I really loved the whole area and hope to return. ......so much to do when I retire, LOL. and Lecce....fantastic!!

Hope your bug bites are better!!!!
An Ostuni day today. We went to the market. It was HUGE! Lots of vegetables, but also clothes, household things, etc. I bought some tea spoons (made in Italy). And lots of vegetables at really good prices. Artichokes, rapini, big oranges.

The market was very busy. It is a 20 min walk from our area, out in the modern part of town.

Bought a liter of organic olive oil at a shop in the tourist area.

Today was our hottest day (77F) and the weather cools off tomorrow so we sat out on the lovely roof terrace and read (I was knitting).

Steve is using @Dana 's Italy food app a lot. Right now he is seeing was she has to say about Crodino because I am contemplating going out for one now.

Big news - my eye is worse and now I am taking allergy medication. Maybe this will help. At least I have been able to cover it with sunglasses on these sunny days.


We had a wonderful dinner out, finally, at the restaurant by the cathedral - Osteria Piazzetta Cathedrale - recommended by @Ann and @jonathan . They were very accommodating with my vegetarian request and had several suggestions. I ended up having two primi. The fava bean purée that I shared with Steve as a starter. And a good pasta dish. Steve had swordfish.

We were the first to arrive at 8pm. Others arrived at 9pm. My eye is starting to look normal and the dim lighting helped.

Before dinner we walked around the town for an hour. There are several areas where people gather during passagiatta - the gardens where we park, the piazza della liberta near our apartment, and along Viale Pola, a big shopping street. The town is very lively. Lots of shops, cafes, restaurants. People out and about.

I have been reading about the mosaic in the church in Otranto and I do want to see it. Maybe tomorrow afternoon.
I'm glad that the eye is calming down a bit. And very happy that you enjoyed our market, and Piazzetta Cattedrale. John & Louise had a good meal there, on Tuesday. (As did we, last week!)
Sounds like a lovely time(except for the eye.) I don't know the area at all. In a month I'm heading off to Bellagio and then for a week at that agriturismo in Tuscany you recommended. I forget the name.
Pauline, I'm glad to hear, too, that your eye seems to be getting better. Something like that can really mess up an otherwise nice trip.

Also glad you enjoyed Egnazia. We had the place all to ourselves when we were there and thought it was fascinating. And I have very fond memories, too, of Piazzetta Cattedrale and the Ostuni market.

If you go to Martina Franca, I can recommend a little restaurant that we just stumbled upon and really enjoyed. In my travel diary I wrote that it was one of those lucky finds that turned out to be one of our best meals. It was called Ristorante / Pizzeria ai Portici (in Piazza Plebiscito), and was open for lunch past 2 pm, when it's hard to find places serving. Here's a favorite photo taken at that restaurant, of two servers in a very animated discussion trying to answer our question about the best route to somewhere. It was just such a typical Italian moment -- the two women sounded like they were having a huge argument, but of course it was all in a friendly spirit.

Also, in Lecce we had some of our best gelato -- at a place called Natale, via Trinchesi 7a. There was a great story in the NY Times this week about Lecce: Centuries of Italian History Unearthed in Quest to Fix Toilet.

One other thing, if you go to Lecce -- nearby is the town of Galatina, where we were very impressed by the frescoes in the Basilica of S. Caterina. Here's a sample.

In Cisternino we enjoyed this restaurant a lot: Le Capase. They had some really nice vegetarian options, it's a pretty atmosphere, and the waiter looked just like a young Johnny Depp! :D I had gnocchi with a pureed squash sauce that was really good.
Today, Sunday, we did nothing! It was cooler and windy. I woke up a lot in the night with the wind blowing the outdoor chairs around on the roof terrace above the bedroom. I folded them up so that won't happen tomorrow. I had big plans for today, but then we didn't feel like doing anything. Walked around Ostuni a bit. Read my travel guides.

We are watching the movie Christ Stopped at Eboli, the slowest paced movie ever, but still interesting. Set in Basilicata. There are lots of DVDs in the apartment and that was one of them. I started reading the book too, but set it aside to read yet another "I moved to Italy and renovated a house" book - Pan et Pomodoro. I don't know why I like to read these things. The last thing we would ever do would be to renovate a house. It must be because I like reading the details of people's lives.

My eye is no longer swollen! :dork:

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