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Puglia and Basilicata

Huge day out. I am exhausted! We drove to the bottom of the "heel". Stopped in Otranto to see the fabulous mosaics, had a lovely lunch sitting outside. Tried to drive along the coast but got very lost and finally got to the coast only to be diverted after a few miles. Stopped at Leuca at the very bottom of the heel.

Drove up to Galipoli and walked all around the historic center. Then the long drive back.

We skipped Lecce, probably a big mistake.

Nearly 9pm and I have to make dinner. Picked up some fresh vegetables on the way back to the apartment. Shops are open after 8pm!
King Arthur in the 12th century mosaics in the cathedral in Otranto.


Land's End at Leuca.

You've been further than us! We've never made it beyond Otranto - glad you enjoyed the mosaics. Lecce can wait for another time...

Yes, the shops tend to shut around 9. Mind you, they've also been shut from 1-4, at least. Bit late for cooking - you should have picked up a pizza from the wonderfully welcoming Pizzamania, just up the road! Warwick & Rachel & kids practically live there when they're over.
We walked by Pizzamania today @jonathan but have not tried it. Today we drove down to the sea, to the area you marked for me on the map. Lovely! Sunny and warm, but windy today. Horrible to think of all those people drowning not too far from here. We are very close to Albania, Greece and Northern Africa.

We went to Locorotundo and had lunch at a slow food restaurant. There were only two restaurants open. Very nice lunch. Then on to Martina Franca. I loved that town. It was siesta so everything was closed (shops close from 1pm to 5pm), but we walked all around and I like the look of the buildings.

Driving there and then back to Ostuni we saw lots of trulli.

Getting ready to leave tomorrow morning. I was reading Valerie's day trip for Matera and all of a sudden the website was not working. PHP errors everywhere! Searched my email and found a note from our web host that the version of PHP was going to change today. Steve had it all fixed within a hour, but yikes! Good thing he brought his computer with us. I don't use it, I just tap away on this iPad.

Looking forward to seeing Matera!

Countryside trulli seen from Locorotundo.


Our street in Ostuni.

That's all gone by so quickly! I'm glad you got to see out favourite bit of seaside - the view below shows it in the summer (towards the end of the afternoon, so nothing like as full as it can be earlier in the day).

Enjoy Matera & the various Basilicatan backroads! John & Louise just got back from an overnight there today, and loved it.

Yes, Pauline, it was really rough when we went over there a fortnight ago. But it's lovely in the summer, and the water is spectacularly clear. Valerie, it's Costa Merlata, just NE of Ostuni - and only 15 miles or so down the coast from the Fasano area. There's lots of little coves like this there - if you look at a large-scale map of the coast here, you'll see why it's got that name!
I love reading your TRs Pauline:). I'm reading Italian Trains by Tim Parks and the section I'm on now has him travelling through the hell of italy to Lecce. So right where you are. I love his dry sense of humour and his canny observations.

What would this area be like in winter? Say Feb/March. Probably too cold and shuttered for a winter break from Ottawa.
The seaside resorts will have restaurants & bars shut during the winter, of course. But many of the seaside towns are also busy fishing ports (we stopped for lunch in Mola di Bari at the beginning of April: our first visit there. Lots & lots of fishing boats of all sizes in the commercial harbour) - so they have plenty of places that stay open all the year round.

The inland towns all have busy existences outside the tourist trade, so although you wouldn't find as many places open as in the height of the summer, there's still plenty to look at, and to eat...

The nights can be cold - and quite a lot of the buildings aren't very well insulated, so make sure your apartment has good heating. We were in Ostuni the week before Pauline & Steve, and visited friends staying in one of the apartments in P & S's house, on a cold evening: very good central heating there!

But the days can be brilliantly sunny, with clear skies and gorgeously clear atmosphere. Accuweather gives you an idea of what it was like in Feb this year.
I liked that Tim Parks book and am reading it again for next month's book club. It is lovely here now and not that busy, but summer will be busy. @jonathan can better answer about coming here earlier. He comes to Ostuni at Christmas I think.

Matera!!! Incredible! Thank you @Valerie for telling us to spend a night here. I could spend much longer. Our hotel San Giorgio is lovely. We have an apartment right in the Sassi area and part is a cave!

Lots of vegetables on the menus, which is great for us. The "modern" part of town above the Sassi is stunning. I am kind of in shock at the beauty of it all.

Looking down into the Sassi.


Piazza Veneto area.


In the Sassi.

"I am kind of in shock at the beauty of it all."

That's exactly what I was thinking as I looked at your photos. I've never really paid much attention to this area before but this is really catching my attention!
It's a beautiful town, definitely worth staying a while to really appreciate it all. Go over to Piazza Veneto for the passeggiata, which is a really lively one! (The photo you have is Piazza Sedile, where the music conservatory is located, so you get to hear music while you sit on the piazza for breakfast or lunch!)
Now we are in Basilicata visiting @Valerie and Bryan. We are in an apartment in their village. This area is wonderful. We don't have wifi in the apartment so can't post as much as usual. I will fill in the details later.

Today we visited Castelmezzano.


We bought organic olive oil from a local producer.

We went to Paestum today! Incredible! Then we drove down the coast to Castellabate, a gorgeous seaside town. Then we drove up into the hills to see Villa Trotta, which was first prize in our old ST contests (from Luca at Summer in Italy). What a location!

Greek temple.


Steve, @Valerie and Bryan.


Villa Trotta.

Pauline, do you remember that we won Villa Trotta for a week? We went in 2008, although we were supposed to go in 2007. But I broke my arm two days after we arrived in Italy (before we got to the villa) and Luca very nicely agreed to let us postpone the trip for a year. That was an amazing place, with incredible views (all the way to Capri), but it was a crazy place to drive to. Here is a picture of our favorite road sign between the town of Perdifumo and the villa, and Mike's reaction to driving those roads.

Great last day. At the Bari airport hotel with bad wifi. Flying home tomorrow. Will post photos then.

Our car was like a boat! I couldn't even make some of the turns going up to villa Trotta! But we returned it tonight with no damage! Bravo!

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