My husband got a 4-day weekend for Labor Day and it was my birthday, so we went on a short trip. I think the Brits would call it a mini-break. Since it was my birthday, Tim planned the trip as a surprise. He told me we were going, but didn’t say where. We ended up near Lecce, in the region of Puglia, almost at the bottom of Italy’s “heel”.
We had never been that far south in Puglia before, and we were surprised at how different it was from the southern Italy we are used to. Drivers followed the rules, used their turn signals (I know, right?!), and there were no scooters weaving in and out of traffic. The whole area has a peaceful feel about it. The food is simple, hearty, and fresh. The wine is excellent. There is enough to do, but we didn’t feel like we didn’t have enough time. Overall, it was a fantastic place for a restful long weekend. We took our Italian books and some board games, and we got to spend time together while Noah napped. It seems like we have been too busy for anything like that lately!
We had originally planned to leave Thursday afternoon, but that didn’t work out. And of course, come Friday, Noah chose that day to sleep until 11. Probably the best thing my brother taught me was it’s always best to let sleeping babies lie. So we got a late start that day. It took longer than expected to get there, but the drive was nice. We were staying at an agriturismo, which is kind of like a farm hotel. When we got there, we walked around the farm, and Noah’s favorite thing was the goats. That night we went into the town of Corigliano d’Otranto for dinner and had several Pugliese specialties.
Saturday we wandered around the historic center of Lecce. We saw the duomo, had lunch and gelato, bought a bunch of wine. Obviously. That night the agriturismo restaurant had a dinner. It was family style, with everybody sitting at a long farm table. Most of the food had been grown on their farm. Everything was excellent! Poor Noah was so tired he fell asleep with spaghetti hanging out of his mouth.
Sunday was my birthday! I finally nabbed a small, wide-mouth demijon I had been eyeing in their recycling bin. It had at least 3 spiders in it, so I figured they weren’t using it anymore. Then we went for a drive over to the town of Otranto and explored the walled old town. After a drive up the coast, we returned to the agriturismo. We had a late lunch, so we ended up going for a late dinner of pizza and gelato. The whole town seemed to be out in the park, even though it was 10 pm, so we spent some time soaking in the culture, and letting Noah play on the slide in the playground.
Monday morning was nice and cloudy and cool. So we loaded up and headed back to the coast. A little north of Otranto was Sant’Andrea, where the rocks are really soft and got worn away by the water into interesting formations. After walking on those for a little, we continued on our way towards home. Later in the afternoon, we saw a cool hilltop town that was all white and made a detour. It turned out to be Ostuni. The whole town was indeed painted white and the old town had lots of narrow cobbled streets, leading up to a simple yet beautiful cathedral.
This was a great trip! It was also our first Italian adventure since we moved back. Welcome back to Italy, Lindsays!