Once again, I had the chance to travel to a very unique and not so popular place: the Puglia region, located “at the heel of the boot shaped” Italy.
We arrive at Naples with the direct morning flight of Turkish Airlines. At the airport, we get into our vehicle which will take us through the area during our trip.
When to go?
I went on 26-30 March 2019. Luckily the weather was mostly cloudy or sunny around 20 degrees; rarely had we rain. Spring and autumn are ideal times to go.
Tormaresca Wine Estate
After about 2.5 hours of travel, we arrive at the Tormaresca vineyards, our first stop on the trip. Mary Teresa, who welcomed us and showed us around, is the representative of the sweetness and warmth of the people of the region that we will meet at all our next stops.
We visit the winery of this producer dating back to the 1940s with the wonderful narratives of MaryTeresa and our guide Murat Yankı. The 26th generation of the famous wine maker Antinori family is in charge! After Toscana, the family decided to invest in Puglia and they have been working for 20 years in the region to produce quality wine. After the tour, we start wine tasting with local delicacies prepared for us.
Calafuria 2018, 100% negromare paired with delicious local snacks is our first wine. Tasting and continues on the table.
Our second wine is Pietrabianca 2017, 90% Chardonnay 10% Fiano:
One of the aspects of Puglia that impressed me the most is that they have identified the best grown products in the region, and they proudly and decisively own them and work with pleasure to get the best out of them. This is also the case with grapes and winemaking. They identified grapes which give their best in the “terroir” of Puglia and they mainly use these grapes in their wines. There is so much locality that even the two vineyards of Tormaresca in the Puglia region do not grow the same grapes, as Mary Teresa shows on the map, one on the seaside and the other on the inside.
The local dishes that come with the tasting are delicious.
We switch to red wine and taste my favorite Nero di Troia (Nero means black in Italian; so that is “Trojan Black” grape):
Our companion is a meat dish cooked in the consistency of Turkish delight 🙂
Our second red is Bocca di Lupo 2015, 100% aglianico (“Mouth of the Wolf” with free translation) :
We meet the special “Pasticciotto” dessert of the region and together with this delicacy we taste the Kaloro 2016, 100% Moscato:
We say goodbye to this wonderful winery and Mary Teresa leaving with new information and the delicious taste of the feast we just had.
We arrive at our hotel towards the evening. I say the hotel, but in reality it is a village! Borgo Egnazia was officially a historic village (Borgo means village in Italian).
This beautiful historic village has been restored and transformed into an exquisite hotel; in this way, very well preserved. A magnificent structure, a magical atmosphere, attention to detail and a great team.
In the evening we relax in this magical atmosphere and prepare for the next day.
The breakfast must be one of the best hotel breakfasts I have ever had. Ricotta cheese was my favorite among the local delicacies.
After breakfast we go to the “white city” Ostuni. We walk through the narrow cobblestone streets between the typical white houses.
You can get on these cute little vehicles in the picture to climb to the steep parts of the city.
We buy delicious “Pasticciotto” from the patisserie in the square, and share it.
Olive oil production
Our next stop is a small olive oil producer.
We listen to the adventure of the olive starting at the big scale on which olives are weighed when they first arrive, until they become olive oil.
We taste olive oil in a typical historical “Trullo” of which we will see more later.
Our next stop is Alberobello, a 15th-century town. This UNESCO heritage site is home to the so called “Trulli” houses with conical stone roofs.
Our guide tells us that the poor people living here at that time, preferred this form because it was easy to tear the house down when the state asked for taxes and re-build it again when the tax threat was over.
For our lunch. we choose a unique place just the way I like. Trattoria Terra Madre (“Terra madre” means mother earth in Italian) cooks in accordance with the philosophy of the region: They grow the most suitable produce in their own garden which you can see behind me on the photo and make a daily menu of whatever the harvest is. I choose “the daily garden menu” and enjoy eating what the earth has given that day:
Polignano a Mare
Our next stop is a seaside town built on cliffs. We visit the streets, squares and harbor.
The town, which is so beautiful in daylight, takes on another beauty in the night lights. We continue to walk around the streets not minding the rain.
Ristorante da Tuccino
For dinner, we prefer an elegant restaurant that is said to be popular among the local community.
We have a delicious dinner of fresh and high quality seafood. The service is very professional and attentive.
The dessert is nicely presented and very delicious.
After a very long day, we return to our beautiful hotel and enjoy a well deserved rest.
After breakfast, we leave the hotel for the Masseria Altemura in Salento to taste once again the Puglia wines. “Masseria” means farm in Italian.
Inside the farm there is a magnificent historical building, a church, vineyards and wine production.
We sit at the beautiful table prepared for us and do our wine tasting accompanied by local delicacies.
This is where I first meet “Taralli”. I was very happy to come across these simple but very delicious crunchy babes made with the famous flour and olive oil of the region every where we went:
After wine tasting, we set out to explore Otranto. With its marina, narrow historical streets, fortress and the walls surrounding the old city, this beautiful city earns its place in our hearts.
Next we arrive in Lecce, known as the “Florence of the South”. We visit the Santa Croce cathedral, the “Duomo” and the square.
The video below will take you to the square of Lecce:
After breakfast we set out for a “Masseria” farm in Fasano. This time it is a cheese producer; making local cheeses from the milk of their own animals. We have the chance to watch the production of the region’s famous cheeses.
Omer, who does his job skillfully and fondly, shows us the production of Mozzarella, Bocconcini and Burrata respectively.
After watching the production, we taste these delicious cheeses on the scrumptious table prepared for us in the garden.
I leave this beautiful farm taking as much cheese as I can carry. In the photograph below, you see the other special cheese of the region “Cacciocavallo” produced by wrapping the cheese in this way, and hanging it to mature. In the past, when horse riding was the means fo transportation, the cheese was hung on the saddle of the horse and matured naturally; hence the name “Cacciocavallo” (Cavallo means horse in Italian).
After visiting the cheese production and doing the tasting, we head to Basilicata, the neighboring region of Puglia, to visit Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Matera was declared a sister city of Ürgüp due to the similarity of its natural formations. Matera has almost the same architecture as Cappadocia with its houses carved into the rocks.
We walk around Sassi, the historic center of the town, which has been home to many films.
We visit the cave church “Chiesa Santa Lucia alle malve”.
We have the opportunity to see the interior of a sample house that has been arranged as it has been used by its habitants.
A number of 11 people lived in this house, consisting of one room only! The list of the family members is shown in the table on the wall:
The container that our guide is holding in his hand in the foto below was their toilet:
Our guide is a cheerful and sweet person who apparently loves his job very much. In all the people I met across Puglia; I observed the common characteristics of doing their job in the best way they can and enjoying life. They love the place they live, take good care of it, work with pleasure, and know how to relax, eat well and have fun. For example, every day all shops are closed for 2-3 hours, life stops, people go to their homes, eat properly, rest and continue the day with energy. “Slow food” is applied everywhere. The people of Puglia don’t try to manipulate the corps and do agriculture with great care for the earth.
After breakfast we say goodbye to our beautiful hotel wishing to be able to come again and head to Bari. A sunny weather and the beautiful harbor welcome us in Bari.
We visit St. Nicholas’ Cathedral, built on the bones of St. Nicholas.
Then we dive into the streets of Bari mixing with the locals and breathe the air of this beautiful old city.
We see old Italian ladies making the famous “Orecchiette” (Orecchio, in Italian means ears; the pasta is named after the small pieces looking like ears) pasta with their hands in front of their houses.
I leave Puglia with the warmth of the sun on my skin, but more than that feeling with the warmth of the people of Puglia in my heart; the lovely people of Puglia, with their respect for the land they live in, the care they take of the “terroir” and their joy of life.
With my special thanks to Lokal tours and Derya Bütün for organizing this spectacular trip with a lot of care and love!