Puglia Italy

Puglia in the south of Italy is well worth a visit.

We have been told Puglia is the most popular summer destination for Italians with estimates of up to 60% of Italian holiday makers visiting Puglia in summer.

Trani in the north of Puglia is a wonderful town. An active fishing port and boating town with lovely clean streets and buildings.

We stayed at Mare Resort adjacent to the harbour. A small boutique hotel, with no room numbers just room names. It had a spectacular roof top bar and restaurant.

Below is the breakfast setting overlooking the harbour.

The Trani harbour and port was the centre of activity for the town and at night it would be mainly occupied by people on evening walks or dining in the many fine restaurants in the town.

We found the food in Puglia excellent. Fresh produce prepared in a simple manner. The seafood was outstanding.

 

Dinner at the marina with the local owner of a wonderful little restaurant Locanda Pesevenghi – her fresh pasta and grilled local fish were outstanding. Adding a few more kilo’s…..

One of the local delicacies is ricci di mare or sea urchins. Very popular and one of Carolyna‘s favourites

While in Trani we visited Andria, which is just a short drive inland from Trani. Luciano Matera has a restaurant and wine bar in Piazza Catuma in Andria. His restaurant, Il Turacciola, has both internal and external seating and Luciano was an extraordinary host.

We had a degustation dinner with some 15 courses sampling the various tastes of Puglia together with some fabulous local wines. We could see his restaurant was much loved in the area as evidenced by his local clientele – they were all locals and knew him very well – he greeted each and every one personally.

Luciano and Carolyn inside the restaurant

Luciano with fresh chillies from another patron of the restaurant.

And below are just 3 of the dishes we shared that night. The food was great.

All products were local, fresh and simplice!

Local version of caprese salad with proscuitto – the tomatoes were awesome!

Local cheeses including burrata (in the bowl), fresh ricotta (with the nuts on it) and mozzarella balls as well as another local cheese…..yummm

Local Pugliese dessert – best described as a fine shell of almond marzipan surrounding ricotta mixed with mascapone and other delights!

The Cathedral built in 1143

Wine stalls set up at the port for a wine tasting evening. You could purchase a wine glass and holder, which became yours, and then visit each of the different stalls for a sample (a very generous half glass we noticed) of the wines.

The port was heaving with Italians enjoying the dolce vita of a summer evening in August!

The Port of Trani became the most important port on the Adriatic in the 11th century.

Carolyna at our hotel overlooking the port.

Trani is a must see for anyone visiting Puglia!

From Trani we drove down to the bottom of the heel of Italy to “Il Convento”. Il Convento Di Santa Maria Di Constantinopoli is on the outskirts of Marittima in Puglia.

The old Convent has been restored by Lord Alistair McAlpine and his third wife into a boutique hotel.

Alistair McAlpine spent considerable time in Australia opening the Cable Beach Club in Broome and was the Treasurer of the Conservative party during Margaret Thatcher’s time.

He is a great collector and has furnished the convent with many items from his collection including art from Africa, India and Australia, books, furniture and other collectables from around the world.

The accommodation was interesting. On one hand it had the fascinating collectables throughout the property and yet it retained a basic “homely” feel. The room we had was the African room.

The strongest feature of the property was the food. Two local cooks prepared the most amazing Pugliese food. Breakfast and lunch were included in the price.

The only meal that was communal was breakfast. It included pastries, various breads, homemade jams, honey, fresh fruit and cooked eggs, bacon etc

The kitchen was open to guests 24 hours a day. Here is the fruit display that was available including peaches, apricots and figs.

Lunch was individual for couples. Here we are in the “Blue room” with the two cooks.

Part of our banquet in the “Blue room” – dishes included tomato and mozzarella with fresh basil, a plate of roasted garlic, cucumber and mint, roasted capsicums, roasted eggplant,  dried bread to be soaked in water and then covered with the wonderful array of delicacies provided – and fresh dried oregano to sprinkle on top!

Lunch was always had with a glass of local vino – this time was with a rose!

Carolyn in the “Blue room”. Just as well she was in blue!

Dinner was usually outside and again guests dined individually and were waited on individually. Here we are in the garden setting for dinner. Note the candles. They claimed to spend Euro 2,500 per month on candles alone as they are church candles with a large wick which means they stay alight in the wind!

At dinner – this was an entree of carpaccio of local swordfish.  Notice they had different tablecloths and serviettes every evening.

The convent had a delightful pool area which was fed by a subterranean supply of water – so only had a little chlorine in it.

We did enjoy swimming, reading and relaxing by the pool and with only 8 rooms in the convent there was never a lot of people around.

We also visited Otranto – it is a large town on the sea close to the Convent, and is a bustling seaside destination particularly in the summer months.

It was also an important port town particularly in trade with Greece.  You could see a lot of the Greek influences in the architecture and buildings down in the heel of Puglia.

The coastline around Puglia is spectacular. The sea is crystal clear and very popular as “the summer destination”

We stopped in Alberobello as we headed north. The countryside around Alberobello was probably the best we had seen in Puglia – not as rugged and arid but greener and with more vineyards. Alberobello is famous for its Trulli houses.

The houses are built from limestone and stacked without using mortar. The roof is a conical stone tile.

Typical Trulli house street. This area was classified as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996.

One last stop in Polignano, a beautiful seaside town on the east coast. Lunch al fresco at Chicchibio was perfect!

So ciao for now to beautiful Puglia….we will return as we have many more places to visit in Puglia.

Carolyna e Alan

The wonders of Rome Part 3- Acqueducts

 

 

 

 

Rome is endowed with a wonderful water system. In fact there are so many water outlets throughout the city that pour forth fresh cool water that it is a wonder any bottled water is sold at all. It started with Acqua Vergine. Acqua Vergine is one of several acqeducts which serve the city of Rome with pure drinking water. The name derives from its predecessor Acqua Virgo which was constructed in 19 BC.

 

 

In an effort to restore fresh water to Rome during the Renaissance, Pope Nicholas V, in 1453 renovated the main channels of the acqua virgo and added numerous secondary conduits.

 

Beginning as rainwater falling in the Alban Hills to the East of Rome, then percolating through miles of volcanic tuff, the water springs forth in marshland approximately 8 miles east of Rome.

 

 

From there the water is carried by two separate acqeducts.

 

 

One travels underground via Villa Ada, Villa Borghese, Villa Medici, Piazza Di Spagna and the Trevi fountain.

 

 

This is known as the Acqua Vergine Antica.

 

The second, Acqua Vergine Nuova branches into two channels.

 

 

One passes just behind Piazza di Spagna into Piazza del Popolo.

 

 

Here is Jacqueline refreshing her bottle for drinking this pure vergine water.

 

 

The other pases around Borghese gardens toward Piazzale Flaminio into Piazza del Popolo.

 

 

This is at the Piazza di Spagna

 

 

Today, as in days of old, the acqua vergine is regarded as furnishing the purest drinking water in Rome.

 

 

 

It is reputed for its restorative qualities.

 

 

 

Pure drinking water

 

 

Many people to this day can be seen filling water bottles at this water source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Near the Vatican

 

Near the Spanish Steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another tourist filling up

 

Ciao e baci a tutti

 

Carolyna e Alan