Ten Days in Puglia That I’ll Never Forget

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Italy, I know you well. Pretty well, that is. In all of my visits from across the pond, there was only one region that I had not yet discovered. Puglia, situated on the south-eastern tip of the Italian peninsula, right into the heel of the boot. I knew I would go one day and explore these ancient lands of olive groves and vineyards, a land steeped in history. I had developed a deep appreciation for southern Italy and I wanted to experience more of it. Puglia, in a sense, was the final frontier for me.

My opportunity came this last May when I finally made the decision, after backing out once, to fly to Venice and meet some blogger friends whom I had come to know through Twitter. Among them were Margie Miklas from Florida, and Ishita Sood who came all the way from India. Also accompanying us was Victoria DeMaio who leads 10 day group experiences in Puglia at an extremely reasonable price that is all-inclusive. I checked out her tour, Let’s Kick Up Our Heelz in Puglia! and signed on. From Venice, although Ishita would have to fly home, Margie and I would follow Victoria to Puglia.

With a firm resolve, I packed my bags and embarked on an unforgettable experience in Italy, one that I had least expected.

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Puglia is stunning. I never imagined it to be like this. The truth is, I encountered warm and authentic people, delicious yet simple food, exotic weather, and ancient history with every turn. Victoria knew several of the local residents so we were introduced and immediately pulled into a circle of friends.
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Although we stayed just outside of Lecce in Masseria Provenzani, we took day trips to beautiful white villages with charming walkways that meandered between tall buildings. A stop in Alberobello to see the trulli houses was a unique experience. We even had the opportunity to take a tour through one.
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Masseria Provenzani, (southern term for agriturismo) our lodging for ten days, was lush with climbing Jasmine and blooming Bougainvillea that covered the long pergolas, providing a soothing retreat from the sun. I loved the ease of staying in one place instead of packing my bags and moving to another place like I usually do.

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Cooking classes, taught by Mamma Giulia, were held at the masseria. We learned the art of Puglia bread making and dolci (sweet desserts). Of course, the delicious wine from the region flowed freely. We all knew that a chef is at her best accompanied by a glass of vino rosso or bianco.

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We all kicked up a lot of flour and dropped bits of dough everywhere, but we laughed hard and enjoyed the tasty outcome of our efforts.

The Puglia Wine School, operated by Michele Pasero, was a lot of fun. Showcasing the wines of the region, we enjoyed tasting the delicious varietals.

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The Puglia Wine School with Michele Pesaro, operator/owner and Yle from YLTOURS who put together the 10 day program with Victoria

We had the pleasure of spending the days with Daniela, our lovely young tour guide who shared Puglia’s history in a fascinating way. She had the ability to conjure up images of the past that kept me entranced the entire time.

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Lovely Daniela, our knowledgable tour guide

Wineries were on the agenda, much to my delight. The ambience and tasting were unforgettable.

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We toured a local olive farm and had a picnic in the orchard consisting of delicious traditional dishes of Puglia, prepared by local residents.

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There was a delectable spread of dishes that ended with a large platter of dolci, or sweets. The difficulty was choosing one or two when I wanted to taste them all.

I had never met a cartapesta (paper mache) maestro until we made a visit to Carlos shop in Lecce.

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Carlos, our cartapaesta maestro, invites us warmly into his shop

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Shops, stores, outdoor produce and fish markets, it’s all here in Puglia.

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If not for Victoria and the encouragement from my friends, I would not have discovered Puglia’s exciting and unique attributes. I am so glad the I made the decision to go to Puglia with Victoria. There is no possible way I could have become so well acquainted with this region of southern Italy on my own. To think that I almost missed going makes me literally cringe. I truly had a fabulous time, and made many new friends.

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Victoria DeMaio graciously serves a delicious lunch for the group at the masseria*IMG_1630

**

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Our last evening together at a pizzeria in Lecce

Will I return to Puglia? I’m sure I will one day. I love the south of Italy more with each new visit. It is here that I have found the heart and soul of Italy. It is warm, unique, beautiful, tasty, and the kind of place that makes me want to linger.

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42 replies

  1. Dying to go to Puglia. So near Lecce is the best base if you have a week you think?

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  2. Keep me in mind for your next travel blogger trip!!

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  3. We are going to Puglia in September of 2016. We will be celebrating our 35the Wedding Anniversary. We started our lives together in Italy. We lived in a small village for 3 years named Mercogliano. It is by Avellino. I truly enjoyed reading about your experience in the area. We are going to visit other cities in the south. We were in Positano in 2013. Do you have any suggestions? Would love to hear them! Ciao! Ciao! Gina

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    • Ciao Gina, how exciting for you to be returning to bella Italia. I have a bookful of suggestions for Puglia, but what I would do is get in tough with Yle of YLTours. They are in the Lecci. This post was based on her recommendations and she was an active part of it. pugliatravelconsultant.com If there is something specific I would be happy to advise.

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  4. Thank you for this post, Susan. My great uncle lived in Puglia, he’s now since passed away. The region is a hidden gem, and one I hope doesn’t get overrun with tourists. BTW my mum makes those almond biscuits, the one with cherry and almond flake topping 😀

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  5. Wow, incredible beautiful photos. Thank You showing them.

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  6. So pleased you finally made to this beautiful part of Italy! Next time be sure to look me up! 😉

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  7. We go to Bologna and eat at a restaurant that features cuisine from Puglia!! It really is fabulous and we look forward to when we can actually go visit the region. Lovely report on your visit.

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  8. La Puglia e piena di meraviglie! You will have to go to the Gargano as you will love it too. I know I’m biased but it’s true! Now I’m off to pack my bags as i leave tomorrow for Puglia-via Roma! Hope you get to go back soon. Ciao, Cristina

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  9. Absolutely lovely, Susan, and your words describe the experience so well. It all seemed to work out so perfectly. I loved that you shared it with us. 🙂

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    • Hi Pat! So good to hear from you. It’s my pleasure to share my travel experiences:) How have you been?

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      • Likewise, Susan. So good to hear from you too. I always enjoy your travels and the stories you tell about them. Makes those place come alive for me.

        I’m doing well — I’ve been out of touch this summer and not been on the computer much. All is good and been learning and experiencing a lot of things. Guess that’s what happens when you begin the New Year inviting the miraculous.

        Hope to put some thoughts together by end of summer. It’s hard to know where to begin. Take care and hope to talk with you again soon. Have a good summer! 🙂

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      • I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts Pat. I think time away from the ordinary daily routine can really teach us something. Enjoy your summer as well!

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      • Thanks Susan. It definitely has been different from ordinary routines. It’s been quiet with more going on than can be seen, for sure, and soul growth everywhere to be found. Hope you’re enjoying your summer too. 🙂

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      • An internal sojourn….the only way through:) Bless you, Pat

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  10. Vise puta sam bila u Puglia.Moji utisci…prelepo.Prvi put sam bila 1993,potom 2011,2013…i svaki put me odusevi i otkrije nesto novo.Ni sama ne znam koje mesto bih posebno izdvojila,a obisla sam ih puno…Gioia del Colle,Alberobello,Matera,Lokorotondo,Ostuni,Giovinaco,Taranto,Polignano,Galipoli,Otranto,Santa Maria di Leuca….i svako mesto ima svoj sarm i lepotu.Puglia ima nesto,sto na drugim mestima nema-ima dusu,omamljujuce mirise i ukuse hrane i po meni najlepse more-Jonico. Ko jednom dodje u Puglia-uvek ce se vratiti…kao i ja!
    Moje srce je u Puglia-💖💖💖
    PUGLIA IL MIO CUORE 💖💖💖

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    • Hvala vam puno za dijeljenje svoje misli o Puglia. Ja sam sretan da imate strast za ovu divnu regiju Italije. To je svakako zarobljen moje srce, i radujem se povratku. Puglia ima puno srca i duše. I ja sam, su zarobili svoje privlačnost!

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  11. Puglia has become such a popular destination, for Italians as well, that in July and August is mobbed! I have only been once and vow to return.

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  12. So glad you had such a wonderful trip!! 🙂

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  13. Susan!!! Gorgeous! I HAVE TO GET MYSELF DOWN THERE! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  14. I’m so glad you had such a lovely time. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Hugs, N 🙂 ❤

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  15. Thanks for the lovely trip to the south of Italy this morning! All looks amazing!

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  16. I really enjoyed Puglia also. I It is not as overrun with tourists which was a pleasure except for maybe Alberobello. Your photos are great and it all sounds and looks wonderful

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  17. Susanna!
    What a lovely post…I feel so very gratified that you loved Puglia and our time together…
    Grazie for sharing with your lovely photos and memories…
    Un abbraccio grande!
    Victoria

    Liked by 1 person

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  1. "Fall" for Italy with Me! | PostcardZ from Victoria
  2. Let's Go to Italy Together in 2016! | PostcardZ from Victoria

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