As you would have gathered by now, my summer is being spent mainly in southern Italy. A tris of the southern regions of Puglia, Calabria and Sicily.
We are two thirds of the way through having just spent four amazing days in Vieste, Puglia and five in Tropea, Calabria.
I first visited the beautifully diverse region of Puglia two years ago. That time I explored the southern part, namely the Salento area and in particular the breathtaking town of Gallipoli.
In researching places for this years itinerary we decided on the northern part of the region and chose Vieste as a perfect base for exploring the beaches of the Gargano peninsula and the Tremiti Islands.
You might of guessed by now that I am a (proud) Italophile and the more I travel around the world, the more Italy as a perfect holiday destination impresses and surprises me.
There’s just something for everyone here, be it cities with art, history and architecture, lakes, mountains, beach, agritourism or islands..
In this case, I had not ever heard about the Tremiti islands and archipelago until about a year ago, yet Italians have clearly held this magical and unspoilt part of the world under wraps for years!
We arrived to Vieste after having spent some time with family in Abruzzo via a four hour bus ride from Pescara.
It impressed us by the get go and that was only after seeing the port and walking down the main corso (street)!
Walking through the old walls into the historical centre and we were just about mesmerised… We became immersed in tiny lane ways and white washed buildings in beautiful baroque style.
The old town is full of bars, restaurants and shops – some real touristy but a large selection of artisan produce from jewellery and crafts to locally made fruit flavored liqueurs similar to Limoncello. My favourite was the cantaloupe http://www.ciprobuyonline.org (melon) flavour.
Food store owners were only too happy to have you sample their ware from these liqueurs to their Caciocavallo – a stretched curd cheese made from cow or sheep milk – which is a staple on every restaurant menu in the town.
On the coast, seafood was obviously the plate of choice but we also feasted on another pugliese specialty – orecchiette pasta (ear shaped pasta) served either with tomato, basil and cacioricotta or cime di rape (broccoli raab).
And for dessert we had the most fantastic cornetti (Italian croissant) filled on the spot for you with fresh custard.
While all the food we ate was pretty great, my recommendation for a great meal is Osteria Padre Pio. We feasted on these delicious orrechiette, local cheeses and salumi.
One of my favourite experiences in Puglia was of course visiting the Tremiti Islands. We spent the day cruising around the spectacular turquoise waters of the islands and then swam at the spiagetta at San Nicola.
San Nicola and San Domino are the biggest islands in the archipelago while the other smaller 3 islands are uninhabited. From Vieste we got the daily ferry over (departs at 08:45 and returns at 19:00 and the trip time is 2 hours) and then did an archipelago island tour to orientate ourselves on arrival.
We stayed at the Vieste Palace Hotel and it should become your hotel of choice if you travel to Vieste. They offered a free shuttle service to beach daily (including beach beds and umbrellas) and were only to happy to accommodate our needs.
My second time in Puglia and I’m still left wanting for more. There is still so much to discover so I will have to make another trip as soon as possible!
Signing off from south Italy (but back in Rome soon)