Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lecce, Ostuni, & a fantastic day of Puglia wine tasting!

Since we were so close to the Puglia region of Italy during our trip to Matera, we decided to sign up for a day of wine tasting with a trip to Lecce. Puglia is the southeast portion of Italy, encompassing the heel of the boot. It has hundreds of miles of beaches, gorgeous hilltop villages, and cities like Lecce boasting Baroque architecture. It produces a lot of Europe's pasta, catches a majority of Italy's fish, presses most of Italy's olive oil, and produces more wine than any other Italian region. All of these reasons is why we wanted to visit Puglia. We started our day with a drive to Bari where Giovanni and Maria picked us up. They picked out two wineries south of Lecce for us to visit.

With our new friends
A great winery with delicious wine!
At the second winery.

Our guides had made a reservation for the four of us at a restaurant in Lecce that looked like the downstairs of someone's house. We felt right at home as members of the family brought out their homemade specialties; ravioli, gnocchi, eggplant... everything that came out was delicious! Afterwards, we walked around Lecce. Lecce is commonly referred to as "The Florence of the South" because of its stunning buildings using the baroque style of architecture. The monuments and churches are built with a soft limestone that reflects gold and ivory in the sun.

Basilica di Santa Croce
Basilica di Santa Croce
Piazza Sant'Oronzo
St. Oronzo, the patron of the city, watches over everything
In Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo

Arco di Triofo, The Triumphal Arch
Church of Santa Chiara

On the drive back to Bari, Giovanni and Maria insisted that we see the town of Ostuni. We had actually never heard of it, but we were excited to see a town that the locals boast about as well as tourists from around the world. Ostuni, known as the "White City" because of the white reflective houses and buildings that one can see from afar, is perched high on a hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea. One can walk the narrow streets browsing chic stores, passing fancy bars and restaurants, and listening to traditional folk music being played by the locals.

Playing some music
Ostuni Cathedral

St. Oronzo overlooking the city

Just when we thought our day was done Giovanni and Maria took us to their friend's bed and breakfast for some drinks and coffee. The Italian hospitality that we experienced on this trip was amazing.

Some people call Puglia "The New Tuscany", but we think it's simply another very real part of Italy that many people don't get a chance to visit. The landscape, the fresh and local food, the wine, and architecturally beautiful buildings make this a region that we will definitely be visiting again.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pics! Believe it or not, I have heard of the town of Bari! This place was mentioned in one my favorite movies - "The Bridges of Madison County". Meryl Streep played an Italian woman who came from the town of Bari. Every one of the places that you and Jon have visited in Italy has been absolutely amazing! Each one has been different in one way or another, but one thing that they all have in common, is that they are so beautiful! The architecture of the buildings are gorgeous and each building has it's own personality and no two are alike. I love the local people playing music on the quaint cobblestoned streets! So much to see and do in Italy!!