My latest travel adventures took me to Puglia, a region in Southern Italy with overwhelming beauty.
Coming here is the ultimate escape from the tourist masses. The whole of Puglia is incredibly laid back, where time gratefully slows down and you can instantly feel your body relax.
But to be honest, if there’s one reason to come here, it would simply be for the food. As a person who travels mostly for the food, I would come back here time and time again. I won’t give it all away just yet, as I have a list of restaurants as long as my arm to share with you all very soon!
I’ll begin with my first and top favourite destination of the trip – Monopoli.
The little picturesque town is about 30km south of Bari (where we flew in to), boasting a stunning old town centre, gorgeous beach and sea-front promenade.
With every turn, each building is bursting with colour. Bright blues, vibrant greens..
..and striking reds. I completely fell in love with this quaint and perfectly-manicured little house. Talk about colour coordination!
During our few days here, the lack of crowds and laid-back lifestyle felt wonderfully refreshing. I’m pretty sure we were the only non-Italian tourists there at the time.
We stayed in a wonderful Airbnb. Tucked down a quiet cobbled street, the apartment’s unassuming entrance looked like the opening to the streets air vent! It was brilliantly hidden, and only moments away from dazzling blue ocean.
Almost as soon as we checked in, we immediately set off again for our first taste of Puglian cuisine.
We decided on a restaurant called Osteria Perricci, a popular spot for hearty home-cooked, unpretentious seafood. It was recommended to us by a friend, and it did not disappoint!
The minute I sat in my chair, a plate of fresh bruschetta and olives were slapped on the table in front of me at lightning speed. Exactly how I like to be greeted.
Now even the tomatoes are worth talking about in Puglia. They are honestly out of this world. The sweetest, most delicious tomatoes I’ve ever eaten.
It was after this meal that I realised in Puglia, any standard meal is a full-blown, multi-course affair. Always eaten slowly and enjoyed fully.
It begins with Antipasti (small appetisers), Primi Piatti (a bowl of pasta), Secondi Piatti (generally meat or fish), Contorno (vegetables or salad side dish), Dolce (dessert, if you can manage).
Every single meal we had began with a basket of bread and jug of wine. A life I could seriously get used to. When in
Rome Puglia eh!
We began with Spaghetti allo scoglia – spaghetti with octopus, shrimps and squid.
And Orecchiette all barese – orecchiette pasta with meat sauce.
Big, comforting bowls of warm pasta smothered in freshly grated parmesan. A total dream.
This was followed by a healthy portion of Gamberni alla griglia (grilled prawns) for the Secondi Piatti and a green salad thrown in for good measure.No meal is complete without a large shot of Limoncello liquor to wash down your meal (apparently). Nothing like an eye-popping kick of citrus to jolt you out of your sluggish, satiated state.
Large grins spread across our faces when the bill arrived – our lunch feast came to a grand total of 30 euros.
We walked off our meal by exploring the old town’s cathedral and admiring the loveliest houses hidden down narrow, cobbled streets.
To complete a wonderful first day, we found a warm rock right next to the ocean to sleep off our meal, before getting ready to head to Don Ferrante for sun-downers.
The terrace restaurant here is absolutely stunning. Definitely worth a visit, even if it’s just for their fantastic cocktails and complimentary bar snacks. The classy exterior compliments the all-white terrace perfectly.
They also have several boutique rooms that you can book, which I’m sure would make a very decadent home away from home. Just take a look at the pool setting! Monopoli gave me a pretty special introduction to Southern Italy. I can’t wait to show you what the rest of Puglia has to offer. Stay tuned!