‘Welcome to the cute little, less known town of Ceglie Messapica’
The drive to Ceglie Messapica through the Itria Valley countryside is enough to win your heart if you are new to Apulia. With scattered cone-shaped trulli, farms and century old forests of olive trees lead you to quiet little roads that are marvellous to drive through. This area is characterised by historic towns (Alberobello, Martina Franca, Locorotondo, Cisternino, Ostuni) that are all worth visiting, charming villages, wooded slopes, vineyards and mile after mile of lush beauty. Being the epitome of slow lifestyle, pumpkin covered gardens pass us along the drive, while shepherds stroll along the hay fields with their sheep and chickens roam freely in backyards. The pot-hole and ravine filled landscape surrounds with streams and natural caves that rests between the Ionian and Adriatic seas.
The drive passes quickly with such beautiful scenery. As we scribble along the country roads in the province of Brindisi with our blue fiat 500 (that we named riccio di mare as it looked like a little sea urchin), we reach our hilltop destination of Ceglie Messapica when the Ducal Castle dominates the skyline. The town has a slight Moorish style to it that dates back to the 15th century making it one of the oldest towns in Puglia. The whitewashed light shines from the old town and immediately I’m taken back by the beauty of the well-preserved historic surroundings. At this point, iphone with instagram rests in one hand and my camera dangles from my shoulder as we are ready to enter the dreamlike town.
With pots of flowers and vines hanging from the tattered baroque balconies, snaking passageways guide us from piazza to ancient churches to the 14th-century Piazza Vecchia. We witnessed a beautiful wedding in one of the smaller churches and the sound of the bells echo along the narrow lanes bouncing from side to side. I could get lost in these alluring streets for hours, with faint pink and smoke blue doors embellishing the limestone walls with iron balconies just above your heads with something green, always hanging down.
The cracked walls and chipped paint from windows and doors are outrageously beautiful, just like in all Apulian old towns. You know when the location is photogenic is when the hanging laundry matches the buildings facade. I could spin along these idyllic streets a little longer, just to get lost in the old beauty…
Not knowing much about Ceglie Messapica, we were however drawn to the food culture, with its supposedly great restaurants that are regularly visited by food critics. After scrolling through pinterest/Michelin guide and seeing a review in the Cucina Italiana magazine we decided to book a table at Cibus restaurant for lunch. Greeted by yellow and red vine tomatoes that hung on the wall for the winter and salami and capocollo are cured above dining tables, Cibus was an amazing dining experience! The chef believes that through food the soul of the region is discovered. We ordered way more than we could eat, from all kinds of antipasti to lamb, roasted rabbit and local sausages.We loved the atmosphere, the philosophy behind the food, the dining experience and left well satisfied ♥
The hospitality in Ceglie Messapica speaks for itself and the less-crowded town compared to its fellow neighbours is equally as charming. It makes the perfect place for a relaxing stroll where you easily lose yourself in the white spiral lanes. This should be followed by a long lunch and drinks in one of its many great tavernas.
Cibus restaurant: Via Chianche di Scarano, 7, 72013 Ceglie Messapica BR
Here you can see the roasted rabbit dish and on the right behind the table is a nut cabinet! How cute is that?!
Prior to lunch, we sat down in a whimsical cafe/bar for a glass of prosecco that was hidden between white curtains overlooking the whitewashed facade of the old buildings. The gentle breeze blew against the curtains and a chow-chow kept eye contact with us, that was resting on the balcony.