The Baroque city, Lecce

‘Lecce, the city is rich in art and architecture that is ever present on a wonderous stroll’

Begin your morning with an iced almond milk, as the locals do and step through the arches into the walled old town. Let your eye do the work and soak in the detail of the town and let the rustic charm do its magic. Known for its baroque style buildings, Lecce is refered to the “Florence of the south” that is the main city of the Salentine Peninsula. The limestone historic center dates back 2000 years and is a beautiful place to wander around for a few nights. I couldn’t get enough of the flower-filled balconies & the parma ham pit stops on our strolls. Just like any city in Apulia, the place is for experiencing. Thus no sightseeing guide needed, as the entire historic area is made for wandering. Lecce has a heavy aura to it; with a glimpse of Roman ruins, a 2nd century amphitheater, 22 churches with ornate baroque designs and a grand Piazza del Duomo that leads you to many beautiful little streets.

Feel the history in the walls and get lost in the narrow streets of golden sandstone. Lecce invites you to stop for many lazy lunches or a glass of wine with antipasti as the town scatters with many cozy restaurants and wine bars perfect for winding down. In the evenings, you find that Lecce is a lively town where people sit in small bars, walk around or visit the plethora of shops.

Stay in the charming hidden gem Mantateluré (Via Vittorio dei Prioli, 42), the rooms are beautiful and the terrace where we enjoyed breakfast was simply charming. The staff is so helpful in suggesting restaurants, for instance Nonna totti, that is robust and rustic just who your grandmother would cook it in Italy.

A Dreamers coastal town, Polignano a Mare

Slightly less known than its other coastline neighbours, Polignano a Mare is one of those tiny idyllic fishing villages in the heel of Italy (Apulia) that pulls you straight into holiday mode. With views like no other, the sunbleached stone buildings create a fairytale-like feeling into the city, where life seems one step more peaceful than else where. I could listen to the church bells of Chiesa Matrice every hour, sip on aperols in a cozy corner cafe on Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and get lost with the poetry left on numerous doors that capture lovers’ confessions.  However, the true beauty lays right in front of you, the panoramic view of the crystal clear waters that seamlessly mould with the rocks beneath it. The sound of the majestic waves crushing against the cliff is the best therapy, human can ask for. This town is a place for dreamers

Polignano a Mare certainly lives up to its name as it could not be anymore “at sea“, as it is perched high over a 20 metre limestone cliff that opens up to the turquoise waters of the Adriatic coast. It is another post-card perfect location where you easily get lost in the winding white-washed streets. Splashes of blue details and rusty iron balconies enchant the lanes and it is easy to see why this place is made for lazy strolls with gelato pitstops and balmy nights with no worries in the world.

The origins date back to the 4th century BC during the time of Greek settlers, but it flourished under the rule of the Romans. History has left an imprint on the walls and the rough sea has formed beautiful coves and mouldings in the rock over time. I’m sure you have come across restaurant Grotta Palazzesse (that is built into a cave) on pinterest, that attracts people from across the globe because of its unbelievable views that send chills down your spine.

I remember five years ago my hubby and I sailed past Polignano a Mare from Monopoli and the view from sea took my breath away. It looked surreal with the built-in-houses on the steep cliffs and the beach that is wrapped around the walls of the old town. The waves rocked back and forth despite it being a calm day at sea and they danced around the white town creating the most magical backdrop for the locals. It’s no wonder, this place attracts swimmers and cliff jumpers during the summer and I can see why italians have made it their secret playground for utter relaxation.

Eat: Mint is the cutest little cafe for something small to nibble on and despite its mixed reviews, restaurant Grotta Palazzesse is a must because its views. Otherwise eat in the old town, not many speak english here, which makes it all the better of a dining experience as it is not tainted by tourist demand. Order seafood, preferably sea urchins or the catch of the day, grilled and whole with a splash of lemon.

Wander: There is much to explore around here that is only a scenic car ride away. Explore Monopoli as it is right next door along with Martina Franca, Ostuni, Loccorrotondo.

Rest: We stayed in Monopoli that is only a 5 minute car ride away that is slightly larger than Polignano a Mare. It makes a great base for exploring the coast line.

Love: Order some coffee flavoured ice cream and get lost in the old town in between the crispy white walls and witness the magical clear waters. Don’t forget to look up and admire the perfect white laundry that blows in the sea breeze and smile at a local elderly that will show true warmth back at you. Shop at the cute hand-made boutiques for summer sandals and sun hats and find a boho dress that no one else will have back home!

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Getting lost in Ceglie Messapica ♥

‘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 (AlberobelloMartina FrancaLocorotondo,  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.

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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

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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?!

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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.

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Sun-baked Locorotondo.

Locorotondo, Apulia

Listed as one of the most beautiful places in Italy, Locorotondo is small and cozy with a genuine calm atmosphere to it. With all white everything, the sun-baked town fills with tightly aligned houses and grand baroque archways that form the most beautiful pathways for exploring.

The town exists between Martina Franca and Alberobello in the Valle d’Itria that is a part of the countryside that dots with the famous cone-roofed trulli houses.  All towns are worth a stop-over but by far, Alberobello is the most touristy (due to its unique trulli appearance) and Locorotondo is similar to Martina Franca that makes a great relaxing long lunch or an afternoon stroll. The name Locorotondo means “round place” that stems from the streets circular shape. The old town fills with beautifully decorated balconies that have picture-esq white laundry hanging from the windows. The harmonic whiteness of the maze-like cobblestone streets is broken by vibrant splashes of flowers that hang down beautifully for visitors to see. Locals gather together to sit and talk in the piazzas, little shops sell handcrafts, especially linen. We did a bit of linen shopping and stopped for espresso and just enjoyed Locorotondo’s natural white beauty.

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