Morning Coffee views in Matera

Matera, Sassi

Matera is a province in the region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy that is built into a rocky cave-like formation. This is the way to start the morning, overlooking the rooftops of the buildings and sipping on a cappuccino as the sun rises over the rocky outcrop.

 

Matera22 (1 of 1)

Gubbio, A Medieval Jewel in Umbria

 

sunset (1 of 1)

 

Gubbio, Umbria

Last summer, my hubby and I scrapped the surface of Gubbio as we spent the evening in the old town for a stroll and dinner. I love the medieval architecture and flock of stores and restaurants that make up the centre. With numerous “hole-in-the-wall enoteca’s“, wine and food is the heart of this town that is known for its abundance of truffles.

With centuries of history behind every corner, every cobblestone evocative street leads you to another gothic palace or church that mesmerised with its stunning preservation. Dating back to the pre-Roman times ,Gubbio is the oldest town in Umbria that is small and angular perched up on the steep slopes of Monte Ingino.

Gubbio is a real culinary treat that has great views over the Umbrian countryside and the architecture spreads of gray limestone that brings you back in time. The cuisine not only includes the intense taste of white truffle but also dishes based around pasta, meat, cheese and vegetable. We walked around the old town and saw stores for pottery, leather, iron, gold and a little bit of embroidery and is evident that the town is rich in historical and artistic heritage. The main attractions include the magnificent Palazzo dei Consoli (Consular Palace) with the most magnificent sunset,  the renaissance The Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) and the cathedral.

Restaurant tip: Officina dei Sapori (Via dei Consoli, 13, 06024 Gubbio PG, Italy)

gubbio19 (1 of 1)

gubbio12 (1 of 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

gubbio18 (1 of 1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gone for Antipasti in Monopoli

Monopoli, Italy

This coral dress happened to be one of my favourite outfits on our Apulian trip, as it blends so well into the dreamy surroundings. I mean just look at this petrol blue door!? The deep peachy red, splashes of suede and sheer details gives the dress an eye-catching silhouette and feminine vibe. As it was about to get dark, I added some funky ankle boots, a felt hat and a little purse to give it a more dressy feel. I really found it to be the perfect ensemble for antipasti. We sat at a little corner bar right by the main piazza and people watched as we indulged in some cold cuts, cheese and wine and started our wonderful evening from here…

Sleepy Bevagna.

Bevagna, the sleepy Roman-medieval village is situated next to the Teverone river that lies on flat ground, unlike most Umbrian towns that require quiet the hike to reach the centre! As we drove here from our villa through the scenic route we entered through the southern city gate passing the cute bridge that crosses over the Clitunno river.  It was as if stepping back in time into the middle ages when entering the old town. Bevagna thrives on its medieval past and we happened to stumble in on the day the town was celebrating an annual medieval-style feast called the Gaite Market. The point of it all is to display the techniques and tools used in history to show how people lived back then. You get to taste traditional food, attend craft workshops thus locals we building booths, setting tables and walking around in Robyn Hood-like costumes to showcase for a journey into the past.

As it was early morning, we stopped for a cappuccino in Piazza Silvestri that seemed to be Bevagna’s pride and joy. Ps. Bevagna takes its siesta very seriously so everything closes super early so keep that in mind if you are planning a visit. It was still quiet in the streets and stores were slowly beginning to open and the hassle was focused on the corner cafes. The espresso machine was buzzing away and locals seemed to be in a festive state of mind and you could feel the sense of the community here. I could imagine this event brings the entire town together as it seemed as if everybody was joining in. We ordered cappuccino and sat down to watch the locals traverse the square to get from one place to another. The piazza is the standing point to two dominating Romanesque churches built in the 12th century, San Silvestro made from stone and the larger  San Michele Archangelo. In the middle, there is a fountain and a civic building that seemed to gather people along with pigeons as the day prolonged.

After our delightful coffees, we took a turn to the backstreets passing the curving Vicolo del Amphiteatro and wandering through streets that had sidewalk restaurants, historic workshops, antique shops, numerous butchers, bakeries and candlestick making-shops. We noticed people lining up to a bakery and next we found ourselves in the same que. It smelled of freshly made loaf and there was a pastries display with treats like, biscotti and Sfogliatella lined up for customers to see. We noticed many locals taking these puff pastry cream horns that were coated with delicate sugar, so we decided to try one as well. They were just made, still warm with the vanilla oozing out. Before tasting it, we walked to the side street and from the corner of my eye I spotted a blush coloured wall. God bless my husband as he instantly knew what I was after. It was time for picture of the pastry with a cute blush backdrop! After a few pics, that first bite was so light and gorgeously flakey while the condensed vanilla cream hit you moments after. It was heavenly and we did not care that we had sugar all over our faces (see below) and we gobbled it up fairly quickly! It was sweet but light and no wonder everybody was lining up to buy them!

We walked around some more to get over that initial sugar rush, passing colourful cotton drapes that were hung between narrow streets. The tones matched seamlessly with my oversized positano-style shirt and white dress. The picture-esq street took us back to the piazza we came from and I was left with a charming feel of the town. There is a somewhat old-fashioned spirit here that actually, makes it rather enchanting.

 

 

Tropea’s slow beauty.

 

Tropea, famous for its cipolla rossa the much-publicized red onions that are sweet and mild enough to be turned into marmalade. You will even find that some gelateria’s turn it into ice cream that surprisingly tastes delightful! The tiny town is nestled in the most southern part of the Italian mainland located in the province of Vibo Valentina. Duly noted, the undeveloped Calabria is not for everyone and we spent years debating on whether we should explore the region. We have only scraped the surface of it all, but after a little research, I think the places to visit are Tropea, Scilla and Pizzo. Tropea is a bustling seaside town with an impressive coastline that is refered to as the Costa degli Dei or the ‘Coast of the Gods’.

Much like other old towns of Italy, the historic center is a collection of maze-like lanes and tiny piazzas, making it a cozy and idyllic place to stay for a few days. As mentioned in my last post, this is the first time my husband and I discovered Calabria even thought we have been in Apulia numerous times. Tropea is perched high on a dramatic cliff with the white sandy beaches down at its feet, where you can encounter breathtaking sunsets and views to the crystal clear turquoise Tyrrhenian sea.

As we strolled along Corso Vittorio Emmanuale that is the main street, you are greeted with dozens of gelaterias, restaurants and small shops that give the town the right amount of life. Again, we visited in October when it was still beautifully hot but less crowded making the strolls far more pleasant. We walked down tiny streets that opened up to delicious restaurants, took a stroll through the daily market and watched locals arm-in-arm spend slow afternoons exploring as we did.  As the region is famous for onions and hot peppers, there were lots of cute food and wine shops that sold spices and onion related treats. We bought different types of peperoncino and spicy tapenade to take back home with us.

 

 

With cappuccino at hand and loafers at feet, we relax over breakfast nestled high on the terrace of our hotel overlooking the narrow lanes. Steeped with history and tradition we explored the photogenic streets that aligned with palaces, churches and artisanal workshops. With that classic white fiat in the corner of the alley and cats resting in the middle of the paths, Tropea has that certain ‘La Dolce Vita’ lifestyle where life is taken at a leisurely pace. With the peppers hanging outside in the sun and locals leaning on the side of the walls, everyone seemed to enjoy relaxed long lunches and long siestas on the beach. Evenings were consumed with more food in large families and laid back strolls along the main road that all gathered for a sweet dessert and drink in the later hours as the church clock struck midnight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

The slow-chic Masseria Palombara, a hidden escape

‘A mecca of authentic beauty with a luxurious feel to it’

As the sun pushes through the turquoise door of our beautiful room, the countryside awakes to a Apulian dream. For a visual addict, this location will hit you in all the right spots with its tasteful mixture of rustic charm blended with the ideology of ecological living. Masseria Palombara is a kaleidoscope of old and new interior with immense attention to detail that is as photogenic as the lemons in Positano.

As I tiptoe out of bed from a well-rested night, the vaulted ceilings have a calming effect to the entire space. I creak the door open greeted by the brightness of the sun to see the little limes on the tree still damp from the nights mist. The low sun creates that ‘oh so desired lens flare’ as it peaks through the fig trees, prickly pears casting shadows on the white washed walls as it rises gracefully to another cloudless day. The harmonic hues of blue and green blends with whites and creams giving our room that mediterranean vibe that is taken one step further with the salt water taps that does wonders to my Scandinavian hair. The enchanting Masseria Palombara allows for its guests to disconnect from it all in the heart of the Southern Italian countryside.

‘A breakfast dressed for pinterest’

As we walk to breakfast, we are immediately greeted by the friendly staff that lead us to our table. The slow-food breakfast includes fresh fruits, home-made yogurt (that is just amazing), jams & honey and a savory treat from the kitchen that varies on a daily basis finished with a round of cakes. With eggs straight from the hen-house, ricotta pie, and a fig basil mousse spread on bruschetta (with own pressed olive oil of course), the breakfast was one of the best I’ve ever had. It doesn’t hurt when the table setting looks like it’s made for instagram with splashes of colour set on driftwood tables. In fact the plates and cups were so beautiful, Mr. N and I we drove to Grottaglie, the town where the ceramics are made and created a set for ourselves that should be arriving next week!

As you enter the white archway into a large sun-baked courtyard, you are greeted with singing birds, a spa to your left and a calming view of the grounds. The limestone walls protect the yard where cactus lined corners, cozy nooks and haybeds spread on the fields creating a tranquil adults only setting, that offers you numerous places to unwind. The mood at poolside is perfect, with jazz playing in the background and silhouettes lounging on the chairs reading their holiday novels, we sip on our glass of rosé and soak in the sun that still is so hot in late September. Tea is served in the most beautiful pots and service is immaculate straight from the start as they great you at your car when entering the premises.

‘Eco-friendly & organic’

Converted into an elegant luxurious hotel, this organic farm covers about 100 hectares, with a relaxed philosophy of slow-chic culture. Set within acres of untainted beauty, it is situated 2 km from the Medieval town of Oria. The estate surrounds with almond and olive groves and gardens that cater to the kitchen on a daily basis for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Palombara is a working farm that prides itself on being self-sustaining. Most of the food on the menu is grown here or otherwise locally sourced from nearby smaller businesses. The food is robustly chic with the right amount of authenticity allowing the flavours to speak for themselves. This gem was set up by the very humble Angelo and Fabiola that make the place feel personal throughout the stay. They epitomise everything that a host should be and the presence contributes to that wonderful homely feel. The service throughout was top-level and Palombara offers value for money in every single aspect, creating that luxurious getaway retreat.

‘Nearby towns’

There is vast opportunity to explore cute nearby towns via car that are a must! This time, Mr. N and I decided to visit Martina Franca, Locorotondo and Grottaglie that are all in decent driving range from the masseria. All towns are worth visiting to soak up the beautiful white streets of the old towns that are more picture-esq than the next. Oria is also very close and one night decided to eat dinner there in a great fish restaurant. However, I do recommend to eat dinner at the masseria as the experience is fabulous. All the lit candles and soft music echoing from the arched walls add that ambiance on top of a delicious dinner.

As I took of my suede peacock slippers and dipped my toes into the pool, I collapsed onto the lounger, sipped on some green tea and got lost in the pages of my book. With palm trees casting shadows in the backdrop and green vases lining the white sunbeds, Mr. N and I embraced the chic poolside in pure relaxation. I love how accidentally the tea set matched my book and kaftan in the opal green tones… just heavenly and can’t wait to go back next year!

 

 

Read more here: Masseria Palombara
In collaboration with Masseria Palombara *

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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.

loc. streets12 (1 of 1)

loc. streets15 (1 of 1)

Save

Graceful Martin Franca

Martina Franca, where Baroque style meets whitewashed beauty

Despite our numerous holidays in Apulia, we never crossed paths with Martina Franca even though we drove past it a fair share of times. Locorotondo and Alberobello are fairly close as well, that are definitely worth the visit if you are in the region for longer. As you enter the old quarter of the town the ‘jewel’ of it, the picturesque white winding alleys lead you to the stunning Piazza Plebiscito that showcases The Basilica di San Martino that is a grand 18th century church. As we stopped for an espresso, I was taken back by the undenying charm the town had to offer. The limestone façade and baroque curls and the incredibly photogenic details kept my eyes on the constant go. The draping vine leaves and romantic geranium lined iron balconies cover the grand rococo style buildings give Martina Franca that unique characteristic.

Lavish archways and buildings are compressed together forming the oldest part of town called Lama. Here the narrow lanes guide you through its whitewashed simplicity and many of the palaces have been restored to their former beauty, while others have gracefully become shabby with age. Shades of light pink and blues surprise you around the corner and instantly you are drawn in by the whimsical ornate decorative light stone buildings. We arrived just at siesta time when much of the town was quiet and took advantage of getting lost in the calm streets. Next time, it would be great to have lunch here as many of the restaurants looked super cute. However, we did stop at the cutest ice cream shop in the centre of the old town that with all honesty has been one of the best ice-creams I’ve tasted in a while. It was a beautiful light blush colour made from fresh ginger and lemon and had a real kick to it. Not only did the gelato match my purse and blazer, it also blended perfectly with many of the cute doors we strolled by.

Martina Franca is built on a hill in the green Valle d’Itria that is the trulli area of Puglia and makes a fabulous day trip if you are getting lost in the region!

 

Save

Save

A fairytale bridge?

‘The prettiest bridge from a fairytale’

This hilltop town makes up from a collage of soft-stone houses that looks like it belongs in a harry potter scene. There is a fairytale-like vibe here, where the steep climb through the wiggly roads brings you through to the medieval culture-filled backstreets. Todi’s history shows on the interior walls to have Etruscan and Umbrian influence, while the middle walls are a great example of the Roman era. The town overlooks the beautiful Tevere valley that blossom with wildflowers and is located close to Orvieto, which is also a town worth visiting.

We climbed up the main road and entered through the large gate and stopped for some cappuccino in the small piazza. Ps. If you have a baby pram, you get a free workout pushing it up the hill as my brother and sister-in-law did! The town was extremely peaceful, with an occasional elderly sitting on some steps and watching the people stroll by. Why is it that coffee tastes so much better under an Italian white umbrella? As we climbed higher, I found the prettiest little bridge that had the most magnificent views. Not only was it the perfect photo spot, but I met a lovely friendly granny that lived right above the bridge. Look how she poses to the camera? The view was narrow with a deep drop as my eye moved from side to side picking up all the interesting little details of the street. Dressed in a blue and white striped dress, we explored the little roads and walked up to the main church. We also did a bit of shopping in a small farmers market that was set out on the outskirts of the town. We bought some zucchini flowers, anchovy filets and some vegetables to be used later for lunch back at the villa.

Todi, you were worth the visit! 

 

 

Save

Save

The land of Narni

Narni, Umbria

The tiny town of Narni surrounds with piazzas, fortresses and churches that attracts locals for its medieval appearance. Author CS Lewis was inspired by the name of the town using it in his novel as the fictional magical kingdom of Narnia. Some people say that he was inspired by the towns magical presence but others say the name was chosen by random and never set foot in the place. Nevertheless, it certainly sparked interest for Narni and today it is often refered as the heart of Italy as it is geographically the closest town to the center of Italy.

Like most of the charming little towns in Umbria, Narni has striking stone buildings that and narrow cobblestone streets that make up the old town. We came into town for lunch and some gelato and walked around the lovely cooling streets on a seriously hot day! The town is famous for its large Roman bridges but what I found most beautiful was the arched allies, old fiats in the corner of the streets, the colourful flowers and old fountains. To be honest, it is not my favourite town out of Umbria but this could be as I have only scratched the surface of it, but I would say its worth the visit if you are close by. I have to say my favourite towns in Umbria are Spello, Montefalco, Asissi and Gubbio.

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save