To finish up the Italy series, here's a summary of favorite stops from this trip. It's never an authoritative list, because we can never make it to all of the places we want, but it sums up the highlights. Can't wait to go back and find more favorites!
You can also take a look at my Foursquare lists for Puglia and Basilicata (Matera) and Rome. Some places on the lists I've been to, some places I've bookmarked for next time. I love using Foursquare for travel. I don't check in places or really engage in the social aspect, but it's a great organizational tool. I use it frequently to bookmark places. Sometimes I hear about a spot in a city that I don't know when I'll visit next, so instead of having to remember a year later "Were there any restaurants I wanted to try in Paris?' I can have it already bookmarked on a list as a reminder for a future trip. I like to leave a little tip or reminder about what was good about a place after visiting, which is similar to keeping a travel journal but it's all in one place and can be referenced at any time, from anywhere. Also, favorite feature here, if you're in a neighborhood and want to know what's nearby you can open a list in map view and it'll show you things you've bookmarked and where they are in relation to you. I realize so often that things are nearby that I otherwise would have missed or forgotten about. Not a sponsored post by the way! I just think it's a neat way to organize info for a trip. I'm one of those travel nutsos that likes to be super efficient and get the most out of my trips. I don't like to have a rigid itinerary, I still like to let discovery and spontaneity lead, but I'll pin point a bunch of places I'd like to visit in an area and then go wander that way. My husband is the same way. We never relax on vacation. Way too jazzed to go do stuff. Ha.
Click through to see the list!
If you want to A- Be lazy and B- Be surrounded by extensive natural beauty but C- Not go to Cancun or some weird resort, then you might like it here. Close to the sea and beach, in the midst of olive groves, this small hotel is the perfect place to spend a morning reading a book on the private patio off your room, after having a delightful breakfast of local breads, fruit, cheeses, yogurt, granolas, and if you like, even eggs from the chickens out back. You can drift into Ostuni for some lunch or dinner and in the evening cozy up to a bottle of wine in front of your room's fireplace.
CASTROMEDIANO FLEA MARKET
I would (and probably will) go back to Puglia just to go to this Flea again. It's not that it's the largest or most attractive, but it was authentic and full of great, old junk. South of Lecce, on the outskirts of town right by a roundabout.
GROTTE DI CASTELLANA
Woah. Looks like Fraggle Rock in there. Nature is crazy and very cool.
TRATTORIA LE ZIE
Old school, homey restaurant in Lecce cooking food the way your Grandma did. We could only eat so much (which makes me sad) so only ordered the braised lamb and potatoes and the baked cardoons and potatoes which both blew my mind. This isn't fancy cooking, this is soulful, listening-to-the-seasons, honoring-the-produce kind of cooking. Wish we could have ordered the whole menu! When I finally make it back to that Castromediano Flea I will certainly be eating here again. Make a reservation!
Order at the deli counter and then walk around to the dining room to get a table, take a peek at the oven system on your way. The bombettes were my favorites hands down, steak and sausages were good, but get easily overcooked, but those thin, stuffed, meat roll ups covered in bread crumbs hit the spot. Add a potato, a green salad, and a liter of house wine and you're still getting out of there for cheap.
Polignano a Mare seems to be where the cool kids take summer vacays, but we only spent a day there. Whoops. At least we got to go to this hip seafood joint, eat all of the delicious sea creatures and drink some fun bubbly pink wine. The crudos are great for balancing out the fried stuff.
LE GROTTE DELLA CIVITA
This hotel falls squarely into the camp of rustic, understated elegance. Cavernous rooms, where whole families and their barn animals once lived, are now repurposed as luxury hotel accommodations offering fancy, modern bathtubs (no showers), locally made candles sprinkled around the rooms at night, huge beds with lovely sheets, a seriously delicious, local, and very impressive breakfast buffet, and a fascinating perspective on Matera's history.
This contemporary sculpture museum has interesting pieces of art AND the actual space is a beautiful old palace build out from caves. Double whammy.
Cute place for an aperitivo and snacks. The fried crusco peppers are a local thing and so fun, crispy like potato chips and not spicy.
Panzerotto! How I love thee... Like a fried calzone, but somehow not super heavy and greasy. The dough is thick and puffy and delicious and sauce and cheese and yes. The spicy one was spicy! Great cheap, casual dinner item.
PORTA PORTESE FLEA MARKET
The vintage homewares section wasn't as big as I would have liked (I always want more!), and it wasn't always cheap, but there were definitely still some deals and I found some really great stuff.
Beautiful store filled with interesting and elegant things, but I had seen too many of them before! Also, many of them were Portuguese or French, not Italian. I'd love to find a store with this much vision and class, but filled with Italian things. I do still recommend visiting. It's the cutest store that I found in Rome.
ANTICO FORNO ROSCIOLI
Yes, pastries galore, but the winner in my book was the pizza by the meter. We had it for breakfast one day with cappuccinos. Win.
Lasagna! Suckling pig! Couldn't possibly have eaten any more (though maybe we did have some antipasti too...) but wish I could try it all! Next time lamb for sure.
The pistachio here tasted like toasted nuts, SO delicious! Not like most, that just taste like extract. The pomegranate and melon were also great and they offer to top your cone with whipped cream if you'd like. The actual space is totally gorgeous too, in that old world European kinda way.
Pictures are of: Pescaria in Polignano a Mare and the River in Rome.