Well, If you haven’t guessed, it’s definitely wedding season over here, 2 weeks one of my bestest friends got married to the man of her dreams… My instagram account is starting to resemble a wedding business! So whilst love is in the air, and I have a rare bit of time off I’d like to get back to our Italian love affair (my one this time).
I adore Italy, I have already been to Milan, Rome and Verona, and still want to see more. Obviously the food speaks to me, the way they enjoy food and the social side of food, good, indulgent, healthy, simple… Mmmmm…. But also the ambience and culture, The slightly run down-ness, the colours of the buildings, the architecture… oosssh, I love it all!
I had never traveled to the southern, more rustic part of Italy before and it lived up to every expectation that I had… Our home for the vacation set the tone; laid-back, rustic, real…. no fancy stuff or mod cons (hot water was even a bit of a luxury)
On our first night, after checking into our fabulous Air BnB (You can read about it here) we took a stroll around Spongano. It’s beautiful, sleepy little village centered around a square with a church, a restaurant, a bar and a couple of shops and thats it… the next village, and the one after that was pretty much the same.
We ventured into the only restaurant Spongano played host to, a charming little family run place called ‘Picalo’, we struck lucky in that they were launching a new menu that night, so as long as we didn’t mind sampling their new menu then we could eat. Of course, we said no problemo and went on to enjoy a lovely evening of mixed antipasti, a pasta course of local semolina pasta with incredible tomato sauce, then some sweet treats and a few bottles of homemade lemoncello (and that’s a whole other story).
The next day, after a house breakfast in the courtyard (a ritual I still miss) we hopped in our hire car and headed to the beautiful coastal town of Castro. Our trip coincided with the annual water bike championship, so with the sounds of jetskies in the air we strolled around the marina and enjoyed the views with a cliff top pizzeria.
In the eve we all doned our gladrags and headed to the soon to be Mr & Mrs Hunter-Felton villa for a few cocktails and our first experience of Italian hospitality, the drinks flowed freely and platter upon platter of incredible food came from the big mumma Italian kitchen. The cocktail party was lovely, a beautiful way of getting to know the rest of the wedding crowd before the big day. Adding to our bloggers holiday, I had the pleasure of meeting the charming Emilie from ‘Stella and the Stars’ (a fabulous interior style blog for those not in the know) and her beautiful daughter Stella, who was everyones best friend by the end of the holiday!
Then of course, the big day happened… which I’ve already gushed over.
On the Saturday morning, after a house breakfast courtesy of Beth (I definitely recommend travelling with a food blogger) the whole household headed to the big pink house for an all day pool party.
The Italian hospitality continued this time with the help of an outdoor pizza oven. The day was spent in glorious sunshine, surrounded by beautiful friends and newly weds, with great food and delicious drinks and a few dive bombs for good measure.
Sunday was a fun-day… this time we checked out Otranto, a nearby village…. the greying clouds were ominous when we arrived, and half way up a stack of steps leading to a fort, after the loudest clap of thunder I have ever heard, the heavens opened and we spent a funny 5 minutes taking shelter from the almighty rain that turned the steps into a waterfall…. A slight ease up in rain and we took our chances and legged it to a nearby restaurant (Il Castello), luckily, this restaurant had cover and good food.
By the time we’d finished up, the clouds were gone and the sun was back where it belonged… we strolled down the pretty little streets until we found the sea, a gelato bar and the most amazing antiques market. (yes unpractical gifts were purchased… Kelly definitely won thought with a wooden keg and glasses!)
We rounded up the day with a drink in a harbourside bar (very modern/chic….not really our thing) before heading back to to the car and returning to the villa. A catnap and a change of clothes later we headed out to a nearby village for (I quote) the best pasta in the region…. The restaurant was called Trattoria Iolanda in the village of Lucugnano and the pasta was mighty fine. I rewarded my taste buds with a change from the usual tomato sauce and had an incredible chickpea and ‘noodles’ in broth, it was incredible!! I also sampled some horse-meat (a local delicacy) and it was scrumptious! We returned home happy and full and has a good nights sleep!
Finally Monday was here and our Italian adventure nearly at an end… Once the villa was tidied, the final breakfast enjoyed, our bags packed, we bid our Italian home a goodbye and enjoyed a leisurely roadtrip back to the airport with regular stops along the way…. First port of call was Lecce, A bit too ‘big city’ for me, but our next stop ‘Polignano A Mare’ was just beautiful. After a bit of a hunt for lunch, we had a speedy pizza lunch and dipped our toes in the Mediterranean sea at the prettiest little beach cove you ever did see!
Then it was back in the car, back to Bari airport and home for 2 sleepy travellers.
Italy, we love you and we will be back! x