Our Epic Adventure In Puglia ~ Days Four to Six
This is the second installment of my four part journal sharing our amazing adventure in Puglia created for us by the talented folks at Southern Visions Travel. What started out as a mere cycling trip through Puglia ended up as an epic adventure for both cyclists and non-riders like myself. The plan was to meet in Bari, ride around the tip of Puglia, breeze through Matera in Basilicata, ride through Abruzzo, Le Marche, and finally, end up at our home in Umbria.
Day Four ~ Otranto to Gallipoli
We awoke to a bright sunny day, and after a quick breakfast, the cyclists took off to cycle the “Finibus Terrae,” or the southern tip of Puglia, Santa Maria di Leuca. This point is where the Adriatic Sea meets the Ionian Sea, and although you cannot see it, it is a very cool place to visit.
The ladies were met by Sabrina, our guide for the day, who with her husband driving took us to the ancient winery of Castel di Salve. We were led through a number of small towns, with many twists and turns, and apart from being lost once when a large truck divided the cars, we finally all made it to the winery intact. When we asked if there wasn’t a more direct route from our hotel to the winery, Sabrina reassured us that the only other route there would have been much longer. We first took a tour of the cantina, and were given a synopsis of the cantina’s history which was a very long one. We learned that Castel di Salve cantina was first established in 1885, and the cantina we saw on our tour was brought back to life in 1992. After our guided tour of the cantina, we headed into the wine tasting room to taste their wines. Since it was before eleven in the morning and we still had a lot of driving to do that day, we made the decision to taste just two wines, the rose and the white. I, in fact, liked the rose so much, I ordered a case shipped to our place in Umbria.
Soon after our wine tasting, we all got back into our cars and followed Sabrina and her husband to Masseria Le Stanzie for lunch. Le Stanza is situated outside of Supersano and sits on a gorgeous piece of property, and Le Stanza grows almost everything they serve in their restaurant right there on their farm. We had a tour of the building including the ancient olive oil mill and learned that some of the original rooms date back to the early 900’s. Throughout the years, more rooms were added, creating the huge building they now own. We tasted the cheese that they made on the property along with their cured salami. We then were given black chickpeas that they cooked in a big terracotta pot in the fireplace along with some pancetta. Delicious! I have to make these at home in Umbria. We were then seated in our private room with Sabrina and her husband, and more plates of food began to arrive. We tasted plate after plate of vegetable-based appetizers before two heaping platters of pasta were served. The food was so delicious that despite the fact we were all full to bursting, we kept eating. We turned down the second course of meat and moved right into dessert which was thankfully light. We had told Sabrina about our travels through Puglia and getting lost despite our GPS, and I think they felt sorry for us because they led us almost right to our next destination for the night which was Relais Corte Palmieri in Gallipoli.
The evening’s plans were changed because rain was expected the following day when we had a boat tour of Gallipoli planned, so after checking into the hotel, we all met in the hotel lobby before heading to the yacht club to board our private boat. We were taken all around the coast and watched the sunset while sipping Prosecco and nibbling on what Antonello Losito (our host) called aperitivo, or what I call a full meal of tasty tidbits that we nibbled on while we enjoyed our time together on the water.
Gallipoli, or “beautiful city” is situated on the west Ionian coast of Puglia’s Salento peninsula. The old town where our hotel for two nights was located, sits on a tiny island connected to the mainland by a 17th-century bridge. The old town is surrounded by defensive walls, and there is a fortress dating back to the 13th century which sits on the east side. One of our favorite activities when visiting Gallipoli is to be at the docks when the fishermen bring in their catch late afternoon. The locals bargain for the fish and a lively discussion back and forth takes place before the sale finally is completed. If visiting Puglia, I highly recommend that you include Gallipoli into your itinerary! Corte Palmieri is a unique small hotel, and each room is very different. Since you cannot drive onto the island, you park at the harbor, then call the hotel to come pick up your luggage. The hotel also has a lovely rooftop terrace where they serve breakfast on beautiful days.
Castel di Salve Cantina
Via Salvwmini 32,
Tricase, LE, 73039
+39 0833 771041
Masseria Le Stanze
Strada Provinciale 362, KM 32.9,
+39 0833 632438
Relais Corte Palmieri
Corte Palmieri, 3, 73014 Gallipoli LE
+39 0833 266814
Day Four Photos
Castel di Salve Cantina
Castel di Salve Wines
Serving Up Black Chickpeas Cooked In The Fire At Le Stanzie
The Cheese Aging Room in Le Stanzie – The Fresh Herbs Under The Cheese Are Changed Often
Making Homemade Orecchiette For Our Lunch At Le Stanzie
Fishing Boat Coming Into The Harbor in Gallipoli
Gallipoli As Seen From Our Boat
Day Five ~ Lecce
Today the weather finally turned against us as we woke up to a chilly and rainy day. Luckily it was a day off for the cyclists, and the whole group of fourteen met in the harbor parking lot to begin the day’s activities. We met Giuseppe, the guide who would take us on this day’s adventure and become one of our favorite guides of the trip, for the first time that day. After dividing up the group into the van and two cars, we first made our way to Galatina, and the beautiful Basilica di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria. The church dates back to the 14th-century, and its interior is covered in gorgeous frescoes. The Basilica was built by the Franciscans and has a mix of architectural styles, including Romanesque to Gothic, Norman to Byzantine. Before boarding our rides to head to Lecce, Giuseppe gifted us with a tray of cookies from his hometown of Francavilla which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
After parking in Lecce, we made our way to the historical center, admiring the Baroque architecture found throughout the city. We made our way to Piazza Duomo, and after visiting Lecce’s most important cathedral, I think we all found it gaudy in comparison to Galatina’s Basilica. Giuseppe then took us to a famous paper mache store, where the ancient craft of making figurines out of paper still continues today. The owner described to us the many steps taken to create each character, and we all walked around the store admiring the intricate craft. By this time it was time for lunch, and we headed to Trattoria Le Zie, a tiny restaurant where you have to ring the bell to enter. Once inside you do in fact feel like you are entering the home of your Aunts (Zie) with its patterned cement floors. The menu is real “cucina povera”, and we feasted on an endless offering of vegetable appetizers followed by plates of “fave e chicoria”. This is one of my favorite Pugliese peasant dishes, consisting of a bed of pureed dried fava beans topped with sautéed chicory. We ended our meal with a delicious slice of Pasticciotto, a traditional dessert of Puglia said to have originated in Lecce. Although the recipes may vary, the pastry is filled with either a sweet ricotta cheese or egg custard. Apparently, the folks of Lecce take their pasticioto very seriously because when we stopped off at a local gelateria/pasticceria famous for its gelato on our way back to the cars, the owner demanded that we all tasted her pasticiotto, since she uses what she explained was the “true”, original recipe!
The sun finally came out later that afternoon, and my husband and I took a stroll through town before stopping for an aperitivo with friends before dinner. Like all southern Italian cities, Gallipoli was just beginning to come to life late afternoon when folks come out to shop or take their children for a walk before starting dinner. Later that day, we met everyone in the group in the hotel lobby and walked over to Il Pettolino, a relatively new seafood restaurant located in the old town. We once again feasted on the freshest of seafood before heading back to Corte Palmieri for a much-needed sleep. It was a long but very satisfying day with the whole group together for the first time.
Trattoria Le Zie
Via Archimede Costadura, 19,
73100 Lecce LE
+39 0832 245178
Riviera Nazario Sauro 57,
73014, Gallipoli, Italia
+39 366 335 1909
Day Five Photos
Basilica in Galatina
Giuseppe, Our Favorite Guide Offering A Snack Of Cookies From Francavilla
The Gates At Lecce
Rainy Walking Street in Lecce
Baroque Architexture On A Palace In Lecce
Inside Lecce’s Duomo
Ornate Alter Inside The Duomo – Lecce
Paper Mache Factory
Intricate Figurines Made From Paper Mache
Roman Amplitheater in Lecce
Fishing Boats Coming Into Harbor With Their Catch For Sale
One Boat’s Catch Of The Day
Harbor in Gallipoli
Harbor in Gallipoli
Day Six ~ Gallipoli to Toricella
The riders were off for another day on the roads right after breakfast, but the ladies or non-riders had the morning off. We were all to meet at Li Lively winery for a tour and lunch later, but we had a few hours in the morning to ourselves. Antonello, our host, and owner of Souther Visions Travel, suggested that we head to the town of Maglie first before lunch. He thought we might be interested in visiting both the artisan chocolate and leather tanning factories. I had visited Maglie in the past however, and I knew that the town had some great shopping. Since it had been days since we had time to shop, I knew that the ladies would prefer the shops over factory tours. That proved accurate when we arrived and parked in Maglie because they were off and running. Having fallen into the job as head navigator, I had already calculated how much time we had in Maglie before getting on the road again for our lunch appointment. After spending over thirty minutes in the first store we visited, I knew I was in trouble. The ladies were busy running from shop to shop, and even suggested that we skip the winery altogether and just keep shopping. It was truly like trying to herd cats, and I finally had to call Antonello to tell him that we would be late for the tour but would in fact be there in time for lunch. It wasn’t easy, but we made it just in time!
Masseria Li Veli is located on an ancient Messapian site with fertile soil and sunny Salento plain, just perfect for creating great wines. The winery dates back to 1858, and after being taken over by the Falvo family in 1999, it has become one of Puglia’s finest cantinas. The winery does not have a restaurant but the owners were gracious enough to prepare an excellent lunch for us prepared by local ladies that was paired perfectly with the Li Veli wines. It was a wonderful leisurely lunch shared with the Li Veli owner, and of course, I had to buy some more delicious wines from Puglia to ship home to Umbria.
After our relaxing lunch at Li Veli, we were off to find our next stop for the night which was Masseria Le Fabriche, just outside of Toricella. We seemed to be making good time but then landed in the center of Toricella with our GPS telling us that we had arrived. Obviously, the masseria was not in the center of town, so we tried once more and ended up driving up and down gravel roads in the countryside. We had tried my car’s GPS, the Waze GPS on my iPad, and we were just not finding our way the masseria. We finally ended up in a farmer’s field with the GPS telling us once again that we had “arrived at our destination”. It ended up being so hysterical it was so ridiculous, and after regrouping, we decided that the hotel was indeed just across the field somewhere. We turned off our GPS and just used some common sense (thanks Linda) and worked our way around to where we thought that the masseria would be and there and behold, we saw the gates with a nice big sign for Le Fabriche.
Masseria Le Fabriche is a unique place to stay. The owners restored the main buildings and planted grapes for wine, then a few years later decided to add rooms for guests to stay. On the outside, the living quarters looks quite austere, but inside the rooms, everything was very modern and elegant, and everyone even had decent wifi for a change. We had a short walking tour of the property with the owner, before heading to the terrace for wine tasting and appetizers. Although the appetizers would have sufficed for an entire meal after our lovely long lunch, we then headed inside for our evening meal with more wine from the Le Fabriche cellars. As I was collecting information for this post, I just stumbled across the GPS co-ordinates for Le Fabriche. I would highly suggest that you use them to find this masseria as it was not GPS friendly and is well worth visiting.
Masseria Li Veli
S.P. Cellino-Campi, Km 1
72020 Cellino S. Marco (BR)
Puglia – Italia
+39 0831 618259
Masseria Le Fabriche
C.da Le Fabbriche – S.P. 130 Maruggio
Torricella km 3,8 – Maruggio (TA)
+39 334 288 4251 (english)
+39 099 987 18 52/53
40° 20’ 3’’ NORD
17° 32’ 35’’ EST
Day Six Photos
The Cyclists Leaving Gallipoli
Li Veli Winery
Li Veli Winery
Lunch Set Up For Our Group At Li Veli Winery
Fried Bread Balls Stuffed With Veggies Called Pittule At Li Veli Winery
Masseria Le Fabriche
May Not Look Like Much From The Outside, But THe Rooma At Le Fabriche Were Lovely!
Just Part Of Our Aperitivo Snacks For Wine Tasting At Le Fabriche
The Grapes At Le Fabriche
Yet Another Olive Tree Over 1,000 Years Old At Le Fabriche
Continue Reading Days Seven To Nine!
Continue Reading Days Ten To Thirteen!
I normally don’t like rose’ wine but enjoyed it very much in Puglia. Your trip sounds marvelous.
Pamela I am the same. The rose in Puglia has so much flavor!
Thank you so much for your trip report! I am “leading” a group of eight to Puglia next month and am hoping to incorporate some of your itinerary into our plans, specifically the lunch at Masseria Li Veli.
My daughter, Alex Smookler, took me to several of the spots you went to. I am proud of her planning. Sounds like you had a great time.