With each collection we explore a new destination. Inspired by our travels - places we've been and ones we dream of going. Our latest stop is Puglia, Italy...the destinatin du jour for those in-the-know. Let us take you there.
a weekend in the salento
We have called upon our friend and long time collaborator, Paul from Rivesto Italia to give us the run down on a dream weekend in the Salento. Living in the beautiful town of Lecce, sourcing and selling vintage Apulian (and other Italian) ceramics for a living this is about as local as a locals guide can get. Slow down and stay a while, let yourself be transported to the beauty of the Salento.
"To start the day, before taking on those cobblestone streets of Lecce it’s best to carb load. And there’s no better place than Lu Furnu te Pietra. This family-run neighbourhood bakery is known for the best bread and tastiest focaccia this side of Bari (Puglia’s capital and home of the ‘focaccia barese’). Off the beaten path, you’ll find the no-fuss bakery outside the city centre.
Get lost in the winding streets of the magical centro storico (the historic centre) to experience the full glory of Lecce Baroque architecture and its hidden courtyards. Be sure to also stray “off the beaten track” and head to viale Francesco Lo Re and viale Gallipoli – two streets that circle the centro storico home to beautiful examples of villas in stile Liberty (Italy’s art nouveau) and stile Morresco (Moorish-influenced).
For a coffee pit-stop head to Avio Bar for their take on ‘caffé in ghiaccio’ (coffee on ice) – try it with their famous ‘cremina’ (an extra creamy froth, created by the bar’s owner), or the local specialty ‘caffé Leccese’ (equally delicious, with a splash of almond syrup)"
Embrace Salento slow living by visiting or staying at a Masseria- traditional agricultural farmhouses found all over Puglia. Many have been converted into unique places to stay or eat with produce from the land (and many with a ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy), They can range from rustically charming to high-end luxury and everything in between, so there’s something for everybody. One of my favourites for an enchanting dining experience is Le Stanzie in southern Salento. The old stone farmhouse surrounded by nature is the perfect setting for authentic and genuine Salentino specialties using local ingredients (most grown on the property). Sitting outside on the terrace in summer is a magical experience.
A local delicacy is ‘pasta di mandorla’ (a sweet almond paste made of almonds and honey) and nowhere is it more divine then at the Monastero delle Benedettine (a Benedictine Monastery in the centre of Lecce). Its available throughout the year, but extra special during religious festivals when the ‘pasta’ comes in the the form of a lamb (at Easter) and a fish (at Christmas) – all created by hand of course by the Benedictine sisters. Heavenly.
A pilgrimage to the best pasticciotto in the Salento (and one of its best pasticceria’s) can be coupled with the amazing frescoes that date back to the 1400s of the Basilica di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria. The Pasticceria Ascalone in the centre of Galatina is home to the original pasticciotto (a delicious crumbly pastry filled with custard and usually served warm), but everything here is worth trying. A 30 min car ride from Lecce, the town of Galatina is well worth a visit for its amazing examples of Baroque architecture too, and won’t make you feel too guilty about stock piling some delicious pastries.
For a quaint beach with a super charming location head to the town of Santa Maria al Bagno - which overlooks a small sandy bay with crystal clear water. In no way under the radar or secluded, the bay does somehow feel tucked away because of its location. I love the drive from the pretty town of Nardò through to Santa Caterina and SM al Bagno- here you’ll pass through Le Cenate, home to some very imposing Liberty and Moorish-style villas.
There are so many alluring towns in the Salento to discover, where time has seemingly stood still for centuries.
Start at siesta time (after lunch) when the villages are literally ghost towns, and watch them gently come alive at aperitivo hour at sunset. Charmingly petite Acaya is a fortified 16th century village not far from Lecce. Equally enchanting is Corigliano d’Otranto, with its wonderful 15th century castello, and hilltop Specchia to the south, an effortlessly beautiful village surrounded by olive groves.
Aperitivo hour is almost as scared as lunch in the Salento. As the sun sets over Lecce, head to Quanta Basta for great cocktails in the centro storico. Try their Acqua Salata (fermented with tomato water and olive oil). Ciro Pizzeria, a fabulous (and popular) spot in the centro storico. Eat pizza outdoors on the piazza overlooked by the heavenly glow of the baroque 17th century church. For non-vegetarians try the friarielli e salsiccia, a local specialty. Expect a line up, no bookings taken, and open evenings only.
The light is what makes the Salento extraordinary - so be sure to experience the natural ‘light show’ at different points of the day. At sunset (before or after aperitivo hour), take a stroll in the centro storico and watch the local Leccese stone change its honey-hue against the pastel-tinged sky.
As the locals venture out for their nightly passeggiata (an evening ritual that literally means to parade or sashay the main drag of town, with or without a gelato) you’ll understand why it’s the most enchanting time of day." PDG