5 Days in Puglia, Italy - We were incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to take a little break in Italy. Thanks to Bookings for You and Raro Villas for making it possible. So here is what we did with our time!
We arrived very late on Monday night. I think it was after 12pm at night and the villa - (Corte Dei Messapi) was lit up beautifully. We immediately fell in love with it and knew we were in for a great week. It absolutely surpassed our expectations. Based in the country side, it felt like it was our own little secluded sanctuary. A place we could feel totally relaxed and at home after a day of exploring. It was comfortable and spacious and like most of the properties in this part of Italy, was made of limestone, which itself has many health benefits including the fact that it helps you sleep better. Something I desperately needed! The villa was surrounded by olive trees and the grounds of the villa were unspoilt and stunning. It had a fully equipped kitchen/common area, living room, a large outdoor balcony including 3 outdoor eating areas, a swimming pool, a heated rooftop jacuzzi and lovely bedrooms each with a private bathroom. The management company were very approachable and we were able to ask them anything including guidance about what to during our stay.
More pics from Raro Villas:
Raro Villas is part of the Nicolaus Group. The services that the Nicolaus Group offer include:
Transfer Service with chauffeurs: A service you can use if you want to be picked up from the airport or go out say to the beach or a restaurant.
Car Hire: We had already hired a car and we drove to most places ourselves but I think next time this is an option we would definitely look at.
Welcome Hamper: a welcome hamper is provided with basic provisions. This was particularly important for us because we arrived so late and having the fridge stocked with water, milk etc etc meant we didn't have to start looking for a supermarket and were able to have a light meal and retire to bed pretty soon afterwards.
Private chef: You have the option of having an in house chef who can come in and cook for you using locally sourced produce.
Excursions: A planned excursion can be organised for you. This can be centered around your interests whatever they may be!
Babysitting: The group also offer babysitting so you can get a little break from the kids whilst you explore Puglia with your partner undisturbed!
The Nicolaus Group pride themselves on being able to get you whatever you want during your holiday. So if you want to drive a Ferrari through the country roads at 12pm, they can arrange that for you! YAY! This is something that was mentioned during a presentation we attended at the Nicolaus Group building.
Several people have asked us about the weather in Italy and the answer is it was perfect for me because if you are a regular reader, you know how hot i get.. We experienced highs of 23 and lows of 18 degrees C. YASS someone get me a weather person job.
On to Puglia! Firstly can I just say, there is so much to do in this part of Italy. We were spoilt for choice and couldn't quite fit in all the things we (meaning me) had scribbled into our (meaning my) notepad.
On Tuesday we decided to take it easy and stay pretty local so we could get to know the area a little. We took a quick road trip to check out Ostuni (Also known as The White City) which is so so pretty with its narrow lanes, white houses, pretty balconies and archways.
Later on, we spoke to one of the team from Raro Villas (Dario) and he suggested going to Santa Sabina. Santa Sabina is a small Puglia seaside resort. It is about a 20 minute drive from Ostuni and boasts a beautiful seafront restaurant called Miramare/Da Michele which Dario said was one of the best seafood restaurants ever and he may well have been right but it was closed when we got there so sadly we missed out but we relaxed on the beach instead, drove around some more and made the most of some down time at the villa.
On Wednesday, Nicolaus Group organised an incredible day trip where we were able to experience more of the country side and take part in a few activities including a traditional pasta making class. More about the day will be covered in my next post!
On Thursday we ventured a little further and decided to go to Alberobello briefly.
Alberobello is one of the most well known and recognisable parts of Puglia. The town is a Unesco Heritage site and it is easy to see why! The conical roofs are almost iconic and they really catch your eye.
Later on we drove to Galipolli and the weather was absolutely AMAZING making the crystal clear, sparkly water even more blue and turquoise then it already was. We drove around to a number of beaches and got a little lost which would usually be quite frustrating but because we kept ending up at yet another beautiful beach, we quite enjoyed it! Every cloud..
There was one beach that I have to mention because it was stunning (Santa Maria Al Bagno). We drove between 2 large rocks/cliffs to get to it. Sadly I couldn't get a pic near the cliff bit because there was nowhere to stop. Here we also met a lovely lady, who directed us to a place we could eat and freshen up. She actually drove us there (as in, we followed her car) which was the sweetest thing ever. Also..we had the best lemon sorbet on the planet here.
On Friday we ventured even further and drove all the way to the Amalfi Coast!! The drive to and along the entire coast can only be described as epic. Before we left we had planned to visit the coast during our trip, but we didn't actually think it would happen. Originally we thought it was a 3 hour drive away. When we checked on our Sat Nav before we left the villa, it came up as a 4 hour drive but it was more like 5. That being said, we loved every single minute of it. The blue sea, the greenery, the abundance of citrus fruit trees, the steep stairs, the gorgeous architecture, the coloured houses all made for breathtaking views and it was a definite highlight of the trip!
Images from www.lonelyplanet.com
On Saturday morning we drove to Monopoli. It was still very warm but it was beginning to get a little windy. I was boiling but we noticed a couple of locals with coats on! Again the sea here was crystal clear and beautiful.
We then drove to Polignare a mare (about 15 minutes away) where the sea was even more beautiful. It is also the place where the World Cliff Driving championships take place (Sponsored by Red Bull). It was very quiet and relaxed and I could have spent the entire day there but we had a flight to catch!
We had planned so many other little trips including checking out Lecce properly, however we just didn't get round to it. I think it is important to mention that the people you meet can really make a place that extra bit special and we met some lovely people. People who went out of the way to help us.
Puglia is an area that is known for its food. The food here is inexpensive and more importantly, organic and locally sourced. You can really taste the quality and something as simple as a sandwich, is elevated with simple but delicious produce. My husband said the coffee was the best he has had and it was just £1! Regrettably I didn't get to taste any Burrata (Fave cheese and very difficult to find in the UK - I get mine from Waitrose). The bread and orichiette which I did get to taste was divine. I mean even Jamie Oliver has visited Puglia and sampled the bread. The area is also known for its wine but I don't drink!
Overall the trip was amazing and a fantastic break. None of this would have been possible without Jo from Bookings for you and Raro Villas and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to experience this holiday.
Read more about Raro Villas via their website here.