Greetings from the Salento Penninsula
The Stoic One and I have just returned from a week's vacation, I know some would say our whole life is a vacation, and that is partially true. Anway, one of our goals in moving to Italy was to travel within Italy and visit neighboring countries. We try to take at least one overnight excursion a month. For May's excursion, we rented an apartment in the Salento peninsula, and so we had to commit to a week's stay. Poor us. The Salento peninusula is basically the "heel" of the boot of Italy. It is the southern most part of the provice of Puglia. From Umbertide the drive down is about12 hours so we decided to break up the time going and coming.
We chose an agriturismos to stay in down and back. Agriturismo's are kind of like farm B&B's. The word is a combination of agriculture and tourism. They are all very different with different facilities. In 1985 the Italians passed a law that gave tax breaks to small farms who needed to supplement their income by having rental property. It was defined by the government as “...activities of hospitality performed by agricultural entrepreneurs and their family members that must remain connected and complementary to farming activities.”
Each agriturismo is quite different from the other. Some agriturismo's are on farms, but some are just country houses. Some are very basic and others are quite luxurious.
An excellent site to check out agriturismos in all of the Italian provinces:
One of our "sorts" in finding a place was one that would take dogs and have a full time restaurant on site. As we have found from other trips, after a day of driving we don't feel like going out on another excursion to find food. We do our sort, look at the photos, read the reviews and then cross our fingers.
Our first stop was on the Gargano peninsula in the town of Peschici. Peschici is one of those towns that look better at night and from a distance. It sits up on a hill and the light reflecting upon it at night seems magical.
Most Italians love the Gargano because it is wild, but coming from California, wild is in the eyes of the beholder. Our main problem was the road going into the peninsula is windy, twisty, and seems to go on forever. Luca hated it. He shows this by heavy panting, shaking and generally conveying a sense of misery...sigh...We took this dog across the US without problems but he has not adjusted to travel in Italy.
Finally, after about 5 hours, we arrived at our first agriturismo Torre Dei Preti.
The grounds are lovely with roses on all of the borders.
We had our own private casetta. Very clean. Functional. Had a hair dryer...yeah...The beds in these places are like rocks...I guess that is better than soft and sloping! Note to self, take my own pillow when we travel..the pillows are also like boards!
There was also a lovely clean pool, but it was too cold and rainy to try out.
We left Gargano and headed down to the heel of the boot. It was our first time there. In all of the times we have been to Italy, we never traveled this far south in Puglia. I don't think I had ever even heard of the Salento penninusla. This area has its own specific food, language, architecture. It is a fascinating place to visit, about as unlike Umbria as one could imagine!
We rented an apartment in the village of Specchia Gallone, a tiny village hidden on the map and barely discernible with the GPS. The villa was impressive with high ceilings, fantastic outdoor space and pool. Because we were off season, the bad news was we couldn't use the pool, the good news was we could afford the place.
The ceilings are this high because of the heat in the summer. Even though there is no air conditioning, I imagine it wouldn't be too bad. It was like staying at an estate of royalty.
It was Sunday the day we arrived and we read that there was an antiques fair in Tricase, so we left Luca at the Palazzo and headed out with dreams or noble furniture cheaply priced dancing in my head.
What is the expression, one man's junk is another man's treasure. I, unfortunately, do not have an eye to recognize treasures in junk. We moved on.