Monday, January 25, 2016

Postcards from Puglia, Italy

There's a lot to say about our trip to Puglia, Italy over the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately there's not a lot of time to say it, as we move back to the U.S. in just a few weeks. I'm knee-deep in to-do lists, packing, relocation documents, blah, blah, blah. Apparently repatriating yourself is every bit as time consuming as expatriating yourself.

Nevertheless, I'm not going to let one of our last European trips of this phase of our lives tick by without being mentioned on the blog. And come to think of it, sharing a lot of photos and not a lot of time-consuming words is probably the best way to reflect on our travels to this region of Italy anyway. Puglia was jam packed with beauty. And also a fair amount of challenges. This is not an area of the world that caters to tourists or even English speakers in general. Which is refreshing in many ways, but also a little stressful and sometimes more than a little inconvenient. Like when you're desperate to feed your children at 6:30 p.m. and nothing is open until 8 p.m. What can I say, we follow a senior citizen eating schedule around here.

Anyway, let's let the beautiful photos tell the story. Because the incredibly gorgeous places, views, and buildings we saw are what I'm going to remember about Puglia anyway. Not leaving my credit card at a café two hours drive away.

First Stop: Borgo Egnazia

After flying into the Brindisi airport, we began our Puglian travels at the luxurious Borgo Egnazia resort. I wrote a full review of our experience at Ciao Bambino, head that way if you want the details. The brief summary is that we came, we pasta'd and pizza'd, we indoor pooled, we kids clubbed, and we relaxed. Bliss.

Next Stop: Ostuni

We made a brief stop on the coast after leaving Borgo Egnazia (picture above), then we headed to the hillside town of Ostuni. The charm of this place was oozing out of every little alleyway and café.

It was particularly dazzling all lit up for Christmas.

From Ostuni, we did a day trip to Alberobello to see the famous trulli homes.

Next Stop: Lecce

We didn't stay the night in this historic city known for its baroque architecture and ancient ruins, but it would be a good place to base yourself if you wanted to just stick to one location but still explore Puglia. Very centrally located and large enough to have enough amenities. For us, a day wandering around its famous sites was enough of a taste of its many visual treats (and there are many).

Final Stop: Otranto

If I had to pick a favorite area of Puglia, Otranto would be it. Gorgeous beachside location: check. Magical, winding streets and paths through the historic center of town: check. One knock-your-socks-off fantastic meal: check. For my family, it was pretty much the best of what makes Puglia so special, all wrapped up in one convenient town. And for off season travelers like us, it was one of the few seaside towns we passed through that wasn't completely boarded up for the winter season. In fact, it was bustling with activity, at least over the New Year's holiday.

Puglia was unlike anywhere else we've been in Europe. Gorgeous beyond compare. And with a dash of ruggedness and edginess that kept us on our toes.