Rain to Jewel Lecce

We had a wonderful day discovering the heel of Italy, the Salento which is the southern part of the Puglia region. We are sleeping tonight in the Basilicata region. I highly recommend both.

Our trip had started in a chaotic manner of good & not so good. For the first time we flew on a low-cost company (Wizzair) and we were full of apprehension. The check-in was fast, automatic, the plane was clean with plenty of space for the legs – even without purchasing extra-leg space as advertised every day before our departure. The flight was on time, the landing uneventful. We quickly retrieved our suitcase and received the keys for our rental car from a very gracious and efficient girl. Good!

We got out of the airport to get our car. It was a very dark night and it started to rain. We arrived drenched at our car. Not so good.

We arrived at our Bed & Breakfast in Bari on the Adriatic Sea, facing Albania. The son of the owner helped us park. The lady owner offered us tea and the room was large with a nice design. Good.

The next morning we tried to pay with our visa card. Their machine didn’t work. We pulled out a 100-euro bill for a 60-euro night, they didn’t have change. The shower was hot then cold then hot then cold … we started to get annoyed.

We visited the beautiful cliffs of Polignano a Mare and its old city past the archway and then the rain started to drizzle. We drove through cute villages of Cisternino and Ceglie Messapica but our view was obliterated by the overly present rain. Yes in Southern Italy, the very dry part, it was raining all day. We had left sunny and warm Budapest for cold rain!

We stopped in Ostuni to have lunch. November is definitively low-season here. Most restaurants were closed. All wet, including feet, we were starving and miserable. We found Il pozzo dei desideri (The wishing well). A predestined name. Our silent wishes came all true. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. Their specialty pasta was orecchiette (ears … I know it doesn’t sound as appetizing in English) with clams and zucchini overflowing from a cornucopia made of parmesan ‘lace’ that we devoured. When we left the restaurant we saw an entire giant rainbow over the sea. A magical moment. It is so rare to see a full rainbow.

Then we drove to the jewel of the Puglia, the city of Lecce. Old town starts past the Porta Napoli, where most streets are pedestrian. We settled in one of the best Bed & Breakfast we’ve ever been to, the Antiche Mura. Fuchsia bougainvillea petals carpeted the ground of the very green garden. Very welcoming hosts offered us local typical fresh cakes, free parking, a map, plenty of advice. On top of a stylish bedroom in an old stone-walled room with high ceilings, we had a full kitchen, and I mean full. It had all the appliances you can think of, including to make your own paninis. And then the fridge was full: eggs, orange juice, mineral water, yogurts, butter … And the cupboard was full: olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, hot peppers …

After yet another great meal at La Scarpetta, we went for a digestive walk in the city to discover part of it by night. One of the highlight was the baroque Santa Croce, the Holy Cross Church.

To be continued …

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