Monopoli smells like olive oil and sea-salt. It’s a proper seaside town: buckets and spades, pastel front doors and a port full of fishing boats.
It’s just what your Instagram feed needs. White-washed buildings perched precariously on limestone cliffs, set twenty metres above the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic. There's also a collection of pretty pebble beaches and restaurant carved into a cave (Grotto Palazzese).
Everybody has an idea of the Italy they want to visit. Essentially, we all want to visit Italy in the 1960s. Do not be disheartened my fellow Italophiles. You just need to find yourself an Agriturismo.
Nobody is very good at selling Brindisi, which is why it has essentially become a well-worn motorway to other places. It’s not everybody's cup of tea, but it’s certainly authentic. Here's a quick guide to this pretty port in Puglia.
Puglia isn’t exactly the impoverished hinterland it once was. They’re used to tourists here now. That doesn't mean its necessarily tourist friendly. Some useful tips for trip to Puglia
Oh, how they love to eat in Puglia. Think big, beautiful burrata cheese, braised octopus, and huge slabs of focaccia covered in gorgeous globs of mozzarella and fresh vine tomatoes.
It’s a wonder they’re not all plodding along on the brink of obesity.
noun. Doughy nodules of joy shaped (somewhat deceivingly) like small doughnuts
Anyone who has visited Italy’s Southern most region will recognise them - they’re a staple of the Southern Italian shopping basket and are plonked down on the table at every opportunity.
I’ve found my happy place. Its this bar/cafe/geletaria/chocolateria. It’s everything you could possibly ask for rolled into one pretty parcel.
Pasticciotto are unassuming diminutive cakes eaten for breakfast across Puglia, particularly in the Salento region. The main reason I wear only kaftans now.
The good, the bad and the slightly strange.
Today I had my first argument in Italian.
I didn't start it. I’m not really one for confrontation. I am somewhat lacking in attitudinal presence and could probably do with going on some sort of assertiveness course.
Mum came to visit me in Puglia. I haven’t seen her in three months. Obviously it stormed (in August, outrageous), so we spent an entire day in a bar on the port front, getting cosily hammered on something which tasted suspiciously like Prossecco but which only cost €3 for a carafe.
Am now in bizarre situation which has seen me spend the last two weeks snooping on archetypal good-looking hairy type builders, having lots of conversations about things like boilers, tiles and taps.
Alas, my mini break by the seaside with my middle aged gal pals has come to an end.
On route back to Brindisi my aunt asked if I’d mind popping in to see her auntie. ‘Lovely lady she is’ she said.
Ah the bidet. That shiny porcelain piece of bathroom furniture which, for Italians, proves they are superior beings to all other nations and foreigners.
Like most people born outside of Italy, I have spent a lifetime ignoring them
Having arrived in Puglia with no where to stay for the next week, I gladly accepted an invite from an aunt (who I last met when I was 10) to a beach house the other side in Puglia.
I didn't know I was consenting to a four day mini-break with three middle aged Italian women who don't speak English