We travelled in Puglia with friends for two and a half weeks, September 24-Oct 14. In addition to Salento, we visited Vieste, Matera, Ostuni, Monopoli and Trani. For the Salento portion of our trip we based ourselves for five nights in an apartment in Lecce and two nights at L’Astore Masseria as recommended by Luciana in the book. We had perfect weather for the entire trip - I can only remember a tiny sprinkle of rain on one day.
Lecce was a good base. Our “host” advised us about where to go, and I had to laugh that much of his advice centered on what the wind across the peninsula might be doing, and which coast we should visit depending on the wind direction. In the end, we only had one really windy day in Gallipoli, where we lunched at Il Puritate (as recommended by Lucia). We then toured the Ionian coast all the way down to Santa Maria di Leuca and part-way back up the Adriatic coast. In Lecce, we visited a traditional restaurant, Alle due Corte, where we enjoyed a dish of ciceri e tria while I told the others the background story about it from the book.
Highlights of Salento included our day in Otranto. It was hot and gorgeous on a Sunday, so lots of Italians strolling, not just tourists. We wandered the old town, and splurged on lunch at L'altro Baffo. Stopped to swim on the way back to Lecce at Baia dei Turchi. I can see why you prefer to stay in Otranto.
We particularly liked our two days' stay at L'Astore Masseria near Cutrofiano, as recommended by Luciana. The day was a bit cloudy on arrival and the grounds a bit run down (though all cleaned up and mowed the next day). So, we were not sure at the beginning - but it really grew on us. Lovely people really trying to show us the traditions - breakfasts were the best of the whole trip with carefully done traditional foods - jams and figs from the farm, homemade cakes, etc. The renovated rooms were large in the ancient masseria. They gave us a complementary wine/olive oil tasting tour too so we got to see the underground olive storage cave and learn a bit of the history. I showed SALENTO BY 5 to Claudia, from the family that owns the masseria, and she was very pleased about it. She hadn't been aware of it's mention in the book nor of Luciana's recommendation. I gave her information about the Italian publication of the book by AnimaMundi in Otranto.
We ate well in Galatina with a tasting menu at Anima e Cuore, and dinner the next night in Supersano at Masseria La Stanzie, recommended by David and Audrey, where the owners gave us a full tour of the farm house.
We were lucky to be able to have some good swims in both the Ionian and Adriatic seas, including a great excursion for a walk and excellent swim at Parco Naturale Regionale Porto Selveggio on the Ionian Sea. Lovely clear water in both seas, and warm enough even for me who seldom braves the cold British Columbia Pacific. Our one mistake was in not taking your advice about the jelly shoes to walk on the rocky shores. And we never did find any music.
Many thanks for all the advice. SALENTO BY 5 helped make it an excellent trip.
Judith Neamtan & Rick Gordon, Vancouver, B.C.