Calabria and Puglia 2019

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October 28th 2019
Published: November 3rd 2019
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Calabria and Puglia trip 2019

Calabria and Puglia (Apulia) 2019

This is our 9th trip to Puglia and Calabria since 2008 and at least 5 visits before that. If you are reading this blog with plans to visit either area, I would suggest that you check my blog entries of 2015 and 2014, where I give detailed addresses, phone numbers and GPS locations for all of the places that we have stayed at. There are also entries dating back to 2009 that include different b&bs as well as the regions of Basilicata and Abruzzo. My blog contains the following titles as well.

Calabria, Puglia & Basilicata (2008)

Puglia & Abruzzo (2010)

Calabria & Puglia (2012)

Calabria & Puglia 2013

Calabria & Puglia 2014

Calabria & Puglia 2015

Puglia (Apulia) & Calabria 2016

Puglia 2017

Puglia - Apulia 2018

Calabria and Puglia (Apulia) 2019 this one

September 19, 2019 Thursday

Our friends drove us to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport for a 9:30 pm departure. As usual on this all night flight I did not sleep, but Carol managed to get some shut-eye. I did not feel well during the flight.

September 20, Friday

We arrived at Rome airport on time. It is always a VERY LONG walk to get to our connecting flight and very little time to get to it. Carol has had a sore ankle for months and was concerned about this walk. Also as has happened before, the gate number on our ticket was changed and we had to double back to the new gate!

It is about an hour flying time to the International airport in the town of Lamezia Terme in Calabria. We have landed and left from here likely 15 times. We picked up our Hertz car (rented through AutoEurope.) For the second straight year, we got a Renault. This year a Captur model. In the past, we have always had Fiats and found that their trunk space is much bigger. We made it around Catanzaro without any wrong turns this year and arrived at our destination -- Agriturisimo Casa di Botro in Botricello. We were met and checked in by Giovanni, who we know very well. During supper our good friend and owner, Luigi Colucci came to see us. Neither Carol nor I had any appetite.

September 21, Saturday

At breakfast, we met our other friend Magdalena (Mags) the waitress. We had gifts for her two young boys. Due to a pre-booked conference, we could only stay one night as the weekend was full. We stopped in at a grocery store and then headed back towards Catanzaro for about 25 km to Soveria Severi and Agriturismo Santacinnara. It was great to see our friends and owners, Donato and Maria Fratto, since we had missed them last year. I had a small gift for them, then Carol rested and I went for a walk.

This is our 5th year here and we love the grounds, the room, the animals and the general peace and tranquillity. It is a working agricultural and animal farm with everything being biological. This was also the first Agriturismo in Calabria dating back to 1984. We have 2 bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen and a full bath that includes a bathtub. The kitchen has a full-size fridge and is equipped with everything you could possibly want. During the offseason, you have to prepare your own meals and we like that just fine. Tonight we made pork chops and pasta, but once again neither one of us had an appetite.

September 22, Sunday

We made “real Canadian coffee” and breakfast, but still no appetite. We tried going for a walk but it was 31'C and humid so it did not last long. Spent time by the pool. Had a simple supper – still no appetite and I am still not feeling well.

September 23, Monday

Still no appetite. Donato gave us a litre of their organic extra virgin olive oil and Carol purchased a few more of their organic products. Said goodbye to our friends and headed back to Casa di Botro for 3 days. On the way, an orange warning light turned on, on the dashboard. We stopped for a few more groceries. When we arrived at Casa di Botro neither of us felt like supper, so I walked over to one of our two favourite pizza places “Tony Pizza” and picked up 6 different slices. We each ate one slice!

September 24, Tuesday

After breakfast, we drove the 7 km to Botro’s private beach on the Ionian Sea. Today we had it all to ourselves. The last few days have been very windy. Apparently, these winds come from Africa and last around 3 days. We spent some time around the pool, but even there it was windy. We had dinner at Botro.

With Luigi's help, we tried to get rid of the warning light on the dash, indicating low tire pressure. His staff checked all the tires and they were fine. The instructions for resetting the light did not work, so we drove the entire trip with this light!!

September 25, Wednesday.

Just repeat the previous day!! I asked Luigi to confirm that we would have a room at our next place tomorrow.

September 26, Thursday.

We stocked up on some grocery basics (water,beer, wine!!) and drove 250 km to Masseria Torre di Albidona near Trebisace. This is likely our 6th time here. This is the only place that we stay at that we are not friends with the owner. We do not know the owner but the receptionist speaks English and the 180' view of the Ionian Sea is absolutely spectacular. They have 80 hectares (200 acres) of every fruit tree that they can grow and you can spend hours wandering around the terraced orchards.

Once again we were able to get our favourite apt (JAZZ 111) We have a separate kitchen (with microwave!) but breakfast is included and dinners are very reasonably priced. They have been renovating all their rooms and this year we found that the mattress rates among the best we have ever slept on. We had dinner at the Masseria and this was the first time in a week that I felt good and had an appetite.

September 27, Friday

Breakfasts here are more basic than other places that we stay at. We went for a short walk on a National Park Trail that is just south of the Masseria. Carol’s ankle was hurting so we cut it short. I later walked through the orchard and found some grapes, pomegranates and figs that I could pick. I also visited the Torre (Tower) again. Dinners at the Masseria have been very good. It always seems that it is mostly Germans that are staying here.

September 28 Saturday.

We left after breakfast and drove about 250 km to the village of Cursi, just south of Lecce. Our friends and owners (Salvatore and Ada Moscara) were at the Tenuta DonnaGiulia to greet us for the 6th year. As always they had wine and a snack for us. We were pleasantly surprised when we opened the fridge and found a large bottle of water, a plate of fresh fruit and two jars of sun-dried tomatoes and antipasti.

There are 3 apartments on the property with a bedroom and a separate dining room and kitchen with a large fridge, stove, dishes, pots etc. We prepare all of our meals in the room. At 5pm we drove the 2 km to the local supermarket (Eurospin) to get groceries. Later Ada stopped by and gave us ½ dozen fresh eggs and potatoes which we had not been able to buy!

Sunday September 29

Our 4 days here are all forecast to be sunny and 28’C. Sounds good!! This morning we had a Canadian breakfast with real coffee, and cereal. Later we went for a short walk on the backroads and spent the rest of the day just being lazy.

For supper, Carol made a special frying pan vegetarian meal that my mom used to make. We both love it.

September 30, Monday

For breakfast, I made a frittata using up 5 eggs. It is good even cold.

It is about a 20-minute drive to two of our favourite beach areas on the Adriatic: Sant’Andrea and Torre dell’ Orso. We have been to Torre del Orso likely 20 times (2-3 times each visit) Even though it was a Monday we were surprised to see that there were a lot of people there (well we are accustomed to seeing maybe 2-4 couples!) On our way back we stopped in at the village of Borgagne to visit an ATM machine!

For dinner, I had the rest of the frying pan dinner and Carol finished the frittata. Later in the evening, Ada brought us an appetizer!

October 1, Monday

After breakfast, we drove, back to Borgagne to visit with my friend Gaetano Innocenzo, the barber. I met Gaetano about 7 years ago. We really hit it off and I have returned every year for a haircut!

From Borgagne, we returned to the beach at Torre dell’ Orso. Today it was nowhere as busy as yesterday. This year I took my sandals with me, walked to the end of the beach and climbed up the cliff (easy). I followed the top of the cliff as it follows numerous grottos and caves. I walked almost to Sant’Andrea. Views from the top of the cliff were spectacular.

Before heading home we revisited the famous Torre (tower) and also bought another gelato at the Dentoni restaurant overlooking the beach.

When we arrived back home, I was feeling really good so I went for a 40-minute jog on the backroads where I came across a Persimmon tree with juicy fruit and stuffed myself!

Tonight Ada had invited Carol to learn how to make orrichetti (Puglia’s famous pasta) and maccharoni. Ada’s mom, Abbodanza, was the expert. We have known her as long as Ada and family. Carol found it a bit frustrating (and so did I) but eventually, a load of pasta was made (from scratch.) Of course, it had to be eaten and we were invited to have dinner with the family.

October 2, Tuesday

For breakfast, we finished up our eggs and milk with cereal and said goodbye to the family. Our next stop would be at B&B Antica Aia in Casalini (Cisternino).

This is our 9th consecutive year and Elvira, Franco, Andrea and Martina are almost like family. A few months ago we hosted their son, Andrea for 10 days so he could improve his English and see a bit of Ontario, including Toronto and Niagara Falls!

Usually, at this time of year, we are either the only guests or perhaps there might be one other couple. They have 5 Trulli (cone-shaped stone buildings) and this year all 5 were occupied by a group from Germany. We were given the largest one (that also includes a kitchen) but it is not our favourite one. Carol was disappointed at first.

We were invited for supper with Franco doing a barbecue!

After supper, I gave the family a slide presentation on their tv of Andrea’s visit to Ontario. We also had gifts for the adults and for Martina.

October 3, Thursday

Coolest day of the trip with temperatures in the low 20’s (had been around 28). As always, Elvira provided a very complete breakfast, that usually gives us enough to have a snack for lunch as well!

There are lots of rural roads in the area but they are not on a grid system so it is pretty easy to get lost. Over the years we have managed to pick about 5 routes that are “out and back.” Last year we finally put together a nice circle tour that measured about 5 winding km. This year we walked this route almost daily, while we were able to add another branch to it as well.

On this route, we see horses (many) and donkeys (many). We are able to pick almonds, walnuts, figs, pomegranates, plums, grapes and more. In most cases they are growing wild or hanging over the road!

Elvira told us not to get money from ATM as we were not going to be charged for our 5 nights. I guess for us hosting their son Andrea for 11 days. Very nice!!

We were invited for dinner again and Elvira had a special meal. Whole fish (head and tail) oven-baked! Carol and I were not sure how to deal with it, especially since neither us was very hungry …. And we were the only ones eating fish. We asked if we could share one and she kindly filleted the fish for us! We handed out some more gifts for Andrea and Martina.

October 4, Friday

A cool morning at 15’C. We had breakfast inside. Later we drove the 2-3 km to the olive oil factory that we have visited every year, to buy gifts for friends back home. From there we went for a long walk in the countryside and on the way back stopped off at the Poste Italia ABM to get some Euros.

Temperature 19-21 is too cool to even sit by the pool. For dinner we returned to “La Locanda” where we have eaten for at least 9 years. Their “La Locanda” antipasti includes 8 dishes. We order one and share it!

October 5, Saturday

After breakfast we did our 5 km walk. It is so peaceful on these winding backroads with nothing but olive trees everywhere. If we meet one vehicle it is “busy” In the afternoon Martina brought us a tray of figs, almonds and very ripe persimmon.

For dinner we went to La Piazzetta. Usually, we drop in, order 2 pizzas and go back to our room. This year Andrea has started working there as a waiter on weekends so we ate in!

We got a confusing email today! Once it was all deciphered and we checked with our travel agent, it appears Alitalia unions have declared a one day strike on the day we were to return.

October 6, Sunday

After breakfast we told Elvira our situation and asked if we could stay 2 more days since Alitalia had rebooked us for Friday (instead of Wednesday.) She agreed and refused to take any money!! Then we called Europcar (1:00 am their time) and asked if we could extend our car rental for 2 days. Finally emails and phone calls back home.

A perfect day for our long walk and relaxing by the pool. At 5 pm Elvira invited Carol to learn how to make Panzerotti. Of course after making them, we were invited to stay for dinner!!

October 7, Monday

After breakfast we moved our belongings to “Trullo Bougainvilla” as the German group was gone. This Trullo does not have a kitchen and is smaller than the Trullo soverato, but it is our favourite one. There is a separate bedroom, has AC/heat, 15 steps to the pool and has a large covered porch area overlooking the village and pool. Also wifi works inside!!

Went for another walk, but this time we added a new side tour, where the road almost completely disappeared before it reconnected with our regular route.

Day turned out to be cool and even got a bit of drizzle so we stayed indoors and made some Canadian coffee.

For dinner, we returned to La Locanda, but for a change, instead of ordering the antipasti we ordered a pasta dish and a salad to share. Even that, was more than we could eat!

October 8, Tuesday

Still waiting for Hertz to tell Autoeurope if we can have the car 2 more days. We asked Elvira for some milk and our breakfast was mostly of Canadian cereal! Got Elvira to call and change our final night's accommodation to Thursday instead of Tuesday.

We went into the village to pick up a few groceries. Carol’s ankle is painful so I went on a 7 km walk alone. Finally I got a reply from Europcar that it is okay to keep the car until Thursday.

La Locanda is closed on Tuesdays and La Piazetta is closed for 10 days, so tonight we ate in! Nice change!

October 9, Wednesday

This was the day that we were supposed to fly home! As it was, it turned out to be a beautiful warm and sunny day and just perfect for our last long walk. We were invited for dinner again, but Carol decided she wanted to go back to La Locanda for another pasta dinner of orecchiette. After dinner, we visited with the family for a while and said our goodbyes to Andrea and Martina.

October 10, Thursday

After breakfast, Franco went into Casalini with me, to show me how to use the “self serve” gas. Diesel is around 1.44-.1.50E for self serve but if you get full service it is about 17 cents more per litre so on a 50 litre fill up it could come to $13.00CDN more! We also discovered that a non-Italian credit card would not work on the card reader. So we had to get the attendant to enter the card number manually inside! Good information to know.

We picked up 2 sandwiches and headed south about 35 km to Masseria Incantalupi outside of San Vito Dei Normani and about 20 km from the airport in Brindisi. We stayed here last year and really liked the place but the front desk person did not seem very friendly. This year as soon as she saw us she greeted us with a smile and claimed she remembered us and told us what food Carol was allergic to! Since we were early our room was not ready so she offered us a coffee while we waited. We got talking to her again later and we found out her name is Oksana and she is from Moldova!

Got to spend some time by the pool (flies were a problem) and Carol had a nice chat with a couple from Estonia.

Since the season is over, they have a fixed menu. We asked ahead of time if we could share (35E/person) as we do everywhere. It was a great meal and I thought that it was likely the best deal of the trip (but see tomorrow!)

October 11, Friday

As usual the night before we leave, I rarely sleep more than a few minutes. We were up at 6:30 and having breakfast by 7am. Just like last year, a very nice spread but neither Carol nor I felt like eating.

I went to pay for our room and dinner and discovered that the great “meal deal” was not so great. We had wrongly assumed that the fixed menu included everything – including wine and water. NOPE! The bottle of wine and water (added CDN$25.00) to the fixed price of CDN$53.00. So for the second year, on our final meal, we felt that we had been cheated!

It is a 20-minute drive to the airport and by now I know the way through Brindisi by heart. The car return was quick and efficient. Alitalia check-in was also fast. Flight to Rome is just under an hour. It is always a very long walk to our connecting flight and this year they changed the gate about an hour before departure. We left 50 minutes late while waiting for a connecting flight passenger to arrive. Even so, we landed in Toronto exactly on time. The daytime flight is always much more pleasant than the night time flight.

Since Thanksgiving was this weekend, our daughter Lisa who lives in Toronto picked us up.

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