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What and Where is Puglia?

Puglia is one of the 20 regions of Italy, like Tuscany. Italy is shaped like a high heel boot. The heel and Achilles’ tendon is Puglia. It’s a beautiful area known for their historical homes called trullo. Trulli is one house.

Trulli were first built in the 16th-18th centuries as storage sheds for farm products, equipment and animals. Later they were turned into homes. The styles from the different towns are similar but not the same. Some towns give more freedom in remodeling than others.

We stayed in a trullo complex of 4 apartments outside of Cisternino for 10’days. The building is owned by an architect who lived there part time. The other 2 apartments were being completed of the renovation. The estate is called La Via La Cono or life in the cone!

Our apartment was the 2 comes on the right


Ladder from bedroom to loft sleeping area


 The newest apartments


Up on the roof!  

Beautiful Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, Part 2

 We took a stunningly beautiful day trip to Càpri. Notice I placed an accent on the first syllable which is the correct pronunciation!  Gino Coppola from Residence Santa Lucia  arranged it all. His friend picked us up at the apartment with another family of 6 and drove us along the Amalfi Coast to a tiny village where we boarded the small boat.

We boated to Càpri and enjoyed the views halfway around to Marina Piccolo. We stopped at the beach cafe and then took the bus to the town of Càpri. We explored the pretty town and walked through the Augusta Gardens with the dramatic views of the sea. We ate our caprese paninis the boat tour provided in the shade outside these gardens.

We took a cool convertible cab with an awning back to Marina Piccolo where we enjoyed the beach. This was much more pleasant than the bus! We finished our ride around the island and stopped at a few grottos to swim.  The Blue Grotto was closed by the time we arrived late in the day.




Marina Piccolo


Capri Cab Beats the Bus!


Marina Piccolo Mermaid



Augusta Gardens



Swimming Through the Arch


Dramatic Coastline of Capri


The Arch of Love

We arrived back home around 7 and enjoyed a Thai dinner that Nutnapha, Gino’s sister in law, made for us. Green Curry, Spring Rolls, Pad Thai and Fried Shrimp. Delicious!

Today Pietro drives us on a tour along the Amalfi Coast! First stop is Positano, a charming touristy and quaint town where we explored and had a coffee along the beach. The girls bought original paintings of the town. Then we drove south to a ceramic discount shop where the girls made purchases. Along the way we stopped to see the views of the sea and enjoyed fresh orange and lemon juices


Beautiful Positano

Pietro took us to a phenomenal restaurant for lunch just outside of the town of Amalfi called 

Tratorria da Ciccio Cielo Mare e Tera which has been family run since 1931. Cielo, Mare e Terra refer to sky, sea and land. Ciccio is the owner.


The views were incredible from the floor to ceiling windows along 2 complete sides of the restaurant. There was also a balcony!

I haven’t found our pics yet of the food we ate, but it was one of the best meals of our trip. Here were our selections:

Home made short pasta strands with seafood over a potato and lemon purée! That lemon was a real enhancement!

Spaghetti and seafood cooked in a bag! The bag was like parchment and was presented with much fanfare

Home made pasta with sausage over a cream of broccoli purée 

A mozzarella ball mixture over tomato sauce special appetizer


Their own limoncello served with fresh blackberries




Tonight we picked up a pizza from Pizzeria Da Franco in Sorrento and brought it home for a late dinner.


Pizza with Proscuitto, Cheese and Arugula

Today is our last day and we explored Sorrento on our own and hung out at the pool. We ate leftover pizza for lunch. Gino dropped off some of his spaghetti with mussels for us to try! Delish! 

For dinner tonight Gino arranged a cab to take us up into the hills to a typical local Sorrento restaurant.  Da Filippo. It was on a small farm where the smells of manure were present fertilizing the vegetable gardens.There was no view, but the place was filled with locals.


Beef Steak with Porchini Mushroom Sauce


Homemade Pasta with Seafood


Mixed Grilled Meats


Grilled Chicken


Rotini with Seafood

After dinner we took a cab to the Hilton for the view and desserts. Then we walked home from there. 


Layers of Thin Pastry, Chocolate and Custard


Strawberry Puree with Strawberry Mousse and White Pieces of Candy

The kids left the next morning for their adventures to Sardinia, Corsica, Naples and Rome!

What’s to Do and Eat in Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast? Part 1 of 4

Our much anticipated 2 week adventure in Sorrento began after a 4 hour drive across Italy from Puglia to the Campania region. Two of our 3 daughters and 1 boyfriend joined us in Sorrento for a week.

We rented an apartment at the beautiful Residence Santa Lucia located a short walk from the center of Sorrento, Piazza  Tasso. The complex was a farm and has been developed into a stunning group of buildings, homes, cottages and apartments. Especially appreciated is a beautiful new pool, patio and garden area.
Gino Coppola was our main contact person at Residence Santa Lucia and he was always available. He was a great reference for all there is to do in the area and he set up several tours for us. All were magnificent! And his English is superb!

Our first night was dinner at the Marina Grande at Trattoria Emilia one of my favorites of the entire trip.


Al Fresco Dining Bliss!

Spaghetti and Mussels


Rigatoni with Seafood , one of my favorites of the entire trip!

Grilled Eggplant


Basket of Fried Fish

Gelato for Dessert in a Gelato Cone Chair

 Hanging out at the beautiful Residence Santa Lucia garden pool!

Garden and Pool View from our 2nd Story Apartment

Apartment Terrace

Aperitif at Hotel Bellevue Syrene Terrace before dinner

Dinner at Marina Grande, Taverna Azzura

Ravioli Stuffed with Fish in a Creamy Crab Sauce


Grilled Sea Bream

We also shared bruschetta and eggplant parmigiana. On the way home we stopped for gelato. Ricotta with walnuts and honey was my choice my favorite next to the rice flavored gelato in Florence.

Our 3rd day we had a quick walk to the train and then a 1 hour trip to Pompeii. We arranged for a guide, Rosemary, to meet us at the Pompeii station to give us a 2 hour tour. Fabulous!

Ready to Leave at the Gate of Residence Santa Lucia


Some areas like these were not open


Mount Vesuvius Looming in the Background


Plaster Cast of a Person Who Perished Due to Extreme Heat, 570 degrees F

All but 3 of the bodies are kept in another area for a special exhibition. We saw this one through an iron fence. Most all of the statues, mosaics, and treasures are kept in the Naples National Archeological Museum which is fabulous!

There is a nice cafe within the Pompeii grounds, but we went to a small cafe just outside the entrance for pizza, pasta and salad.
Back to Sorrento for naps and pool time and then Gino’s Pizza Party on the garden patio!

Gino Leading the Orchestra


3 Chefs: Gino, his sister in law Nutnapha, and Pietro


Speck with Cantaloupe, Caprese Salad and Tomato Bruschetta



Garden Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad

Chopped Fresh Tomatoes, Onion, Basil, Garlic and Water for the Bruschetta

Nutnapha Serving Her Thai Sausage

Grilled Thai Sausages

Grilled Thai Sausage Bites with Lettuce, Cucumber and Fresh Herbs

Pizza Dough Strips with Olive Oil and Rosemary

Thai Spring Rolls Made by Nutnapha



Sweeping Clean with the Wet Broom

Pizza Margarita with Plain Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil


Sausage, Mushroom and Mozzarella

Tomato, Speck and Arugula

Gorgonzola and Speck with Arugula

Pizza Margarita




Pietro and Nutnapha



Sausage and Cheese


Margarita Pizza represents the colors of the Italian flag: red, white and green. It was developed when Queen Margarita of Spain came to Italy for a visit

Thank you Residence Santa Lucia for 2 memorable pizza party evenings!

Today we walked around Sorrento, explored the public Lemon Grove, stopped for Lemon Granitas, and had dinner at El Bufalito


Pizzeria Da Franco is a Must!

Our dinner at El Bufalito….

Pizza with Olive Oil and Herbs


Eggplant Surrounding Ricotta Cheese in a Tomato Sauce

Not Meatballs, but Cheese Balls in Tomato Sauce

Buffalo Rib Steak for Two


Ravioli Stuffed With Fish in a Lemon Seafood Sauce

Grilled Buffalo Steak


Pappardelle With Beef

It’s been a full 4 days! The rest of our week will be part 2!

Beautiful Puglia and its Trulli

We said good bye to our new friends in Savoca Sicily at the Resort Borgo San Rocco. On to Puglia!  First we took a 2 hour drive to the ferry in Messina and then the 1 hour windy ferry trip to Villa San Giovanni in the region of Calabria, Italy. After a 4 hour drive through Calabria and Basilicato in the foot of Italy, we arrived in Puglia, the heel and Achilles’ tendon! We drove through the Puglian towns of Taranto, Martina Francis and Locorotondo, all worth visiting.

Puglia is known for its charming trulli building structures, traditional dry stone huts with conical roofs were originally storage sheds and barns built in the 15-18th centuries. They were later used as homes and today are remodeled to meet modern needs. Trullo is 1 hut, Trulli is more than 1.

Here are some pics of our trulli. It was remodeled and is owned by the architect Michele Camporeale. There are 4 apartments. Two of them were finishing up the reconstruction. La Vita a Cono!


Antique bed in our trulli mixed with new


Here are pics of some neighbors trulli
This above trullo is a more simple style closer to the original.

Cisternino is the town close to our trullo. Here are some pics 


Barfod makes the best cappuchino in all of Italy!


Interior of Barfod


Beautiful artistic design of this creative shop

One day we visited 3 towns. 

Locorotondo is a quiet peaceful place painted white and filled with colorful flower pots.




A view from Locorotondo to a trullo farm

Egnazia, a Greek Roman Archeological Park and Museum and the adjoining ancient olive groves

Alberobello is a larger town made up of mostly trulli. Here we toured a two story trulli museum. The tour guide told us this town population originated from Cappadocia, Turkey, where there are similar styles homes built in the caves.


, the Florence of the south, is a large city filled with baroque architecture, churches and castles and also Roman ruins being excavated underneath the city of Lecce.


A Roman theatre is being used today. Above is a modern baroque Tourist Office built among the ancient baroque


Catacombs for burials under the church


Dave could not resist this poster


A Parisian looking kiosk/bar


A bridal couple enjoying Lecce on this weekday afternoon

Another day we journeyed to the sea: Poltignano a Mare, a stunning town built up on cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean.


Statue of the composer of the song Volare in his home town.


Artsy shop window

More of Cisternino


A mirror made of his grandmothers washboard at Il Cucco in Cisternino


Primitivo wine is made in Puglia and we love it!


Rainbow over our trullo

For What’s to Eat in Puglia?, check my post here at Ninainthekitchen

What’s to Eat in Puglia and Where Is It?

We didn’t meet many Americans in Puglia. They haven’t discovered it yet. They will soon! It’s a thriving charming area of Italy located in the heel and Achilles’ tendon of the boot shape of Italy. Their wines were our favorite along with Provence. It is Italy, so the food is all fantastic!

 Most interesting are the trullo style homes built as sheds and barns in the 16th to 18th centuries and now renovated into homes. I’ll post more on this later! We stayed in a trullo apartment just outside of Cisternino a week and took day trips from there.

Our first dinner in Cisternino was at Bella Italia. We went back the next day for lunch!

Grilled thin sliced zucchini, radicchio and eggplant with a balsamic glaze

Rigatoni cooked al dente with a shrimp and tomato sauce

    Grilled lamb chops with a strong mustard

      Limoncello and an herby liquor that tasted like bay leaves. Possibly Mirto which is made with myrtle 

Local pasta with fresh tomatoes here with a special ham on top


Pasta with seafood and a parsley asparagus sauce, like pesto

 Here are some cheeses we bought at a market.  The white is a cows milk mozzarella that’s tied into a knot. The darkest is an aged cheese and the yellow a mild medium aged cheese. And there is the prosciutto. The bread is a light yellow color. It has sesame seeds on it and has no other additives besides the local flour.

Bright green crisp olives stored in brine with a fresh taste and black wrinkly oil cured olives which are my favorite

We were exploring Alberobello and stopped for wine and dessert. Their Primitivo wines  are super. The grape is related to the California Zinfandel 

Tiramisu with a real strong coffee flavor

  Almond cookies are popular.  Lots of almonds grown in this area, as in Sicily.


While driving near Cisternino we came across a stunning olive grove which sold their oil on property. The owner gave us a small lesson in growing olives. This tree is 600 years old!

Masseria Pezze Galere Extra Virgin Olive Oil



We took a day trip to Lecce, known as the Florence of the south.  It has beautiful baroque churches, Roman ruins and big open spaces for people to gather.

First stop was for the famous pasticciotto at Martinucci Laboratory.  I chose the ricotta and pistachio filling

Martinucci’s beautiful displays of gelato and cakes


Martinucci’s makes their own gelato in their shop!

We stopped for lunch at Nonna Tutti’s, recommended by a few sources.

Fresh burrata, a mozzarella cheese filled with cream. 

Pasta with a tomato fish sauce  


Grilled lamb chop, skewered beef and pork and sausage. Served with a salad.


On our way out of town we stopped at a famous geletaria for gelato. Pastitcceria Natale. This one is cayenne flavored chocolate and ricotta gelato.


Another day trip was north to the sea. Poltignano a Mare, a lovely town with dramatic cliffs and is the birthplace of the composer of the song Voláre.

Here is a darling cafe in PoltignanoBar Beija Flor Cafe.

This pastry is called Sbriciolata. It’s a crumbly crust filled with ricotta, Nutella and pear and covered in powdered sugar.

We stopped a restaurant overlooking the sea in Poltignano for lunch

Dave enjoyed these squid ink orecchiette, a pasta shaped like little ears. Here it’s served with seafood over a fava bean purée.


This is a red tuna seared and marinated in a soy ginger sauce with pistachio.

Here is a cafe in Cisternino called Barfod. They make the best cappuccino I ever had! Also these pastries filled with ricotta



We tried the best wines at this cool enoteca called Il Cucco in Cisternino. The owner had this mirror frame made from his grandmothers old washboard!


Pizza is everywhere. Here was an inexpensive 4 cheese pizza in Cisternino at a place called Happy Point

 For lunch one day in Cisternino we stopped at Le Chicche Di Zia Rosa. It was a tiny place that served authentic local food

  Puréed fava beans and potato puréed with water and served with steamed chicory. Fava beans are not as starchy as Lima beans, but look similar.


Pork sausage and rolled veal filled with breadcrumbs

We have been eating well on this adventure! On to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast!  

 Discovering Sicily

Sicily is an elongated shaped island running east and west located south of Italy. We took the ferry from Cagliari, Sardinia to Palermo and then drove to Erice, a hilltop town near Trapani. We were there 10 days and took day trips to the Greek ruins of Segesta and Selenunte. We also toured the salt pans and island of Mozia and experienced a delish salt tasting! We had a gorgeous boat trip to the Egadi Islands where we stopped at Favignana and Levanzo.

We drove back to Palermo for a few days and saw an opera at the Massimo Opera House. We then took a long drive to the eastern part of the island for our Godfather pilgrimage in Savoca.  None of these spots should be missed!


Pulling into the Palermo harbor


Views on our way up to Erice  

The Trapani peninsula with their salt pans to the left


Castle in Erice.


Clouds and mist blowing through 

Castle in the morning fog


 Tower and church in the morning fog

Above the clouds sunset

Main church in Erice around the corner from our apartment

Old style painted cart and horse in Erice. Later the man sang us some Sicilian songs!


Cool terracotta pot in  Erice

Nuns in Erice  There are over 200 churches in Erice

We took a day trip to Segesta


Greek temple and amphitheater at Segesta


The salt pans of Mozia, south of Trapani and north of Marsala


These salt pans produce tons of sea salt every year

The mountain where Erice sits on top in the distance







These are artifacts from the Phoenician museum on Mozia which is within the salt flats. These beads remind me of the Turkish evil eye glass which keeps evil spirits away

We experienced a lovely salt tasting with fruit in the Windmill Museum 

See more pics at my post What’s to Eat in Sicily


  We took an all day boat trip to the Egadi Islands from Trapani and stopped at 2 of the 3. Here is the Island of Farignana:


The old tuna fishing museum


The caves of the Egadi Islands



This the Island of Levanzo:



Elite Island Travel is located in Trapani right at the port. They booked our tickets to the salt pans and islands.  Giacomo Incarbona also arranged a tour of a sheep farm during milking and a cheese factory and shop that produces sheeps milk ricotta! Unforgettable experiences! Thank you Giacomo and staff! Thank you also to Mario and Maria at Caseificio Ingardia in Paceco located outside Trapani. They produce Sicilian cheese.





Fresh ricotta made from sheeps milk 

del Golfo is an old tuna fishing village we visited near Scopello.



Boat anchor collection

Watch tower on top of a cliff




,Greek ruins of Selinunte



We drove back to Palermo for a few days and stayed at the Massimo Hotel located across from the Massimo Opera House, the third largest in the world after Paris and Vienna.  Beautiful hotel with superb service and assistance!

We played paparazzi and watched the opening night red carpet!






We took a tour of the opera house and also went on a walking tasting tour of old Palermo. You can see more pics from that at my post What’s To Eat in Sicily? 


Beautiful churches in Palermo. 


A chapel within  the Norman palace. Christian, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim combined


We crossed Sicily to the east and made our stop at Savoca for The Godfather pilgrimage. We stayed at a superb resort called Borgo San Rocco. The staff were so friendly! Rosemary was especially welcoming. It was so nice we stayed 2 nights instead of one. Creative food with a fresh lighter slant! See my post on eating in Sicily!

Bar Vitelli was The Godfather place to go. It hasn’t changed much since the scene was filmed there. They are adding on a wine bar in back though! 


Ford Coppola had a home here. He was friends with the original owner of Bar Vitelli.


The wedding scene between Michael Corleone and Apalonia was also filmed in Savoca at this church. We saw a wedding here too, plus another one that day!



Beautiful walks in Savoca, a hill top town.


 Thanks to the new friends we meet in our travels! It’s made all the difference!

From here we drove to Messina and took a 1 hour ferry trip with our car to mainland Italy. On to Puglia located in the heel of Italy.

What’s to Eat in Sicily?

Two weeks in Sicily and I can’t believe how much we ate! Most of our time was spent in Trapani and Erice, and a few days in Palermo and Savoca (our Godfather pilgrimage)!

Erice is a mysterious beautiful town on a mountain top up from Trapani. We rented an apartment here for 10 days. Dinner our first night was at the highly rated Monte San Guiliano.

A local specialty antipasti here is fried chickpea triangles

Cold octopus salad With marinated fennel strips and carrots

  Smoked dried tuna with tomato, shrimp with mayonnaise like sauce, couscous in squid ink formed in a mold


Sardine fillet rolled with bread crumbs on an orange slice. Fried fish patty.
Super tender house made ravioli stuffed with ricotta, with a squid ink and squid sauce and a dollop of ricotta! Incredible!


House made sausages 


Calamari filled with ricotta in a ricotta cream sauce

Pizza in Erice

The most fresh fish of the entire trip at Antichi Sapori in Trapani. Here is a red tuna seared and served with a salsa of tomato, almond, basil and garlic.


Fried tiny fish, calamari and shrimp, octopus salad, and 3 dried fish slices with olive oil and balsamic.

Sardine Balls, a meatball with sardines in a tomato sauce. Some have more sardine flavor than others.  


Almond wine and sesame almond biscuits 

Postale 17 was our nearby cafe in Erice. This is their caponata, a mix of fried eggplant, tomato, onion and garlic with chopped almonds on top. Also served with added swordfish. Eat alone or with bread like bruschetta.

Bruschetta from Postale 17 with Caponata, fresh tomato and oregano, and thin sliced lardo (seasoned fat from a pig)

Marinated Octopus, carrot,and fennel over arugula served on a no

South of Trapani is the island of Mozia where we experienced a phenomenal salt tasting with fresh fruits! They eat salt on lemon!!

In Erice we ate dinner at Hotel Elimo, with very helpful servers



  Busiati Trapanesi, the local pasta here with their local Erice Pesto sauce: tomato, eggplant, almonds and garlic.

  Sea bream with lemon

  Beef Marsala, made with Marsala wine from nearby Marsala.


  Arancine, a Sicilian food made with saffron risotto and filled here with jamon and mozzarella cheese. Always covered with a paste of flour and water and then toasted breadcrumbs and deep fried. 

This is the authentic arancine filled with beef, carrots and peas.

A gourmet arancine filled with seafood and pistachio. 

Pasticceria San Carlo was a favorite in Erice. Here is a coffin full of plain biscotti drying. These are 6 inches long! 


This is the famous Genovese from Erice only! A cookie pastry filled with milk custard and dusted with powdered sugar. Amazing when hot out of the oven!


Another Erice pastry is Graffa con Ricotta, a doughnut like pastry cut in half and filled with sweetened ricotta and just a few chocolate chips

Cannoli!!  Plain and dusted with pistachio and sweetened orange rind

Ricotta is made with sheeps milk and there are bands of sheep grazing all over Sicily. The cows roam also, here with a farmer, though not always.

We visited a sheep farm during milking near Trapani. Unforgettable! Thank you Nino!



Hooking up to the milking machine

We learned about cheese making at Caseificio Ingardia in Paceco. They also treated us to a delicious sampling of cheeses! 

Ricotta in progress

Ricotta in tubs


Cows milk cheese in progress

    Fresh from the vat ricotta is warm, light and like custard!


Thank you Maria and Mario! 

Giacomo Incarbona, from Elite Island travel agency, was the most helpful person is Sicily! He booked trips for us and arranged the tours of the sheep farm and cheese company. Thank you Giacomo and staff!


Smoked tuna and tomatoes, octopus salad, bruschetta with onion, chicken cutlets, an antipasti  

Swordfish with Marsala sauce  

Grilled lamb, sausage and chicken


Braised fennel


Pizza in Palermo at Pizzeria Italia! With seafood and no cheese! This is Italy and the two are not allowed together!

We drove from Erice to Selinunte, the enormous Greek ruins. Stopped for lunch at Buffas Castle. This “lobster” is the whole lobster cut in half and covered in buttered bread crumbs. Unusual

  Grilled lamb


One of the most delicious foods of the trip her is a saffron risotto with teeny zucchini and zucchini flowers and truffle oil. In Palermo at Spinnacato.

Squid ink and calamari on spaghetti

In Palermo we took a Viator walking and tasting tour. Here are some market pics



Veal cartilage and fat here is breaded and deep fried and available only in the markets! Served on a sandwich roll usually.


Teeny tasty strawberries from the wild


Fresh red tuna


Whole fish by the kilogram 


Many sizes and types of calamari  

The sword in the swordfish!


Artichoke with its stalks which can be cooked separately into a pasta sauce.


Sfincione, a focaccia like bread with a thin tomato onion sauce, grilled in the food cart seasoned oven


Beef spleen braised in a sauce and sandwiched in a soft bun, another market food cart. Pane Meusa

We drove to the other end of Sicily and stayed at Resort Borgo San Rocco. Very nice! This is in Savoca, a mountain village where some Godfather scenes were filmed

Lunch at San Rocco…..

Eggplant flan with thin fried skin of eggplant


House made lasagne with eggplant  

A special dinner with many courses at the resort. 30 Euros each!


Black squid ink gnocchi in a fava bean purée and a whole shrimp

Intermezzo of puréed eggplant, sweet tomato and strawberry purée, ricotta and mint


Risotto with calamari, mussels, and clams


Fettuccine with meat Ragusa

Pork with strawberry purée and pistachio

Fish with capers, tomato and fennel frond


Pannecotte with strawberry purée


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