I apologise for my long absence but it is holiday season and we have been rather jet set this past month visiting family and with the wedding season kicking off. It has been packed and pretty amazing but I am happy we are home again and settling back in for the summer.
It all started with a wedding of a dear school friend back at the end of June. She shipped us all off to Puglia in Italy for an amazing weekend. The wedding was beautiful thanks to the gorgeous setting they chose, some organisational wizardry and the extremely impressive creativity on their part. I won’t go on about it but I have never been to a wedding like it and it was probably made by the fact we got to go and visit a new place we were unfamiliar with. The bride and groom had left us with some suggestions of places to visit while we were in Puglia. Despite being limited by how far we could travel by the kids we managed to see some lovely places.
Our first day there we decided to go to a beautiful hilltop town called Ostuni. The whole of the old town is white-washed and gleams in the sunshine topped by a cathedral. Being mad Brits we were probably the only people out in the midday sun by the time we got there and soon we went in search of some shade for lunch. As we were in Italy I was keen to find a nice restaurant for lunch and saw there was one close by on my tripadvisor app. After arriving there and discovering the place was empty and looked pretty dingy with no view we left. Unfortunately in Italy it is rare to find someone serving lunch before 3pm and it was only 1pm. By this time the family were dying of heat and we ended up walking completely by chance into a small beer specialists called La Gilda which had a very basic looking snack menu but the man was so welcoming we decided to stay there for a while and have a quick bite before we continued. In fact, we ended up sharing a couple of mixed meat and cheese tagliere (platters) and having a beer each. The meat and the cheese was so fresh and local, it was absolutely delicious, and was actually the perfect lunch. Looking it up on our return I was not surprised to see it is now the highest rated restaurant in Ostuni.
On our way back to the car we came across an exhibition of beautiful classic cars in the street. They were stunning and we spent a good while inspecting them and posing in front of them pretending they were ours.
That evening we had a welcome drinks for the wedding party but it was not a late one as we knew the main party would be the Saturday night so the next morning we were very fresh when we headed out to Grottaglie. Grottaglie is a town known for its ceramics quarter. Just waking around we saw beautiful ceramic mosaics.
Also as we arrived at the “wrong” time again we got to see the artists at work drying their wares out in the street.
Unfortunately much was closing for the siesta hours by the time we had wandered around but we did get to see a few shops including one where we could peer into the work room and watch one of the ladies busy painting.
That afternoon we explored the town we were staying in called Manduria. It always amazed me how many churches there are in Italy. Manduria seemed to have one on every corner. This was highlighted to us by the religious procession which went on that weekend linked with Midsummer: all the churches had their doors open and hundreds of people chanted and held up banners to represent their group from boy scouts, to those children dressed in white going for their communion, to the nuns from the local convent. It seemed disrespectful to photograph them but here are some pictures of some of the churches and cathedrals we visited.
Manduria was actually a very pretty town with the traditional narrow streets you often find in Italian towns and that I remembered from my travels to Tuscany. I was tickled by the number of old fiats around the place. They are the Italian equivalent to a British mini and I love the old dears just as much.
While walking around Manduria we came across the amazing Il Calvario (the Calvary). To those who were unaware as to what a Calvary is: it is set of religious edifices imitating Jerusalem. It functions as a sanctuary of the Passion of Christ where plays are held before Easter.
The Sunday was the final day for the wedding activities and we all headed to the beach for the afternoon. It was a lovely end to the weekend and especially enthralling for the kids who had never been to a sandy beach. We drank slush puppies, danced and swam until the sun started setting and it was time to take everyone home to bed.
It takes a bit of a shift in rhythm to get used to Southern Italy with children but I would really recommend a trip. The people are so lovely to children and we never had a bad meal. We will definitely be back over the next few years.