♥ The Road to My Ancestral Home: My Roots in Tuscany ♥

Let's Go to Italy Together!♥ I knew I had some roots in Tuscany in the hills of Garfagnana near Lucca but I didn’t learn the whole story until recently… ♥

We may not have much choice on how and where our story begins but there’s no doubt that it sets the stage and the course of our lives…

In the process of seeking my Italian dual citizenship, which began in earnest about three years ago, most of my focus was on my paternal genealogy since that was the path to receiving my citizenship.

I decided early on that I would pursue my maternal side after I received my citizenship…

 Roots in the boot - family time

We had a small tight-knit family…some things were never discussed.

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Posted in Boomer Travel, Come to Italy with Victoria!, Dual Citizenship, Italian Culture, Italy Travel Tips, Lucca, Multi-Generational Travel, Roots in the Boot, Tuscany, Victoria's Travel TipZ Italian Style | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

♥ Road Trip with #2SicilianGals ♥

Let's Go to Italy Together!♥ A brief account of how the upcoming road trip in Sicily with my friend, Margie, came about…

#2SicilianGals Road Trip

Preparing for Our #2SicilianGals Road Trip

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Posted in #2SicilianGals, Come to Italy with Victoria!, Dual Citizenship, Growing Up Italian, Inspired Travel, Italian Style, Passports & Visas, Rewarding Sightseeing, Roots in the Boot, Sicily, Travel TipZ, Victoria on Amazon, Victoria's Travel TipZ Italian Style | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

I Just Had a Fabulous Vacation…So, Why Am I So BLUE??

You’re just back from a fabulous vacation! You had a great time…all the planning and expense was worth it – it was fun, rewarding, memorable, and everything you hoped it would be…Then why the heck are you so blue??? Maybe even downright depressed??

Has this every happened to you? Sure, there’s the laundry, the bills, the mail, the empty frig, jet lag, and the “oh god I have to go back  to work on Monday” stuff, but it’s something else and despite the fact that you’re glad to sleep in your own bed and your pets are thrilled to see you, there can definitely still be a real letdown…a real case of the blues!

If you had a great time, then how is that possible? I used to think it was just me…until I discovered that it’s a real phenomenon and you certainly are not alone……  It’s called the post-vacation blues! No, really, I’m not making it up! It’s even got a clinical name…

We know the cause, so what are the symptoms and what’s the cure??? Find out how to beat those blues:

Post-Vacay Blues!

Read about it, then please share what works for you! (Mine is to plan the next trip!)

Posted in Inspired Travel, Rewarding Sightseeing, S.O.S. - Just in Case..., The Best Time to Travel, The Savvy Traveler, Travel Planning, Travel PointerZ, Travel TipZ | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

♦ Puglia PostZ Redux ♦

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Back in 2013, when I was anticipating my first trip to and tour in Puglia, I did a lot of research and published a series of posts which I called Puglia PostZ.

PostcardZ from VictoriaThis series was intended as an introduction to Puglia’s unique and magnificent gifts as well as highlight my boutique experience: “Kicking Up Our HeelZ Together” in Puglia, once Italy’s lesser known region.

I have decided that, after four fabulous in-depth visits to Puglia, it was time to update and do a redux of the Puglia PostZ as well as include a few links to the many subsequent posts/articles I have written since.

As my visits have become richer and more extensive, I have had the privilege and pleasure of enjoying more authentic and personal experiences with a place and a people I have come to love…

I always look forward to my next visit… Won’t you join me?

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Posted in Boomer Travel, Come to Italy with Victoria!, Food Tourism, Gallipoli, Is a Tour for You?, Italian Culture, Italy Travel Tips, Lecce, Made in Puglia!, Ostuni, Otranto, Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Puglia 2017, Rewarding Sightseeing, Salento Style, Solo Travel, The Savvy Traveler, Trulli of Itria Valley, Victoria on Amazon, Victoria's Travel TipZ Italian Style | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Puglia PostZ #3: Let’s Visit Lecce, The “Florence of the South”

Puglia 2014

Benvenuti! Welcome to Puglia!

This fall (2016) and in 2017 we will once again be “Kicking Up Our HeelZ” in Puglia, the charming heel of Italy’s boot.

This is the third in a series of Puglia PostZ which I published a few years in an effort to inform you about this unique region of Italy and, of course, to entice you into joining us!

After four amazing and fabulous tours, I can’t wait to return and re-visit Lecce…Read why!

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Puglia PostZ #3: Let’s Visit Lecce – the “Florence of the South”

Photo Victoria De Maio

Lovely Lecce

Like so many Italian cities, Lecce has a fascination history and story dating back thousands of years. Although touched and influenced by diverse cultures and civilizations, Lecce has retained her own unique charm.

Lecce…Yesterday

Lecce, capital of its province of Salento, is one of the most important cities of Puglia. As the main city of the Salentine Peninsula at the heel of the Italian Peninsula, Lecce’s ancient history and origins date back over 2,000 years. As with many cities and regions located in strategically desirable areas (e.g. Sicily), Lecce’s story is one of conquest and survival.

A fascinating blend of history and legend, Lecce’s origins date back before Trojan war and the Messapians or Messapii and may even be traced back to ancient Crete. Conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century B.C., Lecce (called Lupiae at the time and renamed Licea by the Romans) enjoyed a prosperous period under emperor Marcus Aurelius. Followed by a brief Greek rule, then sacked by the Ostrogoths (a branch of the later Goths), in 549 it became part of the Eastern Roman Empire and remained under Roman rule for five centuries.

Emperor Hadrian (who loved to build walls) invested in the area and today you can visit the 25,000-seat Roman amphitheatre and other ruins from this period.  Then, enter the Normans under whom Lecce became, not only an important trading center but, the capital of Salento. In 1493, when Lecce became part of the Kingdom of Naples, she enjoyed the status as one of the most important towns in southern Italy. Her culture and unique architectural style, known now as Lecce Baroque, really flourished.

Over the centuries, walls and castles were built around the city, many by Charles V, to protect against possible attacks by the Ottomans.  As with so many other parts of Europe, Lecce suffered from a plague epidemic in the 17th century which, thanks to the intervention of St. Oronzo (St. Horace), who became the patron saint of the city, came to an end.

It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that Lecce began to expand beyond the city walls.

Lecce…Today

Today, Lecce is a town of approximately 95,000 inhabitants. As with the rest of Puglia, she has stood in the shadow of her more famous and well-known neighbors to the north. But today, they are both is claiming their share of  the spotlight and attracting a great deal of attention and tourism.

Nicknamed the “Florence of the South” or “Pearl of Salento”, Lecce is characterized by her own unique architectural Baroque style, called Leccese in Italian, which is described as a style of “richness and exuberance…(whose)… decorations…seem to want to hide the buildings rather than decorate them.”

Since pietra leccese (or poor man’s marble) is a tuffaceous stone – soft and easy to work with (but hardens over time) – local master sculptors wer able to create elaborate and fanciful stone ornamentation and “lacework” for her buildings, churches, and fortifications which, to this day, embellish the entire city and continue to delight visitors.

I can’t wait for you to join us and experience Lecce!

Let’s Visit Lecce’s Main Sights…

  • Piazza del Duomo or Cathedral Square is where we will find the Duomo, Cathedral of Madonna Assunta. Built in 1144 and restored in the 17th century, the Duomo received a Baroque facelift and a new bell tower.
    • The Basilica di Santa Croce whose elaborate façade is considered one of the finest and most intricate and detailed Baroque facades in Italy, took over 200 years to complete before it was finally opened in 1695.  The Basilica is recognized as the symbol of the city.
  • The Church of Saints Niccolo and Cataldo, built by King Tancred of Sicily in 1180, is a Norman church whose rather austere façade was decorated in the Baroque style in the 1700’s.
  • The Statue of Saint Oronzo: The copper statue of Saint Oronzo (St. Horace), the beloved patron saint of Lecce stands on a column in Lecce’s old town center. The statue was a gift from the grateful citizens of Brindisi who believed that the good patron helped save their town as well as Lecce from the plague.
  • The Roman Amphitheatre: Earthquakes, attacks and regrettable town planning left the Amphitheatre, built at the end of the 2nd century B.C., buried and neglected until after World War II. Today, approximately two-thirds of the arena has been excavated and archeologists estimate that it held 25,000 spectators.
  • Church of Santa Chiara: Close to the Amphitheater, Santa Chiara is famous for its paper-maché decorated ceiling.
  • Il Castello di Carlo V: Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, inherited vast territories of Europe, including southeast Italy. He was beleaguered by attacks from the Ottomans and consequently built a series of towers and fortifications along Puglia’s coast. One of these is the Castle (Castello) in Lecce. Built between 1539 and 1549 on the site of an existing Norman fortress, the Castle has a central courtyard and decorated halls and, today, hosts cultural and artistic events.

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Whether you are a foodie, a wine lover, love to cook, a shopper, love art and history, or just love exploring new places…after you read the fabulous itinerary and details of this fabulous holiday, I know you will want to join us!   

Still need a “Reason”?? Here are 10!

PostcardZ from Victoria

Highlights of Our Itinerary:

Learn More About Puglia & How You Can Kick Up Your HeelZ with Us!

Everything you need to say “Si” is here:

Come with Me to Puglia:

Spring 2017! Register Today!

Fall 2017! Register Today!

Space is LIMITED to 12 Guests!

Still undecided? Questions? Contact Victoria

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Posted in Come to Italy with Victoria!, Food Tourism, Is a Tour for You?, Made in Puglia!, Solo Travel, Travel Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Puglia PostZ #5: Wine Tasting in Puglia! Salute!

Puglia 2014

Benvenuti! Welcome to Puglia!

This October and in 2017, we will be “Kicking Up Our HeelZ” in Puglia again! And you can bet, we’ll be enjoying the fabulous Pugliese wines!

This is the fifth in a series of Puglia PostZ which I published several years ago before I was actually able to taste their wines firsthand and become a huge fan!

I can’t wait for you to join us for winetasting, Salento style!

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Puglia PostZ #5: Let’s Go Wine Tasting in Puglia! Saluté!

A Brief History:

If Italy is the largest producer of wine in the world, it is largely thanks to Puglia, which produces more than any other Italian region, about 17% of Italy’s total production!

Puglia is a very long region that stretches for more than 250 miles and has been influenced by a series of dominating cultures including the Greeks, the Turks, the French and the Spanish. Naturally, these influences are reflected in the architecture, the cuisine, and the wine.   Throw in long, hot Mediterranean summers, micro-climates and occasional sea breezes and you get an ideal environment for viticulture.

For decades Puglia was known as “Italy’s wine cellar”. Its wines were used primarily for blending into lesser quality wines and vermouth. However, in the late 20th century, there was a shift and consumers wanted more affordable quality wines and competition on the world stage increased. Puglia responded by tightening up their production and focused on producing DOC quality wines and investing in promoting its eno-tourism.

Today Puglia has more than 30 DOC and DOCG appellations ranging from round and fruit-forward Primitivo di Manduria (made from a grape genetically similar to Zinfandel) to Negroamaro– based rosés, to the sweet Aleatico di Puglia.

Although Puglia is roughly divided into three viticultural areas, we will focus on the southernmost region between Brindisi and Lecce where we visit and taste every spring and fall.

The Unique Wines of the South:

It has been written that the “true” Puglia is in the south, below the Brindisi-Taranto line (which also traces the southernmost stretch of the Appian Way, by the way).

The varietals here are almost unique to the area and are considered “the full-blooded Puglian grapes”. Although there are many native grape varieties, the most dominant among the reds are Negroamaro (“black bitter”), Primitivo, Uva di Troia and Bombino Nero.

Negroamaro is almost exclusive to Puglia and is its most widely grown variety. Salice Salentino is a result of Negroamaro.  However, it’s Primitivo (sharing its genetic make-up with Zinfandel) that enjoys the title of most famous grape of the region.

Although white wine only accounts for 20% of Puglia’s production, more crisp whites are becoming increasingly popular in the past few years with Verdeca, Bombino Bianco, Malvasia and Chardonnay.

A more recent entry onto the world stage are the rosé from the Salento region which are gaining in popularity and recognition (even so much as being favorably compared to those of southern France!)

So, if you haven’t heard of or tasted wine from Puglia, isn’t it time you did?

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Waiting to welcome you, too!

Better yet,  join us and find out first hand!

Cin cin! Salute!Let's Go to Italy Together!

Still need a “Reason”?? Here are 10!

V apron - small no Lulu

Highlights of Our Itinerary:

Learn More About Puglia & How You Can Kick Up Your HeelZ with Us!

Everything you need to say “Si” is here:

Come with Me to Puglia:

Spring 2017! Register Today!

Fall 2017! Register Today!

Space is LIMITED to 12 Guests!

Still undecided? Questions? Contact Victoria

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Posted in Come to Italy with Victoria!, Is a Tour for You?, Puglia, Solo Travel, The Best Time to Travel, Travel TipZ | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Puglia PostZ #2 – Meet Your Hosts!! Victoria and Yle

Puglia 2014

Benvenuti! Welcome to Puglia!

New 2017 Dates!

May 26 – June 4

September 22 – October 1

V apron - small no Lulu

Next spring & fall we will be “Kicking Up Our HeelZ” in Puglia, the charming heel of Italy’s boot.

This is the second in a series of Puglia PostZ in which  I introduced you to Puglia and to the authentic and unique experiences you can enjoy with us…

I thought that, after four tours, it was time to update you! and, of course, to entice you into joining us!

Puglia 2014

Puglia PostZ #2 – Meet Your Hosts!! Victoria and Yle

Kick Up Your HeelZ with Us! Victoria and Yle have collaborated to create a fabulous, affordable small group holiday to Puglia, Italy, just for YOU…

Puglia 2014

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Won’t you join me for a slice of la dolce vita?

Victoria De Maio – PostcardZ from Victoria

Travel Advisor, Blogger, Writer, Published Author & Tour Leader

Victoria is passionate about a lot of things. At top of the list are travel, Italy and teaching yoga…and she wants to share all of them with YOU!

La dolce vita for me! And for YOU! Victoria loves sharing her passion for travel (and especially travel to Italy!). On her blog, Postcards from Travel PiZazz, she enjoys sharing no-nonsense travel tips and advice, insights and inspiration (with a lighthearted twist) as well as her own experiences.

From planning and budgeting to packing and tipping, it’s all there. When’s the best time to book a flight? What are the latest travel trends? What about suggestions about safety, sightseeing and solo travel? It’s all there! Thinking about taking a tour? Considering a cruise? She can help.

Of course, when it comes to her travel experiences, they are very personal, so any observations, insights and suggestions come from personal preferences. Slanted? Perhaps. Opinionated? Perhaps. So, you won’t read about bungee jumping or backpacking, but you will read about traveling with friends, touring and cruising with an emphasis on enjoying and immersing in the local customs, cuisine, museums and historical sights.

After a month long stay in Italy last spring (and determined to return and return often)…when the idea and opportunity to combine Italy and yoga and the perfect location and partner in Puglia presented itself…well, who could resist? Share her passion for all things Italian…

Find Victoria right here on:

PostcardZ from Victoria

Where You Will Find Victoria

Victoria on Amazon

 Puglia 2014

Photo-Victoria De Maio

With My Wonderful Partner, Yle

Ylenia Sambati –  YLTOUR PR, Puglia Wine School, Cooking in Puglia

Owner, Custom Tour Planner & Guide

Yle is the reason this trip is happening! Her passion and commitment will make our holiday a memorable and unforgettable experience.

A native and resident of Lecce, Yle infuses everything she does with enthusiasm and a genuine love for what she does. She came highly recommended and has made planning and coordinating our spring 2014 holiday together a genuine pleasure.

Yle has been planning and organizing cultural experiences in Puglia for over 15 years. She established a successful travel and corporate event company working with international clientele and two years ago started a culinary school. Custom tour planner and guide extraordinaire, I’m not sure there’s anything she can’t arrange!

Whether it’s a corporate incentive program or a cooking class, a wedding or honeymoon, day trips, retreats, wine tasting, sightseeing, tours, bike trips, olive oil tasting…you name it, Yle will help you plan it! With an emphasis on a healthy and authentic lifestyle, Yle will introduce you to the local food, wine, culture and people of the Puglia that she knows and loves…a Puglia that most tourists will never experience.

Frankly, I’m not sure where she gets the time and energy (I sometimes suspect she has a twin!) but it’s her  obvious love for what she does that infuses everything she does. You can’t help but feel her warmth and enthusiasm! Who can resist?

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Along with the personal attention and warm hospitality, Ylenia, her partner Michele and a simply stellar team, ensure that our time together is always perfection!

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Benvenuti! We can’t wait to welcome you to Puglia!

Puglia 2014

Whether you are a foodie, a wine lover, love to cook, a shopper, love art and history, or just love exploring new places…after you read the fabulous itinerary and details of all that you will experience with Victoria and Yle, I know you will want to join us!

Still need a “Reason”?? Here are 10!

PostcardZ from Victoria

Highlights of Our Itinerary:

Learn More About Puglia & How You Can Kick Up Your HeelZ with Us!

Everything you need to say “Si” is here:

Come with Me to Puglia:

Spring 2017! Register Today!

Fall 2017! Register Today!

Space is LIMITED to 12 Guests!

Still undecided? Questions? Contact Victoria

Let's Go to Italy Together!

 

Posted in Boomer Travel, Come to Italy with Victoria!, Design YOUR Dream Trip to Italy, Food Tourism, Inspired Travel, Is a Tour for You?, Italian Culture, Italy Travel Tips, Puglia, Puglia 2017, Salento Style, Solo Travel, The Savvy Traveler, Victoria on Amazon, Victoria's Travel TipZ Italian Style | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Puglia PostZ #4: Let’s Cook with Mamme!

Puglia 2014

Benvenuti! Welcome to Puglia!

Next spring & fall we will once again be “Kicking Up Our HeelZ” in Puglia, the charming heel of Italy’s boot.

This is the fourth in a series of Puglia PostZ which I published and am updating since we have cooked together (always with wine!) and enjoyed savoring seasonal, regional and traditional dishes! I’m looking forward to more…

Let's Go to Italy Together!Puglia PostZ #4: Let’s Cook with Mamme!

Photo by Victoria De MaioMangia! Mangia! Mangia! It’s the mantra of every Italian mother! If you grew up in an Italian family or have ever dined with one…you’ve heard it and know what it means! And if you don’t, you’d better learn!

There’s no doubt about the importance of food in the hearts and minds of Italians. So much of the Italian culture – family… revolves around the enjoyment of food. And we can learn a lot from their philosophy:

~ Mangiare per vivere e non vivere per mangiare. ~

– Italian proverb
(Translation: Eat to live and not live to eat.)

Does anyone think about Italy and not think about the delicious cuisine? Food nourishes so much more than the body…it nourishes the soul. Honestly, is there any problem that a good meal and a good glass of wine can’t solve?Photo by Victoria De Maio

~ Mangia che ti passa. ~

-Italian proverb
(Translation: Eat and it will be over, you’ll feel better.)

So, I ask you, what could be more fun than cooking traditional local dishes and specialties with fresh, organic ingredients taught by a local expert. Not someone trained in some cooking school, but real experts…Mamme! Add enjoying those dishes with local  vino and amici? And we know the secret ingredient, don’t we? Ah, amore, of course!

Si! And, Cooking with Mamme is cooking with love! A native of Salento and mother of four, Mamma Anna exudes love and warmth. In a friendly and casual atmosphere, we will prepare and enjoy Pugliese cuisine; simple and delicious. (Accompanied by fabulous local wines, of course!)

~ A tavola non si invecchia. ~

– Italian proverb.
(Translation: At the table with good friends and family you do not become old.)

Enough chatter, a picture is worth a thousand mouth watering words! Enjoy this sampling of Mamma Anna, Giulia, and Angelina’s magic.

~ Life is too short, and I’m Italian. I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0.” ~

– Sophia Bush

(I never was a size 0 anyway…)

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Whether you are a foodie, a wine lover, love to cook, a shopper, love art and history, or just love exploring new places…after you read the fabulous itinerary and details of this fabulous holiday, I know you will want to join us!   

Still need a “Reason”?? Here are 10!

Highlights of Our Itinerary: V apron - small no Lulu

Learn More About Puglia & How You Can Kick Up Your HeelZ with Us!

Everything you need to say “Si” is here:

Come with Me to Puglia:

Spring 2017! Register Today!

Fall 2017! Register Today!

Space is LIMITED to 12 Guests!

Still undecided? Questions? Contact Victoria

Let's Go to Italy Together!

 

Posted in Boomer Travel, Come to Italy with Victoria!, Design YOUR Dream Trip to Italy, Food Tourism, Inspired Travel, Is a Tour for You?, Italian Culture, Italian Style, Italy Travel Tips, Puglia, Puglia 2017, Salento Style, Solo Travel, Victoria on Amazon, Victoria's Travel TipZ Italian Style | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Puglia PostZ #8: Let’s Visit Gallipoli, Ostuni & Otranto

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Benvenuti! Welcome to Puglia!

Next spring & fall  we will be “Kicking Up Our HeelZ” in Puglia, the charming heel of Italy’s boot.

This is the eighth in a series of Puglia PostZ which I have been publishing every few weeks in an effort to inform you about this unique region of Italy and, of course, to entice you into joining us!

By the Sea…By the Beautiful Sea!
Let’s Visit 3 of Puglia’s Seaside Gems…

Gallipoli, Ostuni and Otranto

Gallipoli, Ostuni and Otranto are all seaside towns famous for their history, charm and  beauty. Mixed cultural influences and local cuisine enhance their attraction. Andiamo!

Let's Go to Italy Together!

♦ Gallipoli

Photo Victoria De Maio

Scenic Gallipoli

Gallipoli, which means “beautiful city” in Greek, lies on Ionian Sea on the western coast of the Salentine peninsula. Historically Gallipoli was frequently under siege so it is almost completely surrounded by defensive walls. The city is divided into two zones: the “Old Town” and the “New Town”.

The “Old Town” is on a tiny island which is connected by a 17th century bridge to the mainland. With its labyrinth of narrow streets and churches, palazzi and structures, Gallipoli’s history and mix of different influences and cultures is apparent.

The “New Town” is divided by Corso Roma into two sections called Sirocco and Tramontana and this is where we will find more modern buildings and  tourist services.

Photo Victoria De Maio

Meet locals…

Once a wealthy port town, Gallipoli also has two ports with the fishing port being the oldest. Gallipoli is renowned for its fresh seafood and fish. A visit to the seafood market, where you can taste raw shrimps, sea urchins, shellfish and local oysters, is a highlight of a visit here.

Delightful beaches, crystal blue waters and lovely views can be enjoyed at local cafes along the sea-front promenade.

Ostuni

Photo Victoria De Maio

Visit Ostuni

Known as the “white city” for its whitewashed buildings, Ostuni is Greek in appearance with some Baroque details and an 18th century obelisk in the main square. With the largest population of the three cities,it is actually a few short kilometers from the coast.

The influence of Frederick II, who spent a great deal of time in Puglia constructing sixty-nine castles and forty-two cathedrals over a thirty year period, is apparent.

Rebuilt in the 1st and 2nd century AD by the Greeks, like so many towns in this region, Ostuni’s history includes various occupations and rulers (including the Romans, the Ostrogoths and the Longboards). In the 16th century Isabella D’Aragona and then her daughter initiated an era of culture and art.

Photo Victoria De Maio

Charming and inviting Ostuni.

Defensive walls were enlarged and towers were erected to protect the inhabitants from the attacks of the Turks.

 

In the late 17th century, the city was sold 1679 to the Duke of Giovanni Zevallos whose family tyrannized the city until the Bourbons came to power. Finally, in 1860, Ostuni became part of the newly formed nation of Italy.

♦ Otranto

Photo Victoria De Maio

Medieval walls of Otranto

Otranto, a charming seaside town at the very tip of Italy’s heel in southern Puglia, is characterized by ancient walls and the crystal clear waters. Like Gallipolli and Ostuni, Otranto was strategically located for foreign invasions of Italy and Europe. And like her sister cities, Otranto has endured and survived for centuries.

Once a Roman port for trade, Otranto was been ruled by the Normans and later, in 1480, attacked and almost completely annihilated by the Turks when about 800 of the townsfolk were transported to a nearby hill and beheaded for refusing to deny their faith.

Otranto’s cathedral, completed in the 12th century, is known for its beautiful Baroque portal, fine rose window and magnificent interior. Itsmosaic floor, reputed to be the largest mosaic in Europe, includes the ‘

Photo Victoria De Maio

Otranto’s cathedral

tree of life’ with intertwining Norman, Greek and Byzantine designs as well as animals, symbols and words whose secrets are still being studied and deciphered to this day .

 

Castello Aragonese, a castle in the center of town and overlooking Otranto’s port, was built in the late 15th century by the Aragonese to defend the town against foreign invasions.

Today the only invaders are the tourists who come to enjoy Otranto’s seaside charm as well as its superb seafood including sea urchins, sea bass and sea bream.

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Still need a “Reason”?? Here are 10!

PostcardZ from Victoria

Highlights of Our Itinerary:

Learn More About Puglia & How You Can Kick Up Your HeelZ with Us!

Everything you need to say “Si” is here:

Come with Me to Puglia:

Spring 2017! Register Today!

Fall 2017! Register Today!

Space is LIMITED to 12 Guests!

Still undecided? Questions? Contact Victoria

Let's Go to Italy Together!

 

Posted in Boomer Travel, Come to Italy with Victoria!, Design YOUR Dream Trip to Italy, Gallipoli, Is a Tour for You?, Italian Culture, Italy Travel Tips, Ostuni, Otranto, Puglia, Puglia 2017, Rewarding Sightseeing, Solo Travel, Victoria on Amazon, Victoria's Travel TipZ Italian Style | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Puglia PostZ #9: Andiamo! Let’s Go to Puglia!

Let's Go to Italy Together!Puglia PostZ #9 –  Andiamo! Let’s Go to Puglia!

 Next spring & fall we will be “Kicking Up Our HeelZ” in Puglia, the charming heel of Italy’s boot.

This is the 9th in a series of Puglia PostZ which I published a few years ago before taking the first group there – now, as I look forward to my fifth time to Puglia, I can truthfully say, it was love at first sight and has never abated!

Altogether there are nine (9) Puglia PostZ – enjoy them all! They’ve been updated but the intent remains the same: to inform you about this unique region of Italy and, of course, to entice you into joining us!Let's Go to Italy Together!

Your Invitation to Say “Si!”

Over the past years I have been inviting you to “Kick Up Your HeelZ in Puglia”, Italy with me and there have four groups accepted my invitation and we had the time of our lives together!

Some of us are going in fall and many of you are deciding whether to come or next spring……Well, let me review why joining me in Puglia should be your next vacation destination!

puglia - map copyMaybe you have never heard of Puglia until now? Well, I can promise that you will be hearing a lot more! Puglia is emerging from the shadows of Italy’s more famous regions and is stepping into the spotlight.  Recently recognized and cited as a top destination for 2014-2015 by Lonely Planet and National Geographic Traveler, Puglia is becoming the place to visit.  (However, for now, less famous means less touristy and less pricey – two more excellent reason to come with me!)

Puglia is the heel of Italy’s boot, a peninsula which divides and is blessed by two seas, the Adriatic and the Ionian. Since last summer I’ve been sharing you about this unique region in my Puglia PostZ and, in particular, about the Salento region where our 10 day visit will concentrate.

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Masseria Provenzani

Our accommodations for our entire stay will include a beautiful family-owned masseria (farmhouse) near Lecce, the capital of the Salento region and a luxury hotel or B&B in historical Lecce!

Here we will enjoy and immerse ourselves in la dolce vita Pugliese style! And who better to be our local host and expert than Yle Sambati of YLTOUR? A native of the area and tour leader/guide for over 10 years, Yle was been singled out in the Huffington Post by Walks of Italy as one of the best tour guides in Italy.  Her engaging and warm,  enthusiastic personality and obvious passion for her home guarantees a memorable visit.

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Puglia’s White City, Ostuni

From its distinctive whitewashed medieval hill town and famous, trulli stone huts to the crystal clear beaches…from the charming seaside villages hugging ancient stone cliffs to

the palate-pleasing cuisine and wines; whether you’re a foodie, a wine lover, a history or art buff or just an Italophile, the heel of Italy’s boot has it all!

Harkening back thousands of years, this area was ancient before the Greeks settled here! And it’s all of these very influences over the millennia – Greek, Spanish, French and Turkish – that have contributed to it’s rich traditions and allure.

Photo by Victoria De Maio

Cooking with Yle & Mamme

Whether you’re a foodie or wine lover, you’ll love experiencing the rich variety of Pugliese cuisine and wines, which are as original as its landscape. You probably didn’t know that Puglia produces 40% of Italy’s olive oil and that it’s Italy’s largest wine producer, boasting 25 D.O.C.’s? And along with the wine and olive oil, we’ll be  partaking in fresh, local specialties (including cheeses and some of the 200 types of pasta exclusive to the region). And we will experience it all first hand – cooking and dining with local experts (local mums) – as well as wine tasting and olive oil tasting at local family run cellars and farms.

Exploring local sites is also on our agenda. Are you an art or history buff? Well, there’s over 2000 years of it here! In addition to Lecce, the “Florence of thePhoto by Victoria De Maio South”, famed for its dazzling Baroque art and architecture (and over 40 churches!), we will visit the Itria Valley characterized by its mysterious and marvelous whitewashed trulli, and wander the narrow streets of the picturesque seaside villages of Gallipolli, Otranto, and Ostuni.

All of this and so much more….all in bucolic surroundings and at a relaxed and leisurely pace designed to allow you the time to just bask in and enjoy la dolce vita!

We will be there in October and next spring to savor it all! You will be there with us, won’t you??

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Still need a “Reason”?? Here are 10!

PostcardZ from Victoria

Highlights of Our Itinerary:

Learn More About Puglia & How You Can Kick Up Your HeelZ with Us!

Everything you need to say “Si” is here:

Come with Me to Puglia:

Spring 2017! Register Today!

Fall 2017! Register Today!

Space is LIMITED to 12 Guests!

Still undecided? Questions? Contact Victoria

Let's Go to Italy Together!

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