Italy’s stunning Puglia Region was the destination for Fiona and Peter to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. Known for its whitewashed hilltop villages, centuries-old masseria farmhouses and spectacular Mediterranean coastline, Caroline created an unforgettable holiday taking in the southern region, the heel in Italy’s famous boot, and offering a truly authentic experience away from the tourist trail.
As experienced travellers, Fiona and Peter had previously visited Italy’s main tourist destinations with their children, however on this occasion they were looking for a completely different experience – a way to celebrate their special anniversary and to really enjoy their time together – a first in 25 years! On Caroline’s recommendation they chose Puglia, an enchanting region off the beaten track with plenty to explore. Working closely with Fiona and Peter to build an understanding of their interests, Caroline then crafted a truly bespoke holiday which took in the secrets of the region’s cucina povera culinary traditions, guided day trips exploring Pompeii and Capri as well as cycling along the stunning Adriatic Coast.
As Fiona pointed out, “We explained what we were hoping to do … a bit of walking, a bit of cycling and perhaps a cookery class. With Caroline’s experience and knowledge of the region, she was able to organise everything on our wish list, while at the same time leaving plenty of opportunities for us to do our own thing at each location – it was so nice not to be on a regimented tour. Caroline was spot-on with her recommendations. With her expert advice, we saw the real Italy, not just the tourist side. It’s breathtaking.”
Making use of Caroline’s local connections made all the difference for Fiona and Peter, it made their Italian experience even more real and authentic. For example …
While en route to the cliff-side village of Positano, and keen to sample some of the local cuisine, Fiona and Peter’s driver made a detour to a picturesque winery at the base of Mount Vesuvius. After a private tour of the winery they sat down to a meal of freshly prepared local produce accompanied by fine wines, all while taking in the magnificent view of the volcano.
On another occasion while driving to Matera on the Amalfii Coast, their driver Alfredo asked if they had ever eaten a limoncello pastry, sfogliatella, a well-known local delicacy. As neither of them had ever tasted one, Alfredo stopped off at a local bakery and bought some to try. Having that personalised approach with a local guide and driver really brought Italy to life for them.
Experiencing the traditional cuisine of the Puglia Region was a highlight for Fiona and Peter who were fortunate enough to meet a local farmer who showed them the process for making burrata and mozarella, before joining him and his Nonna in the family kitchen for sampling their delicious homemade cheeses.
In the heart of Lecce’s old city, Fiona and Peter experienced a hands-on cookery class, starting the day with a walking tour of the local produce market where they selected their fresh ingredients. Then under the guidance of a professional Italian chef, they learned to blend flavours, creating a delicious combination of stuffed zucchini flowers, homemade macaroni, pork neck rolls and fluffy focaccia. A final tasting around a convivial table with selected Apulian wines completed this wonderful experience.
Another memorable highlight of their Italian trip was staying in a boutique hotel inside an ancient cave in the hillside town of Matera. Located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the stunning Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita has luxurious rooms set within cave dwellings, once home to communities dating back to the stone and bronze age. Peter and Fiona then discovered the winding country lanes near Savelletri, cycling through villages of Puglia’s famous Trulli houses – cone-shaped cottages unique to the area – and vineyards towards the coastal town of Polignano A Mare.
Peter and Fiona thoroughly enjoyed their Puglian experience, “Using Caroline to advise us on our trip, meant we could completely relax about every detail on our holiday. It made our time so much more enjoyable! We didn’t need to worry about planning our days, getting around places or where to eat. Caroline already knew when we would arrive at each destination so as to avoid the big tour groups and every restaurant she organised had the most amazing food and incredible views – making these moments memorable wouldn’t have happened without her help and involvement in customising our very special experience.”