Nardo, Puglia  

March 23 - 30 2019

Puglia is one of the most interesting regions in Italy, and its remote position in the ‘heel’ has helped to preserve its secrets.  Ruined Saracen towers line the coast – remains of an early-warning system against sixteenth-century marauding pirates, and the large, local farmhouses used to hide women, animals and harvested crops behind strong fortifications. This was part of Magna Grecia and the great secular olive trees dominate the landscape, while the sea is ever-present.

 The fertile land and accessible coast line attracted foreign invasions and Puglia over the centuries was ruled by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Normans and Spanish. Each left their traces in the buildings and fortifications, and today the local people can be seen as descendants of this rich history.

 

This is a repeat of my very enjoyable course this October.

I had decided to rent a house in the centro storico as my base, using a small hotel, minutes away, for extra accommodation. We all met for breakfast, served in the main house by local ladies, and then made our way to the small bus for our visits and culinary adventures. The advantage of the house was that on the free evenings, after our day trips, we could all meet up and cook a relaxed meal together. We stuffed mussels and zucchini blossoms, and I incorporated an olive oil, balsamic vinegar and wine tasting in these sessions. It worked very well and everyone had a great time. I enjoyed it so much I am going to do a repeat in March, as spring comes early to the Salento.

There will be a guided walking tour to introduce you to Nardo, and we will have our first lunch at the local trattoria, Inferno, which is named after the blazing ceramic furnaces which used once to occupy this area.  Baroque Lecce, built in creamy limestone, is the most important town in the region, and we will have a guided walking tour before our  traditional lunch, cooked by local ladies, at Le Zie. Before visiting the historic sea-front Otranto we will visit visit the castle in Corigliano d'Otranto, and later in the week we  will shop for pottery in the amazing ceramic town, Grottaglie, where your purchases can be shipped safely home. There will be many memorable meals in small seaside towns like Gallipoli and Santa Maria al Bagno, and on three of the evenings there will be a chance to just relax or choose to have a cooking class in the main house, and help me prepare supper. These three sessions need to be booked in advance at a cost of 50 euros.

Price 2750 euros includes accommodation, breakfasts, one main meal a day, local guides and transport.