Italy has been called the "birthplace of European civilization." Whether you have Italian heritage or not, you can trace the history of some of the world's greatest advancements back to early Italy. From the art of Michelangelo to the music of Vivaldi to the scientific advancements of Galileo, Italians have shaped the modern world, and when you travel to Italy, you feel that history everywhere you go. When most people think of Italian history though, they think of great Italian metropolises like Rome and Milan. To experience the untouched history of Italy though, you need to travel somewhere a little more remote.
projects with the hopes of pulling the city out of poverty. As my daughter and I walked through the sassi together, learning about each cave's former residents, I felt myself confronted by the enormity of human suffering, while also counting my tremendous blessings. To connect with Matera is to connect with a broader part of human history.
Sun-loving Italians head further south – to the stunning shores of Puglia. I was lucky enough to travel to the heel of Italy’s boot. It’s home to sky-blue seas and an
untouched coastline. You’ll nibble burrata cheese and taste fresh-pressed olive oil as you watch a Mediterranean sunset. After spending a week here, I couldn’t help but wonder: why go to the Amalfi Coast when you could have Puglia all to yourself?
No mediocre meals built for foreign tourists.
Just sun and seafood and genuine Italian hospitality.
Below, you’ll find one my favorite gems in Puglia:
Gallipoli is not just for the beachgoer, though. Inside city center, you will find a miniature metropolis, bursting with life and boasting some of the best shopping from local craftsmen I have ever seen in Europe. Whether you are in the market for one-of-a-kind home décor or custom leather shoes, Gallipoli locals will have just the thing for you. While in Gallipoli with my daughter, we found custom leather sandals with the name of the craftsman hand-stitched into the sole of the shoe. Sure, you can find Italian leather at Ferragamo, but shopping in Gallipoli, meeting the craftsmen, and supporting local businesses allows you to create experiences you will remember for a lifetime and build a connection to the city itself (all while finding that perfect pair of shoes)!
When my children were little, reading was one of their favorite pastimes. I would read to them for hours, and while they enjoyed the books we shared, they often loved our joint storytelling even more. I usually started with "Once Upon A Time" (I know, not very creative) and made up the stories as I spoke. My oldest son Rob would pick up where I left off, and my daughter Lexi would finish the story. Rob and Lexi are in their twenties now and have graduated from storytelling with Mom to experiencing their own, real-life adventures.
Like so many of you, I have had more family time this year. We have had time to reminisce about their childhood memories, friendships, and what our family refers to as Awestruck Moments. "Awe" is defined as a feeling of reverential respect mixed with wonder. Awestruck Moments are our fondest memories. They are the stories that will be passed down for generations. They are also the hopeful reminders that we recall to help see us through our more difficult days, and 2020 has been difficult to say the least.
I dedicate time to travel each year, so I can personally vet the experiences I bring to you. In 2019, Lexi and I shared a mother-daughter trip to Italy. Located in the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is just...stunning. You really MUST go. If the Amalfi Coast and the Greek Isles had a love child, Puglia is certainly it. Everywhere you look in Puglia, you see olive trees growing from the sun- soaked soil, framed by the deep aquamarine of the Mediterranean Sea. Every day, I felt like I was walking through a postcard.
drinking in views of the Mediterranean and cooling off in stone buildings that have been standing for a millennia. When you have tired yourself out, duck into a trattoria to enjoy seafood caught just hours before your arrival while you watch fishermen row back to shore. Adventurous eaters can even dine in a grotto – one of Polignano’s best restaurants is located inside an actual sea cave!
Puglia is one of my favorite travel secrets! You won't find hordes of tourists here. It's where Italians vacation. While it was impossible to return in 2020, I look forward to visiting this summer and in 2022 I will be hosting a small group! Over the next few weeks, I invite you to come along with me while I reminisce, and share a sample day by day itinerary that I have crafted for my travelers. Are you interested in Southern Italy, minus the masses? It's like stepping into a fairytale....
Ciao for now!