The snow is deep outside and I am finally checking through the pictures from last year’s trip to Puglia. No train this year as we travelled via Greece using the bus, ferries and train to get from Skiathos to Brindisi. As in previous years we stayed with Bob and Debbie at Casa Mare, Contrada Cipolla a few miles south of Brindisi and right on the Adriatic. With Bob and Debbie you are always assured of a fantastic welcome, great welcome basket and they have now become good friends. Sadly my camera is broken but Debbie gave me the use of hers, I’m tempted to adopt it! Over the next few evenings I will write my ‘Postcards from Puglia’, they may give you some ideas of great things to do in the region. This one though is just to give you a feel for Casa Mare, a fantastic base for a holiday, with all the key areas readily accessible from glorious beaches to ancient towns, food festivals for the greedy and water-sports or cycling for the energetic. During out time at Casa Mare we had some great meals with friends old and new and I’ll own up to not writing any new stories about the Onion Cats, far to busy taking part in cook schools, wine tours, carta pesta classes and the like, pictures to follow in the next postcards. If you are interested in staying at Casa Mare or Debbie and Bob’s other property Villa Rosa at nearby Casalabatte I would recommend taking a look at the websites for full details and booking sooner rather than later as they will fill quickly with repeat visitors in the next few weeks.
The final post from the Italian holiday; just a few words about Casa Mare. It is a subject of good fortune that Debbie and Bob, who own Casa Mare and live there all year round, have now become good friends. We had a fabulous time going out and about to the sagra and restaurants with them. In the summer months they move into their basement and rent out the main house to paying guests. The garden is large and they use one side with a patio and vegetable garden leaving all the terracing and the pool for the guests to use.
The villa has spacious rooms, free wifi, a large bathroom with bath and separate walk in shower and an extremely well equipped kitchen. Debbie also provides one of the best welcome baskets, complete with home-made marmalade, chutney and lemoncello.
The house is close to the beach and some of the cats that have adopted Debbie and Bob like to stroll down to join the afternoon picnic. The cats have become the subject of stories I am writing, where they are known as the Onion Cats. The latest stories though have gone AWOL; I know I’ve put the handwritten notes somewhere, but where?
By the time we were ready to book for next year Casa Mare is already full. It will be Villa Rosa, Debbie and Bob’s other house, that will be home by the sea next time.
You may have seen a piece in The Sunday Times on 19th September by A A Gill on Puglia – try and find a copy if you can. I agree with some of the things he says (yes it is litter strewn and there are incomplete buildings), but I will continue to return. I don’t think I’m an ‘English fantasist, braying at the architecture’ and I would be delighted if no other English people discovered it; it is quite nice to remain a rarity in a holiday destination. Also anyone describing it as secret Italy is clearly wrong the northern Italians have been holidaying there for years.