The Heel of Italy

After yet another terrace breakfast we left our lovely little hideaway for a quick explore of Calvi, the nearby city before we left Corsica. We had hoped to find a store owned by the lovely Alexia, one of the team members at the Caro Hotel in Valencia. As we left that spot we discovered that Alexia was born in Calvi, and her family was still there. Alexia, if you're reading this, I'm sorry we couldn't find the shop, but we loved having you as our departure ambassador in Valencia!

Calvi was a throng of visitors enjoying the last week of the August holidays. We enjoyed our ramble through town, the people watching, the cappuccino...and we headed to the airport very aware that we had seen a small slice of a French haven.

But we had no idea of what was ahead!

After a quick flight to Brindisi, we found our rental car and navigated the sometimes tiny roads that got us to our next the midst of Puglia, the "heel" of the boot that is Italy. Puglia has been "discovered" in the last few years by visitors looking for something less crowded than Tuscany and other areas, and I cannot say enough about this region of olive trees, antipasti, mountains and hospitality and history. We arrived in our "masseria" (an ancient fortified farmhouse, a kind of rustic mansion that has been converted into a small and beautifully appointed hotel), a bit road weary and hungry. But the wonder of the place got us "gob-smacked"...Masseria San Francesco is a magnificent example of these masseria that now dot the Puglia countryside...It is full of charm, luxury and other worldly decors (please see the photos on this one!). We truly could not believe our luck! (Thank you, Katie!!) There are olive trees as sculpture at every turn, and a peacock named Periangelo!

After settling in we headed into town for what we considered a late dinner. Those of you who have eaten dinner in Europe know that an early dinner is before 8:30...we got to the restaurant at 7:30 finding every table reserved but not yet filled, so we were happy to be sat quickly at a table for two...and slurped up every bit of the seafood specialties! The fish soup was especially good, full of mussels, clams, octopus, sea bass and a couple of items I couldn't recognize (and didn't care). After dinner, we were the kind of tired that even foot dragging felt like too much effort, but we had to take a peek into the lovely town of Polignano a Mare, walked the sea wall with hundreds and hundreds of tourists. Most were eating gelato, families of six were all holding hands, there was music and much joy abounding. The buildings on the sea are carved into the rock that surrounds the harbor, creating a sense of snug safety. Gorgeous.

Finally, we took our wee tired selves back to the masseria for some much-needed sleep.