At the heel of the Italian boot, Puglia is a land of wild beauty where the stark rocky coastline seems to fall into the sea; a land of ancient olive groves and carpets of flowers, where the light dazzles against whitewashed walls and pale stone streets.
As sure as the sea in Puglia is of the clearest turquoise (a colour that then turns up on splattered ceramics), the food that comes out of the kitchens all over the region is wonderful and varied. I have memories of my first trip, of sandy feet tucked under tables on tiny streets, of generous platters piled with small fried morsels, of vegetables dressed up in the lively, fruity oil of the region and washed down with their crisp Rosato. The list of specialties from Puglia goes well past orecchiette and taralli to the noble lightly smoked Capocollo di Martina Franca, the vast gamma of fresh curd cheeses from stracciatella and burrata to nodini of fresh mozzarella and prized aged cheeses, there is humble and heartwarming fave and cicoria and the famous bombette della Valle d’Itria.
And then there are the artisans. Ceramics workshops, rug weavers, tailors. The town of Grottaglie, that you can read more about here, has about 50 workshops waiting to be explored. There are simply wonderful antiques fairs, once at Martina Franca and now in Ceglie Messapica and, full, and I mean really full, of linen, ceramics, furniture and collectables.
In 2018 and 2019 I ran two tours to Puglia, with a focus on Grottaglie and the antiques markets, with a fine dose of good food, and visits to producers in the mix. Just in the nick of time I have put together an itinerary with prices for Autumn 2022. See below for details and prices, spots are limited so be quick!
Autumn in Puglia. Hunting and gathering in Ceglie Messapica and Grottaglie
28 October – 1 November 2022, with Alice
25 – 29 November 2022, with Alice & Cristiana
Accommodation at Masseria Celano; a thoughtfully restored Masseria and working organic farm near Grottaglie with beautiful internal garden and artisan details everywhere. We will be the only guests, which means we can really live the common kitchen and garden area, cooking and eating together.
Price will be confirmed once number of participants is certain, trip will run with a minimum of 5 participants and we will only ask for deposits once the minimum has been reached. Deposit is non refundable unless a replacement participant is found.
Transfers included from Brindisi airport/station. There will be a supplement for transfers from Bari. I have tried to create this tour with low impact travel in mind! If you are traveling from within Italy, try and take the train (I will take the Frecciarossa Rome-Brindisi), if you are travelling from abroad try to get a flight into Brindisi, or Bari.
Friday 28 October: May late morning / afternoon: arrival, transfer from Brindisi, check in and light lunch at Masseria Celano.
Friday afternoon/evening: A walking tour of the Gravina di Riggio, the canyons outside Grottaglie, with natural and cultural splendours including frescoed cave churches from the 10th and 11th centuries.
Dinner at the Masseria
Saturday 29 October: Grottaglie! After a relaxed breakfast at the masseria or driver will take us into Grottaglie, in my opinion Italy’s best ceramic lovers’ town. We’ll have special access to visit the workshops; watch the artisans at work and learn about the history of this fascinating town that has been moulding clay since the time of the Greeks. We will pop into the lovely market to stock up on edible souvenirs (there is a stall with at least 15 varieties of both savoury and sweet, baked and boiled taralli). Lunch at Macchiaviva bistrot (always a faourite), with time in the afternoon to visit the ceramics musuem, and finish shopping at the botteghe. (Shipping available at many!)
Dinner at the Masseria.
Sunday 30 October: We’ll make an early start for the antiques market in the historic centre of Ceglie Messapica, which is run by the organisers that ran the market in Martina Franca with many of the same stalls selling furniture, old ceramics, bric a brac, jewelry, old linen, silverware and more. (heart starts beating a little faster)
Lunch in Ceglie Messapica, at the simple wonderful Cibus,. There will be time for a stroll around Ceglie after lunch, maybe stopping for another coffee and the characteristic biscotti before returning to the masseria. We’ll make orecchiette in the masseria’s open kitchen for dinner.
Light dinner at the masseria.
Monday 31 October: After breakfast we will gather in the kitchen to make orecchiette with Tiziana from the masseria. If you are like me and have already made orecchiette – little ears of hard wheat flour and water dough – before, get ready to be wowed by the nimble fingers of someone who has made them since was a little girl. Dinner prepped we will head out for the day.
Monday’s activities still in planning – possible activities include a visit to an Olive Oil Press (it will be harvest time), a cheese maker (with tasting of course), a hands on ceramics class, and a bike tour around Ostuni with tasting stops. Please let me know what interests you most!
Dinner with our home made orecchiette.
Tuesday 1 November: Breakfast at the Masseria and transfers to Brindisi – airport and station
Costs: Masseria Celano has three apartments, I have listed the prices linked to spots in each of the apartments, with the lower prices for shared apartments and/or beds.
The prices include: 4 nights accommodation. All meals, including wine. All transport around Puglia, including airport transfers (as stipulated).
(not included, aperitivi & snacks on tour, eventual ceramic hoard) ALL PRICES PER PERSON.
Small apartment with own bathroom (Paguro) – single share 1450 euro
– twin share, couple 1250 euro
– twin share, main bed plus sofa bed, 1300 euro
Small apartment with own bathroom (Tartaruga) – single share 1450 euro
– twin share, couple 1250 euro
– twin share, main bed plus sofa bed, 1300 euro
Large apartment, 2 bedrooms with own bathrooms plus lounge (Millepiedi)
– 2 x single share each with own bathroom – 1450 euro
– triple share, 2 with own room, 1 with sofa and hsared bathroom – 1300 euro
*Pricing for different combinations, for example, one couple plus 2 single friends in large apartment, avail on request.
** POSSIBILTY OF A TWO DAY INTREPID ADD ON: trains and busses down to Lecce and Specchia, let me know if interested
TO BOOK A SPOT; OR FOR QUESTIONS: firstname.lastname@example.org
The fine print:
The retreats will take place with a minimum of four and a maximum of 5 participants. and we will only ask for deposits once the minimum has been reached. Deposit is non refundable unless a replacement participant is found. The itinerary is a guide and changes will be made in the case of inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances. Replacement activities will of course be equally wonderful!
NOTE ON TRANSFERS: Two transfers will be arranged for arrival at Brindisi airport on the arrival day , and two for departure day (Brindisi airport and train station). Outside these times, participants may request a private transfer and will be required to pay a 50 – 150 euro supplement (dependent on no. of pax).
Your photographs are stunning and Apulia is a wonderful region
Thanks! The photos are by Emiko, and from the Masseria.
This looks so great!! I am going to check of I maybe van join the autumn trip 🙂
I am now exploring your web presence and found this tempting workshop. Alas no go, but it sounds great. We should have extended our holidays forever.
Cheers, Les (lesdad)
I can’t wait to join you and Cristiana!! I just booked the flights and am very excited to be exploring this region with both of you and very much looking forward to meeting you.
Something so wonderful to look forward to!
I’d love to purchase some Puglia dinner wear online. I especially love the splatter pattern. Could you recommend a website that ships to Australia?
Sorry I have taken so long to reply. Best people in Grottaglie for shipping, and for their great range, are CNF cermaiche nicolo fasano. Ask for Carmen email@example.com, their website doesn’t show everything that they have. Also Market Import in Melbourne does stock CNF.