ITALY | SUMMER ESCAPE TO PUGLIA.

“L’Italia è il solo paese dove si gusta ancora la gioia di vivere. Ci fa credere nella gioia di vivere, anche quando lei stessa non ci crede” -Roger Peyrefitte

(“Italy is the only country where the joy of living is still enjoyed. She makes us believe in the joy of living, even when she herself doesn’t believe it.”)

This summer, the boys and I ventured south to heel of Italy’s boot: Puglia. This was my first time to this part of Italy and unsurprisingly, I was swept off my feet. Home to wonderful beaches, charming villages, the most magnificent basilicas, and delectable cuisine, Puglia utterly captivated my senses in the short time I spent in its embrace.

“One of the great joys of traveling through Italy is discovering firsthand that it is, indeed, a dream destination. -Debra Levinson

OSTUNI ROSA MARINA RESORT

Ostuni Rosa Marina Resort was the perfect base for us. From there, we were able to take a few day trips to the beaches and surrounding towns of the Puglia region with ease.

ITALY’S CITTA BIANCA

Ostuni is well known for its whitewashed old town. It is also referred to as “The White City” (“La Citta Bianca” in Italian) for its typically white-painted architecture. The town, built on the top of a hill overlooking the Valle d’Itria, offers panoramic vistas of the sea below.

You’ll find that time holds little meaning while wandering through this old town. Life is slow-paced and relaxed. However, the sights are beautiful, and the ambiance is vibrant. It is easy to lose yourself in the town’s maze of nostalgic alleyways, colored doors, and romantic arches and staircases. No map is needed, just a curious mind and an open heart. I loved getting lost in Ostuni and and can’t wait to experience it all over again.

Not to be missed is the Cathedral of St. Vito Martire, one of the town’s most significant monuments. Considered by the critics of the history of architecture to be among the first and best examples of Apulian Rococo, the temple was designed by an anonymous Neapolitan engineer and built between 1750 and 1752.

ALBEROBELLO

Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is probably the most popular town in Puglia for its trulli—whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs.

Although the rural trulli are scattered throughout the Itria Valley, the maximum concentration of the best-preserved examples of this architectural form is found in the town of Alberobello, with more than 1,500 structures in the districts of Monti and Aja Piccola.

A notable landmark is the only church trullo in the world: the Church of Saint Antonio da Padova (Anthony of Padua) was realized in just 14 months and was inaugurated in 1927.

Alberobello is one of those places you would want to visit once in a lifetime. Whether you are an architecture enthusiast or not, it should be on every Puglian itinerary!

POLIGNANO A MARE

Polignano-a-Mare is an undoubtedly charming coastal town, home to some of Puglia’s loveliest beaches. Lama Monachile is probably one of the most famous and symbolic examples of Polignano a Mare, a bay of clear water set between high cliffs of rock.

The center of Polignano-a-Mare is vibrant with a variety of shops, quirky restaurants, and quaint bars. As you walk through the historic town of Polignano-a-Mare you will spot these famous lyrics illuminated:

Volare... oh, oh! Cantare... oh, oh, oh, oh! Nel blu, dipinto di blu,Felice di stare lassù. E volavo volavo felice più in alto del sole ed ancora più su. Mentre il mondo pian piano spariva lontano laggiù, Una musica dolce suonava soltanto per me...

It was interesting to find out that this well-known Italian song by Domenico Modugno was born in Polignano-a-Mare. For this reason, a promenade with an adjoining statue was dedicated to him in Piazza Minerva. Knowing this tidbit, when I use this song for my Instagram Reels, it hits differently now.

PUGLIAN FOOD AND WINE

What I appreciated most about Puglia’s cuisine is its freshness and authenticity. Most dishes that we had in Puglia were simple, true to their taste, and delicious. Aside from the glorious food, we made the most of our short time in the region by indulging in their best wine. I dived more into rosè because Puglia hosts most of the best Italian Rosati. My favorite was Saturnino, which pairs well with delectable Puglian focaccia.

One week was barely enough to scratch the surface of Puglia and everything it has to offer. Needless to say, I intend to return in the future to continue our whirlwind affair. But for now, I will carry in my heart the magic and beauty that I found there and let my wonderful memories of the place remind me to always live radiantly, vibrantly, and joyfully.

Lora by Lora.

EATING OUT IN FLORENCE | BRUNCH AT DITTA ARTIGIANALE.

Ditta Artigianale has two different locations in the heart of Florence. I love swinging by the one on Via Dello Sprone. It is just a short walk away from the Ponte Vecchio. Their airy courtyard is a great place to sit back and enjoy their amazing coffee.

Food is impeccable, reasonably priced, and quite generous in portion. I can’t have enough of their Avocado on whole-grain toast and smoked salmon. It is my go-to brunch treat.

DITTA ARTIGIANALE,

Via Dello Sprone 5R – Firenze, IT +39 0552741541

Lora By Lora.

EATING OUT IN FLORENCE | SCRUMPTIOUS PISTACCHIO AND RICOTTA CANNOLI FROM DON NINO.

Located on the right-hand corner of Via Ricasoli at the Piazza del Duomo Don Nino has become one of my favorite pit stops on cheat days. I can’t get enough of their scrumptious pistachio and ricotta cannoli.

Don Nino – Piazza del Duomo 10, 50122 Firenze

DE’ MAGI, CASTIGLION FIORENTINO.

Here is a delicious cheese plate featuring cheeses from De’Magi. I have quickly become fond of their unique flavors and combinations and can’t wait to try the rest of their products.

There is never enough cheese.

DE MAGI
Via Tevere, 116 – Castiglion Fiorentino (AR)
Telefono: 0575 659995 – Fax: 0575 680406
email: magi@demagi.it – web: www.demagi.it

ITALY | CAFFÈ GIUSTI RESTAURANT IN MONTECATINI ALTO.

My husband is from a little town in Tuscany called Montecatini-Terme. Famous for its thermal waters, it is considered one of the biggest “spa towns” in Italy.

Located at the highest point of Montecatini-Terme, right on top of a hill, is a small medieval village called Montecatini Alto, which offers a panoramic vista of Montecatini-Terme. To get there, you can either drive, hike up to the village, or take the Funicular railway. The latter dates back to the end of the 1800s but is still functional and fun. Our son is a big fan of it. Read more

ITALY | ENCHANTING VINEYARD DINNER AT QUERCETO DI CASTELLINA IN CHIANTI.

It was around 2:00 a.m. in Manila and I couldn’t sleep. So, instead of prolonging my agony tossing and turning, I turned to my phone and started scrolling through my IG feed. I stumbled upon this surrealistic photo of a long table under fairy lights amidst a vineyard—things I only usually get see on Food Network Channel or the movies. After some more scrolling, following hashtag trails, I finally landed on the main feed of  Querceto di Castellina, a family-run organic winery and agriturismo  in the Chianti Classico.

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