Final day in Lecce

And all too fast the week is over.  I can’t quite believe it.

I started the day having a cappuccino with Gio who had driven to Lecce to pick up a client.  On the way back I bumped into Silvestro from The Awaiting Table picking up new students.  I know what a fantastic day they have in store for them.  I was slightly jealous.

The day was clear and I went for a wander.  I love when the old palazzo main doors are left open..so many hide stunning inner gardens

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Well I had to have a good look!

And around other corners stunning displays of greenery.

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I sat and watched the world go by at a cafe supping Jasmine tea and then…….the heavens opened and now we have thunder and pouring rain.  Maybe I’m being acclimatised for my return to the UK tomorrow morning.

Oh well…..until the next time.

 

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Return to Ostuni and friends old and new.

I spent a lovely day yesterday having lunch with Jemma.  She’s kind of my heroine.  She decided to up sticks and buy a house just outside the city with land and has proceeded to tile, plaster, build, grow, prune her olive trees and establish a lovely life.  Yes there are difficult moments but I admire her for taking the leap and doing it.  It’s inspiring!

The lovely thing about Ostuni is that it’s smaller so the chances of bumping into people are greater.  As I parked up on arrival my lovely Gio was literally walking down the road next to my parking space.  Then while Jemma and I were having lunch, the fab lady that is Bobbie drove past tooting her horn.

 

A while later Gio appeared with a couple he had been having lunch with and joined us for coffee.  Then the gorgeous Grace arrived with her family who are visiting.

It’s quite an expat community!!

No pictures from the day but it was a lot of fun and the sun shone.  Lunch was amazing as it always is a Coffee & more.  And I got a going home present – almonds fresh from Jemma’s land.  Perfect.

Otranto and more…

Today I met up with an old friend,Gio, from Green Italy Tours.   When I first came last year he was my lucky find and has since become a great friend.  So I was thrilled at the thought of spending the day with him and a lovely client from New York.

We met in Lecce which gave me a chance to do my favourite thing…meander down streets.

From Lecce we drove South to Otranto.  Now I have been before….this is my fourth visit.  But what is great is that there are always new things to see and lovely things to return to.

The views are stunning out to sea

Followed by a return visit to the Cathedral.   This has a floor mosaic dating back to the 1200s that is expansive and elaborate.  It amazes me that the public can walk all over it and somehow it survives.

And downstairs there are beautiful frescos.

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And then to somewhere new.  Just around from the castle was a little church.  The church of Saint Peter. Very small and quite plain on the exterior but the interior is quite spectacular.

We then drove down the coast towards Castro for a delicioso lunch.  Stopping for a view or two.

Lunch done we headed to some grottos.  Sadly by now the rain had arrived so no boat trip but inside the Grotto it was warm and dry.  And then on to Tricase -another new little town for me but now more famous as Helen Mirren has a place nearby.

 

I can see why she likes this spot!

After a coffee, we headed back to Lecce and I headed home.  My lovely host had left me this…..well it would be rude not to

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Lecce…

Tonight I met up with the lovely Carmen who taught me some Italian when I first came to Lecce last year.  It was so nice to see her. I haven’t seen her for a year ( we caught up when I came back last September). But it feels like only a few months not a whole year.   My Italian is definitely improving  we managed to talk mostly in Italian and she is very forgiving of my horrendous mistakes ..  as she says  as long as you can be understood that’s half the battle ….and I’m giving it a good go.

She says I’m practically Leccese now…  I’m not sure that is anywhere near true but I love the idea.

Lecce’s beauty never ceases to amaze me.

And then there is the gelato…can you guess the flavours??

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Delicioso.

Underground to overground…from Grotte to grotty!

Its always good to have things to see on your list that you didn’t have time to do on previous visits but can finally tick off the list.

Today on my list was Grotte di Castellana. The caves of Castellana.    Discovered in the last century but have been growing for what seems all of time. It’s a mass of caves with amazing stalagmites and stalactites. There are two tours. The short one of an hour and the 3k one for two hours it’s worth doing this to see the White Cave.  Quite breathtaking.  My only moan is that the group was large and we couldn’t stay long.

Photos are only allowed in the first cave. They claim hidden cameras will catch people elsewhere and I guess people believe them!!!

The first cave is impressive

 

But it gets even better the further in you go  I understand why they don’t want people stopping all the time for photos but it’s a shame  I guess it’s all in the memory.

My drive back was fairly uneventful until just outside Lecce when the display of lightning was spectacular   No where have I ever driven though where people just stop and park up on a main road when heavy rains come   Extraordinary

I got back to a dry Lecce but by the time I had picked up a few things from the supermarket this is what greeted me

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I waited for it to subside a bit and then started to walk home.  This is when I discovered that flash flooding and my trainers are not compatible and my socks were sodden.  Did I go home?  No.  I did what all good Italians do… a glass of wine and a very late but delicious lunch…

 

Not so grotty after all…….

Thunderstorms and lightning….

So I’ve arrived in Lecce and so have the thunderstorms.

Today I returned to my reading spot on the terrace. But the weather changed about 2. And the rain is here…..   just as it was about to start I went for a little wander around Lecce. The looming storm had emptied the streets. But that’s the time I like the best here…when the little alleys are all mine (and the odd cat or dog).

Just taking the time to enjoy my enforced resting up inside with a book. Tomorrow I drive up towards Bari to visit the Grotto di Castellana and all bring well then on to Bari to visit a friend.

Lets see what the weather brings too..

Returning to top up my pasta levels….

So i’m back.  Back in Simona’s gorgeous apartment with a roof terrace to die for. Mind you the box steps up to it might just be the end of me….

So after a ridiculously early start to the day, a fab flight with a hilarious pilot and a long snooze, a hunt for my hire car and then hunt for a parking space ….I ended up here for the afternoon.

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Not too shabby for a reading spot!

Happy to be back.

In the ghetto….

Strictly speaking this is just outside the ghetto but give me some leeway please.

On Sunday we visited the magnificent synagogue.  Once the home to five synagogues inside one building, this now united synagogue is stunning. There is an interesting museum underneath that contains old tapestry cloths and artefacts that are well worth the look. But the glory is the synagogue itself.   Just as we were leaving a wedding was about to begin. The couple… in their 70s.  Renewed love or new love but what a great story!

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Friends Romans countrymen….

Aside from the trip to the Botanical Gardens, we wandered through the City towards Piazza Navone.

Meandering down streets

You see such unexpected beauty  it’s the best part of roaming around Rome

But there are still must sees on the way.  The Pantheon for one..

It had been stormy in the morning but the skies were clearing and the queues growing.  The guards kept us outside while it drizzled then let us in once it stopped….Grazie!

 

We then moved on to Piazza Navona for lunch.

 

Love the Piazza but like all cities it’s a tourist trap too, so go look but don’t stay too long.  The real beauty is hidden around the corners!

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Having said that you can’t miss the Colosseum…..

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