Rome I ❤️you. A day in Rome

We arrived at 10.30 and made the trip via train to Termini. It’s fast and efficient and costs about 12e each. Then a taxi to our hotel the Hotel Navona Via Dei Sediari. It’s a pleasant surprise.

The room wasn’t ready so we left our bags and headed off. Piazza Navona was out first stop. How beautiful it is there with its playful fountains and people posing for photos. The weather is spectacular.

Then it was to Via Coronari a favourite street of art , jewellery and glass shops before a siren sounded and people started gathering in a little Piazza. Smoke was streaming out of an upstairs window and people were pointing and exclaiming and a fire engine made its way along the narrow cobblestone Via. We stayed and watched the action. Police  – the Carabinari arrived , two fire trucks and an ambulance.

Then the crowd stood as one and smoked and chatted whilst waiting for some action. It took on a community feeling. But taking far too long. So we headed to cafe de Theatro.

This little cafe sits in a lovely little Piazza and was buzzing. The waiter considered his job a performance so entertained the customers- to the amusement of some but definitely not all.

The fire 🔥 spectacle had finished so it was safe to continue walking.

What I love about wandering in Rome is that around every corner sits a surprise so wonderful it takes your breath away.

We rounded a corner and looked towards the river and there was Castello St Angelo. Such a beauty sitting with its history so imposing.

I also love Paris but Rome has a different effect on me. It’s more casual about its place in history. It’s there for all to enjoy. Paris is more formal – very beautiful but more controlled. Rome and its people want you involved in having fun.

We had to return to possibly my favourite place – the Pantheon. I love the feeling it gives me.

So we walked and observed the history and the people having fun. The business men looking impossibly glamorous with one hand in a pocket the other nursing a cigarette. With their navy suits and their tan shoes and such well fitting trousers!

The women wear either ballet flats ( I bought a red pair) or heels as they manoeuvre the cobblestones with confidence. Also the scarf tied casually at the neck sets off any outfit.

It’s a pity the hordes of tourists get in the way of this street fashion catwalk.

Naturally we had a gelato. Apart from the tourists the locals also enjoy a gelato in the afternoon. We bought ours at that cathedral of gelato, Giotto – where the act of buying is a theatre.

Shopping is another delight in Rome. There are the usual chain stores and high end shops but the smaller boutiques are fabulous. I bought some beautiful ballet flats, red, pointed toe tiny heel (they came in all colours and either v. flat or tiny heel)

By now the crowds were out,  the armed guards standing on most street corners and the Aperol Spritz drinkers taking up key positions in the sidewalk bars. We joined them at Piazza Popolo. Such a great way to people watch. .

Back to our room which turned into an apartment – lovely but turning on lights is like organising a Vivid Festival!

Dinner was gorgeous. Baked fish served by Mr Rome. A young handsome man who in the olden days would have been a gladiator!

I enjoyed a baked fish with potatoes sliced so fine you could see through them. A Sicilian dish. Steve had Veal lemoni a Roman tradition.

A quiet walk back to our apartment where a tribe of young girls were yahooing in our hotel courtyard and clomping up and down the staircase. Rome in all its glory!

We have the morning to wander before heading for the cruise ship in Civitavecchio.

Mamma Mia. Last day in Trani

We survived party night inTrani!  Almost as good a party as in Tarifa last year. The crowds below our apartment kept the chatting up until at least 3am. Not loud screams or obscenities or ever drunkenness. Just lots of talking and laughing.

We woke to golden sunlight, looking out across the port providing the best wake-me-up there is.

A fairly leisurely start with coffee in a nearby cafe before heading off to find Santa Maria di Siponto.

On our way to the car I did my good deed of the day. We were crossing a small street and a little old lady called to me. I went over to her and she asked me to help her across the road. I gave her my arm and we walked along chatting. I had to bend over to hear her she was so little.

She told me she was 92! Her daughter lived in Milan and she had lived in Trani for 30 years. She talked on and on in Italian and I was tested!  We walked another block together before we thanked me and turned into her apartment. She’d been out shopping – in the heat. What a sweetie.

So we arrived ( finally – as we got  a little lost). Signs here are almost non existent except for signs to the beach or Lido or the buffo mozzarella factory!  This Basilica, Santa Maria, was built in 1117 and had many changes  in fortune over the years. It had been abandoned for many years. Until ……

Recently,  Edoardo Tresoldi created a wire mesh impression of the church  – an artistic interpretation of the Basilica, which was abandoned following a 13th-century earthquake and currently sits on what has become the Archaeological Park of Siponto.

It’s an amazing sight.

He has even created some mesh people,who of course we befriended.

We drove back along the coast and explored the seaside villages and enjoyed the names of the ‘Lido’ (“Lidi?”) scattered along the coast. Everything from Bikini Lido to Ipanema, Fanta, Torre, African. Variety is the key! And the deck chairs and umbrellas, as far as the eye can see.

We arrived back at siesta time and decided to pack! Yes, sadly we go tomorrow. To Bari, then by train to Rome. We have a night there and then poor Steve flies home. Board meetings in Melbourne on Tuesday. I’m going off to Cotignac to visit our friends the Brannocks. Lucky me!

So the travel tales continue.

So this afternoon, after a little shopping, we had our last Trani, Aperol Spritz for me and beer for the boy.

We observed the locals. I feel we are getting to know them! We went to the same bar and saw the same people walking. The Nonno with his grandson. The fisher monger who today was able to get his cart through the little lane. The man with the turned up collar being driven to his restaurant on a Vespa by one of his waiters. The handsome man on a pink bike who stops at the corner to observe and make a call (who to I wonder?). The mamma in the cute Smart Car who drops her daughter to work in the cafe. The teenager who rides the littlest, noisiest bike imaginable. And doesn’t he love the attention! The mother and daughter jogging together. All the nonno and nanna’s walking and sitting along the promenade.

I feel we know them already.

We had our passeggiata and talked about the things we would like to bring home.
I’d love the long paved promenade with all its wooden benches at our beach. Also the stepped stone fence available for people to sit on and watch the world go by.

I’d love for people to turn off the TV and go out walking after dinner. But I wonder where we would walk? To the beach?  But there aren’t many places to sit and see and be seen. We need to embrace the sociable side like the Italians do.

As you can hear in my voice, I love the Italians. Yes,  they can be thoughtless – they throw rubbish out their car window! They push in, in traffic! But they love children. They love eating and they love a chat.

After dinner we strolled and I felt like a piccolo gelato. So we stopped in and I ordered mine. Panecotta. Steve thought he’d have the Cafe Speciale. It was advertised on the board outside. So in his best Italian lubicated with wine and after dinner limoncello he ordered ‘Cafe Speciale’. And got a coffee.

So as I’m writing this I’m listening to the church bells and watching the crowds gather for another night that isn’t a party night. It’s just the usual – people sharing a common space.

IMG_2361.jpgOur apartment on the corner – top floor with a balcony over both streets!

So for now – arrivederci!

Terrific Trani a friendly Port 

Slept so well last night after a wonderful dinner on the terrace at the Borgo San Marco.

Today – Wednesday and we set out for a fairly shortish drive up the coast to Trani. We stopped at a few little beach side places along the way including Monopoli a larger port. It was just lovely. Not touristy , certainly no Australians!

It has a wonderful Cathedral dating from the 12th Century  it’s in  great condition and is having even more work being done outside. We saw a priest talking to someone who looked like a architect/ builder and I’m sure he was asking for further discounts on the work.


I’m sure if I had this as my local church I would go every day. It was full of light and the paint work was stunning.

We moved on to Molfetta another port and found a lovely little restaurant, quite modern, right on the rocks near the port. Steve a had a burger with a twist. It had a curry flavoured crispy bun! I had ….. Salmon and veg! We’re certainly not missing out on any good food. But we are very good. No eating between meals!


view from our little table built into the stone fence.

Continued up the coast to Trani as we wanted to arrive in time to enjoy the apartment and the views. Also it’s best to arrive during siesta as the streets are quiet and it’s easy to park. Lovely Fredrica met us and the apartment is right on the front facing the port and will be wonderful for two nights. I could stay here two weeks! Check out the views in the next photos.

Naturally Steve is relaxing watching the last 20 km of the Tour de France before we explore the town.

Out the door is the wonderful view of the Port.

After siesta we intend to explore the narrow streets surrounding the port. The Cathedral is supposed to be spectacular as it is one of the few in Italy right by the water. Fredrica told us this isn’t a very touristy place. It’s mostly used by local Italians for a getaway. What a place. Our friends from Sydney – the Roberts told us about this little port – and now I’m telling you ……

More exploring tonight and tomorrow ……

Have you got any little secret locations you would like to share? Please put into the Comments Box.

From Sea to Farm

One last breakfast on the terrace overlooking the sea. Goodbye Palazzo Senape de Pace.

So along with my own ‘Dan Brown’ we headed off for Ostuni – the white hilltop town over looking the Adriatic Sea. It’s quite a big town and all roads lead up past beautiful gardens to the Cathedral at the top.

The mosaic dome on the cathedral can be seen from far away and the white washed houses shine in the sun. It’s interesting how different areas have different types of features. This one is bianco. It’s not far from Alberobella where we started our Puglia journey. It was all white as well but with the pointy stone roofs.

After lunch we head for our night’s accommodation, a Masseria – a farm stay. Or agritourismo as they are called up north. There are lots of them around here. They offer lovely accommodation often a ‘wellness centre’ and an evening meal. We heard about this one from friends and decided to try it.

I’m so glad we did. Arrival at big iron gates set the tone. The white buildings are  clustered farm style around a courtyard with a chapel, lovely gardens and a beautiful pool area. . Beautiful main rooms and lovely separate bedrooms. It’s charming and practical all at once.

Steve likes the pillows and towels. they have SM embroidered on them!

I’m sitting beside the lovely swimming pool listening to the different accents of the guests, some with children and one family with an Asian nanny.

We’re looking forward to tonight’s meal. It sounds wonderful.

Before then a swim,  a nap and walk in the olive groves.

Palazzo Tour

  • There’s something lovely about breakfast on a terrace with a beautiful view. Do you agree?

Today we sat on the terrace and had coffee and planned our day.

We planned a trip to the beach but before we left we spoke to Sonia our host at the Palazzo. I asked could we have a tour of the house as our Swiss friends had yesterday and told us the owners were happy to show guests their house.

She was lovely and organised her father to take us.

We had to walk out our door No 27 and along to No 39 -they own it all. We re entered and Luigi Senape was there to greet us. He guided us through their private Palazzo. Too many rooms to count. All very luxurious. He explained the family history – all in Italian and we understood almost all.

Luigi Senape in one of the tooms of the Palazzo

The Palazzo has been in the family for 300 years. Luigi grew up in this place and like his father was an advocat – a lawyer.

There are many old valuable items in the house including 3 pianos,  one a grand which Luigi plays.

He was so charming and at the end told us he was 88.

In the library Steve saw a Dan Brown book he had just finished. He pointed it out and said (in his best Italian) that he had just read it.

Later in the afternoon, after our trip down the coast I saw his daughter and she asked if my husband was Dan Brown!

Lost in translation!

So after the Grand Tour we left for the rest of our day…….

A drive down the coast road to the tip of Italy. A little seaside place called Santa Maria da Leuca.

To get there we drove past : hundreds if not thousands of Italian beach lovers with their umbrellas, plastic deck chairs, buckets, spades, blow up play things. And all the women wear bikinis. Young, old, thin and not so thin. I’m definitely overdressed.

It’s a colourful scene and proves its not just Australians who love the beach!

We stopped for coffee at a little beach side cafe. All blue and white tables and a smiley, friendly nonna served us – but it was very windy so we didn’t swim.


We passed trattorias, osterias, cafes, apertivi bars, camping grounds, holiday homes with shutters down against the heat or …..perhaps they were empty?

We arrived at SS d Leuca in time for a lovely swim and picked a place for lunch right on the beach. The place in the photo above the blue umbrellas.

Once again simple delicious food

We watched the swimmers and soaked up the atmosphere.

Naturally we finished with a gelato – just a small one! As we walked also the promenade.

We arrived back at Gallipoli and our Palazzo Senape and decided to take another swim. This time at the beach at the end of our street.

I love the blue mats running down the sand so when you get out you don’t have to get sandy! This beach unlike many of the rocky beaches has coarse sand.


We’re back at the Palazzo writing and preparing for dinner at Bastion a lovely looking restaurant recommended by our hosts.

More later!


Yesterday we drove across the tip of Italy. The heel.

I had agonised on which seaside town to stay in and opted for Gallipoli over Otranto.

Gallipoli sits on a little island so is surrounded by water. Little bays for swimming, small boat harbours. It sounded more laid back than Otranto. So I found our Palazzo and sealed the deal.

Then Simona, our guide in Lecce said although they were both lovely she likes Otranto ‘A little more sophisticated ‘she said knowingly. Oh dear I thought had I made the wrong decision.

So yesterday we spent in Otranto. It’s different. It had a wide blue bay for swimming and a little boat harbour on the side. It’s old town is charming. But it’s very touristy. Very crowded.

We did enjoy the beautiful mosaics in the Cathedral. Magnificent.

The castle perched squarely on the edge of the harbour has been restored and is used for exhibitions. We saw a wonderful photographic exhibition by Steve McCurry. He takes great photos of people in remote areas. So beautiful photos of people living in India, Cambodia, Pakistan , Africa. Such faces.
We had lunch and a small opera and continued walking along the sea front. It has more clothes shops and restaurants than Gallipoli but not the secret charm.

So as we drove back to Gallipoli I was happy with our decision.

Sunsets over the water are always breathtaking and we loved the one on show tonight. Almost the same colour as my Aperol Spritz!

Another lovely dinner at Tre Sorelle and a limoncello on the terrace of our Palazzo chatting and sharing stories with some Swizz travellers.

Oh I forgot to mention I still love vespers!

And so to bed. The room has a wonderful  ceiling!



An Italian Opera

No we didn’t get to an Opera last night. We went out for dinner in a local osteria. It’s almost the same.

We joined the local passeggiata at apertivo time and enjoyed the atmosphere of Gallipoli. The village seemed quiet, but after siesta the whole town woke up and got onto the Main Street which of course is for pedestrians only.

We saw couples walking arm in arm. Babies sitting alert in their strollers learning about being Italian. Children scampering around and swinging on the chain fence surrounding the church. People sipping Aperol, Campari and wine red or white. And nibbling on olives.

We saw a young,  just married couple walking through the town accepting all the well wishes from the locals. The husband, a policeman, was resplendent in his uniform with several friends looking equally wonderful.

Then we found a little restaurant that looked good. It had a crowd – which at 8.30 is amazing in Italy. And they weren’t tourists. So I went in and asked for a table to be told no. I decided to book (in my very best Italian) for the next night and used the name Francesca. Then the owner, who looked a little like an actor from a TV series, came over and said they would bring the table in from outside for us. Much scrambling around and …….. we were seated.

We had a wonderful meal. Probably the best (except of course the special one from the Grotto on day 1). We shared fritters of seafood so crisp and light they were delicious, along with grilled vegetables. Then Steve had sea beam baked in the oven topped with crisp  mashed potato. I had fresh tuna with rocket and tomatoes and cheese. Yum!

No room for dessert or even gelato tonight. Though we did enjoy the limoncello offered with the bill. And then went out and bought a bottle for the room. Another addiction from my trips to Italy. Somehow it always tastes better here?

We were in a prime position to observe our fellow diners. There was the young couple obviously in love but also very hungry. The birthday table for a young woman’s celebration. And the table of fakes. I called them that because there was a lot of Botox going around. And fake boobs. Oh boy.

They went to leave and stood at the pay table where the own Mr TV series sat like mission control and I’m sure he strung out the farewell so he could have a good look.

So our night out was both delicious and entertaining. What more could we ask for?

Our little courtyard outside our room.


Gallipoli. No not we’re not in Turkey. We’re in Southern Italy!!!

Antonio came to wish us goodbye. Really it was to make sure we hadn’t wreaked havoc on his place and to retrieve the keys.

So we decided to head south. Gallipoli is only about 45 mins from Lecce but we decided to visit a few places on the way. So we headed south to a rather uninspiring place called Maglie. We wanted coffee so headed onto Scarrano and drove into a piazza filled with activity. There were cranes and men all working to take down amazing lights. Like Christmas but even more! It was to celebrate a Saint – St Dominica. I love these Italians and their zest for a festiva.

We headed for the coast and found a lovely spot – Porto Tricase , where a swim could have been great but the weather had turned windy. So we went further south to Novaglie. A little port with lots of rocks and people sitting all over them. We decided to  have lunch then take the 2 hr boat trip for 15 euro to several of the natural grottos in the area. Fortunately the weather improved.

We boarded at 2 pm with 2 Italians in their 30’s  and 9 Polish people. Three couples and  3 children. It turned out well. They were all lovely people. I understood most of what the boat captain was saying. He had no English and the  Polish had no Italian, so Luna,  the 30 something Italian girl did most of the translation.

We motored down the beautiful coast line and saw various grottos with descriptive names. We got to one where we were told it was very dangerous but we could swim through a blow hole to an inside pool. It was all in the timing. Well off we went and naturally I got the timing wrong and bumped my head as I dived under to go through the arch. Fortunately no blood! I got out  ok though so all is good.

Then another grotto to enter. You had to swim then  climb rocks over a hill to a fresh water lake. It was also described as dangerous. So sensibly Steve and I decided rock climbing dressed only in a costume was not for us. We swam in the outer grotto instead.

Back to shore and emails exchanged with our new friends and off we drove to Gallipoli.

Gallipoli is named Gall meaning point and Poli meaning city – and is a fishing village with the old town over a bridge to a small island.

We found our B&B – Palazzo Senape Pace just as a big windy storm broke. That certainly cooled things down.

Our room is on the roof of the Palazzo and I think the Grandad of the family-run business checked us in. It has lovely seating areas out side the three rooms on this level. It’s charming and the room itself really old world comfort. I love it!

We prepared for dinner. It was dinner with theatre as well. Not really theatre,  just Italians being entertaining. A whole separate blog post!

View from our terrace.

Me enjoying the terrace.

The entrance to our Palazzo

Lecce you are Lovely

Today is Friday and we are feeling sad about the terrible tragedy in Nice. Travel is wonderful but these days there is an element of danger. But we won’t let it stop us.

So today we met our guide for the day. Lovely Simona. I found her website and booked a three hour tour. It’s great going with a local and as it turned out she lives around the corner from our apartment.IMG_2019

We set off and she began to tell us about life in Lecce both now and in the past. She is a born and bred local,  though her partner Tim, she described as more English than the Queen !

We walked and she pointed out the features on the buildings. This was a wealthy area in days gone by due  to production of wine, olives  and tobacco.  There are a number of large Palazzo, now either privately owned or broken into apartments. In this way it’s like the very lovely areas of Rome.

We looked at the markings above the doors, the churches, Cathedral and Basillica. They all have a story.

The really interesting thing about Lecce is the use of  Cartapesta or paper mâché as as an art form. Used to make statues,  it is particular to this area. It’s used in Venice for making masks but here it’s in the churches. You can hardly tell the difference between the statues made from Paper mâché , wood and stone. Such craftsmen.

We visited one shop in a quiet area behind the Cathedral and had a nice talk with the owner.  A lovely lady named Stefania. Ginetta – you and Em would love this work. Her more modern work is also amazing. She had made a bustier you would love and a dress. And a mermaid!

We looked at the altars of different style – Baroque and Renaissance.



Such beauty in one place.

We had to stop for a refreshment. A coffee over ice with a dash of almond milk to make it sweet. Delicious. It’s called ‘Cafe in Ghiaccio con latte Di Mandorle’.

More walking and talking and noticing things we would otherwise have missed – including the drain cover marked with the city symbol of the she-wolf and the oak tree; and the fascist symbol from the 1930’s.

Significant symbols everywhere.

We retreated to our apartment for a piccolo siesta and to catch up with the Tour de France

Then it was time for our passeggiata. We walked, we shopped, we had a glass of wine and we watched others doing the same.


Dinner was at Osteria 203 recommended by Simona. It was a beautiful meal with a gorgeous bottle of local red. To make it more special we watched a parade go past our restaurant. It was to take St Carmine back to her church. Accompanied by a band. Steve thought the band almost unique – not because of the typical Italian playing con gusto and slightly off key – but of the 40 or so members, no three of them were in step even with each other!



After dinner walked some more and visited another lovely shrine  – the most popular Gelateria named Natale. What a place.


Buona notte my friends

Please leave a comment about something you love when you travel



The Sassi of Matera

Most Australians don’ t put Matera, in the little known Province of Basilicata, on their list of places to visit in Italy.  

Now I’m wondering why not?

It’s an amazing place. Built into the caves of the hill, the houses are centuries old. Matera consists of 2 Sassi. Sassi Caveoso and Sassi Barisano.  Picture a butterfly:  it’s body is the ridge where the now new town is built and the wings either side are the two Sassi. The caves are stacked so the path you walk down is actually the roof of the cave below.  
We are staying in  Sassi Caveoso in a B&B in an old cave. It’s a wonderful experience.

When we arrived yesterday and looked down from the ridge I wondered at my stupidity at booking something that looked inaccessible by car. But it turned out you can drive down a narrow winding street drop of the bags then drive up park and walk in. Steve managed it all very well!

Looking back across to our cave B&B. its the one above the lone white umbrella on the piazza 

But it’s worth it. Tizianna our host at the B&B only speaks Italian so I have had to use my Italian to speak to her. She’s charming and even understood my request for gluten free.

Our bedroom has a terrace and we look at the Sassi across from us. Last night we had dinner at Francesca’s just near the B&B. It was very good. I had a gluten free pasta with canelli beans, mussels in a pesto sauce. Delicious.

Then as we were preparing for bed there was an almighty BOOM across the valley. The most colourful fireworks started and went on for ages. We sat on the terrace and enjoyed the front row seat. I asked Tizianna what it was all about and she said it was the festival of the local Saint – a festival that lasts two weeks and last night was the conclusion.

This morning we had breakfast on the terrace before heading off to meet Antonio on the ridge looking down over the Sassi. He was a lovely young man. So good looking it was distracting!

Lovely Antonio our guide 

We  joined a family group from Ireland and they were perfect to have on the walking tour with us. Antonio led us all around the Sassi telling us stories about how the caves were used in the past and how they are used now. He pointed out they have just transformed over 3,000 years as the uses changed. They have always been occupied.

Then in the 1950’s the Government removed the occupants and bought all the cave houses. The living conditions were so bad that was the only way forward. Now the city has developed a tourism industry that comes from the uniqueness of these strange houses. So people are leasing the houses back – for almost nothing , then the new occupants renovate them and start businesses. Like the one we are in – Le Corte dei Pastori.  
He told us Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and has been chosen as one of two cities in the world to be listed in  2019 as a cultural centre so they will be expecting many more tourists to come. So if you are planning to come make sure it’s before the large group tour companies put it on their list.

We walked with Antonio for 3 hours in and out of cave houses, churches and lookouts and ignored the heat bearing down on us. It was so interesting and Antonio was very knowledgable. And did I mention good looking?

There were 156 churches in this city. Big ones and little ones in caves

We finished at 1pm and made our way to a cafe with beer. Steve is in training to swim the straits of Messina on Wednesday.

The segways here are shaped like a Vespa at the front. All different colours. 

So this afternoon we are having a siesta. Such a great idea.

Has anyone been to Matera? Let me know what you think about the place.