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!

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.

A day to explore

We left Alberobella this morning after witnessing the fun run and visited a few nearby villages.


Runners making it in the heat.


A little boy stretches with his dad after the run.

I’m pleased we booked to stay there. Alberobella is a very interesting village  but keep in mind that it is touristy. Arrive late in the afternoon when most the visitors are leaving.

We then stopped in Locorotonda which is another very nice village.

When visiting a church we happened upon a Christening. A little girl named Georgia. She was very good but after awhile got grizzly and cried. So Nonna to the rescue. She came forward out of her seat. Squeezed some drops into a dummy and pushed it in the baby’s mouth. Instant quiet. Sedation works!

Baby Georgia being met at the door to the Church. Before sedation

As we drove we got closer the sea. This is the Golf of Taranto the bit between the point and the heel of Italy’s boot.


A cluster of Trulli


A beautiful park in Locorotonda


Everyone seems to have a small garden outside their door

Arriving in Matera was breath taking.


The Sassi of Matera has been used in many films. Including Jesus …..with Mel Gibson