Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Southern Italy - Bari (Puglia) and Matera (Basilicata)

Here's another guest spot from Karen B. who has been sampling the delights of a region you may or may not have heard of.

The Sassi
Here I am again sharing two more off the beaten track cities in Southern Italy. Perfect for a long weekend .. Bari and Matera where the old town The Sassi is a Unesco World Heritage Site. I was lucky enough to stay there with a friend's family .. a little insider knowledge comes in handy!!

To get there you fly into the city of Bari then a short hop on the shuttle bus takes you into the city which is situated on the port.  Bari was invaded by the Germans in the 13th Century (and others over the centuries) so today you still see tall Italians with blue eyes .. something I wasn't expecting.

The city is compact and everything is within walking distance. Like most Italian cities it has the old and the new. However, until approximately ten years ago the old city was out of bounds due to gun violence.  Grants were giving, the old town was restored and it is now full of life. As you would expect from southern Italy, the food is amazing.  We stopped off for lunch (sitting outside in late October without heaters) in the old town at La Cecchina. The owner and the waiter speak English but this is where the locals eat.  Their first question is always 'do you prefer meat or fish?' They only serve ingredients that are in season and fresh .. another reason why the food is buono.

The shopping is also good and it has the same variety as Milan but a lot cheaper.  Check out the shop Donna.. this woman is like a stylist and she stocks a lot of Italian designers ..great designs without the price tag! I had just met her but on leaving gave her a big hug. I also noticed the men were impeccably dressed .. they love cashmere and quality suiting. My friend told me it's important to look smart .. my head just kept turning!

The town of Matera is only 1 hr 15 mins by train from Bari but well worth a visit.  The Sassi the old town is famous for its cave dwelling. This link gives you a good insight into the town. http://www.italyheaven.co.uk/basilicata/matera.html 
For me it is a great place to sit, eat, drink wine and people watch!

I'm already planning my next trip back and will take a bigger suitcase to bring back more oil, cheese and biscotti. Hmmmm .. I think I may have to diet before I go which will allow me to sample even more of the local cuisine.  Buon appetito! 

Visit Giovanna Caivano at Donna, via Principe Amedeo 77, 70122 Bari

Le Cecchina Ristorante Pizzeria - Piazza Mercantile 31, 70121 Bari 
Tel - 080 5214147

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Caribbean Queen

Only a week to go and the flip flops can make their escape from the confines of the shoe closet! 

Sunset on Accra Beach
The Holiday Queen is jetting off again for some winter sun on the beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados! I visited there last year by default having originally booked to go to St. Lucia, a place I always wanted to visit.  However, nature had other ideas when Hurricane Tomas hit the island at full force just days before the trip, killing 14 people and generally wreaking devastation on a large scale. Three days before the departure date the hotel called saying there was no running water, no restaurants open and no beach - so recommended that we not go! Quel d├ęsappointement!! The airline also called advising us not to go but thankfully offered an alternative flight to Barbados. There was literally no inconvenience at all as the flight left around the same time and they organised accommodation which we gratefully accepted! It was such a fabulous place it's definitely worthy of another visit!

Thankfully the hurricane season is at an end for another year but Barbados usually avoids them anyway - it only tends to experience occasional tropical storms. The climate is sunny and warm year round with cooler nights and sea breezes making it the ideal place for a relaxing winter getaway. 

Can't wait!!

(A more comprehensive blog will follow soon!!)