After leaving the beautiful Amalfi Coast we headed for Matera and beyond…

Matera has over 10,000 years of recorded history it is a must see when visiting Italy.

In fact, it is the third oldest recorded city in the world after Jericho and Aleppo and best known for the caves carved out of the rock formations that the city sits directly on.  These were known as the Sassi.

Many of the houses that we see in Matera today are in fact build on the original caves.  The last cave dwellers of Matera were officially evacuated in 1952, but some lingered until the 1980’s.

We stayed at the Quarry resort, and so had to park in a parking garage some 5kms from the ancient city and take a local shuttle to our hotel.

Like many Italian cities the streets of these ancient cities non-residents are not allowed to drive in the city which makes for a primarily pedestrian city.

Strangely I prefer this, given that the old Centro areas are relatively small.

Matera is all stairs and alleyways, with few straight lines anywhere, which to be honest is the charm of this incredible city.

I think the other most striking thing about Matera is the stone that the city is carved from is a brilliant white Gravina Calcarenite stone which makes it easy to carve and stunning to view.

Our hotel was the house of a local noble family since 1500 AD which was formally known as the Palazzo Zicari.

After a couple of relaxing days exploring every nook and cranny of this fabulous city it was to head further east and south into one of my favourite provinces in Italy.

Apulia (Puglia) is located on the heel of Italy and best known for its Mediterranean coastline and beaches and whitewashed hilltop towns.

This gorgeous province is flatter and drier than most of the other regions of Italy, with its warm caressing ocean breezes it’s not difficult to understand why this is a great destination.

For this portion of our trip, we stayed at the Ferrocino Resort just outside Gallipoli.

This was a lovely respite from the larger cities and more commercialized accommodations that we’d had up until now.  With its large palm and cactus filled grounds surrounding the large pool it was just what we needed.

The perfect southern villa!

The best part however was its proximity (10 min drive) to the incredible little seaside town of Santa Maria al Bagno.

I’d booked our anniversary dinner seemingly at every place we stayed but one of the most memorable was at the Ristorante Art Nouveau.

We sat on the terrace facing the ocean with glasses of Prosecco as we watched he sun set.  Now, couple with delicious food and impeccable service and you have yourself a memorable evening.

The next day we explored all along the coastline checking out other enchanting villages and tasting the fabulous and fresh seafood on offer.

The weather in Puglia was simply divine as it hovered around 26C (80F) and often found me laying out by the pool in the late afternoons.

We both agreed that we’d make Puglia a destination for our next visit to Italy, but perhaps stay a little longer.

The next surprise I had booked for Judy was lunch at one of the most famous restaurants in Italy… Grotta Palazzese in Polignano a mare.

Fortunately, for me I had booked this in February knowing that it often is sold out months in advance, yes even for lunch.

As you’d expect the experience was incredible from the moment we parked in their private car park on the edge of town, to be shuttled to the restaurant in style.

Just so you know, for the most part parking in Italian towns and cities is extremely limited so it was fabulous to take that stress away and manage it.

We had fabulous views from our table and the seafood was out of this world.  Yes, it’s expensive but the experience was one to last a lifetime!

Our next destination was the city of Pescara some 3.5 hours up the Adriatic Coast.

An easy drive on the Autostrada with great views all the way along the coast.

One of the interesting things about the drive was that it seemed to be almost a single town that ran the entire coastline.  Like with many countries many Italians live in close proximity to the coast.

For our stay in Pescara, we stayed at the Idillio Luxury Rooms which was situated in the downtown area by the ocean.  We had a gorgeous room with large outdoor rooftop patio and hot tub.

Still full from lunch we decided to explore the neighbourhood rather than eat.

I love the Italian practice of entire families out walking after dinner.  This practice is ensconced in the local culture and referred to as la passeggiata.

With the main square packed with people of all ages chatting, playing, and generally enjoying themselves it’s not difficult to understand why Italians love life.

It’s all about slowing down and enjoying every moment of every day…

Something we could all learn to do a little more of… am I right?

Until next week when we begin our adventures in Tuscany.