Grottaglie is the capital of ceramic in South italy.
The town can be reached via air through 2 airports, Bari and Brindisi, both within less than 100 km.
It’s a beautiful, though not touristic, town in Apulia, a region that has been re-named by british as salentoshire and trullishire, due to the raising number of english travellers in love with this region.
And I can’t agree more!
There are so many reasons to visit this land, I’ll try to list few:
Expect a warm sun, almost the whole year, during summer time, expect a really warm weather! 🙂
Ionian sea is only 20 km far, it’s the most beautiful sea in continental italy. Adriatic sea is only 60 km far. Ideal for an affordable coast-to-coast. In land is very green and refreshing, with pine forests, fertile soil to grow olives, tomatoes, almonds and every good product.
Another interesting caratheristic are the ‘gravine’ kind of caves in natural canyons, where the ancient population lived many centuries ago
You might not be aware of the fact that an high % of the wine produced in italy has a base made with grapes from this land. The wine ‘Primitivo di Manduria’ (a town far only few km from Grottaglie) is a must to try.
As mentioned in the landscape, here you can try wonderful BIO products from agriculture. Tomatoes, almonds, grapes, olives, all sort of salads, watermelon and so on…
My recommendation is to enjoy a great dinner at ‘Casa Lacorte‘, in the historical part of the town. This newly open restaurant has an amazing terrace and also the internal part is very nice. A must to try is the fave’s cream (see picture)!
Grottaglie has one of the biggest historical centre in the whole region.
Few years ago a talented and smart young local decided to invite the most famous street artists from Europe, to redecorate streets and buildings.
Unfortunately the festival (FAME) had been active only for few years, however the pieces of ART are still visible all around the town.
Take a stroll and admire all of them, there are many huge graffiti taking the whole building, as well as smaller ones.
Art lovers will find Grottaglie a paradise also for its ceramics.
The city is considered the ‘capital’ of this ancient art.
There is a nice neighborhood/district all dedicated to small stands and shops, where you can fine real pieces of handcraft art.
Everywhere entrance is free, feel free to ask about the products (however english is not widely spoken, you know italians :)…), take pictures and admire the steps of the long process and creation of a ceramic pitchers, jars, urns…
Grottaglie has an old castle, entrance is free together with its museum of ceramics.
Despite the evident language barriers, do not hesitate to ask for any information.
Locals are incredibly nice and kind and will do their best to help out.
The atmosphere in town is really easy-going, we are in deep South italy, stress is something far from the daily life.
Expect shops to be closed after lunch, until 16 or even 17, because ‘siesta’ is not only a spanish habbit!
Best meeting point for a nice chat with locals is Bar delle Torri. The owners, Ciro and Saverio have created a very pleasant place where to have a drink and in general, good time.
Well…this is something that you should try!
Here is the best place at very good price.
Not easy to get back in the writing habit! My last post was something like 4 months ago and many things changed since then.
Don’t want to bore my 4 dear readers but let me tell you something related to this post, a nice italian song from the golden 80’s said ‘…voglio andare ad Alghero…in compagnia di uno straniero…’, which means ‘wanna go to Alghero with a foreigner companion’.
Well, I did it and my foreigner companion is my beloved girlfriend from Slovakia. I hope a bit of gossip could help rising my followers and contacts 🙂
Anyways, let me start describing Alghero, a small city in Sardinia, the second biggest island in the mediterranean sea (after Sicily), with a very close airport with several low-cost flights from all over Europe.
Alghero is famous for its dialect with catalan’ roots and for its red coral jewelery. The nice city is a very well-known touristic destination, during summer there are many visitors, enjoying the beautiful beaches, sun, good food and nightlife
For this reason I decided to go off-season. Plus I needed a short break after the long polish winter…oh yes! this would be my second gossip news that I’ll treat in more details in the next posts.
To be honest in this period of the year many restaurants, bars and other premises are closed, awaiting for the peak season, however for a budget traveller like me it wasn’t such a big deal.
I could enjoy the more genuine city soul, local people were happy to see tourists and like to take care of them.
I happened to stop in a small bar (nearby the cathedral) for a couple of glasses of ‘cannonau‘ and ‘buio‘, sardinian good quality wines, receiving appetizers and snacks, mostly from genuine local products, such as olives, ‘pane curasau‘, sausages, ‘pecorino‘ cheese…
The same happened in the small B&B run by Giovanni (firstname.lastname@example.org), where I spent 4 nights in a double bed room, for 28Euro/night.
Every morning the owner was preparing a tasty breakfast with local bread, cheese, vegetables, organic extra virgin oil, fresh baked pastries…
In summer, no doubts!
Enjoy the sea and the beaches. Sardinian sea is considered the most beautiful in Europe.
Long white sands beaches are all along the northern cost.
The most famous beach is ‘spiaggia delle bombarde‘, few km far from the city.
Other beaches are ‘Mugoni‘, Lazzaretto, Lido…
Something not to be missed is definitely ‘Capo Caccia‘ and its famous ‘Grotte di Nettuno’, a natural cave accessible either via sea (with organized boat tour, only with good weather!) or via the spectacular ‘Escala del Cabirol’ – Cabirol steps.
You will never forget about its 600 steps, effort paid back by an incredible view.
Capo Caccia is a beautiful cliffs at the end of a natural fiord.
There is also a very nice spot where to enjoy a breathtaking sunset…
Narrow streets, with numerous bars, cafes, restaurants (renowned for excellent seafood like spaghetti with sea urchins) and small artisanal shops.
There are also interesting markets with food and local products, during the week-days.
The road from Alghero to Bosa, a smaller town towards the south coast is also worth, for the beautiful view.
Last but not least, let me suggest to try the sardinian beer ‘Ichnusa’.
Italian beers are not that bad, after all… 🙂
The streets have been completely renovated over the last years, bringing life and charm back to this city.
Since then a multitude of cafes, bars, restaurants, fashion stores have opened. On warm days almost every cafe has an outdoor seating zone in the streets, giving the city a unique cozy feeling. A beautiful hill-top castle, with a stunning view of the city and the river Danube, is one of the landmarks you should enjoy while visiting Bratislava.
The city has an airport with many low-cost flights, from the airport a public transport bus (nr. 61) will bring you to the centre in 30 minutes (ticket costs 0,90 Euro). Bratislava is also very close to famous cities like Wien (60 km far), Prague (320km far) and Budapest (200 km far), connection by bus and trains are frequents.
First of all, if you are planning to spend some day in the Slovak capital city, I would strongly recommend to stay at Hostel Blues.
It was my second time there and it gets, if possible, better and better!
Elena and Eliska are fantastic front desk staff, always smiling and willing to chat and help. All the staff is kind and friendly. Location is perfect, few minutes walking to the city centre. Kitchen is big, tidy and well equipped with all you might need for cooking. Common room is warm and relaxing, best place to get to know other travellers, the hostel organize even a blues concert once a week.
Bratislava is not only about the city. There are several places to visit just around the city:
– Devín Castle (hrad Devín) – ruins of the large castle next to the confluence of the Danube river with the Morava river. It is about 20 minutes from the SNP Bridge with bus no. 29. The place is nice for walks and there are many monuments and statues.
– Hike in the Small Carpathians mountain range. Bratislava lies on the southeast slopes of these mountains. Hiking routes are well indicated. The entire country is covered with hundreds of miles of extremely well-marked hiking trails, that especially in the national parks lead though gorgeous landscapes
The castle Červený kameň is located about 30 km north-east of Bratislava; it can be reached by bus from Mlynske Nivy bus terminal.
Slovak are proud of their traditions and cuisine is part of it. Local specialties mostly involves (smoked) meat, cheese, potatoes and flour. Soups are quite common either as an appetizer or as a main dish.
Bryndzové halušky, similar to small dumplings with sheep’s cheese and topped with pieces of meat, is the national dish of Slovakia and are recommended.
Another specialty in Bratislava (and Slovakia) is treska. It is a cold salad made of Codfish with mayonnaise and vegetables like onions and carrots. Treska tastes very good with rolls.
For a great typical dinner, the two must to visit restaurants are: ‘Slovak pub’ and the ‘Bratislava flag ship restaurant‘. the second one has wonderful interiors.
Bratislava has a popular club, HC Slovan Bratislava and locals are very proud of it. The club plays the international Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), the second most important hochey competition in the world, after the northern american/canadian one.
The ice hockey arena (official name is Ondrej Nepela Arena, known in slovak as Zimný štadión Ondreja Nepelu, and nowadays as Slovnaft Arena) is brand new, rebuilt and reconstructed to host the ice hockey world competition in 2011, is full of bars, restaurants and other premises. It is easily reachable by public transportation.
Finally, suggesting to drink beer would be to easy 🙂
I will try, instead, to suggest two ‘off the beaten track’ places:
–Kelion. Is a tea room, not only. It is in a quiet city area, far from traffic and noise, in a nice family house. If you want a proper relax and cosy atmosphere it is the place for you!
–Bistro St. German. Is a cafe’ nearby the Hostel Blues. Good food and organic drinks available. Beautiful interiors. Great to chill-out. No smoking inside!