Tag Archives: vino

Grottaglie: sun, ceramics, wine, street-art, food, oil…

11659259_584376468371707_1423215247769718508_nRaise your hand if you have ever heard of Grottaglie? I bet only few of you can, and that’s a real pity!

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:

-Weather

Expect a warm sun, almost the whole year, during summer time, expect a really warm weather! 🙂

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– Landscape

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

10426306_583488435127177_4928090071757577982_n-Food and wine

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)!

streetart-Street-art

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.

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-Ceramic

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.

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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.

1610955_581683475307673_437586920087772042_n-Extra virgin olive oil

Well…this is something that you should try!

Here is the best place at very good price.

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A beautiful surprise: Gdansk (part one)

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This page is in both english unionjack and italian version (with more pictures).

 

Questa pagina ha anche una versione italiana italy la trovi dopo il racconto in inglese

 

I decided to dedicate a little more space to the beautiful city of Gdansk (Danzig in german). Telling you a little about what I saw and what I did, adding my usual advices on how to discover this city in a convenient and economical way.

polskibusFirst, my trip started from Warsaw, the Polish capital, in a very hot sunday.

I had decided to use the bus, as the company polskibus offers good deals with price, with a little more than 10 Euros, for a 4 hours and 400km journey.

The prices of the rides with blablacar were pretty much the same and I needed and wanted to rest a little, without having to speak to someone.

The buses are modern, with free internet access and comfy seats. An hostess service was also provided.

We reached the destination in time.

Following the directions given to me, from the main Gdansk train station, every 15 minutes there are convoys similar tometro suburban to Gdansk Oliwa, where I booked my stay at Olive Hostel.

hostelThe hostel is very nice, brand new, with confortable and large beds, a nice garden and family atmosphere. Ideally located for a relax time.

I must therefore say that Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia together, are called the three cities, because they are located adjacent to each other, a large metropolitan area, divided into three different administrations but that collaborate together.

The ticket to Gdansk Oliwa is 3 zloty (less than 1 euro), if bought at the ticket office, 3.80 zloty, from the vending machine. The journey is about 15 minutes. Once in the hostel I met Zaneta, the friendly owner of this new structure. I was almost the only guest, as everyone had checked out that day. Only two Maltese girls were there. That weekend in Gdynia was scheduled for one most famous music festivals in Europe. I picked up one of the comfortable beds and went out for a walk, destination Baltic Sea. Fortunately, the rain decided to stop and I enjoyed a bit of sea air.

beachThe next day a beautiful sun gave me the energy to spend the whole day at the beach, 2 km away from the hostel, about 20 minutes walk.

The beach is very nice, clean and fine sand, the sea is not one of my favorites, being used to the southern italian Ionian sea, but I settled for sunbathing and a look around.

There are mostly families with children, some of them ‘surfingon the shoreline.

In the evening, in the hostel, I met the two Malteses, still recharging their energies after the three days of concerts, and a group of Polish guys, just arrived.

They are artists and jugglers and later they improvised a little show with fireworks and dancing.

fireWe ended up spending the night talking and drinking a few beers. I decided to invite them to Italian’ dinner for the following day.

Still a hot sun wakes me up, which means (for me), an invitation to return to the beach. Compared to the previous day there is more people departures have been balanced by the new arrivals. I decided to walk for about half an hour, the long beach goes all the coast and it would be possible to cover it entirely by foot.

In the afternoon I needed to buy something for dinner, in the neighborhood near the hostel there is a Polish supermarket, Biedronka, with good prices, because mainly with local products, fortunately I found something suitable fo me, Italian wine, pesto, cherry tomatoes and Polish origin pasta, but of hard wheat (unlike many pastas pale’ in the shop).

dinnerThe hostel has a lovely garden, ideal for dining and drinking in the pleasant summer evenings, daylight remained until 10 pm. I prepared a Sangria’ with white wine, bruschetta as an appetizer and a pasta with tomato sauce, with the addition of rucola leaves and a little of pesto.

Unfortunately I’m not used to the electical kitchen with hot plates, water is hard to boil and the pasta was badly cooked … but in the spirit of courtesy and good manners, Polish friends said it was good…

After dinner we went to the beach drinking vodka, while the whole world witness the semi-final GermanyBrazil, we spend the night drinking, talking, listening to music from our smartphones, in my improvised game’: dj for a night.

vodkaIn turn, one starts a song, then with the following coming, chosen by another person, you have to try to match the style and tone, playing with the volume, almost as if you were in a nightclub. Great fun, especially if you have a group of people from different countries, each country puts their own songs, often unknown but no less beautiful.

One of the boys decided for a bath at sea, we all gave up, saw the ‘chilly’ night … Anyway nice evening in the company of beautiful people, much more younger than me, but still interesting meeting. They want to performe as street artists and already have a group that organizes events and participates in public or private parties, with shows and juggling with fire.

The beauty of vodka, for me, is that I can drink in good quantities, without any problems. Having shared an apartment with a Russian, I learned the right techniques; drink vodka always accompanying withsomething to eat and juice or water to drink.

So the next morning, I was fresh and rested for another day at the beach, while the Polish friends leave the hostel, to return home. I decide to extend my stay a couple of days more, due to the beautiful weather, the beautiful hostel and the many things yet to be seen.

After the beach in the afternoon, I visited Gdansk, using the commute train. I have to say that the city ‘hit’ me, positively. Beautiful buildings and architecture in the Gothic style with red brick. One of the biggest church in the world, built in this style. The downtown streets are filled with visitors, mainly from northern Europe. Other beautiful buildings, especially in the area of the channels, very suggestive.

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musicMany young street artists, with rhythms and sounds that accompany the discovery of the city ‘. Although tired from so much walking (to go to the sea is 4 km, go and return, plus the usual walk on the beach), I did not stop hanging around.

Bars, restaurants, exchange offices, tea rooms and all kind of shops are in the centre.

In the evening is very suggestive the sunset colours, from the docks area there are many good spots for good photo shots.

I returned to the hostel in the late evening, where Zaneta and her boyfriend invited me to a Polish dinner, along with some of their friends.

 

polishdinnerThis time the quality of the food was higher, meat prepared by the grandmother of Zaneta, potatoes and other vegetables locally produced. We drank a wine, Primitivo di Manduria, which I found in a shop in the center.

We talked about many things, our travelling stories, polish and italian habbits, our dreams and much, much more.

A good company is enough to spend good time, having fun and being comfortable.

In the next days, the second part.

 

 

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italy versione italiana

gdansk2Ho deciso di dedicare un po piu di spazio alla bella citta’ di Gdansk (Danzica). Raccontero’ un poco quello che ho visto e cosa ho fatto, aggiungendo i miei soliti consigli, su come scoprire questa citta’ in maniera vantaggiosa ed economica.

Sono partito da Warsaw, la capitale polacca, in una caldissima domenica. Avevo deciso di usare l’autobus, visto che la compagnia polskibus ha dei prezzi davvero ottimi, con poco piu’ di 10 euro, per una tratta di 4 ore e 400km. I prezzi dei passaggi con blablacar erano praticamente gli stessi ed avevo bisogno e voglia di riposarmi un poco, senza dover parlare. I bus sono moderni, con connessione internet e sedili comodi.

Raggiunta la destinazione in orario, ho trovato la pioggia a darmi il benvenuto. Ho raggiunto l’ Olive Hostel, seguendo le indicazioni fornitemi, dalla stazione dei treni partono ogni 15 minuti dei convogli simili ad una metropolitana extraurbana.

dinnerpolishL’ostello e’ nuovo, le camere sono grandi e con letti nuovi e comodi. Ha un bel giardino, ideale per un viaggio all”=insegna del relax.

Bisogna infatti dire che Gdansk, insieme a Sopot e Gdynia, sono chiamate le tre citta’, si trovano una adiacente all’altra, senza soluzione di continuita’, una grande aerea metropolitana, divisa in tre amministrazioni differenti ma che collaborano unitamente.

Il biglietto fino a Gdansk Oliwa e’ di 3 zloty, se comprato alla biglietteria, di 3,80 zloty, se preso alla macchinetta automatica. Il tragitto e’ di circa 15 minuti. Una volta in ostello ho conosciuto Zaneta, la simpatica proprietaria di questa nuova struttura. Ero quasi l’unico ospite, visto che tutti avevano fatto il check out quel giorno. Solo due ragazze maltesi si sono fermate. Quel finesettimana a Gdynia era in programma uno dei festival musicali piu’ famosi in Europa. Appena sistematomi in un comodissimo letto ad una piazza e mezza (wow! per un ostello e’ un gran lusso!), sono uscito a fare due passi, destinazione mar baltico. Per fortuna la pioggia ha deciso di smettere e mi sono goduto un po’ di aria di mare.

Il giorno seguente un bel sole mi ha dato l’energia necessaria a trascorrere tutta la giornata al mare, distante 2 km, circa 20 minuti a piedi. La spiaggia e’ molto bella, sabbia pulita e fine, il mare non e’ tra i miei preferiti, essendo abituato allo jonio salentino, ma mi accontento di prendere il sole e guardarmi attorno. Ci sono per lo piu’ famiglie con bambini, alcuni di questi giocano a ‘surfare’ sulla battigia.

In serata, in ostello, incontro le due maltesi, ancora alla ricerca delle energie spese durante la 3 giorni di concerti, ed un gruppo di ragazzi polacchi, appena arrivati. Sono degli artisti e giocolieri ed improvvisano un piccolo show con fuochi e danze. Finiamo per trascorrere la notte a parlare e bere qualche birra. Decido di invitarli ad una cena ‘italiana’ per il giorno seguente.

Ancora un caldo sole a svegliarmi, il che significa (per me), un invito a ritornare in spiaggia. Rispetto al giorno precedente c’e’ piu’ gente, si vede che alle partenze si sono aggiunti i nuovi arrivi. Decido di camminare per una mezz’ora circa, la lunghissima spiaggia unisce tutta la costa e sarebbe possibile percorrerla tutta a piedi. Nel pomeriggio faccio la spesa per la cena, nel quartiere vicino all’ostello c’e’ un supermercato polacco, Biedronka,con buoni prezzi, ma molti prodotti locali, per fortuna trovo qualcosa di adatto, del vino italiano, del pesto, pomodorini e pasta di origine polacca, ma di grano duro (a differenza delle tante paste ‘pallide’ tra gli scaffali).

dinner2L’ostello ha un grazioso giardino, ideale per cene e bevute nelle gradevoli serate estive, trovandoci a nord la luce naturale rimane fino alle 10 di sera. Preparo una ‘sangria’ con vino bianco, delle bruschette come antipasto ed una pasta al sugo, con l’aggiunta di foglie di rucola ed un poco di pesto.

Purtroppo non sono abituato alle cucine con piastre elettriche, l’acqua fa fatica a bollire e la pasta viene malissimo… ma per spirito di cortesia i commensali polacchi dicono di gradire. Dopo la cena andiamo in spiaggia a bere vodka, mentre tutto il mondo assiste alla semifinale germania-brasile, noi passiamo la notte a bere, parlare, ascoltare musica dai nostri telefonini, in un mio improvvisato ‘gioco’: dj per una notte. A turno, si fa partire una canzone, con il seguente brano, scelto da un’altra persona, si cerca di far combaciare il ritmo e lo stile, sfumando il volume, quasi come se si fosse in una discoteca. Divertimento assicurato, soprattutto se si ha un gruppo di persone da paesi diversi, ognuno mette canzoni della propria nazione, spesso sconosciute ma non meno belle.

Uno dei ragazzi si avventura in un bagno a mare, tutti noi desistiamo, visto il freddolino notturno … Comunque bella serata, in compagnia di belle persone, molto piu’ giovani di me ma comunque interessanti. Vogliono fare gli artisti di strada e gia’ hanno un gruppo che organizza eventi e partecipa a feste private o pubbliche, con spettacoli con il fuoco e giocoleria.

Il bello della vodka, per me, e’ che ne posso bere in discreta quantita’, senza accusare nessun problema. Avendo condiviso un appartamento con un russo, ho imparato le giuste tecniche, bere vodka, accompagnando, sempre, qualcosa da mangiare e succhi o acqua.

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Quindi il mattino seguente, sono fresco e riposato per un’altra giornata di mare, mentre gli amici polacchi lasciano l’ostello, per fare ritorno a casa. Decido di fermarmi un paio di giorni in piu’, visto il bel clima, il bel ostello e le tante cose ancora da vedere.

Dopo il mare, nel pomeriggio, visito Gdansk, usando il treno. Devo dire che la citta’ mi ha colpito, positivamente. Bei palazzi e architettura in stile gotico con mattoni rossi a vista. Una delle chiese piu’ grandi al mondo, costruita in questo stile. Le strade del centro sono piene di visitatori, principalmente dal nord europa. Begli edifici, soprattutto nella zona dei canali, davvero molto suggestivi.

Molti giovani artisti di strada, che accompagnano con ritmi e suoni diversi la scoperta della citta’. Seppure stanco dal tanto camminare (per andare a mare e ritorno faccio 4 km al giorno, a piedi, piu’ la solita passeggiata in spiaggia), non voglio fermarmi nella scoperta del luogo.

Faccio rientro in ostello in serata, dove Zaneta ed il suo ragazzo, mi hanno invitato ad una cena polacca, insieme ad alcuni loro amici. Questa volta la qualita’ del cibo e’ molto alta, carne preparata dalla nonna di Zaneta, patate novelle ed altra verdura locale. Beviamo del Primitivo di Manduria, da me trovato in un negozio del centro.

Ancora una volta, basta una bella compagnia, per trascorrere, divertendosi e stando bene, del buon tempo.

A seguire la seconda parte

Top 10 winter destinations (part 1/3)

winterita2Winter is coming!

Are you ready to travel and have fun?????

 

Here, in alphabetical order, my top destination in Europe during the cold season:

 

winteritaBergamo

Why? Easy to reach thanks to the Milano/Bergamo airport, Bergamo has a charming old city (medieval style) on the top of a hill with a wonderful view of alps and the rest of the city.

What to do? Not only visiting the city, according to your tastes, a day trip to: Milano, italian Alps (Dolomiti), Garda’s Lake

What to try? Local Casonsei (pasta) and italian grappa (strong alcohol) and wine

When? On 7th of January sale’s season begins in most of the shops in northern italy. A good chance if you like italian fashion

2013-11-19 19.55.26Bratislava

Why? One of the smallest capital in Europe, you will never get lost in the city centre. Cheap drinks and flights to/from its city airport

What to do? If you like skiing, Slovack High Tatras is a cheap and good option to try.

What to try? Halusky, halusky and halusky 🙂 are small dumplings with cheese. Drink slivovica (strong alcohol/brandy)

Where to stay? Cheap and funny at the same time: Patio Hostel and Hostel Blues.

brasovBrasov

Why? If you like the myth of Dracula then you can’t miss the ‘capital’ of Transylvania.

Brasov is a beautiful city with an interesting historical centre.

What to do? Visit Sighisoara, city where Dracula was born it has a beautiful old centre; the castles; Poiana Braşov ski resort and the beautiful mountains around but be careful (!!! ) bears might be resting during the winter but wolves… 🙂

What to try? Local soups to warm up and palinca (strong alcohol/brandy)

Immagine 112Budapest

Why? One of the most popular destination in Europe, cheap and with an intense nightlife

What to do? Too cold outside? head to one of the many city spa and thermal baths! Relax is guaranteed

What to try? Best gulas soup is prepared at home, restaurants have only tourist version, however is a must to try. Drink Palinka (strong alcohol/brandy) and Tokaj

Where to sleep? My favorite hostels are Hipster hostel and Szofi’s house hostel

…to be continued…