Sunday, 7 September 2014

Italian Holidays..

This summer I have been extremely lucky. After a long, challenging year filled with breakdowns, break ups and exams, I have escaped back to Italy for some well deserved sun, family and food time.
Me, mom and dad embarked on a family road trip from Milan to Gallipoli like we used to do when I was a child, stopping in Tuscany on the way to see my aunt and then,moving on to one more stop through Abruzzo before reaching sunny and very very very hot Gallipoli, all the way at the pointy heel of the Italian boot.
During this journey I have had the chance to to experience not only hours of excruciating Italian summer traffic, but also some pretty delicious food, so I thought I'd let you know where to go and enjoy the same delights should any of you lovely people decide to take the same kind of road trip in the future.

I can't tell you where to go eat in Siena as I was lucky to have family there and therefore enjoy some incredible home cooked food...sorry. But I what I can tell you,is where to find some refreshing green juices in this beautiful town in Tuscany. A green juice which completely regenerated me on a very hot summer day..
Look for the Negozio Alimentare del Consorzio Agrario di Siena (long name I know!), in Via Pianigiani 5, right in the middle of town.
As soon as you walk in, to the right hand side you'll be able to order fruit and vegetable juices, then take a walk around the rest of the shop to find fresh, locally sourced vegetables, fruits and many local delicacies.

As you'll drive through Tuscany, its sunflower filled countryside will blow you away. I have been there a few times already, and every single time I cannot help but dream about being a writer who lives in a cottage overlooking those gorgeous Tuscan hills looking for inspiration..

Next stop on our trip was Umbria, where we stumbled into an incredibly small village called Colfiorito, which is the spot where you'll find the Relais Forti. This place had all locally sourced,  organic, insanely delicious food,  which made Valentina very very happy indeed. I enjoyed a meat dish with fresh mushrooms which brought me back to life, whereas my mom had some incredible ravioli with pistachios, cream and rocket. We literally died and went to heaven..

Next up my land of origin, sunny Puglia!!!
My absolute favourite tree has always been the olive tree, as I used to spend my childhood summers here in the south where you can find these beautiful old trees absolutely everywhere. Seeing them again every time I turned my head filled me instantly with so much joy and warmth that it's hard to describe.. 

Gallipoli itself was beautiful even though a little too noisy for my liking, but the old town is absolutely a must see, preferably early in the morning when there's very few people and the fishermen have started to set up their stalls with the all the fish caught the night before.
And here in the old town one morning, me and my mom stumbled upon what I can only define as heaven. The most incredible pastry shop filled with freshly baked pastries for every taste.
The real name for this foodie spot is the very suitable Dolcezze e Bonta' ( sweetness and deliciousness).

We bought some Pasticciotti, typical pastry from this area, which can be filled with many different creams like pistachio, lemon, white chocolate, Nutella.. We decided to take them to our friends house for lunch,which meant that I had to have something else as my very naughty breakfast.
Enter the freshest croissant that ever lived which was filled at that very moment with cream that had just been made in the kitchen. I felt complete. We did buy a few more things. Luckily, most of it made it to lunch for our friends to enjoy..So do yourself a favour, a big one, if you visit Gallipoli DO NOT LEAVE without passing from this bakery.

In the afternoon we visited Nardo', my parents' birthtown. As we strolled around in the summer heat, we arrived in the lovely Piazza Salandra,  where I was so Lucky to find Barocco Creamery and Lounge Bar.

A brand new spot in the center of Nardo',offering not only homemade ice creams, delicious coffees and tasty shakes (with a dairy free milk option as well)...BUT ALSO, fantastic green and fruit juices all made with locally sourced fruit and vegetables. Boy, was I happy to find this amazing place!

I got the most refreshing juice with cucumber, celery, melon and apple which made my overheated body very happy indeed!

That night,  my parents decided to take me to Galatone, another small town not far from Gallipoli, to have dinner in a restaurant which I soon found out, was owned by Simone, the boy who lived next door to our summer house when I was a child and who had now become a massive foodie and an incredible chef. 
We used to play together all time and it was great to see him again but trust me, trying his food was even better!!! In this lovely Trattoria and Pizzeria called SCIALABA', you'll find wonderfully fresh, local,  home cooked food. Incredible quality, fantastic friendly service, abundant portions. A foodie heaven. 
My favourite dish by far were mussels served in a mix of Parmesan eggs and parsley, absolutely insane.

The octopus polpette were another incredible starter served with tasty marinated anchovies...

This little gem needs to be discovered by all of you out there so spread the word and go treat yourself to some truly mouthwatering food!

A week went by very fast and soon it was time to head head back home but I got to enjoy beautiful sunny days, crystalline sea, fresh figs picked from the trees, incredible food and wonderful company. 
I couldn't have asked for more.x

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