August 30, 2009

Italy 3: Enjoying Lecce

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I have friends in Puglia and have visited several times, but had never made it to Lecce, so when I knew I was coming to Italy I really wanted to go there. I also hoped that by going to Puglia I would have a better chance at warm weather. (Ironically enough, the warmest weather we had was in Bolzano, but what can you do!)

I was very happy with my hotel/apartment, Casa dei Mercanti, and slept like a baby. I had a ten o'clock guided tour Monday morning, but I didn't have any problem getting up. Breakfast was a cornetto at the corner bar, and I was happy to see that although cool, it wasn't raining, despite the forecast.

The hotel had arranged a guide for me; I had wanted to take a tour so that I could both get to know Lecce and learn more about the Baroque churches that fill the city. (Just one of the many things the hotel helped with.) Angela the guide was waiting for me in the hotel office and we headed out to Piazza Sant'Oronzo. We started down Via Vittorio Emanuele in the centro storico and she gave me a great intro to Lecce's history and art. Angela is an art history graduate and a licensed tour guide and often leads groups of school kids around the city - so I think it was nice for her, too, to just have to show one person around! Wherever we went there were lots of school kids and she said she was happy to have a break from them!

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Italy 2: Casa dei Mercanti - my hotel in Lecce

I really, really enjoyed where I stayed in Lecce. Casa dei Mercanti is somewhere between a BB and an apartment rental, but really feels more like a hotel.

I wrote two reviews one for Slow Travel and one for Trip Advisor. They are similar, of course.

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I am copying some of the text here, because I wrote it when it was still fresh in my mind!

It is rare to not have any complaints about a hotel, but this bed and breakfast really is perfect! It is located on Piazza Sant'Oronzo, right in the middle of Lecce, but my room (Junior Suite Cremisi) faced the quiet back side of the building so there was no noise at all.

While Casa dei Mercanti is called a bed and breakfast, it is more like really beautiful self-catering apartments with great amenities. They are newly renovated and everything looks brand new and inviting. The junior suites are the smaller ones but still have a full-sized kitchen with all amenities, a dining table, sofa, flat screen TV in the main room as well as in the bedroom.


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June 14, 2009

Italy 1: Getting to Lecce

I apologize for being the worst blogger ever lately! I gave you a teaser a few weeks ago, along with some excuses, but now it is time!! (Although I have one more excuse up my sleeve: The comma key is pretty much stuck, making it hard to write commas...)

Two weeks before leaving, I got a cold. I remember thinking that I was glad I got it in time to get well before I was going to leave… Well, I got to eat my words because my cold turned into a flu and a particularly painful cough. I tried resting as much as I could and drinking lots of water, since there wasn’t much I could do. When I had been sick for ten days, the Tuesday before my Saturday departure, I went to the clinic. I didn’t think I had anything that I needed medicine for but I figured I should check it out. The doctor said my cough sounded like croup but that I didn’t have pneumonia or anything like that, but she gave me an antibiotic anyway, along with some cough pills and cough syrup. (I was not happy about taking an antibiotic when she wasn't sure it was necessary, but at the same time I felt I had to do what she told me!)

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any better and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was a feverish blur. On Friday I was really worried that I had to postpone the trip, but there was really no way to do that without spending a lot of money. Friday night I was able to get out of bed for a little bit and that made me hopeful that I could actually do it. Good thing I had written a detailed packing list weeks in advance, which made packing very easy! I had also decided to go with a carry on size suitcase which meant I just couldn’t take a lot of stuff.

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May 30, 2009

Lo spritz!

Sandra and Nancy asked about spritz in the comments to the last post, so I wanted to write a quick note about spritz. Spritz is an aperitivo that is common in the Veneto and surrounding regions. (On this trip I had them in regions that border the Veneto, such as the Trentino and Emilia-Romagna, but I also had it in Lecce so although it comes from the Veneto, it seems to be available in a lot of places.)

Spritz can be made several ways, but the most common version is spritz made with Aperol. Aperol is an Italian aperitivo made by the Campari company. It is a beautiful orange color (and in my opinion tastes nothing like Campari.) Aperol only has 11% alcohol. Spritz is made with either prosecco or white wine, Aperol, and some sparkling water. I think the ones I had were most often made with white wine, although the prosecco ones are delicious! You can also make spritz with Campari but I didn't see that much.

Spritz is a wonderful pre-dinner drink because it is not too alcoholic (important when drinking on an empty stomach!) and because it is refreshing and delicious, of course. I can't think of a better end of a day, beginning of an evening than to sip a spritz in a beautiful town square, while munching on some chips or other aperitivo type snacks. Yum!

To order it, simply ask for "uno spritz". Some places that automatically meant with Aperol, other places they asked - you can add "con Aperol" to make sure.

Aperol is sold in the US and many European countries so it is easy to make at home. We are experimenting with the best ways to mix it - opening a bottle of prosecco when you only need a little bit seems silly so we have been using mostly white wine - but for a party, I want to use the prosecco!

There seems to be many differing opinions on the proportions of a spritz - some say equal parts Aperol and wine, others say one third to two thirds, then a dash of sparkling water.

Spritz and snacks in Bolzano:
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May 28, 2009

Where to begin??

I am so sorry I have been missing in action! First it was work, then I had visitors from the homeland - and then the visitor broke an arm in Boston! So I just got back from Boston and am trying to catch up on work and everything else.

Before I start writing more detailed about the trip, here are some highlights! It really was the best and most awesomest trip ever.

  • The hospitality in Puglia. It was not my first time in Puglia but once again I was floored by the warmth of the people. Loved it!
  • Hanging out with friends in Bologna. All those wonderful people, so many great memories. Meeting my friends' baby!
  • Trento (in the Trentino). We spent an evening there en route to Bolzano, and it is such a lovely place! The town is beautiful, surrounded by mountains and with the most gorgeous square. We had a fabulous spritz on the piazza before the biggest dinner I had in Italy. I couldn't finish half of it! Trento is called the painted town because of the beautifully decorated buildings there. I want to go back!
  • My BB in Lecce: Casa dei Mercanti. Well priced, central, super clean, spacious, gorgeous!
  • Carciofi alla giudia in Rome...
  • Hiking and horseback riding above Bolzano. SO beautiful! Hiking in Norway will never be the same - in Italy they do it right: when you get tired, you find a little mountain restaurant that serves good food and delicious drink. And the weather was beyond belief!
  • Spritz (with Aperol.) It gets its own line. It's that good. I'll add aperitivo in general to this.
  • Lunch in Mantova: Great food, cheap sparkling white wine, a gorgeous sunny day. A perfect stop between Bologna and Trentino-Alto Adige (although a little off the highway.)
  • Having J. with me in Italy! I think we should move there. :)
  • The piazza in Trento:
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About Me

I am a traveler who feels at home in many places - hence the title. As long as I have a decent place to sleep, anywhere can be home to me. I have lived in 5 different countries, 7 different cities, over the last 9 years, and am a Slow Traveler at heart. Read more

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