I know, just with the title it is already a cliché – we can already imagine ourselves on a road trip seen and seen again in Italy and with an old school supercar with a venal woman who gestures at the slightest noise of purring! Well, no, it will not be. We travel well in Ferrari with a 288 GTO from 1986 and I am indeed accompanied by Melodie, but she will not undress in front, behind or next to the car. It is not her thing, neither the cars nor the guys who drive them, she is completely indifferent. She is more into nature and discovery. That is good, I am a bit of both, vegan & vroom at the same time.
This road trip already promises to be exceptional, all the elements are brought together so that everything goes in this direction. The idea’s to roam at our own pace an essential region nestled between terroir and coves of the Adriatic and even if I have a racing car in my hands, we have time.
7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS
NEAR. 349 MILES
I know Apulia well, I had the opportunity to come to the region several times. I still work on a different route so that Melodie can get a real eyeful. I want her to discover this region in the best conditions between Cave shelter, age-old masseria, perched villa: I have selected addresses apart during our stay.
A large part of the heel of the boot rests on Puglia. This region does not have the brilliance of Tuscany or Veneto, but it remains essential and authentic. This boot is made for riding and it fits well, we are here for that. The landscapes, the season, the roads lend themselves to a freewheeling escape at a leisurely pace. I have scheduled stops every two hours between each leg.
DAY 1 & DAY 2NEAR. 288 MILES / NEARLY 2H07
I just picked up Melodie at Bari airport, the capital of Puglia, we take the opportunity to dine there and discover its old town with Mediterranean accents. It is late, Melodie is exhausted, we head towards Villa Scapone where we will drop our suitcases a few kilometers from Mattinata, this beautiful hotel with swimming pool is built on the side of a cliff. We take the road north, to head to Villa Scapone where we will drop our suitcases a few kilometers from Mattinata, this beautiful place with swimming pool is built on the side of a cliff.
The freshness of the morning encourages us to leave early this morning. As we see the Gargano massif, the road is punctuated by caring horns and a few greetings. With its soft music and its particular lines, the GTO draws attention. Even Melodie appreciates this combo: landscape, morning breeze and leap into the unknown.
This region offers a wide variety of landscapes: limestone plateaus and cliffs, caves, sinkholes (Dolina Pozzatina), natural arches (Arco di San Felice in Vieste), wetlands (Palude di Frattarolo, Lago Salso. There are many beech trees and holm oaks, but also 80 species of orchids. The flora being what it is, the deer are not deprived. Birds in large numbers, among which the birds of prey are distinguished – circaète Jean-le-Blanc, gray harrier, peregrine falcon…. and the water birds – great crested grebe, summer teal, purple heron, white stilt. Not lacking, there is something for all tastes, of all sizes, but this one is for us.
ON THE WAY TO MATERA
After this day, we head to Matera, this small town in the Basilicata region is known for its Sassi, a network of very old houses carved out of tuff. The site is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After this day, we head to Matera, this small town in the Basilicata region is known for its Sassi, a network of very old houses carved out of tuff. An obvious step. It is late, we had dinner at Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita in the Sassi district where we will also stay one night. The hotel blends in with the troglodyte decor and its location in the heart of the village allows you to stroll from alleys to galleries. The address is welcoming, calm. A private paying car park is located nearby. It is secure and valet parking is available. All is well for the Féfé.
DAY 3NEAR. 155 MILES / NEARLY 3H51
FROM MATERA TO NOCI
Sumptuous at night, Matera is also surprising by day. Before hitting the road, our curiosity leads us to discover this small town again. You have to imagine what the Sassi are: caves transformed into troglodyte habitat where the population has lived since the highest Antiquity and until the 1950s. The Sassi are the subject of ardent work of rehabilitation and the site is listed as World Heritage by UNESCO.
RETURN TO PUGLIA
We are now going to Noci to discover a type of habitat just as original as the Sassi: the trulli, round houses with conical roof surmounted by a small pinnacle in the shape of a ball, triangle, star … Nothing forces us to continue. We take advantage of the charm of the place and the swimming pool to relax!
Discover more places Puglia
I absolutely want to give Melodie the Borgo Egnazia experience. Based in Savelletri di Fasano, several years of construction have been used to create this establishment which looks more like a small charming village than a simple hotel. Starting as a simple summer residence for the Melpignano family, Borgo Egnazia became a unique place in 1996. An ideal back base for exploring the extreme southern tip of the region. We will stay here for 2 days.
BORGO EGNAZIA, NOWHERE ELSE
To find it, you have to deserve it, the Borgo Egnazia hotel is hidden in the depths of Italy, this is where the Melpignano family opened, this place of rare beauty… Continue reading
DAY 4NEAR. 17,6 MILES / NEARLY 30MIN
It is difficult to be discreet with this kind of vehicle. Inevitably, it attracts attention. Beyond the driving passion that the Ferrari brand unleashes, there is an element that goes beyond this fanaticism something that arouses in everyone the attraction that no other brand provide: its red color. For years Ferrari has cultivated the cult of color, which makes this Italian brand a unique brand: Red, dazzling color that evokes… it plays with paradoxes and contradicts and whirls up emotions.
I am at the hotel when an Italian man, rather elegant and of a certain age, calls me on the subject of GTO. In another genre, he allowed himself a full black Urus lambroghini. He questions me by asking me my impressions on the red queen.
I could not stop myself thinking about the tragic fate of this GTO, since in 1986 FISA took the decision, following several fatal rally accidents, of which Attilio Bettega and Henri Toivonen were victims, to bury the Category of Groups B. It is true that conducted nicely, it is a pure pleasure, I could even do the shopping with it in town, but as soon as we “open wide”, it gives the impression that the acceleration has been powered by a jet. The data is clear, it is able to “climb” to 188 mph and it goes to 62 mph in 4.8 s.
It is 11 o’clock, real luxury is having time. We have an appointment this morning with La Citta Bianca. For me it is one of the prettiest cities in Puglia. The paved alleys climb through the interweaving of old houses, where many craftsmen are installed.
A beautiful cathedral of white stone, Gothic (15th century), haughty and flexible, dominates everything. Against the Carmelite, the Church of San Vito Martire, presents a Baroque facade where the manner of Lecce puts swirling ornaments (18th century).
Where to eat around Ostuni?
First quality products, an obvious finesse of execution, marked flavors, consistency [ … ] of the dishes. Class without frills, just like chef Teresa… Continue reading
DAY 7NEAR. 85 MILES / NEARLY 2H33
LECCE & AROUND
It is the last stage of our stay, which also means that our journey is soon coming to an end. Three essential pleasures are to be made in Lecce. First of all, cultural pleasure by discovering Lecce: the solar baroque. Some Renaissance works, the Sedile, the castle of Charles V, the frescoes of the Chiesa dei Santi Niccolo e Cataldo. Among the most stunning achievements of this period: the dome square, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (completed in 1682), and its palaces; the Santa Crocce basilica. In the Bosco and Paludi di Rauccio natural park, you can see – among mastic trees, myrtles, sarsaparilla – the green toad, which looks like a stovepipe, the Italian tree frog, the crest, the dove…
Then, the seaside pleasure on the beach of Otranto, it would be missed in our duty to forget this. Finally and only after the first two, taste the gourmet pleasure of the Apulian pastries.
Coming to Puglia is not only going somewhere but allowing yourself to be where you are.