Planning Your Italy Vacation: From Rome to Lecce

Roman Forum

  In the last edition of Planning your Italy Vacation, I wrote about traveling north from Rome, with Venice as the final destination. In this post we’ll explore the alternative: traveling from Rome southward. This alternative will be attractive to travelers who have already seen the major sights in the north of Italy, and to travelers who prefer to tread the less-beaten path. I suggest ... Read Full Article

Puglia’s Best Kept Culinary Secret: Panzerotto

Fritta up-close

  A panzerotto is a fried version of a calzone that is unique to the Puglia region of Italy. Piping hot and stuffed with mozzarella and tomato sauce, eating a panzerotto is a sinfully satisfying experience. Panzerotti (plural) have crossed the Atlantic and become popular in the United States, particularly Texas and New Jersey, but tasting them at the source is always the best. Every city ... Read Full Article

The Gothic City of Otranto, Italy

View from walkway over Otranto

  A coastal town on Italy’s Salento Peninsula, Otranto is a city out of a fairytale (in fact, the first Gothic novel ever written was inspired by Otranto’s castle), but the city also has elements of a tourist trap. Fortunately, the tourist-focused areas of the city can be easily bypassed with just a little know-how. For example, the experience of walking the magical seaside promenade, ... Read Full Article

Night of Lights and Symphonies: The Sant ’Oronzo Festival in Lecce, Italy


When the large food venders rolled in, I knew this was going to be a big one. Lecce features events of all shapes and sizes on a weekly basis each summer, but the biggest celebration of all is the Sant’Oronzo Festival. The streets are lined with elaborate, blazing light displays as well as food and merchandise stands of all types. The annual event takes place on the 26th of August, and marks the ... Read Full Article

Dining on the Roof of Lecce, Italy’s Five Star Hotel


The Roof Garden Altavilla restaurant on top of the Risorgimento Resort Hotel offers very fine Italian food with memorable views of Lecce’s skyline, including the exquisite 210 foot Duomo tower. I recently had a friend visit who wanted to test out Italy’s fine-dining. He, my girlfriend, and I began a search for just the right restaurant. It only took one glance at the dinner menu for the Roof ... Read Full Article

Puglia, Italy’s Summer Food and Wine Festivals


  Each summer, Italy’s Salento peninsula is absolutely overrun with food festivals and wine tastings. A land known primarily for its stunning white-sand beaches, sea caves, and Baroque architecture, the Salento peninsula is also known as “the breadbasket of Italy,” and has some of the most fertile land in the country.  Its summer festivals are a way of celebrating this fertility. Each ... Read Full Article

Porto Cesáreo’s Private Islands, Italy

The sea at Porto Cesáreo

  Renown for its freshest of the fresh seafood and sublime beaches, the city of Porto Cesáreo in Italy’s Puglia region is a popular destination among Italian tourists and an ideal location to experience Southern Italian coastal culture. Located on a small peninsula, the seafood markets, gelaterias, restaurants, and bars extend into a calm bay. Apparently this impressive natural ... Read Full Article

Lecce, Italy: City of Jazz and Architecture


Lecce is a city of 90,000 located about as far south on the Italian boot as you can go. And though it is not well known—or perhaps because of this—it took my breath away when I first stumbled upon it three years ago. Intricate Baroque sculptures pop out of the walls at every turn. A Roman amphitheater from 400 A.D. comprises half of the main Piazza Sant’Oronzo where an incredible Duomo with a ... Read Full Article

Wine Tasting in Puglia, Italy

Close-up of young grapes

  The wine world has focused more and more on Puglia, better known as the heel of the Italian boot, because its wines boast high quality and low prices. In a climate that is similar to California's, Puglia’s vines grow among crops of all kinds, including olive trees, fig trees, grain fields,watermelons, and wild loquats, making for a surprisingly diverse countryside. Though the ... Read Full Article