Maybe you are already living in Puglia, thinking about making a permanent move or just imagining yourself here year-round. Where would go on holiday? We have been living beside the Adriatic sea in the Salento peninsula of Puglia for almost 17 years now. Our short answer to the question “Where would you go on holiday?” is we don’t go anywhere! Yes, we make regular trips back to the UK to visit family but as for a summer holiday, we have not booked one since we arrived here.
Of course, the obvious reason is that, as resident owner-managers of two holiday rental villas, Casa Mare and Villa Rosa, we are kept pretty busy from May to the end of September. However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t get to have a holiday, in fact, several holidays. With regular guests, who have become friends, returning year after year we often get to spend downtime with them – and dive into holiday mode.
After two relatively quiet COVID years 2022 has been a bumper year for returning guests and we have had one holiday after another. Kicking off at the end of June with guests returning to Casa Mare just in time to help me celebrate my birthday. Together with some of our local friends, we went to lunch at Senza Stile, a seaside outdoor eating experience that is difficult to beat. After lunch, we all returned to Casa Mare for a pool party, with Bob carrying out his duties as the pool wine waiter.
That was just the beginning.
Other regular return visitors include the extended family of our friends here in Puglia. This year, as happens often, the extended family stayed in the two villas at the same time. We joined them at our friends’ house on two occasions for lunch (a real treat as Mino is a retired chef) and a dip in their pool.
Our main holiday at home started at the beginning of August when both villas were occupied by returning guests again. At Casa Mare, we had three generations, all of whom have stayed at Casa Mare on several occasions. At their invitation, we joined them in the pool on several occasions, a great opportunity to catch up on everything that had happened since we last saw them. An unplanned meeting at Cocktail Bar Stefanelli late morning when we had gone to Lendinuso to buy food resulted in many Aperol Spritzers, followed by a dip in the pool – that pool wine waiter made an appearance again; a lost afternoon.
At the same time, we welcomed the return of Villa Rosa regulars, who first discovered Villa Rosa and Casalabate in 2006 and have been coming back almost every year since then. We always visit them at Rosa on a regular basis, usually for sun-downers, followed by a meal out or a meal cooked by our hosts! We joined them for dinner at Ristorante Terrazza Stefanelli on one occasion. Newly opened this year, on the terrace above Cocktail Bar Stefanelli, this seafood restaurant has proved very popular with all our guests. Rosso Pepe in Casalabate is another particular favourite and we were treated to dinner on two separate occasions, on the second one we were joined by our guests’ sister and her husband, who had come to Puglia for the first time.
Another new opportunity local to Casa Mare and Villa Rosa is wine tasting at nearby Masseria Torleanzi. The vineyards and family-owned winery have been around for a long time but were unknown to us. For the past year or so as we drove from Casa Mare to San Pietro Vernotico we passed by a previously practically derelict building, that was being slowly and painstakingly restored. It is now the imposing introduction to Torleanzi. We took our guests from Casa Mare and Villa Rosa to a late afternoon wine tasting, which everybody thoroughly enjoyed.
Two grand finales to our August holiday at home – we were invited to dinner on the verandah at Casa Mare and on a different evening to a BBQ at Villa Rosa. Both groups of guests boast excellent cooks amongst them! We were sad to see all of them leave, but content to know that they will return again soon.
Our at-home holidays in Puglia are not over yet – early in September, we have two separate groups of long-term guests arriving at Villa Rosa. We are looking forward to catching up and more wining and dining experiences!