I have spent Christmas in so many different parts of the world but there is just something magical about Puglia. It is authentic, heartfelt, and short of artificial. It rejects the frenzied commercialism of Christmas. Puglia is surely on the trendy radar for summer but also for autumn and winter. I have discovered many unique traditions while traveling the region and here in Puglia the past is very much felt especially during the holidays. I love this time of year because I can go on daytrips and find off-the-beaten-track spots which are a bit difficult during the summer months due to heat, traffic, and tourists. From north of Puglia all the way south to Salento, the region is draped in sparkly lights on steroids, everywhere! I have picked out some things to share with you:
Alberobello with its “Mercatini di Natale” is a must see. The village is covered in lights, a fairytale come true! I love getting lost in the dreamy alleyways of Polignano a mare, Locorotondo, and Martina Franca with all their beautiful decorations. This is the time when I love Masseria-hopping, each with a unique style. My favorite is Borgo Egnazia. This luxury hotel is pure magic with its Christmas market, offering traditional craft workshops, olive oil tastings from their 500 year old trees, cooking courses dedicated to Apulian culinary with traditional festive recipes prepared with only the best organic produce from their own farm. It all takes place under the maze of the Borgo’s alleys, hidden corners full of light and blissful scents. Do what I did, stay a night, from Saturday afternoon till Sunday, get pampered at their infamous spa, and then hit the most entertaining market all day on Sunday and enjoy the festivities. This is an un-missable destination any time of year.
Although there are many traditional sweets made for the Christmas season from Panettone, Purcidduzzi, Pettole, to the rest of the almondy Apulian sweets, I prefer my Panettone from the best, Vincente Delicacies, shipped from Sicily. This to me embodies the taste and smell of Christmas like no other. Traditionally, a whole one all to myself!
For shopping, I love the concept store Appia Appia in Nardo. They gorgeously curate artisanal objects presenting a chic Mediterranean life style. Their selection of homeware, furniture, and fashion captures the essence of this ancient land and the mystery of Salento.
I really look forward to this Christmas in my new found home Puglia. Starting from December 25th – Jan 2nd the region really shines! There is a living nativity scene on my-to-go-list. I am told the “Presepe Vivente” in Matera with the backdrop of the Sassi is pure Christmas magic! It is a unique experience strolling past rock dwellings and dug caves, long narrow paths, alleys, and squares of the ancient quarters. After all, this is where they shoot all the Jesus films.
So, if you can get away from your routine holiday constitutional, then join me in Puglia for a real authentic journey. For a bespoke itinerary, send me a message at email@example.com
Auguri di Buon Natale from Puglia!