New Places, New recipes, New Year!!
Happy New Year everyone!
We hope you are all feeling optimistic about the new decade ahead. We certainly are here in the South of Italy!
We wanted to get a blog post up about some of the latest places, events and food we've encountered here in the past 6 months, all in the hope that readers will feel inspired to come and explore our beautiful, often untouched part of Italy!
From the feedback we've been receiving about our La Lucana tours and experiences, we're more motivated than ever to keep doing what we're doing and inspire even more travellers to experience the many things that Basilicata and Puglia has to offer!
So without further a do, let's begin!
The end of 2019 and into the future!
The beginning of 2020 marks the end of Matera's reign as European Capital of Culture and signals the beginning of a new future for Matera and its people. After many, many years in the shadows, a year of publicity and attention from both the national and international media has meant that Matera has finally taken its place alongside the other great destinations of Italy such as Florence, Venice and Rome. Matera is now, without doubt, one of Italy's hottest destinations and when you consider all of the history, architecture and culture that makes it unique, it's not hard to see how and why it has finally gained this status.
Furthermore, 2019 saw one of the biggest film franchises in history arrive in Matera to film its opening, action-packed scene. That's right, the famous British spy, 007 himself was here saving the world in his gorgeous (British designed but Italian built) Aston Martin! See if you can spot any of the moments set in Matera in this super exciting trailer!
Bond marks another important moment in the film-history of Matera, joining The Passion of the Christ, Ben Hur, Wonderwoman and many other productions that chose Matera as a location!
With all of this attention and excitement, Matera has been busier than ever and although this is great news for the city and its citizens, those travellers looking for those more relaxed, less-touristy and more intimate experiences of Italy will have to start delving even deeper into the south...
It's just as well then that La Lucana is here to help you enjoy famous sites like Matera whilst at the same time taking you to an Italy that is still very much untouched and preserved. With that in mind, let's take a moment to talk you through some of the great places and events we've been exploring over the last few months.
Places & Events
We absolutely love exploring our part of the world – there's just so much to discover and experience! It also means that we can constantly offer our guests the most interesting and unique days out, allowing them to get as close to our culture as we do.
Let's take a look at some of the places and events we've been visiting in the last 6 months or so.
There are places that you go to that have this ability to make you stop and question whether where you are, and what you're seeing, is really 'real' or not. A place can sometimes be so beautiful and so unique that it's hard to describe how it can make you feel at all. Italy, of course, is a country filled with places like this, Matera being a great example. However, there are smaller and less heard of places that can also transport you into a different world, such as Locorotondo in Puglia.
Literally meaning 'round place', Locorotondo sees its historical town centre built with a circular structure containing many beautiful, white stone houses that are typical for the Itria Valley region. This 1,000 year old town is most famous for its delicious still and sparkling white wine (known throughout Italy) making it the perfect place to enjoy a lazy summer's afternoon. With its little winding streets and beautiful architecture, it is a must for anyone wanting to catch a glimpse of what has been voted as one of Italy's most beautiful places.
Ahh...the 'White City'. Ostuni is often considered a must on anyone's itinerary for Southern Italy. Rising into the sky, like a type of majestic fairy tale land, it is a small city full of winding roads, beautiful little shops and restaurants and stunning architecture and monuments.
If you're lucky, on some days you'll find a fantastic antiques market that gives you a chance to meet both the international and local inhabitants of the town. Other days, you might find yourself wandering up the hilly streets late in the afternoon to suddenly discover that a beautiful sunset is about to unfold before your eyes. For many, just enjoying the amazing baroque architecture or sense of local life that can be found off the little alleys and streets is enough to make for the perfect day out.
Close to Locorotondo & Alberobello is yet another gem of southern Italy: Martina Franca. Similar to its surrounding towns, Martina Franca hosts the typical white stone buildings that this part of Puglia is famous for and has perhaps even more of an authentic feel to it than its neighbours of Locorotondo & Alberobello.
It surprises people to consider Southern Italy as a destination to explore of the Christmas and New Year period but to see some of these towns and villages during this time can be a truly magical experience. As you can see from the photos below, there's nothing quite like Italian style mixed with authentic and beautiful architecture to create a beautiful festive feeling. Why not consider a trip with your friends and family at this time of the year? It's always been our dream to offer guests the perfect Christmas experience and we hope that some of you might consider it one day...
Sometimes, it's the places that even other Italians haven't heard of that can really offer the most interesting, unique and special experiences to foreign travellers. Situated just outside of Matera in the Basilicata countryside (and visible from our olive farm) is the beautiful, simple village of Miglionico.
A medieval village that offers a beautiful castle and typical buildings, Miglionico is a place where La Lucana guests can really get a sense of contemporary yet still traditional southern Italian life. To quote a guest from last year, 'I've been all over Italy for many, many years but I've never found a place that felt as real and authentic as Miglionico. I just love it!'
We think it's the sense of a place that is very much 'lived in' that makes Miglionico an interesting place to visit. Like many other small villages in the South of Italy, Miglionico hosts a range of local festivals each year, including 'The Bread Festival' and 'The Conspiracy of the Barons' festival.
La Congiura dei Baroni festival (The Baron's Conspiracy) is a re-enactment that revives a piece of southern Italian history. On 14th August every year, the town re-creates the most important moments of an event which took place between 1485 and 1486. It saw the main barons of southern Italy and King Ferrante, Ferdinand I of Aragon the Elder, King of Naples, cast as protagonists. The barons were opposed to the modernisation process put in place by the king, which favoured the birth of new ruling classes, but took a lot of power away from them. The Castle of Malconsiglio was the scene of an attempt to make peace between the two factions. The barons invited King Ferrante to make proposals in their favour and the king pretended to accept the barons' advice. However, at the same time he reciprocated the hospitality in Naples, but at this second meeting, he had them slaughtered or tried. From this event the Castle took the name of Malconsiglio (meaning bad advice).
The Barons' Conspiracy begins in the morning with gun trials, flag wavers, markets, the flight of hawks, banquets, musicians and dancers celebrating the king. The event continues in the evening with the procession of the barons welcoming the king to the court of the Castle, the challenge with the baronial militia, and the Condemnation in Piazza del Castello. Before the party ends, street artists and fire eaters greet the wayfarers.
As you can see from the video, it's a really energetic event that sees the town transport itself back in time to recreate an important moment of the past.
We hope to bring you even more opportunities to explore festivities such as this over 2020. Look out for the amazing Federicus Festival of Altamura in April!
Though we don't like to give too many of our culinary secrets away in our blog, we do like to sometimes entice you with a few of Marisa and Franco's latest creations!
In the first photograph you can see the result of Franco's pignata - a famous local dish that you can read about here! If it's something that takes your fancy, why not ask Franco to make it for you during your La Lucana experience? Trust us - he'll be more than happy to do so and he'll even show you how it's traditionally made!
The other photographs show Marisa at her absolutely best. Pasta, pulses and codfish all cooked in the traditional authentic home-cooking style that always brings a small to our guests faces. We only wish you could grab a fork now, reach into the photo and taste it straight away!
Well, we hope you all enjoyed that little update and we hope that it either brings back fond memories or inspires you to create new ones.
We'll be waiting to show you all this and more in 2020. All you need to do is get in touch!