Part of the Family
There are a great many adventures, sensations, tastes and sights to be had here in Basilicata, Southern Italy. From beautiful landscapes to incredible food, vacations with La Lucana are filled with unique and high quality experiences that, according to our past clients, are making us stand out from the crowd.
This month we welcomed a wonderful group of people from Seattle, U.S.A and gave them a 5 night experience that neither they nor us will ever forget. We thought we'd write a blog post about the experience, sharing what we did, where we went and (of course) what we ate. More than that, we wanted to try and communicate to our readers how our guests always end up feeling part of the family and feel that they have gained so much more than just a wonderful vacation experience.
In this blog post, we're going to try and describe a whole La Lucana tour so that prospective clients of ours can really get a sense of what to expect if they choose to take a vacation with us.
'There are no words to describe what an amazing time we had doing the La Lucana experience. Our hosts were kind, considerate, hilarious, and we felt like part of the family. We were devastated to leave.' - Marc, USA.
As always, our experience begins by being greeted at Bari Airport (though we can also arrange to meet our guests at local train stations) and whisked away from the industrial landscape of Bari directly to the peace, tranquility and natural beauty of our olive farm. After all that travelling, our guests usually enjoy a light aperitivo on our terrace, and our new friends from Seattle were no different - commenting, 'Now it feels like Italy!'
Traditionally, the Italian aperitivo leads straight into lunch or dinner and it was no different for our guests as they soon found themselves sitting down to their first (of many) dinner feasts.
The following day saw our guests wake up to a typical Italian sweet breakfast before beginning their first day out in the beautiful gem of our region that is Matera. Their first activity of the day was a private guided tour of the Sassi di Matera, which they described as interesting, informative and of course, beautiful.
Soon after their tour, we took our guests to meet our good friend Antonio at this incredible and historic Sassi bar where they enjoyed a light lunch of local products and drinks. They remarked how much they loved the opportunity to meet one of the locals in such a beautiful place and were happily surprised when Antonio gave them a short tour and explanation of the history behind his beautiful spot in the Sassi.
After a long morning of exploring the Sassi di Matera, our guests had asked us to arrange an afternoon of relaxation at a unique cave spa not far from Antonio's. So, a short walk later and our guests were enjoying one of the most relaxing experiences to be had in Matera.
A few hours later and we met up with our super relaxed guests and took them for an artisan gelato at Matera's oldest gelateria before heading back to the farm for a chance to get ready for another full on traditional Italian dinner.
We knew that one of the guests in this group had recently celebrated their 50th birthday and so we wanted to surprise them with a home-made birthday cake at the dinner that evening. Once our friends had polished off the antipasti, primo and secondo, suddenly the lights in our restaurant went dim and out came Silvia and Greg with a surprise birthday cake and a rendition of 'Tanti auguri' - Happy Birthday in Italian! Our guests were gobsmacked and we felt so privileged to add this little treat to their birthday celebrations. It really does inspire us and motivate us to see our guests so at home in our place and we believe that it's moments like this that make the authenticity of a La Lucana experience so unique.
The next day was spent at the farm and was all about Italian FOOD! After breakfast, we began the day with a truly special cooking lesson with our Mamma, Marisa. Marisa always takes great delight in showing guests of our cooking lesson experience how she makes some of the most iconic Italian dishes - Basilicata style. Our guests were so enthusiastic, with everyone laughing and joking throughout the whole morning whilst eagerly writing recipes down to impress their friends back home with.
After all that cooking, someone had to eat the things we'd made! Cue a traditional Southern Italian family lunch...
Before the sommelier and wine tasting experience, our guests spent the afternoon after lunch with a lady from the nearby local village of Miglionico learning all about how to make pasta. This experience is always a lot of fun for our guests, even though it's often a lot harder than it looks!
A day of food in southern Italy wouldn't be complete without wine and so, leading on from the pasta lesson came a chance for our guests to enjoy our beautiful terrace and sip on some of the best wines the south has to offer with their own private sommelier.
After spending a culinary day at the farm we felt that it was time for our lovely new American friends to see Matera in the evening and so we arranged for them to spend an evening visiting local bars and enjoying an evening aperitivo and cocktail. Matera really does come to life on a summer's evening and when possible we love to show our guests Matera both during the day and at night.
Our third day together was all about the stunning mountains of Basilicata and two of Italy's most beautiful villages: Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa. This day out involves beautiful landscapes, incredible views and a wonderful stop off at a beautiful mountain restaurant where again our guests get the chance to meet another local.
Also, for those brave enough, Europe's highest zip-line awaits which lets you fly across the sky between the two mountain villages!
The next day saw us move from the mountains of Basilicata to the seaside of Puglia and the wonderful seaside gem that is Polignano a Mare. Originally built by the Romans, Polignano is now famous for its beautiful sea views, wonderful seafood and for being the home town of renowned Italian singer, Domenico Modugno - most famous for the classic 'Volare'.
For lunch we give our guests the opportunity to eat at one of Polignano's many quaint seafood restaurants or, if they really want to blend in with the locals and get away from the crowds, we can take them to a rustic seafood shack where they can try the famous 'panino con polpo' - octopus sandwich. Our guests from Seattle chose the latter and really enjoyed experiencing this place like the Italians do!
And so after a final dinner feast and a final nights sleep at our olive farm, our friends from Seattle had come to the end of the La Lucana experience. However, before we had to say our fond farewells, our guests insisted that they gave us a treat before they left! Silvia has always had a fascination with the way that in the movies, Americans always seem to have pancakes for breakfast and she's always wanted to try them! Once they learned of this, our guests offered to make them for us on our final morning together! We absolutely loved the way that our guests felt so comfortable and at home that they actually wanted to do this for us and it was a great honour for us and a memory we'll always treasure!
So all good things do, unfortunately, have to come to an end but, as with all the guests that choose to experience La Lucana, we hope that aside from the pasta, the recipes, the landscapes, the towns, the villages and the tranquility of Basilicata, it is in fact the close warmth and fond memories that our guests make with us that will be the gift treasured most when they head home and tell everyone about the people of Lucania.