Purple Palate Blog

Day 35 – Lecce and Otranto

Up early for breakfast in our lovely farmstay… Built in 1748, it is a veritable baby in this country.

Roz has decided she wants to see Lecce today’s, and, since we are 5 minutes from Otranto, I guess we’re better go a check it out as well.

Into the car, for a drive up the central road to Lecce. This area is starting to do my head in a bit with the  amount of industriousness on display. It’s almost like they say, “so what are you doing for the weekend?” “Yeah, I’ve got some rocks… Think I’ll build something”. Absolutely everywhere you turn are structures, walls, huts, bunkers, set amongst ancient olive groves, and the most beautiful vegetable plots you’ve ever seen. Roz is very excited about the vegetables.

The sheer amount of will, determination, and time it must have taken to turn this place into viable land is mind boggling.

Lecce, the capital of the Apulia region, is different for a couple of reasons. The buildings, instead of been marble facaded, use the local sandstone, meaning that a lot of the decoration is directly carved onto the surface. It was really weird, but I got a real Brisbane mixed with Rockhampton vibe from it. The outer city is just very workaday reminding me of Brisbane The old city is full of really impressive sandstone buildings reminding me strongly of the old part of Rockhampton.

Brisbane and Rocky however, don’t have this in their town square…

Not rearly overly enamoured with Lecce, we headed off for a couple of hours downtime before heading into Otranto.

It was just going on sunset when we lobbed up into “the White City”.

Set right on the harbour, with massive walls and fortified castle linked by twisty turny little streets, it’s a miracle this place was every invaded… But it was… On numerous occasions.

When I say little streets, I really mean little.

It might go some way to explaining why there is a bunker or gun emplacement on every harbour and  every other paddock. The people of this region were damaged, and were good and sick of been attacked.

Really liked Otranto from the inside… really charming inside the old city, but the outskirts were reallyrambling, and a little run down.

Headed off to dinner at Matisse, a restaurant wine bar in Uggiano Le Cheisa that had been recommended.

Roz tried a dish she had seen a few times on menus around the place. It was mashed broad beans (actually chick peas) with chickory. Absolutely delicious. I had beef fillet with a heap of veggies.

Then I discovered my new favourite Italian wine… Drum roll… Negroamaro.

On first sip, I had expected fruits of red berries and blackberry, but also got hazelnut, vanilla and sweet spices, as well as white pepper on the sides of my palate.  Closing my eyes I could easily have mistaken it for an Australian Shiraz.  The use of barriques were obvious, but the fruit was upfront and tannins soft and velvety.

I loved it, but wasn’t sure I loved the grape or the style, or the winemaking.  I will try more.
More to try tomorrow

Ciao, Andrew

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