35 Days in Southern Italy: (Italian) Food, Family, Fun

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I live in Italy, so that shouldn’t seem so rare, right? But two of the three elements were pretty rare: 35 days of uninterrupted Italian food was one. I’m lucky enough to live in Milan where there’s plenty of ethnic food, and of course there’s my kitchen, too, so it’s rare I’m eating 100% Italian food all-day, every day.

I’m going to be posting a few of my favorite recipes which are ridiculously simple in both ingredients and preparation, and are often those which are the most loved. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from living in Italy: good food doesn’t have to be complicated or made with fancy ingredients. Some of my favorite dishes are those made with relatively few ingredients.

The other rare element for me was family. For the first time in forever some of my (US) family flew over to see more of Italy with me. Rather than a few stolen moments squeezed over a holiday or in between their work schedules when I visit the US, I worked most of the time while they explored but it was great to have a quick breakfast or gelato together, share meal times, and of course go places on weekends and some time off as well.

We spent most of the time in Puglia with a week in Sicily (which I’ll get to soon). Here are some scenes from Puglia:

Clothes drying in Puglia, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

Farmhouse in Puglia, Italy, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

Panzerotti, of which I am a big fan, are plentiful in Puglia. The traditional panzerotti are fried pockets of dough and come filled with mozzarella and tomato sauce, but sometimes they come in other flavors, too – like filled with Nutella!

Panzerotti sign, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

I’ve made panzerotti before at home, and I don’t always enjoy it, mainly because of how delicate cooking with hot oil is. These weren’t made by me, but were very delicious!

Panzerotti fried at home, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso
Orecchiette are the local pasta shape, and you can do almost any pasta sauce with them. These farina di grano arso, toasted wheat, orecchiette, are not easy to find, so definitely give them a try if you come across them.

Orecchiette di grano arso, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

Just the essentials in Puglia…pane, pizza, and orecchiette.

Pugliese essentials: Pane, pizza, orecchiette, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

I love cozze, mussels. Love them. I eat lots of pepata di cozze, peppered & steamed mussels (click on the for my recipe) when I’m in Puglia, and when the bread is toasted and drizzled with olive oil it makes this simple dish a treat.

Pepata di cozze, steamed mussels, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

Visiting some historic monuments, outside the Santuario di San Michele Arcangelo in Monte Sant’Angelo.

Santuario di San Michele Arcangelo in Monte Sant'Angelo, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

Remember Tonino, from the canned tomatoes? He was cutting up fichi d’India, cactus fruit, and peeling off their tough skin (after removing the spines) faster than we could eat them.

Peeling fichi d'india, cactus fruit, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

Pasticcini, little pastries, are common in Italy after special meals, often on a Sunday if guests are coming over. Most pasticcini don’t drive me crazy, but from this tray I definitely snagged some cassatine (those green-glazed ones, little Sicilian pastries filled with sponge cake and chocolate-studded ricotta) and sospiri (the white-glazed ones, with sponge cake and cream) from the bunch.

Pasticcini, Italian pastries, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

My accountant took us out for coffee after a meeting, and some little krapfen (or mini bomboloni, little donuts filled with cream) magically appeared with our coffee.

Espresso with bomboloni, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

I think stripping origano, oregano, from its leaves may be my new favorite busywork to do with a movie in the background. The mini iPad means I can take it out on the balcony.

Stripping oregano, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

Of course there’s always aperitivo to be found – this one went above and beyond, though I prefer a little mozzarella to the little ricottine.

Italian aperitivo, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

I love the impromptu sidewalk sales you can find everywhere.

Sidewalk sale in Puglia, Italy, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

When I buy a mozzarella di bufala, mozzarella made with buffalo’s milk, I like to make sure I meet him first and look him in the eye.

Bufali, buffaloes in Italy, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso
At first I wasn’t a big fan of the Italian lido, or private beach, with umbrellas and chairs when compared to the wide-open spaces of California beaches, but I’ve definitely come around. The ombrelloni (umbrellas) and the lettini (beds) mean you can easily spend the entire day at the beach, but not necessarily in the sun, and having a bar nearby to get an ice cream or a cool drink takes some of the stress out of days at the beach. Ombrelloni, umbrellas, at an Italian beach, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso
Looking up in the sky means you can see some kites walk by.

Kites walking by a beach in Italy, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

  I love the very colorful ombrelloni, the more colorful, the better. This was one of my favorites.

Colorful beach umbrella, Italy, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

A last look at one of the beaches in Puglia. Ciao spiaggia!

Spiaggia, Beach, in Puglia, Italy, on Ms. Adventures in Italy by Sara Rosso

If you spent 35 days in southern Italy, which of these elements would you be focused on? Fun, family, or Italian food? Or all three? 

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  1. Sally says

    Your blog was so timely! We are going to be on a tour of Puglia for a week in October. Loved the pictures! But I am allergic to gluten, cow’s milk dairy and eggs…so I am sad that I will only have mussels to eat!! and olives and wine…

  2. nehasf says

    Beautiful pictures, Sara! Hope to have the opportunity to visit Puglia with you guys sometime, plus local wine country!

  3. Stan says

    Thanks for this post. Lovely pictures. We’ve not traveled extensively in Puglia and hope to soon. Sicily was beautiful but since my wife doesn’t eat frutta di mare she found the choices limited. I was in heaven. :-)

  4. cristina says

    i just got back from 23 days in Puglia and we took some of the same fotos! As usual i came home feeling great. I ate like a porcellina and lost 3 lbs! i haven’t yet figured out how to do that at home.

  5. says

    You always get such long summer breaks! How do you do it? I recently had a 2 week food tour around southern Italy, but for work, I’ll be writing about it soon (after the show has aired!)

  6. Ms. Adventures in Italy says

    @nicki – I wasn’t actually on vacation all (or even half) of that time – only about a week. The rest I was working. It’s because I work for a distributed company so I just need a computer + internet connection for a new “office” wherever I am.

  7. says

    Lovely post — feel like I got to take a little tour without the packing, shoe removal, pat downs and 8 hours of cramped knees… Getting to be my favorite way — vicariously.

  8. Kristin says

    My husband and I will be living in Puglia for 6 months, right now we are on week 3! Anyone coming to Lecce needs to try pretty much any vino rosato from Salento they are beyond good. The best morning pastry is a pasticciotto. If you find one con Nutella go for that too, you will smile.

  9. says

    What a great website. I have added this to my start page on Yahoo as not to miss any updates, I miss those beach umbrellas and lounges. Can not find the same thing in the US.

  10. Katarina says

    Thanks for the interesting post. As you I work for a Internet company (my own) and plan to go to Puglia during the summer (now living in Firenze) and wonder how was the Internet connection in Puglia. Do you have some recommendation for a city there it is a little of social “life” and still some technology working (=Internet)??? Thanks in advance!

    • Ms. Adventures in Italy says

      @Katarina, I think internet depends mainly on the individual place / hotel, etc. A lot of major cities are very well connected and you shouldn’t have a problem finding it.

  11. says

    I have to admit I have never come around to the concept of ombrelloni… I love the huge, wild expanses of American beaches. I certainly don’t mind the possibility of a drink or snack on the beach but I hate listening to every word of babbling on the cell phone of the sciura lying not more than two feet away from me… your trip, however, looks lovely and there is little that can compare to the beauty of southern Italy!

  12. says

    Loved the post and specially all of your pictures! I’ll be taking an Italy Tour from Nancy Aiello Tours and hope to have at least a little taste of your amazing adventures while I’m there :)
    Your blog is awesome, keep posting! ;)

  13. Terri Lee says

    For some inexplicable reason, I missed this post – but so happy I found it now! I spent 28 days in Italy (just a little shy or your stay) with my family – took my two 12 year old boys for the first 18 days and then hubby/dad joined us for the last 10. We were there from May 28 – June 22. Your blog and photos took me right back. God I miss Italy. I would love to spend half of my time there and half here, in California, but hubby’s job and boys’ school prohibits me, for now, anyway. Absolutely loved Puglia, especially the food and the sea. I was like you at first, and thought I would not like the Italian beach scene (being from California), but was quickly converted and found several places that helped to change my mind: Polignano a Mare, Baia dei Zagare in the Gargano, Spiaggia di Ottogono near Ostuni, Sperlonga and, especially, One Fire Beach at Gavitella in Praiano. My husband missed out on Puglia, so I’m planning on going back next year with him, solo, for a romantic trip. I never got tired of eating orrechiette with rapini con cozze. Southern Italy was so beautiful, the people so warm and the weather – a mesmerizing combination. We even took a few days’ side trip to Matera and the sassi. Just unbelievable! Already planning the next trip. Thinking of doing a property buying scouting trip and possibly going to Tropea. Any advice you could give would be so appreciated. Love Southern Italy!!!

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