Well in the light of day this was most definitely not a 4 star hotel, proven by two events at breakfast. Firstly poor old Meg was thrown backwards onto the floor when a wheel on her chair fell off, and then (after complaints from the girls that it didn't taste nice) we realised that the communal milk was off! It reminded me of fawlty towers!
After checking out we went to take a look around the centre of Lecce, which was like most other towns on it's outskirts but supposed to have some lovely baroque stonework in the centre. I was told off by my first Italian grandmother (first of three today) for felix being too cold. He was dressed in a bonds onesie but she was concerned at his bare feet and head. Today was the warmest weather we've had - mid 20's!
The old town was indeed lovely. Marble paved streets and large sandstone buildings casting a golden glow. We peeked into the open courtyard of a convent where a habitted nun was presiding over a circle of young children getting their morning exercise. The girls (and Jason!) enjoyed their first taste of Italian gelato while I went shopping. There are great shops in Lecce, full of unique Italian fashion and interesting gadgets. I bought a lovely patterned wool dress. Very European! The piazza duomo was suitably impressive and fairly empty, then we continued on to the Basiliata Santa Croce, which is covered in baroque carvings and statues. Unfortunately it was also covered in scaffolding which limited my appreciation of it. Inside reminded me of Russian orthodox churches with the large curved, almost bulbous ceilings. Beautiful frescoes on the Walls. There was a couple who had just got married inside, but unfortunately their attire conflicted with my shopping experience of itlian clothes being fashionable. The dress wasn't too bad, but the groom and some other men had on these shiny reflective suits made out of god knows what that actually gleamed. Yes, gleamed.
We drove up onto the plateau to pass through some of the 'white towns'. Ostuni and cisternino were more 'cream' in colour and definitely needed a repaint. A lot of the Italian towns are heaped with these communist like apartment buildings that look very flimsy and drab. Unfortunately they are very visually off-putting, even if the centres are full of architectural delights. We arrived in Locarotondo to a similar sight but parked anyway as we needed lunch and this was supposedly one of italy's prettiest towns. Once we got in the centre, it was nicer thank goodness. Very 'italian' with paved streets, alleys hung with washing and geraniums blooming on balconies. Compared to some other towns in the country, I'm not sure it deserves it's ranking. But still pretty. And of course, being around 2pm, absolutely deserted!
We came across a little family run cucina advertising authentic local food so we went in. It was indeed family run, dad was head waiter while mum was in the kitchen, grandma did the ironing and two kids played computer games put the back! We were not offered any menus. First we were brought dry biscuits, bread, olives and peppers marinated in oil and vinegar. Then came the local White wine. Primi was homemade (by nanna) orriechette pasta with tomato and basil sauce. Nice if a little heavy. Secondo was meat - skewered pieces of lamb and coiled sausages. The lamb was lovely, the sausages not so much. But the atmosphere was worth it. Felt like we were in someone's home. And no need for dinner after that!
We had a wander around the town, making two return visits to the cucina. One for the bathroom and second because meg had left lambie there. New rule - lambie stays in the car/tent.
It was nice to get to our campsite on the Adriatic coast near Monopoli in the afternoon and get set up with time for the kids to play. Playground was limited to two swings and a hut but they seemed to have fun, and we got the car mat out which they really enjoy at the moment, especially meg. I had to hunt out a supermarket to get some soup and bread for dinner though neither Jason nor I were hungry. When I was doing the washing up (no hot water :-( ) I was talking to an older lady who was travelling for 6 months in a caravan with her husband. Based in Somerset, they spend a few months each year travelling around. They were on their way to Greece, but have spent a lot of time in Italy and last year went down to Sicily. She was saying how hard it is to find fresh food and vegetables and that it gets harder the further south you go. I have certainly struggled with finding things, which is surprising given the climate.