Summer in Puglia and Sicily: Travel by the road not taken
My first summer in Italy was meant to be a boring one. As a student at University, I was really hoping to spend my time on some studies and job applications. Somehow the idea of a brief visit to South Italy got planned with a friend.
Hoping to spend a few days at the beach and then book a flight back to Milan, I booked my one way ticket to Brindisi, Puglia.
Little did I know what I had in store ahead. I meet my friend Tim who tells me that we are not spending time at the beaches in Brindisi. Instead we would be heading down further south to Lecce.
My South Italian trip would finally end in Sicily 15 days later.
This was to become the most spontaneous trip ever. Maybe even more than the IIT Delhi 3 Idiot’s trip to Goa to celebrate success in Solid Mechanics.
In the next 15 days,
- I learned to swim like a pro in the salty rocky beaches,
- watched Miss Italia live,
- learned how to fry fresh fish,
- party in the coolest club in Salento and
- hustle for a short term apartment at a local bar.
I also enjoyed hospitality at a Sicilian home in Palermo, hanged out with the locals who taught me a cool magic trick and discovered a beautiful private beach by swimming into it.
Life lessons from South Italian Travel: Thinking spontaneous
This trip prepared me for an eventual Sales Job in Italy years later. The trip actually did much more than just that. I became a changed person after this trip, filled with compassion and a sense of adventure.
Moments like waking up in the morning in the ferry to Sicily or the moment when I swam into a cave by the sea leave me an everlasting feeling of fulfillment.
23 year old me was super active, energetic and strong. Years later, as I blog about the adventure in South Italy, I hope my recollection of the past inspires me to return once again.
From Brindisi, we caught a train to Lecce and managed to find a nice apartment at a moderate price. Tim had great interpersonal skills. He would always start talking with people around him and gather loads of information.
Learn to Hustle like a Pro from a South Italian
This one evening, we were chilling with a beer after a swim at bar by the sea.Hoping to make the most of vacation time, Tim was really hoping to get his application documents ready for university admissions. Needing help with his cover letter, he somehow managed to find a local university admission official who was very happy to help him out right at that bar.
This was right after my first year in Italy. I spoke enough Italian to live and get by in the country. In other words I knew how to use my hands very well adding an “O” after the English words.
But an adventure like this prepares you to step out of your comfort zone. Travel has always kept me motivated. The uplifting of the mind and mood can prepare you to take on big challenges ahead in life.
Remembering the weekend nights in Lecce
Full of young crowd the beautiful historical city of Lecce has a bustling night life. Life in the Italian cities apart from Milan is definitely more fun for the social person. Making friends in South Italy can be quite easy. Everyone is trying to offer you something all the time.
The city is full of Baroque architecture and can be a visual treat to the culturally inclined tourist.
With a pretty city square, a Roman Amphitheater and beautiful churches, Lecce is a hidden gem in Irresistible Italy.
Our next destination was some of the most beautiful rocky beaches I have ever been to.
Swimming at castro and partying at Blubay club
Filled with holiday homes, many Italians working in cities try to return to their beach houses in the summer. Fortunately as we were there in the beginning of July, we managed to find a huge old apartment on rent at a price of 40 euros a day.
This massive palace of a house had huge rooms. I have never slept in a bedroom so big in my life before.
Typical day at Castro was heading out to the water and sun in the day and to relax with an aperitivo in the evening. While heading back, we would grab ourselves some of the fresh fish from the local market and prepare ourselves a full course Italian meal.
Somehow the food tasted good down south. I had the best pasta in my life while eating lunch with an Italian family. The speciality of the pasta was the red dry chillies that were offered along with the penne arrabiata.
The Blubay Club is a favorite among the local youth. During a party night, you cannot miss not knowing about the event. Search lights let everyone know where to come.
Discovering the home of the Godfather: Sicily
After almost ten days spent at the beaches, we headed back to Lecce. Getting hold of a few tracks of some Salento music, we took the bus to palermo that would head to Reggio calabria before crossing over by a ferry onto sicily.
Palermo is awesome!
The city reminded me of a bustling Indian city full of life. Staying at Tim’s grandparent’s house, I still remember the beautiful window view of the sea. The sun and the heat felt familiar. The food prepared by Tim’s Grand mom was heavenly.
Making up for the hospitality, I helped Tim out with some Math for his exams one day and the next day we went to the beach to relax. The beach at Palermo was a sandy one, but still very clear.
At the beach you can also relish some Sicilian snacks like fried fish and Gelato. The cakes and desserts from Palermo are very popular. Most noteworthy is the Cannoli.
Making friends at Sicily is also very easy. There is a lot of curiosity about the foreign world. A bunch of Sicilians would be meeting an Indian for the very first time in their lives. Somehow the chemistry felt great.
After 15 days since I left Milan, I was finally heading back, taking along with me experiences of a lifetime.
South Italian Summer Holidays: Puglia/Lecce/Salento/Sicily #beach #sun
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