In just under 2 months we head back to Italy for a holiday. This trip we were keen to visit Puglia – the heel of Italy’s boot – and see what this often overlooked province offered.
In the end we will miss by a few kilometres and will be staying, instead, in Matera in the province of Basilicata. So not in the heel of the boot, more in the area between the sole and the heel.
Matera is known as “la Città Sotterranea” (the Subterranean City) because historically many of the dwelling were effectively caves in the hillside. It is one of the longest continuously inhabited places on earth and a UNESCO World Heritage Park.
It is only recently that Matera has become a must-see for visitors to Italy and we will be staying 3 nights at Palazzo Gattini Luxury Hotel – breaking up a fortnight spent staying in Positano which is a two hour drive away on the coast.
Matera at night
Our holiday is completed by a week in Chianti in a beautiful villa organised by our dear friend Olga, and a few days in Rome – a chance to reintroduce ourselves to this eternal city.
We fly out of Wellington at the beginning of August. Watch the blog for holiday updates.
Every time we walked from the villa to the village of Positano we passed a house that simply had to be photographed. It is actually three apartments that are built, quite literally, on the side of a cliff overlooking the sea and above a private beach.
The setting is stunning and the way the house is fitted into the hill seems to sum up the relationship Positano has with its surroundings. They work in harmony, like that’s the way things have always been. The Italians have a word for this – simpatico.
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There are a number of notable buildings in and around Aspley Guise. One worth mentioning is “The Rookery”. Although it is now a private home, during World War 2 this secluded Victorian mansion was the home of Australian Dennis Delmer. He was involved in “black ops” which included broadcasting radio propaganda and programmes to Germany which, among other things, suggested that Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
In fact there was much covert activity in and around Aspley Guise during the war with Bletchley Park, the home of the World War 2 Enigma code crackers, only a few minutes down the road.
Another notable house in the area is Aspley House. This is a splendid property set in grounds near the entrance to the village. It was built around 1650 and remains the largest house in the village.
Today the sun came out. The all-pervading greyness of the last week vanished and the world suddenly became a warmer, friendlier place. Well, friendlier anyway. I grabbed my trusty Nikon and made the short walk to Aspley Guise.
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