Smart spend­ing

Five things to do

Money Magazine Australia - - CONTENTS - SU­SAN HELY

1. Walk: A 5½-hour trip from Rome on the Frec­cia­r­gento (Sil­ver Ar­row) train takes you to the sun-bleached heel of Italy’s boot. A culi­nary par­adise, this largely un­touristed re­gion is sur­rounded by the sparkling Adri­atic and Io­nian seas and has plenty of breath­tak­ing sur­prises. A great way to get around is to do a walk and I can rec­om­mend Ex­o­dus’s eight-day leisurely tour ($1805) through the olive groves and vine­yards of the Puglia and Basil­i­cata re­gions, which take in many gor­geous old towns with cob­bled streets such as Os­tuni and Lo­coro­tondo and sea­side vil­lages such as Polig­nano a Mare.

2. Stay: Get lost in the labyrinth of lanes and small squares of Mat­era, a UNESCO World Her­itage town where 15,000 Ital­ians once lived in cave houses. Made fa­mous by Mel Gib­son’s film The Pas­sion of the Christ,

Mat­era is a per­fectly pre­served town from a long time ago. Stay in a cave ho­tel such as the Sassi.

3. Eat and drink: Al­ber­o­bello (an­other UNESCO town) is fa­mous for its hob­bit-like, cone-shaped trulli homes. Taste the lo­cal wines at the Trulli e Puglia wine bar and eat lo­cal cui­sine at Favola in Tavola.

4. See and be seen: Visit el­e­gant Lecce, the creamy stone cap­i­tal of the Salerno dis­trict, with stun­ning baroque churches and count­less squares, the grand­est be­ing Pi­azza Sant’Oronzo with a partly ex­ca­vated Ro­man am­phithe­atre. The lo­cals start their passeg­giata at around 5pm, fill­ing the car-free streets and squares to see and be seen, sit­ting in the many out­side bars and cafes with an aper­i­tivo. Visit the Caffè Alvino for a ghi­ac­cio, a chilled espresso over ice with sweet al­mond ex­tract, and a pas­tic­ciotti, a friand-shaped pas­try with a thick cus­tard cen­tre.

5. Visit Santa: The huge port of Bari has a lovely old town with a cathe­dral that houses the bones of St Nicholas, more com­monly known as Santa Claus. Bari has won­der­ful art deco build­ings and grand the­atres. En­joy a walk­ing tour with the lo­cal guide Giuseppe (see free­walk­ing­tour­bari.it).

Pre­served in stone ... above, the cave town of Mat­era; below, from left, a trulli in Puglia; baroque Lecce; and the cliffs of Polig­nano a Mare.

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