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My Puglia Road Trip – Part I


My Puglia Road Trip [Part I]

Accompanied by one of my good friends from New York City, Meredith, we embarked on a 9-day road trip throughout one of the most scenic–and criminally underrated & unheralded–regions of Italy. A coastal region in the southeast “heel” of the country, Puglia (also known as Apulia) remains a hidden gem of sorts as tourists flock to the more well-known…and more easily accessible, to be honest….cities like Rome, Venice, Milan, etc etc..

After a 6 hour train ride from Florence, I met Meredith in Bari, the capital city of Puglia, where she had flown in from NYC. From there we rented a car, just two girls driving with the top down low and radio up high…

Okay maybe it wasn’t quite like a Hollywood movie, we were not driving like Thelma & Louise nor did we actually have a convertible…but we were off for what promised to be a memorable summer adventure. Our itinerary would take us to Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, Alberbello, Matera and finish with a couple of nights back in Bari

Polignano a Mare

puglia (apulia)

The region of Puglia (or Apulia), Italy

Day 1…And we’re off!

After navigating the always fun airport crowds in the Bari airport, (sarcasm…just a wee bit) Meredith and I headed right away to rent a car. We used Sixt, a quickly growing and expanding company also found in the States. (Side note: While I certainly haven’t tried all of the rental companies in Italy, I’ve used Sixt a couple of times and I literally have 0 complaints. Highly recommend.) 

As I briefly mentioned, Puglia–and for that matter, most of southern Italy–is absolutely best seen by car. The south does have its share of commuter trains, and most of its larger cities/tourist destinations have public buses, but there is a decided difference compared to the northern regions in the availability of mass transportation (not to mention both the quantity & quality of options).  While certainly not rural, regions like Puglia tend to be more spread out as far as tourism goes, and unless you intend on spending a fortune on taxis–which in themselves aren’t always a guarantee to find–having a vehicle of your own to wander and explore is undoubtedly the way to go.

Polignano a Mare is, to be blunt, one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been. It is a beach town, and some of the views are just jaw dropping. 

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  • polignano

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In Polignano a Mare, we stayed at the stunning B&B called Quintessenza Domus Luxury Suites and it was the most wonderful experience that I couldn’t recommend more. There are only 6 rooms, all run by a woman named Carola and her family. Their breakfast in the morning is all handmade, and her elderly father is there helping to serve breakfast, telling us which pastries he made himself (and which cheese and produce he hand picked that morning at 6am!). Carola went above and beyond to make our stay wonderful. They also have parking available for a small fee so it was great for road-trippers like us!

Check out my video about our spectacular accommodations 

Our Accomodations at the Quintessenza Domus Luxury Suites 

  • Quintessenza

  • Quintessenza Bathroom

  • Quintessenza Patio

When we arrived we spent time exploring Polignano a Mare, though honestly I probably could have just sat and watched the sunset…and then waited for the sunrise, because it’s that dang intoxicating. We went to dinner at Restaurant Antiche Mura. They brought us fresh lobster pasta and fish that was caught that day – even going so far as to bringing us the living lobster to our table that we would be eating in a few minutes (this was a bit much for me, I’ll admit). But the pasta itself was VERY good, the ambiance was wonderful, and the staff was super friendly – I’d highly recommend heading here for dinner. 

Dining at the Restaurant Antiche Mura

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  • Restaurant1

  • Restaurant2

Day 2…A Day Trip to Ostuni

The next morning we decided to take a day trip to Ostuni, a city about a 30 minute drive or so from Polignano a Mare. Ostuni is a popular summer destination for tourists, and sees the average winter population of 32,000 jump to over 100,000. Known as the “White City”, it is roughly 6 miles from the coastline. Even though the city was in full tourist-mode we found parking pretty easily–I absolutely recommend using EasyPark, a growing in popularity app available worldwide.

The White City, Ostuni, is known for its tall white walls & white architecture. Even with an influx of visitors it has a unique calming aura.

  • The White City

  • The White City

Once we arrived back from Ostuni, we went to the restaurant called Grotta Palazzese for dinner, which is an Instagram famous restaurant in Polignano a Mare. I had made a mental note to make sure I visited it, since so many people have asked me about it online in the past and its burgeoning reputation. We made sure to make reservations about a month before visiting since – as you can imagine – reservations are snapped up quick!

The ambiance alone is probably worth checking out, tucked in and around a cave that sits cliffside–zero surprise why it’s become a popular Instagram staple for visitors. It was worth the trip for the locale, and while the food was good, none of the dishes really blew my mind –and it was a bit expensive for my personal taste. The menu offered 6 different “tasting” menus, which are pre-designed menus of various dishes and price points, ranging from MINIMUM 195 euro, all the way to 450 euro PER meal. They also offer the possibility to create your own menu with 3 or 4 dishes, but even that was a minimum price point of 195 euro. So as you can see – it was PRICEY. Unfortunately you can only visit the restaurant if you are having a meal – there’s no option to sit down for just a cocktail or aperitif. Man, I wish there was though! 

All that being said, I can see it being a perfect spot for an engagement party, or a special occasion in general because it really is a stunning place! But strictly as a tourist, its probably not the most economical.

The famous cliffside cave restaurant, Grotta Palazzese

You can also check out my video about Grotta Palazzese

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  • Cave Restaurant

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  • Cave Restaurant5

Day 3…Life’s a Beach

For our last day in Polignano a Mare we checked out the famous  Lama Monachile Beach. Lets just say…this isn’t like the beaches I grew up near in the States, to say the least. It’s awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping and a thousand other raving adjectives I can’t even begin to list. As you can see by some of the photos below, there is a lot to take in and see, and although incredibly popular with tourists and locals alike, it somehow is able to retain a sense of privacy & quaint charm. 

We decided to take a boat tour of the caves underneath the city of Polignano a Mare with the boat tour company Cave Emotion Giri in Barca – our captain Michele was SO fun that our exploration seemed to fly by. The caves are a transcendent experience. 

To arrive at the port that the boat tour took off from, we took a TukTuk! In a city like Polignano a Mare, its a unique way to travel and see the area. Think New York City cab…if it was 3-wheeled, open-air, motored like a golf cart and the “cabbies” were super friendly locals lol. The company we booked with was called Polignano Made in Love (I mean, that name is awesome, right?!?).

The famous Lama Monachile Beach in Polignano a Mare and our Cave Emotion Giri in Barca bout tour.

  • Beach

  • Cave Tour

  • TukTuk

For dinner we went to a new innovative restaurant called Jamante, which was even better than the cave dinner.

I’d definitely recommend heading here if you don’t want to pay the price of Grotta Palazzese. The chefs are young and innovative with the cuisine, the service was outstanding, and for a 4-course tasting menu, we paid only 45 euro – a STEAL if you ask me, considering how good the food was. 

  • jamante

  • jamante2

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Also, just to really drive home how wonderful the entire staff was again – I hit 1 million friends on TikTok on the day we went to Jamante, and this is what the staff did when they found out – can you even believe how kind that is?? I already can’t wait to go back here! 


And that wrapped up our 3 days in Polignano a Mare! You can see some additional videos & photos on my social media pages, especially TikTok & Instagram.

Stay Tuned for Part 2, Alberobello, coming next week!

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Another Amazing Street Food Tour…In Naples

2 July 2023

Another Amazing Street Food Tour…
In Naples!

I’ve talked about some of the best street food in Sicily, and raved about my tour through Florence already. So it was only natural that upon a visit to Naples I reconnected with Marco, owner of Streaty Food Tours, for another fantastic day of walking, learning, and, most importantly, tasting some of the best food in the city. 

Honestly, I probably wrote and deleted 15 different analogies for the food in Naples…but it was an episode of a classic tv drama, serving as background noise, that gave me an “aha!” moment. 

In every movie and every tv show ever made in the history of the world, Italians are always stereotyped on screen in certain ways – even though most of the time the stereotype is not the reality, haha. One that is constant, though, is of the Italian restaurant (always with a red & white checkered table cloth for some reason) with a smorgasbord of super filling pastas, creamy sauces, various fried offerings (always mozzarella sticks which, fun fact, you won’t commonly – if ever – see on an Italian menu in Italy!) and well…just generally the South Beach Diet’s worst enemy. I think these scripted stereotypes originated once upon a time from someone visiting Naples.

It is the birthplace of the modern pizza, afterall. And mozzarella (see how it’s all tied together?! haha) is actually produced in Campania, the region where Naples is located. Typical Napoletano food is vast, but what really stands out to me is their STREET food – it absolutely is the land of temptation for those with a sweet tooth or a love of all things fried golden crispy.

A bit about Streaty Food Tours…

If you have followed this blog for a while then you know how much I love Streaty Food Tours. And if you know anything about me, then you also know I don’t give out my “stamp of approval” to just anyone. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience several different types of food tours, in several different cities throughout this amazing country, but when anyone asks me for highlights or suggestions I always come back to my friend Marco and his Streaty Food Tours.

Streaty approaches each tour as not just an opportunity for people to try some great food, but to explore, educate and just generally immerse customers in the culture of the region. They make an effort to connect with each person and really go out of their way to make people feel comfortable, which is huge when many tourists can be intimidated by a new environment, especially when they have never been to Italy or face a language barrier. 

At the end of the day, its about trust, right? When you sign up for a tour like this you want to know that your safety is important to your guides, to know that your really are being shown great and unique places and not just an Italian version of Papa John’s or something. 

Hey–don’t laugh…there are actually food tours that strategically end (or even sometimes begin) a tour by feeding their groups generic pizza, obviously a food that everyone loves, to insure positive reviews & profitability. 

That’s more reason to love Streaty, though. A walking tour, they strive to educate. They also encourage people to try food outside of their comfort zone–which, if we are being honest with each other–is the whole point of a food tour, right?

Oh…and finally….Street food is simultaneously the best introduction to a region’s culture & cuisine–and some of the best damn tasting food on the planet!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking/following a link result in Kacie Rose Travel receiving a small commission. I only promote products/services that I’ve used & love myself. Thanks for supporting my blog 🙂

A Bit About Naples…

Some Quick-Hitter Facts & Background Info about Naples:

–Naples is the 3rd largest city in Italy, after Rome and Milan. Its population is a hair under 1 million.

–It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities/regions in the entire world. Its ancestry can be traced back all the way to the first millennium B.C., founded by the Greeks.

–Was the capital of the Kingdom of Naples (1282-1816) and the Kingdom of Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861. 

–The port of Naples has played an influential part in helping the city become an integral part of the Italian economy, and it is the European home of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command. 

–The city centre is steeped in history, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights for tourists nearby include the Palace of Caserta, the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and Mount Vesuvius.

–The term neopolitan means “Pertaining to Naples”. Of course, most people think of ice cream when they hear the word–but there’s actually not a lot of definitive proof the concept of “3 flavors in 1” was borne in Naples. Early Italian immigrants to the States brought a general expertise in frozen desserts and would mold three flavors together to match the Italian flag…it wasn’t until later in the early 20th century that the commonly associated chocolate/vanilla/strawberry became famous. 

–As I mentioned, Naples is known as the birthplace of pizza. During the Kingdom of Naples it grew in popularity in part due to the disproportionate amount of poor people in the city at that time. It was known as “the food of the poor”, in fact. The King Ferdinand IV, of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, helped bring it to the masses, including the elite. 

–Spaghetti is also closely associated with Naples. But as a coastal city its seafood has a reputation all its own. Dishes like impepata di cozze (peppered mussels) and baccalà alla napoletana (salt cod) are Naples staples (sorry, I really wanted to fit in a Naples-staples combo somewhere!)

When Italy was unified in 1861 the country saw much of its wealth in the south, especially the regions inside the former Kingdom of Naples, move north into Milan. With much of the population already “lower middle class” the city’s economy was decidedly depressed, impacting the majority of its citizens.

With the region becoming more and more poor, a lot of the amazing cuisine we now laud Naples for creating/inspiring was borne. In addition to carbohydrate-rich pizza & pasta, fried food became increasingly popular, as it was cheaper to prepare and cultivate than “fresh” food and the fatty oils gave people a sense of “feeling full” much faster (the oils expand in digestion). 

All of that is part of why Southern Italy has kind of an unfortunate reputation compared to the “Rich & Well-off” North. And I do mean its unfortunate…in some ways it reminds me of New York City, actually. Yeah, its maybe a little gritty, and its definitely chaotic…but the people are thus just real, totally vibrant and energetic and extremely hospitable to tourists & newcomers alike–just like in NYC, all you have to do is ask! (Also like NYC, I feel like the people of Naples have this stupid rep of smugness to outsiders, but really its just a city of busy people living their best life!)

Street food tour

The Food…

Cuoppo: A cone of fried things, usually seafood. There’s some land options but from the sea is the way to go, I feel. We tried this at the seafood market in the city, where fresh fish is caught and sold daily. It’s a pretty crazy and hectic environment, but that’s kind of what makes street food perfect, right?

Bufala Mozzarella: Mozzarella made from Buffalo Milk. Creamy and delicious, and a little smoky almost? It was like no mozzarella I have ever tried before! 

Trippa: Just to be blunt…it’s stomach and intestines from various animals. Throughout Italy you can find typical dishes that use alll parts of the animal, but in Southern Italy you can find this ALOT (for the same reasons that gave us pizza!). To be honest, you might see some initially jarring types of dishes & ingredients in Naples restaurants. This wasn’t my personal favorite item of the day, lol.

Lets just say I don’t know if Trippa was the dish that got Naples restaurants the most Michelin stars of any Italian city. 

Pizza fritta: Fried Pizza. OMG. Yes, its as amazing as it sounds. Filled with ricotta, mozzarella, tomato, pork fat and pepper flakes. 2 Thumbs Up!

Taralli: A super crunchy breadstick. This particular ones had almonds, which really enhanced the overall flavor. (Additional note…went oh-so-well with a Peroni, a famous Italian beer also available in the States!)

Snowflake: A desert pastry filled with cream and topped with powder sugar. Honestly after the fried pizza and taralli, I didn’t think I could eat much more, and at this point I thought I’d burst if I finished it all. But I did…and I didn’t burst. And it was well worth it!

In conclusion, my dear readers…

All in all, if you’re traveling to Naples, Sicily, or Venice, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Streaty Food Tours. They are simply awesome and provide such an awesome experience for tourists to not only see and enjoy the city, but to fully immerse themselves in the culture. And because I cannot recommend them enough, Marco gave me a discount code to share with all of you!

Book a Streaty Food Tour!

Happy eating, friends!

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The Ultimate Florence Street Food Tour

10 October 2022

The Ultimate Florence Street Food Tour

With Florence being the birthplace of the Renaissance. It beams with art and culture, history in every nook and cranny, and, of course, incredibly great food.  When visiting somewhere new I love to be immersed in the culture of the locals and, in my opinion, there is no better way to do that than a street food tour guided by a local. 

Annnnd this, my friends, is where my good friend Marco and his street food company, Streaty Food Tours comes in. Marco hosts street food tours in Sicily, Florence, Naples, Venice. Marco also believes you get the best experience when you have the local insider scoop. We love Marco. We stan Marco.

Anyway, on a sunny Wednesday morning, Marco called me up to let me know that Streaty was hosting a tour in Florence – for those of you that don’t know, Florence is my personal stomping ground. So of course, I jumped at the chance to experience the place I call home through the lens of a local. (and eat ALL of the food)

Please note: this post contains affiliate links which means if you buy something following a link on this page, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products and services that I use and love myself. Thanks for supporting my blog 🙂

streaty food tour in Florence

We met our Streaty guide, Alice, in Piazza Santa Croce and made our way over to Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio. 

Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio is one of two major indoor markets in the Florence city center, the other being Mercato Centrale. While Mercato Centrale is the older market and much more well-known to tourists, Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio is the place where the locals go. 

At the market you can find everything from fresh produce to local meats and cheeses, pastas and sauces, and of course, plenty of food stalls where you can sit and eat all the delicious food lining the market.

Mercato di Sant'Ambrogio

Alice gave us a quick rundown of typical pastas and dishes you’ll find in Florence, such as pici pasta (a type of pasta made without egg), wild boar, and truffle EVERYTHING. Honestly no complaints over here, it all looked delicious.

market in italy

We started off in typical Italian fashion with a glass of wine before being served typical Tuscan crostini topped with “ragu di cinghale”, or wild boar ragu. These were incredible and so, so flavorful. I saw stars when I ate it, literal bursts of flavor! Rich, tender, spiced so perfectly but not overwhelming. 

Plus Tuscan bread historically doesn’t contain salt, which was actually a good thing because it didn’t overpower the ragu and instead just acted as a vehicle FOR the ragu, it’s not often that the bread isn’t the star of the show, but I just couldn’t get enough of the ragu!  (pictured below)

Fun Fact: Tuscany is known for wild boar – they don’t have any natural predators so there are actually way too many of them in Tuscany. As Alice said, “They are destroying the countryside so we must eat them!” Can’t argue with that logic!

tuscan crostini
tuscan crostini

Cue music *I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” 

We also had a type of beef stew called “Peposo” which is a slow-cooked, peppery beef stew with Chianti red wine. 

Workers back in the day would prepare this stew after a long day’s work because it was satisfying, filling, and relatively cheap to make. Think of the most tender, slow-cooked pot roast you’ve ever had and then times that by 10. The meat was so tender and so flavorful. (Don’t lick the screen! You can always book a tour.)

peposo beef strew
peposo beef strew

After we were super satisfied with our first stop we went over to the outdoor part of the market and sat down at a stall that had a total of 3 tables and chairs placed randomly around the stall. 

We were greeted with a huge platter of typical Tuscan mixed bites – Prosciutto, Sorpressata, and other Tuscan cured meats, a mixture of fresh cheeses, a bowl of olives, and, as if that wasn’t enough, a platter of the most beautiful bruschetta I think I have ever seen. 

Fun fact: I hate tomatoes in the US but love them here. How could you not!! Look at how cute it is 😉

tomatoes in italy

Ok for this next part just stick with me – this may or may not make you squeamish depending on where you come from. 

One of the MOST typical Florentine street food sandwiches is something called Lampredotto…. AKA, cow stomach. And it was our next stop – a local food cart known around Florence for making one of the best Lampredotto sandwiches out there.  

lampredotto sandwich florence

Lampredotto is Darios (aka my boyfriend, who is Florentine through and through) fav sandwich, but it doesn’t quite make my list of favorite foods. But, Alice said a glass of wine always helps to settle the nerves. So, that’s what we did before receiving our sandwiches. 

Here’s the thing about lampredotto: the flavor actually is quite good, which is probably why it’s a Florentine favorite. They boil it, top it with parsley sauce and spicy sauce, and all together the flavors work well together. 

If you grew up eating it and it being a common food you consume, I can see why you like it so much. However, this is not my cup of tea.

It is perfectly ok to not like something. But missing out on an experience because you’re scared or it’s out of your comfort zone is NOT.  As my friend Marco always says, you don’t have to LIKE everything, but it’s important that you at least TRY it. And he’s right – I’m glad I did! But in the future it’s probably not going to be my first choice of sandwich. 

street food in catania, sicily

With our lampredotto adventure complete, we made our way to try one of my favorite Florentine street foods, Coccoli! 

Coccoli are little balls of, you guessed it, fried dough, typically either stuffed or wrapped with cheese and prosciutto. I mean come on, it can’t get better than that. 

street food in catania, sicily

To end our Streaty tour we had to get gelato of course. You can’t not have gelato on a food tour in Florence!

dessert, catania, sicily

In conclusion, my dear readers…

If you’re in Florence, I HIGHLY recommend doing this street food tour with Streaty. It was such a great way to not only see the city I call home and learn more about what I walk through everyday, but also to understand the city and more of its history through food. 

Book your Streaty Tour here

And if you’re visiting Naples, Sicily, or Venice, make sure to check out their tours there too! 

Happy eating, friends!

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