The Perfect Apulian Coastal Town – Polignano a Mare

View to the right from the cafe.

Sapphire blue water, cute old white stone streets, a public beach, and easy access to other places (if you ever want to leave), Polignano a Mare has it all. The city is walled and the old part is pedestrianized. The only wheeled vehicles inside are pedicabs transporting customers and their luggage to the many hotels and B&Bs.

It was hard to get a photo of this door without people in front of it, but I managed to snatch one in the few seconds between tourists.

The old city has many shops but doesn’t feel excessively touristy (even though it is), and once in a while you can glimpse real people living their lives here.

The swimming area is surrounded by cafes on cliffs.
The beach is a pebble beach but that’s the only downside.

Since visiting, I have been raving about this town. It just seems too perfect. Even in 95/34 degree heat.

There is poetry dotted all about the town. This basically says, “Happiness is easy when the sea is in front of you.”

We went just for a the day but I could see staying here for an entire vacation.

The access to the beach overlook.

Outside the old city, there are also lots of streets and neighborhoods to explore, or stay in, but we only explored the old town. We parked in the piazza just outside the old walls, helped by old gentlemen sitting in the square (they helped explain the parking sign — lunch is free parking), and when we returned at the end of the day, the same gentlemen were doing their “passaggiata” (daily walk to be seen, see, and catch up with neighbors) in the square.

Try to get that table for the photos. It was a bit windy out there so we ate inside.

We ate breakfast at a cafe, Caffe Dei Serafini, with a jawdropping view. Utterly amazing. The restaurant is in a cave wall of the city on the cliff and has only one table for two/three out on their tiny balcony… but if you are lucky, you can get that table, or, at least, use it for photo ops.

View to the left from the cafe balcony. Around the corner to the left is the swimming beach.

While I thought Lecce was more intellectual, and Otranto had a smaller vibe, I think that Polignano a Mare has a good combination for an overall Apulian vacation. And it has those blue waters.

I’m told that Sicily and Sardegna have blue waters as well, but for now, these have been the most jewel like yet.

A snorkeler seen from the balcony. Photo with an iPhone. No filter.

My photos were taken with my iPhone and I did not use a filter. The water really is that color. Better than on postcards.

No Baking At Altitude – No Bake Dessert

Hand blown glass from the glass factory in Bogota.
Hand blown glass from the glass factory in Bogota.

So I used my oven for the first, and last, time. I tried to bake something for a holiday party, a giant meat pie with phyllo pastry. It’s been months since I moved to Bogota, yet I couldn’t find my rolling pin, so I cut the pastry up into squares and placed them on top of the meat filling. My oven is a combination gas and electric oven. I couldn’t figure out which of the knobs I’m supposed to turn as the markings make no sense to me (plus some are worn off). So I turned everything. There was a hiss and then a few minutes later, the blue flames danced along the bottom. I put the pan in the oven. I watched. Eventually, I took it out. None of the pastry had risen. Some of the pastry had turned a dark bark color. At the other end of the pan, the pastry lay like uncooked lasagne sheets. I gave up.

For another holiday party, I made an artsy no-bake dessert. Here’s how I made it:

Marinate some dried cranberries in tequila (or rum) for a few days. Cook them with some sugar. Puree these with softened cream cheese and sour cream. Put in a ziplock bag for ease of transport. In a pan, toast some walnuts. Put aside. Melt some sugar (okay, lots) in a pan. Add a touch of butter to make a caramel. When the sugar is a liquid caramel, add dried cranberries and the walnuts. Put on a silicone sheet (or a greased surface) to cool. Smash the brittle into bits and put into a bag. At the party, assemble by cutting a hole in one corner of the cream cheese bag and pipette (fancy pouring) into hand blown glasses from Colombia (or a glass from anywhere). Add whipped cream if you want, or just put the brittle on top.

From now on, my desserts will all be brittle based.