Taking care of the land

Taking care of the land
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flowers and almond trees
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Fruit trees

There is something magical about being surrounded by land, a land that keeps on giving.

Can you ever have too much land?  We have  8 acres (33,000 square meters) of land, upon which are two houses. The XVIII Noble Villa (where our guests stay) and the converted stable (our comfy home). Part of the land is swimming pool and gardens, the rest is farmland with 90 huge ancient olive trees, 100 almond trees, a variety of fruit trees, grape vines, citrus grove and our organic vegetable patch. There are hedges to trim, grass to cut, trees to prune, flowers to plant and water, the list is endless. Fortunately most of the farmland is looked after by a local farmer (in exchange for a portion of the organic olive oil produced). The farmer frequently tills the land, prunes the almond and olive trees and harvests them too. We look after the grape vines, citrus grove, vegetable patch and the rest of the fruit trees, magnolia trees, 4 precious palm trees and the gardens..it is a huge task.

This is our life,  as seasons change so does the workload, spring is a  busy time of year.  Pretty flowers have been planted, hedges trimmed, weeds removed (for now), plus we managed to retrieve plenty of organic mulch from the pruning of our trees. Pesticide is never used on our land, we compost all organic food waste, mulch wood cuttings and turn the ash from our wood burner back into the land. Our vegetable garden is organic and very fertile, we never have a shortage of fresh seasonal vegetables. I wouldn’t change this life for city living, there is something magical about being surrounded by land, a land that keeps on giving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring in Puglia

Spring in Puglia

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Spring comes early to Puglia,  the wild flowers and blossom are out, the bees are busy pollinating, and it’s  the season for fresh strawberries, kiwi and asparagus!

The landscape becomes a beautiful riot of colours,  and the crowds are still months away. Spring is the ideal time to tour the region. Take a walk through our centenary olive trees, or along the beautiful coast line, the quaint villages, there is so much to see in this beautiful region. A trip to Puglia is a fascinating and rewarding experience, particularly in spring.

Here at Villa Magnolia, spring is a very, very busy time of year! Spring cleaning and preparing the Villa for the new season, painting, gardening, planting our summer vegetable garden with tomatoes, aubergines, zucchini, melons, peppers and more. The Grape vines need tending to,  our citrus trees are cut back each year. Outside furniture comes out of storage.

This year we have been particularly busy as we’ve added an  extension at the back of the XVIII Villa where we now have a beautiful new large kitchen, facing the gardens. There are two properties on our estate ( circa 8 acres),the dusty red  XVIII century ‘Casale’, where guests stay, plus a converted stable which is  our home. On the land we have 90 secular olive trees, 100 almond trees, a variety of fruit trees and our own citrus grove, each year we plant a large seasonal vegetable garden. Everything we produce, including our  ev olive oil is organic. One luxury we couldn’t resist was a stunning saltwater swimming pool.

Life is good in Puglia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puglia Vacation!

foodandwinepuglia.com

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Puglia has it all, mild climate,  history,  beaches,  beautiful landscape, picturesque villages, nightlife,  bars,  gelato, last but not least the incredible food and wines of Puglia!

Stay at http://www.villamagnoliaitaly.com . Set in the heart of Puglia, Brindisi between Bari and Lecce, a short drive to Ostuni and Alberobello, 10 minutes to the nearest International airport.  Villa Magnolia  XVIII century noble ‘casolare’ set within 8 acres of land, ancient olives trees, almonds, fruit trees and a large vegetable garden. Manicured gardens, a large salt water pool and spa.  Privacy and exclusivity,  Villa Magnolia is suitable for couples only,  a full house is (and always will be) just 4 couples!

All bedrooms are air conditioned,  have WIFI and extra large modern walk in wet rooms. Breakfast is served from 8 am to 10am (flexible for late risers). Guests have complimentary mineral water 24/7 and can help themselves to tea or coffee any…

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My life in Puglia back in the 80’s

Grottaglie, Taranto.

Prior to arriving in Italy, I was holidaying in the south of France, I met  my Italian boyfriend ‘colpo di fulmine’, lovestruck, I decided to stay with him instead of returning home with my school friends, I was 17 years old ! My father sent Interpol to find me,  he came looking for me too. Eventually in October 1971 I was deported from France and sent back to UK, my boyfriend was not allowed into UK as my father wouldn’t guarantee for him, so, as soon as I got my passport back from Interpol, I got on the 1st train back to France and joined my boyfriend. In hindsight I regret causing so much distress to my parents.

I arrived  in Grottaglie winter 1971, a very young and naive young girl who had fallen in love with  an Italian boy from Puglia. For a year I lived with my mother in law who earned a living giving injections to the sick, everyone called her a ‘nurse’, she would spend a few hours at the doctors surgery every afternoon then every morning she would be out and about (walking miles) around Grottaglie (Taranto) , visiting  the sick who had been recommended  a course of injections by their Doctor.  I very rarely accompanied her, she said it distracted her clients and prolonged her day as they were curious to know who I was, where I came from, was I going to marry her son etc? That year I made a concerted effort to learn Italian, both written and spoken. I spent hours translating magazines and writing love letters to my boyfriend who had left to do his compulsory military service. Italy had mandatory military service, for men only, until 31 December 2004.

Not many women worked in Puglia back in the 80’s if they did they were teachers, nurses or part of a family business. My in-laws wouldn’t allow me to go out on my own, so I would go out with my sister in law.  You’re probably wondering  why on earth did I remain there? I wanted to return to the vibrant city of London where my family and friends were, but my Italian boyfriend said “if you leave me then don’t come back”, on the other hand my father said “once you return to UK you are NOT going back to Italy” in between a rock and a hard place my heart ruled my head and I stayed in Puglia, eventually  getting married June 1972. My father and 4 brothers did not come to the wedding and obviously didn’t approve.

Life in Puglia was the opposite to the life I had  in London. In UK we lived in a huge house with central heating (I mention this as there wasn’t any heating at my MIL’s place) enjoyed horse riding, ice skating, tennis and my own bedroom.  My mother drove a car and I had lots of friends, I appreciate  I’d had a privileged upbringing.  Thinking back to those years I believe I stayed in Puglia because my father was adamant I shouldn’t…I was at an age when being ‘ordered to return home’ was not what I wanted to hear.

To be continued…..

 

 

 

Tiramisu = lift me up!

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Tiramisu, a well known Italian classic dessert, however, it only dates back to the 1960’s, most likely from northern Italy. There aren’t many dessert recipes originating from Puglia, as cakes and desserts were only available for special occasions. The locals eat fresh seasonal fruit,  dried figs and almonds for their dessert, certainly a much healthier option, although every now and they do indulge!

The Tiramisu I make here at Villa Magnolia is always alcohol enriched. Villa Magnolia is an adult only luxury B&B, so I’m not worried about the alcohol content of my tiramisu, although if requested I  am happy to make alcohol & nut free versions too.   I make tiramisu with my  homemade Coffee liqueur (like Kahlua), or Amaretto, I also like to vary the topping, sometimes cocoa powder,  grated dark chocolate or roasted almond slivers.

Come and stay at http://www.villamagnoliaitaly.com, maybe you’ll get a chance to taste my tiramisu!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow food

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The opposite of Fast Food. The definition of slow food, food that is produced or prepared in accordance with local culinary traditions, typically using high-quality locally sourced ingredients. Follow the slow food movement on twitter https://twitter.com/SlowFoodHQ

http://www.slowfood.com/

Slow Food means living an unhurried life, taking time to enjoy simple pleasures, starting at the table. The Slow Food founder  is Carlo Petrini from  Piedmont Italy.  It has since spread worldwide.  It strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.

Puglia is one of the best destinations in Italy for slow food and wine lovers.  Visit Puglia, join our 4 day food and wine extravaganza in *June or  September you will have the unique chance to sample several Slow Food Presidia products – high-quality, traditional foods at the risk of ‘extinction’  and other local delicacies from quality producers. Alongside tasting wonderful produce, discover a region of overwhelming beauty and history.

Dates: June 7th to 11th or September 8th to 12th 2016 info@villamagnoliaitaly.com
Book soon as places are now limited!
Price pp 580 euro.  Suitable for couples. Accommodation, all food and plenty of wine as listed below included!

1) Arrival, light lunch, aperitivo. ( a few hours free time to sunbathe, tour the area) . Hands on cooking class in the chef’s kitchen, 4 course dinner with wine pairing.

2) Breakfast, a visit to a wine cantina, wine tasting and lunch with wine pairing. Afternoon: Limoncello making class ( free evening to discover the area, choose a local restaurant)

3)Breakfast, Tour to a local cheesemaker to learn how to make mozzarella, burrata etc. ( a few hours free in the afternoon) Fun packed Pizza making evening 3 course dinner (wines included).

4)Breakfast,  ( free morning to explore or chill out by the pool),  afternoon Bruschetta served al fresco with Prosecco, watch a show by the pool at Villa Magnolia of traditional Pizzica dancers!  Followed by an amazing organic dinner at a Masseria, 8 courses with wine pairings.