Monday, December 24, 2012

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo

We should live every day like it is a holiday…

Being thankful, spending time with family, and looking hopefully to the future!
May this dream come true at Christmas and always!
From all of us at SIS Property and Tourism
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Santa Maria al Bagno: a painting for sale on the famous Saatchi Online

The beauty of Santa Maria al Bagno again in the middle of the scene. In fact, the international artist Ieva Baklane, who live and work in Canada, after seeing some pictures of her relatives regarding their holiday, got inspired by the place and painted “Santa Maria al Bagno, Italy”. 

The painting is for sale on the website of the famous contemporary art gallery SAATCHI. Thanks to my friend Hakan for sharing this news and be part of it!!

Friday, April 06, 2012

3rd Annual SIFF BEST OF THE FEST LONDON 13-14 April 2012

A collection of awarded films from the Salento International Film Festival.
13-15 April 2012 - Italian Cultural Institute 39 Belgrave Square - London SW1X 8NX

The Salento International Film Festival (SIFF) is a celebration of films and filmmakers from around the World. It promotes international independent films in recognition of the fact that movies are the most powerful form of cultural communication and link between cultures and peoples.

Founded in 2004, by Luigi Campanile, the Salento International Film Festival emerged as a major cultural event and one of the top film festival in Southern Italy. Each year it introduces filmmakers worldwide to the Salento area. 7 days of world premieres, special events, seminars, feature films, short-films and documentaries.

The Italian Cultural Institute is a partner in this year event, and our special thanks go to the Director CARLO PRESENTI and his staff for their continous cooperation and support to SIFF LONDON events through the past year.

Friday 13
6:30 pm - SINESTESIA by Erik Bernasconi – Switzerland 2010, 91' -Reserve your free seat now!
8:30 pm - 6 GIORNI SULLA TERRA by Varo Venturi - Italy 2010, 88' -Reserve your free seat now!

Saturday 14
5:00 pm - IMMIGRANT SON by Frank Cappiello - USA 2011, 55' - Reserve your free seat now!
6:30 pm - A PASSIONATE WOMAN by Kay Mellor - UK 2011, 105' -Reserve your free seat now!
9:00 pm - Cocktail Reception Honoring Director and Actor

Sunday 15
5:00 pm - THE DUCK HUNTER by Egidio Veronesi - Italy 2011, 92' - Reserveyour free seat now!
7:00 pm - THE BLACK TULIP by Sonia Nassery Cole - Afghanistan 2011
-Reserve your free seat now!

Free event but booking is essential

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012

As usual we'd like to offer you our virtual greeting card to wish you all the best for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

A Big Hug from all of us at

Monday, October 31, 2011

With crystalline seas, pretty countryside and endless sunshine, Puglia in the foot of Italy offers great-value property

Fleur Kinson gives you the latest on this unique, much-loved southern region.

The high heel of the Italian boot looks and feels like nowhere else in Italy. You might be on a Greek island here – washed in dazzling light, surrounded by low white-washed buildings, and gazing onto an omnipresent blue sea which hugs the region from two sides. Colourful, exotic Puglia is a beguiling and stimulating place, with its own distinctive food, architecture and atmosphere. Its landscapes have an appealingly elemental quality – stark rocks meeting clean beaches lapped by crystal-clear water; gigantic olive trees spiralling up from dark red soil fringed by vivid wildflowers; fragrant pine forests opening onto chalk-white sands. Nature’s colours are bold in Puglia, and man-made shapes are simple – with chunky, cubic houses and conical-roofed cottages dotting the countryside. You soon get hooked on the region’s unique, striking flavour. Puglia is southern Italy’s big success story of recent years. A prosperous and orderly region, it has the south’s lowest unemployment rate and a rock-bottom incidence of crime. Puglia offers the long, hot summers and often bright, balmy winters of Italy’s far south, but with fewer of the socio-economic problems sometimes associated with il mezzogiorno. There’s little evidence of poverty or corruption here. Puglia has Italy’s lowest average rainfall, and, as a wonderful bonus, its southern half has almost no earthquake activity – unlike the rest of central and southern Italy. Of course, all the best of southern Italy is down here too – super-healthy food, open spaces, low population, a strong sense of family and community, and an easygoing lifestyle. Puglia remains the most popular southern region among foreign buyers. It’s easy to see what draws them down here, and it’s not just the low property prices.

Italy, Puglia, Santa Maria al Bagno

Puglia was little heard of in Britain until 2004, when budget airlines first began serving the region. A flurry of interest followed immediately, and since then Puglia’s reputation has grown steadily – both in the UK and in other European countries. The recent recession hasn’t affected Puglia’s property market too badly. Today, foreign buyers are still interested in the region, and it’s expected that the recent introduction of two new Ryanair routes into Puglia (from Paris and Stockholm) will bring yet more interest over the coming months and years. Some agents report that property prices in Puglia are down by as much as 15 per cent compared to what they were three years ago. But this decrease isn’t consistent across the region. In particular, property on the coast seems to have held its value particularly well. Prices of seaside homes are very little changed, and the Puglian coast is still tipped as a very good place to put your money.
As for actual prices you might expect to pay across Puglia these days, here are some general pointers. Modern two-bedroom apartments within easy walking distance of a beach start at about €100,000, while nice three-bedroom villas on the seaside start at about €250,000 – or if you buy off-plan they might start at €160,000. Inland, a small rural property or a conical-roofed trullo needing restoration might ask as little as €30,000. A simple modern villa with two bedrooms might ask €70,000, or with three bedrooms €100,000. Fine rural villas in lovely locations can ask €250,000 or more. Meanwhile, sumptuous mansion-farmhouses (masserie) range from €500,000 to several million. Puglia really does have a very wide range of prices and property types, and it’s worth having a good look around to see what you can get for your money.
Puglia also has a particularly rich range of property types that are each worth considering. Like everywhere else in Italy, there are new-builds, off-plan properties, modern homes needing redecorating, old homes needing restoration, apartments, villas and townhouses. But Puglia also has a special lexicon of indigenous building-types distinctive to the region: namely, the trullo, the masseria, and the lamia. Trulli are the little conical-roofed cottages that look like something from fairyland. They were very big with foreign buyers when Puglia first came to international attention several years ago. Then they fell from favour, but currently seem to be growing in popularity again. Masserie are grand, fortified farmhouse-estates, holding great appeal to luxury-buyers. Lamie are flat-roofed, foursquare cottages – invariably whitewashed – that sit dotted like little sugarcubes on the undulating Puglian landscape.

According to Francesco Distante of Casa Puglia, modern-built villas in the countryside or on the fringes of charming old towns represent some of the best value for money in Puglia these days. “Simple modern villas built in the 80s or 90s, which just need some redecoration, are great value,” he says. In nice areas such as San Vito dei Normanni, Francavilla Fontana, Fasano or Locorotondo you might get a two-bed modern villa for €70,000, a three-bed for €100,000, and a four-or-five-bed for €250,000. These are great prices for buyers seeking a rural retreat in the Italian sunshine.
Many agents highlight Puglia’s coast as the best place in the region to buy property right now. Seaside homes have held their value best since the onset of the recession, and as you can readily imagine, they offer the strongest holiday rental prospects if you plan on letting out your home when you’re not there. Luigi Spano of the Puglia specialist agency SIS Property and Tourism says “If I were to buy a home in Puglia today, I would choose a coastal property. It will keep its value in the worst times, will increase in value by 8-13 per cent each year in normal times, and will give me a rental income of 3-5 per cent.” Luigi particularly recommends buying off-plan as a route to big savings, saying that you are likely to pay 20-25 per cent less than the final price of a property if you buy before building is complete.
Carlos Gentile of Gea Properties is very enthusiastic about new-builds in general. He says that foreign buyers in Puglia have until now tended to buy older homes, since these were the types of properties most likely to be on the books of local estate agents targetting foreign buyers, and that therefore the under-exploited new-build market currently offers great value. New-builds in Puglia haven’t been widely marketed to foreign buyers until recently, and certainly you can find some good prices in this sector. New-build two-bedroom apartments on the seaside might ask as little as €100,000, three-bedroom villas about €250,000.

Discover the Unspoilt Attractions of Puglia With Rail Tours in Italy

A destination well-known for its fabulous scenery, great weather and historic attractions, Italy is a country that many of us are eager to visit. If you are keen to find a region that's particularly unspoilt, Puglia holidays can be an excellent choice.

Indeed, this region is known for its rustic beauty and relaxed lifestyle, making it a fabulous option for those eager to get a taste of authentic Italy. What's more, by opting for rail tours, you can explore more than Puglia alone. In fact, you can combine travelling around this region with visits to the magnificent Rome and Basilicata, making this truly a break to remember.

And of course, train travel in Italy also means that you need not spend time worrying about organising complex connections - and that your break can begin as soon as you step onto your first locomotive.

Your holiday will begin at London's St Pancras station, where you'll board the Eurostar for Paris before changing trains to head to Annecy. The next day, you will complete your journey by travelling through Milan to Rome.

The following morning, your first excursion will begin - and what could be more fitting than a guided tour of this spectacular city? Famous for its architecture, Rome is home to awe-inspiring sights such as the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Roman Forum - all of which you can see during your tour. In the afternoon, you can spend a little time exploring independently, which is a great opportunity to see anything else you're interested in - or perhaps head back to your favourite spot of the morning.

Departing Rome, your next destination will be Lecce in picturesque Puglia. As a region, Puglia is often referred to as the 'wine cellar of Italy' - and you'll travel through some of its many vineyards and olive groves on your way to Lecce. As well as keeping an eye open for these, make sure you admire the beautiful Adriatic coastline and the Foggia landscape.

Also known as the Florence of the south, Lecce has a gorgeous old town that's home to wonderful baroque architecture - something you'll see during a guided tour of the area the following day. Among the key sights is the Chiesa di Santa Corce and Piazza del Duomo, which is the town's main square. This pretty centre is overlooked by the cathedral's bell tower, which reaches a height of 70 metres.

You will have a little time to explore independently in the afternoon, and perhaps one of the best places to see is the Roman amphitheatre. This stunning site dates back to the second century and is a fascinating slice of local history.

A lovely walled town, Otranto will be your destination the following day. Its historic centre is contained within its walls, but the town now actually spills beyond them. After enjoying a tour of the walled centre, you will head down the coast to a picturesque village called Santa Maria di Leuca.

Nestled on a section of coastline littered with caves, this is a wonderful spot for a seaside walk. As you amble along, keep an eye out for the wonderful local lighthouse that's 47 metres tall.

Read the full article at

Saturday, April 09, 2011

SIFF London: Salento International Film festival

It's going to take place the 2nd Edition of "SIFF LONDON: BEST OF THE FEST", a collection of awarded films from the Salento International Film Festival, from Sunday April 17th to Tuesday April 19th in London at the Italian Cultural Institute located at 39 Belgrave Square.

The Italian Cultural Institute is a partner in this year event, and our special thanks go to the Director Carlo Presenti and his staff for their continous cooperation and support to SIFF events through the past year.

The 3 day London event will bring you a selection of SIFF movies, but it will also be an opportunity to know more about Salento and Puglia and its fantastic food and tourist sights, thanks to the support of the Hotel and Catering School of Santa Cesarea, the Salento Club, TerrAntica and Assoter Associations.

We will also welcome you with a glass of wine and some nibbles from Puglia. Bring your business card for your chance to win a short break to Puglia and Salento.

Don't miss this event, a rare opportunity to see the truly Independent Cinema and a chance to win a week-end accommodation in Salento.

This three-day event will contain feature films and short-films, Q&A with directors and cast, cocktails and a chance to win an weekend to the Salento Film Festival (2-11 September 2011), in Savelletri at the Five Star BORGO EGNAZIA, a true masterpiece of architecture and design.

More details at

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Lecce: The international festival of film on tourism to relaunch Salento area

"The International Tourist Film Festival to be held in Lecce next May 25-29, is just one of many initiatives undertaken to promote the Salento, one of the most charming districts of the Apulia Region, (geographically featured as the “heel" of the country)," confirmed Stefania Mandurino, Apt Commissioner of Lecce and passionate promoter of Puglia, a region with a commendable solar spectrum offering its bright scenes through documentaries and commendable authors.

There are many surprises for those who put on the agenda a trip to Salento in 2011 - not only Lecce, the capital of “Baroque Architecture," but also all that revolve around one hundred cities that offer surprises in every corner, including those led by food and wine-wise draughts of "Primitivo di Manduria," a traditional wine of the region.

The widespread welcome hospitality among the old villages, sweeping "Notte della Taranta" (the ancient rites which see wheat hand harvester women of the nineteenth century fall into a trance caused by the stung of a spider), open museums (in addition to wineries mills), educational farms (for thematic educational trips), music events, and country style parties of unparalleled public illumination are all offered against the background of a transparent sea and pristine beaches, as Pasquale Squitieri's testimonial of the "Tourist Film Festival" states, with "hard-working people and sound principles." For information, call 0832.332463 or email . Article from

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Ryanair launch two new routes from Brindisi Airport (Puglia): Paris Beauvais and Stockholm Skavsta

Continue the upgrading of Brindisi’s Airport. Ryanair, after connecting the Puglia’s airport to some major Italian towns such as Bologna, Pisa, Turin, Venice, Rome, Milan, and European such as London, Brussels, Barcelona, Eindhoven, have already started to take booking for the two new routes from Brindisi to Stockholm (Skavsta) and Paris (Beauvais). "I am pleased to announce that on March 28, 2011 will be operating a new route from Brindisi to Stockholm (Skavsta) - Melisa Corrigan said, Ryanair's sales and marketing manager for Italy - The route will be double every week and we hope to handle about 30,000 passengers between the two cities in the first year. From March 27, 2011 will also be operating the new route, always from Brindisi to Paris (Beauvais). " Brindisi-Stockholm will have two weekly flights on Friday and Tuesday: it will departs from Brindisi at 20:10 (arrival at 23:25) and from Stockholm at 9:00 (arrival at 12:25). Two flights per week also for the route Brindisi-Paris, Thursday and Sunday, it will departs from Brindisi at 7:45 (arrival at 10:25) and from Paris at 10:50 (arrival at 13:25). Salento’s tourism will welcome new tourists from Sweden and France on the summer season due to these two new routes. Great is the enthusiasm of the operators for many years working with northern European clients.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti) in Cinemas around London and UK

Loose Cannons, the new Ozpetec's movie is a good occasion to explore the historic wine towns, fishermen villages and white sand beaches of this beautiful, unspoilt region of Italy, Puglia... Salento! A nice postcard of these places, particularly you will discover the baroque wonders of Lecce and crystal clear water of Gallipoli beaches and surroundings. If you are in London and want to visit our region... just go to the nearest cinema and watch the movie.

Synopsis: Tommaso is the youngest son of the well-to-do Cantone family, who own a pasta factory in Puglia. His mother Stefania is loving but stifled by bourgeois convention; his father Vincenzo has unrealistically high expectations of his children; his aunt Luciana is an eccentric; his sister Elena a frustrated housewife; his brother Antonio works with their father at the pasta factory; and then there is his rebellious grandmother, trapped in the memory of an impossible love. All of them loose cannons in their own way...

Tommaso returns home from Rome to attend an important family dinner at which his father intends to hand over management of the family business to him and his brother, and their new associate Brunetti. Determined to assert his own personal choices, Tommaso plans to announce at the dinner that he is gay. But that evening, just as he begins to say "silence please", he is upstaged by his brother who, to everyone's surprise, reveals his own secret! Antonio is promptly disowned and father Vincenzo collapses from a heart attack.
With the family in a state of turmoil, Tommaso reluctantly steps in to run the factory with the new business partner's daughter, Alba. Despite his growing affection for the gorgeous but complex Alba, Tommaso's heart isn't in it and he misses his life in Rome. But how can he come out now and risk damaging his father's health further? A surprise visit from his friends forces some well hidden family secrets to the surface and some realisations along the way. Loose Cannons is an uproarious, uplifting and moving comedy 'al dente'.

Do not lose it ;)
24/12/10: Gate, Notting Hill, London
24/12/10: Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge
27/12/10: South Hill Park, Bracknell
31/12/10: Showroom, Sheffield
01/01/11: Chichester Cinemas, New Park
02/01/11: City Screen, York
02/01/11: Glasgow Film Theatre
07/01/11: National Media Museum, Bradford
07/01/11: Zeffirellis Ambleside, Cumbria
14/01/11: Dundee Contemporary Arts
14/01/11: Watershed, Bristol
17/01/11: Lighthouse, Wolverhampton
18/01/11: Abbegate Picturehouse, Bury St Edmunds
21/01/11: Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
24/01/11: Robert Burns Film Institute
01/02/11: Cornerhouse, Manchester
05/02/11: Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
09/02/11: Ipswich Film Theatre
11/02/11: Chapter Cinema, Cardiff
15/02/11: Stoke Film Theatre
16/02/11: Warwick Arts Centre
22/02/11: Everyman, Reigate, Surrey
23/02/11: Plough Arts Centre, Torrington
08/03/11: The Theatre, Chipping Norton
14/03/11: Knutsford Studio Cinema,
15/03/11: Strode Theatre, Somerset
27/03/11: Keswick Film Club, Keswick
06/04/11: Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

Crew: FERZAN ÖZPETEK (Director and Co-writer) is one of Italy's top directors. Özpetek has received numerous international awards. Özpetek's directorial debut was in 1997 with Hamam (The Turkish Bath) which was presented at Cannes and became an international success. - DOMENICO PROCACCI (Producer) founded Rome based production company Fandango in 1989. Over the last 20 years films produced by Fandango have won numerous awards and participated in scores of international film festivals. Procacci has won the most prestigious Italian awards as Best Producer: the David di Donatello three times.
Screenplay by Ivan Cotroneo and Ferzan Ozpetek - Director of Photography: Maurizio Calvesi - Editor: Patrizio Marone - Composer: Pasquale Catalano - Production Designer: Andrea Crisanti - Costume Designer: Alessandro Lai - Production Supervisor: Claudio Zampetti - Line Producer: Gianluca Leurini - Production Manager: Roberto Leone -Sound: Marco Grillo - Assistant Director: Gianluca Mazzella

Cast: RICCARDO SCAMARCIO (Tommaso) is one of Italy's best known young actors. His career also continues to grow internationally, with roles in 11 Minutes based on the novel by Paulo Coelho, where he co-starred with Mickey Rourke and Vincent Cassel and a role as the near-wordless immigrant in Costa-Gavras's Eden is West in 2009. Scamarcio is currently shooting Manuale d'amore 3 (2011) dir Giovanni Veronesi with Robert de Niro, Monica Bellucci and Valeria Solarino. - NICOLE GRIMAUDO (Alba) is one of Italy's most popular actresses. She recently appeared in Ozpetek's Perfect Day and Giuseppe Tornatore's Baaria. Her latest movie Baciato dalla Fortuna by Paolo Costella will be released in 2011, co-starring Asia Argento and Alessandro Gassman.
Antonio: Alessandro Preziosi - Vincenzo:Ennio Fantastichini - Stefania: Lunetta Savino - Grandmother: laria Occhini - Aunt Luciana: Elena Sofia Ricci - Elena: Bianca Nappi - Salvatore: Massimiliano Gallo - Teresa: Paola Minaccioni - Giovanna: Emanuela Gabrieli - Young grandmother: Carolina Crescentini - Nicola: Giorgio Marchese - Domenico: Matteo Taranto - Marco: Carmine Recano - Andrea: Daniele Pecci - Davide: Gianluca De Marchi - Massimiliano: Mauro Bonaffini - Patrizia: Gea Martire - Brunetti: Giancarlo Montigelli - Antonietta: Crescenza Guarnieri

For further details visit the website

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter 'a good time to tour Puglia'

Piazza Sant'Oronzo at Christmas, Lecce, Puglia, Italy

Travellers who don't mind putting up with chilly weather could consider visiting the Puglia area of Italy during the winter, a season that offers a number of benefits for visitors, according to a tourism industry representative.Stefania Gatta, a spokeswoman for the Italian State Tourist Board, pointed out that coastal resorts in the south-eastern region will be much quieter during the colder months.'It will be easier to tour the region in winter and visit art cities such as Lecce and the Trulli area of Alberobello as there would not be many tourists there and prices would be low,' Ms Gatta explained.'The little towns will also be decked in Christmas decoration and you can expect to eat very well at reasonable prices.'ACI Europe recently released European aviation figures showing that Brindisi airport in Puglia welcomed 50.2% more passengers in October 2010 than in the same month last year.Ms Gatta said that more people may have been catching flights to the region in this period to get some late-summer sun.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Once again we have the pleasure to wish you Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year with our home made christmas card, for which we have to thank the sunset of Santa Maria al Bagno for inspiring us everyday.

From all of us at

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Casa Puglia by architect Peter Pichler

Though still only 28, Peter Pichler's CV charts his progress through some of Europe's most high-profile practices, including Zaha Hadid and Delugan Meissl and the Italian's portfolio is filled with ambitious schemes, ranging from a new country house for the photographer Cellina von Mannstein to a car showroom in Bolzano.

For this casa in (Santa Maria al bagno) a small fishing village in Puglia, his brief was to turn a 14th-century fortified farmhouse into a contemporary retreat. Pichler retained the broad interior arches that are set into the hefty sandstone walls. 'The idea was to expand those arches in the exterior façade to provide light and direct access from each room towards the exterior' he said.

The patterned aluminium panels on the façade were etched using a precise water-cutting process. 'It evokes a new interpretation of the classic Arabic "linear" pattern', says Pichler, explaining how the sunlight and artificial light from within causes the structure to cast dramatic shadows, inside and out.

Written by Jonathan Bell
Read the full article at

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Monday, November 15, 2010

The historic, homely heel at the end of Italy's boot: Six things you must do in Puglia

written By Gareth Huw Davies for DailyMail

Think the high heel of Italy's famous 'boot' and you have Puglia, the country's buzzing destination. This long-forgotten region has been climbing the travel league table and is now challenging Tuscany and Umbria as the chic place to visit. Here is Gareth Huw Davies's must-see-and-do list in this tucked-away region:

1. Look out
Puglia (Apulia in Italian) is a land of vivid colours and rustic charm - all low hills and broad red plains smothered in crops and gnarled old olive trees. The big scenic feature is the long, east-facing Adriatic coastline.
Dotted with pretty seaside towns and bays of clear water and white sand, Italy's south-east extremity has been an invaders' thoroughfare down the millennia. Its early-warning system survives in ancient watchtowers along the Salento peninsula.
There are about 50 left, some Norman. Another ancient feature is the string of 800-year-old churches and cathedrals. Finest of all is in the seaside town of Trani. Its dazzling, chalk-white, big-impact cathedral sits on a broad square, on the lip of the turquoise sea.

2. Floor show
One of the many little-known marvels scattered about Puglia is in Otranto. This peaceful place is on the clear, clean Adriatic, near the tip of the heel, where Albania is much closer than Rome.
The astounding 800-year-old Tree of Life mosaic is in the Norman cathedral. Filling the entire floor of the nave and choir, it is arranged like a standard family tree. The trunk rests on two elephants.
Lose yourself in a fabulous and dotty mix of images spread through the branches, depicting Creation, the fall of Adam and Eve and Judgment Day. There's a supporting role for Noah and other biblical worthies as well as King Arthur, Alexander the Great, the Tower of Babel and assorted dragons, unicorns and Norse gods.

3. Bold build
In the 17th Century the city fathers in little Lecce commissioned their own masterpieces to compete with the grand cities in the north. The exuberant baroque architecture gave the town the unofficial title 'Florence of the South'.
Six fine churches are scattered through the compact historic centre, alongside Piazza Sant'Oronzo, the main square, the Roman amphitheatre, triumphal arch and shady courtyards under wrought-iron balconies.
Leading the over-the-top list is one of the most exciting baroque churches in Italy, the 16th Century Basilica of Santa Croce. Carved cherubim, mermaids and wolves swirl around the lavish facade and encircle the Rose Window. The Trattoria Le Zie does amazing home cooking.

Chiesa di San Domenico, Nardò, Lecce, Puglia

4. The chic of it
One of the key words in Puglia's current tourism boom is masseria. These once-crumbling fortified farmhouses, with turrets and thick walls to deter invaders, are being spruced up to boutique hotel standard. Rooms look out over orange groves and shimmering sea. Now seaside watchtowers are being converted, too. Expect sumptuous bed linen, swanky furniture and polished antiques. Some rooms have their own private gardens, or a pool. Many have a spa and there's usually a restaurant. The new deal is cookery lessons from the chef, and wine and olive oil tasting. Bikes are often supplied for touring.

5. Power of eight
The 13th Century Castel del Monte has the secret of eternal youth built into its ramparts. The exceptionally well-preserved, honey-hued fortress, commanding a rocky peak near Andria, is more maths formula than fairy castle. The perfectly regular shape is a homage to the figure 8, with octagons everywhere. Experts are still trying to fathom what it all means. Built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, this unique piece of medieval military architecture is one of two world heritage sites in Puglia.
The others are the trulli - little stone houses with conical roofs - around Alberobello. Some are very old indeed. They were built without mortar using an ancient technique.

6. Smart chefs
Puglia chefs know how to make the land work for them. The cuisine is simple and glorious, based around the local orecchiette (ear-shaped) pasta and a cornucopia of vegetables.
Tough times made cooks inventive with chickpeas, capers, green peppers, aubergines and basil. They even have their own vegetable, the barattiere, a cross between a cucumber and a melon. Look around for small, extremely hospitable family restaurants. My drink of choice would be deep red Primitivo wine.

Article from

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nardò DOC Red and Rosè Wines - Ancient wine for a new market!

A table wine available as red or Rosé, the Nardò is mostly made from Negramaro grapes, which give the wine a distinctive bitter note, but other vines can be added, for instance red Malvasia of Brindisi and red Malvasia of Lecce, both of Greek origin. The Rosé is pale cherry pink in colour, the flavour is rich and quickly fading, winy, fruity with notes or raspberry and blackberry. The taste is pleasantly dry, warm, almost smooth, poorly tannic and tasty, full-bodied and well-balanced. The red has a nice ruby red colour, which can range from pale to dark, with some orange specks if aged. The flavour is winy and rich, the taste is well-balanced, slightly bitter, velvety and reasonably tannic. The minimum alcoholic strength of both wines is 11.5 degrees. With a minimum alcoholic strength of 12.5°C and two years’ aging, it can be labelled as “Riserva”.
Matches - How to consume it:
The Rosé should be drunk with moderately rich dishes, such as boiled sea fish with sauce, stuffed cuttlefish, pasta and chickpea soup, baked gilthead. The read instead is a good match for red meat, especially lamb, pork, mixed boiled meats and cold pork meats.
How to recognize it:
As well as mentioning the Registered Designation of Origin, the label must include all the information laid down by the law: native region; designation, in which the cultivar from which the wine comes is matched to the geographical area in which it is grown; nominal volume of the wine; bottler’s name or corporate name and address; bottler’s number and code; country; batch number; ecological information.
The perfect serving temperature for the rosé is 12-14°C, in glasses for smooth rosé wines within two years of the harvest. The red should be served in long glasses at a temperature of about 18°C
This is a noble and full-bodied wine that in the past has been used for cutting more famous wines. Now there are several wine producers in the area who are gaining a place in the sun in the wide list of Italian wines.
If you have a chance to spend your holiday in Nardò area or around its marinas Santa Caterina, Santa Maria al Bagno and Sant'Isidoro, you can free taste those kind of wines directly at the producers shops or winery.
The following is our suggested Nardò wine tour:
1) Cantina Sociale di Nardò -
5) Vini Totò -

Friday, May 21, 2010

How to buy a house

Actually, how to think about buying a house.
You don't see a lot of ads trying to sell you on spending too much money on a house. It's more subtle than that. The marketing is all around us, and has been for years. The enormous social pressure and the expectations that come with it lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Here's my advice to someone in the market:

1) In an era where house prices rise reliably (which was 1963 to 2007), it was almost impossible to overpay for a house. It was an efficient market, and rising prices cover many mistakes. Investing in houses in the USA was a no-brainer. More leverage and more at stake just paid off more in the end. This consistent, multi-generational rise taught us more than an ad every could: buy a lot of house with as little downpayment as you could.
2) A house is not just an investment, it's a place to live. This is the only significant financial investment that has two functions. Things like cars and boats always go down in value, so most of the time, if you're investing, you're doing it in something that you don't have to fix, water, fuel or live in. You shouldn't fall in love with a bond or a stock or a piece of gold, because if you do, you won't be a smart investor. The problem (as people who sell and fix and build houses understand) is that you just might fall in love with a house. What a dumb reason to make the largest financial investment of your life.
3) The psychology of down markets is irrational. Rising house prices might be efficient (many bidders for a single item lead to higher prices), but when there aren't so many bidders, irrational sellers (see #2) don't lower their prices accordingly. So, inventories get longer and it's easy for the prospective buyer to think that a certain price is the 'right' price because so many people are offering houses at that price. Just because someone offers a price, though, doesn't mean it's fair in a given market.
4) Along the same lines, anchoring has a huge impact on housing prices. If someone offers a house for $800,000 and you think it's worth half that, you don't offer half that. No, of course not. The price is a mental and emotional anchor, and you're likely to offer far more.
5) The social power of a house is huge. When you buy a big house or an expensive house, you are making a statement to your in-laws, your family, your neighbors and yourself. Nothing wrong with that, but the question you must ask yourself is, "how big a statement can I afford?" How much are you willing to spend on personal marketing and temporary self-esteem?
6) Debt is an evil plot to keep you poor. If buying a bigger house (or even a house with a living room or a garage) is going to keep you in credit card debt, you've made a huge financial error, one that could cost you millions.
7) By the time you buy a house, you probably have a family. Which means that this is a joint decision, a group decision, a decision made under stress by at least two people, probably people that don't have a lot of practice talking rationally about significant financial decisions that also have emotional and social underpinnings. Ooph. You've been warned. Perhaps you could add some artificial rigor to the conversation so that it doesn't become a referendum on your marriage or careers and is instead about the house.
8) If you have a steady job, matching your mortgage to your income isn't dumb. But if you are a freelancer, an entrepreneur or a big thinker, a mortgage can wipe you out. That's because the pressure to make your monthly nut is so big you won't take the risks and do the important work you need to do to actually get ahead. When you have a choice between creating a sure-thing average piece of work or a riskier breakthrough, the mortgage might be just enough to persuade you to hold back.
9) Real estate brokers, by law, work for the seller (unless otherwise noted). And yet buyers often try to please the broker. You'll never see her again, don't worry about it. [Let me be really clear about what I wrote here, just in case you'd like to misinterpret it: When a prospect sees an ad or goes to an open house, she is about to interact with a broker. That broker, in almost every case, is hired by the seller and has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller to get the very best price for the house. There are exceptions, like buyer's brokers, but those brokers, as I said, note that they are representing the buyer--how can you represent someone without telling them? Many brokers like to pretend to themselves that they are representing both sides, and while that's a nice concept, that's not the
10) You're probably not going to be able to flip your house in nine months for a big profit. Maybe not even nine years. So revisit #2 and imagine that there is no financial investment, just a house you love. And spend accordingly.

I'm optimistic about the power of a house to change your finances, to provide a foundation for a family and our communities. I'm just not sure you should buy more house than you can afford merely because houses have such good marketing.

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