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May 14, 2010 06:21 PM

Where to go to cook, shop and eat for a week?

My partner and I will be in Europe for work for most of July and are looking to finish it off by renting an apartment or house for a week in Italy. We love to cook, and a great market town trumps all, but something near a coast would be ideal. Last year we stayed in Praiano for a week and had a great time. This year we will be coming from Urbino in Le Marche, but are happy to travel anywhere. Can anyone suggest any small towns or regions good for a week's worth of cooking and shopping and eating that are a bit off the beaten track?

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  1. if you are coming from le marche, just keep driving south to puglia and set up shop in one of the coastal towns like monopoli which has a great produce and fish market. it is on the train line so you can get around easily or you can rent a car and forage for figs and prickly pears by the roadside

    1. In Puglia, If you don't want to go that far south (past Bari to Monopoli), the Gargano Peninsula (prov. Foggia) is a national park with relatively unspoiled coast. Peschici is a picturesque hill town overlooking the coast and nearby the somewhat larger Vieste, more a vacation destination, has ferries to the Isole Tremiti.

      4 Replies
      1. re: bob96

        im a provincia di bari kinda gal:) here's a post from my blog that i wrote on the subject of eating in monopoli.

        Monopoli makes a fine base for exploring the sites in the Terre di Bari and one could easily spend an entire day there eating from one side of the town to the other. I suggest beginning with a cappuccino and a mezzatonda at Bar La Nave at the end of Via Cappuccini. If you prefer a savory breakfast, simply cross the street to Panificio Fortunato for a slice of focaccia. From here, burn off a few calories walking to Piazza XX Settembre on the outskirts of the centro storico. There, a daily market showcases the region’s best produce and freshest fish including live squid, wriggling fish, and fresh mussels.

        Spend the morning wandering the through the medieval center of town, fortified over the centuries against invasions. The the bastion walls that encircle the city medieval streets are punctuated with towers built by the Spanish, the occupying force that was also responsible for many of the religious and civic buildings scattered throughout the town. Stop for a coffee or a drink at Caffe’ Venezia in the eponymous square where tables fill the piazza when the sun is shining.

        Walking away from the centro storico on Via Procaccia, you will find Lido Bianco, a beautifully sited restaurant perched on a rocky out cropping above a cove bathed in turquoise waters. At the entrance, a large display of fresh fish serves as the restaurant’s menu. Lido Bianco’s crudi (raw shellfish) are delectable but the antipasto misto di mare is on another level: insalata di mare with zucchini, smoked salmon with orange zest and pink peppercorns, mushroom and shrimp crepes…It could be a meal on its own, though try, if you can, to leave room for primo and secondo. Fish this fresh is worth the effort.

        1. re: katieparla

          Wow this sounds great-- Puglia and Le Marche are two areas we have not had the pleasure of exploring yet. Anyone with some thoughts on Le marche? I haven't found much to entice me to a particular seaside town in the region, besides so fun restos. But the inland towns near Ascoli Piceno sound very nice...I am going to dig into Puglia now as well...

          1. re: quentinC

            Do you need to be in a smallish place? We greatly enjoyed out week in Naples last fall, and day trips in the region, including to islands are very doable. and of course it is a major cultural center with an amazing historic and artistic heritage, in addition to having the markets and restaurants appropriate to the center of a great culinary region.

            1. re: quentinC

              it's not on the coast but if you want a fabulous place where to stay and cook you could take one of the apartments at organic farm Locanda della Vallenuova

        2. One more possible spot on the Gargano peninsula: Rodi Garganico, with both an old hilltop center and wide beaches on the coast.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bob96

            Thanks for all the great responses. We have spent time in Naples and the surrounding region. I was tempted to go back, as i love it, but we wanted to see another part of the country. Pluse we are coming from NYC, and like to go where our ears ring from silence, and Naples doesn't count for that. I am going to check out Rodi Garganico as well as Puglia!

          2. If you go down to Puglia as suggested and can be there in early August as well you can catch the Mercatino Del Gusto:


            1. Quentin, if you come to Italy in July or August, be prepared to meet lots of tourists, because that's when all Italians go on holiday. Puglia is certainly a must see place if you are interested in the combination of good food and beautiful coast/beaches. I love Gargano area, but I also recommend the very South of Puglia. Gallipoli has beautiful sandy beaches and the coast all the way around Porto Selvaggio (a WWF sea natural reserve) is really one of the most beautiful places in Puglia. Beautiful markets and delicious food in the area!
              If you are interested see my article about Porto Selvaggio: