When you think about Puglia, you seldom think about Daunia Mountains, but you’re wrong: it is absolutely worth visiting it at least once in your life.
We have been hanging around this area many times, but last month we had a very authentic and unique experience in Orsara di Puglia.
We have been invited to be part of a press tour within the project ATLAS Interreg Italy-Croatia developed by Tecnopolis PST, the most important scientific and technological research center of Puglia.
Excited about this proposal, we immediately agreed, and we started this daily journey in this little village famous for its traditions and culture.
A daily trip among cheese and pasta making, edible plants, and good food
Our trip started in Bari, but when we finally arrived in Orsara di Puglia, there was a worldwide famous chef waiting for us: Peppe Zullo, which actually made Orsara di Puglia very popular as well.
Peppe Zullo is a very kind and smart chef who runs one of the best restaurants in Puglia, where every day builds the match between tradition and innovation on the route of healthy food.
He takes care of its large vegetable garden, its animals, and vineyards. Indeed, before cooking, he has just to pick up some vegetables and spontaneous edible plants from its garden.
Moreover, he can provide meat, dairy products, and fantastic wine.
Our journey with him gets started in a cheese factory where the dairymaid made for us mozzarelle, scamorza, and caciocavallo, three relevant kinds of cheese in the Apulian food panorama.
Then, he also offered a ricotta cheese tasting on a slice of fresh and fragrant bread, something genuine and delicious.
Peppe Zullo is very famous for its Italian temperament and for its positive and business-oriented mindset.
We had a taste of this when he brought us to the vegetable garden where he took at least two hours in a passionate talk about the spontaneous edible plants: borage, chicory, mauve, thyme, and many others.
After being surrounded by its incredible garden at Villa Jamele, in a few minutes, we got to the restaurant. Here we also learnt how to make fresh pasta: orecchiette, cavatelli, and cicatielli so our food experience began with starters and a glass of rosé wine.
The oldest bakery of Puglia
The next stop in our experience tour was at the Pane e Salute bakery: the oldest communal bakery in Puglia.
It has been for a long time a straw-burning oven, but nowadays it’s a wood-burning oven.
But what’s a communal bakery?
In Puglia, there’s a fascinating tradition born during the postwar period: at that time, to have a private oven was a luxury good, something only rich people had the pleasure to get.
So, towns and villages were full of communal bakeries. Our grandmas were used baking their bread, pizza, focaccia, or baked pasta in the shared bakeries, which were available, and gave this service in return for some cents.
In this fantastic land, as Puglia is, there’re still some of these communal ovens, even in the most important towns like Foggia, Bari, or Lecce.
Those are still active: some as cultural associations, some others as properly companies which give the opportunity yet to citizens to cook their meals in a wooden oven, which means: an added value talking about taste.
Pane e Salute was an incredible surprise for us. We were really amazed by listening to its story.
They still use a two hundred old starter for making bread and pizza, and it was the best pizza ever eaten so far.
We live far away from Orsara di Puglia, but we promise ourselves to come back soon to eat again that pizza, it’s worth it!
So, if you’re traveling to Puglia, consider the option to visit also the Daunia Mountains and Orsara di Puglia, and not only the most famous and crowded places on the travel guides.
First: if your journey starts from the Karol Wojtyła International Airport of Bari, take the train to the Main Train Station of Bari.
Second: from the Main Train Station of Bari get the train to Foggia.
Third: when in Foggia, take the train or the bus to Orsara di Puglia, find here the perfect train following your needs.