Along the stiletto heel of southeastern Italy, there’s a 20 km (12 mi.) stretch of unspoiled Adriatic coastline that keeps calling out our names and, like the Sirens serenading Ulysses, we just can’t resist. Nor, do we want to.
Known as the Marina di Ostuni, it’s like a slow-food Sunday with loads of visual appetizers: high dunes, rocky flattops jutting out to sea, dense Mediterranean vegetation, blue flag sandy beaches, intimate coves, clear-as-a-bell waters and shades of blue that embrace the horizon for as far as the eye can see.
Only a short drive from our humble abode tucked inside the Valle d’Itria, just outside Ostuni, in the Alto Salento subregion of Puglia, Orna, my wife, with her Nordic walking stick, and I, with my tiny but mighty Osmo Pocket camera/video recorder, head to this little slice of paradise as often as we can to trek, photograph and picnic.
And, there’s one spot that we seem to favor over all others, Creta Rossa (Red Clay). It takes its name from the red clay-like colored earth and rock that merge with the Adriatic.
The big attraction for us is a rustic bike/walking trail that winds its way along the jagged shore from an impromptu carpark outside the residence village of Fontanelle in the port town of Villanova, down to Costa Merlata. Along the trail, you’ll spy the early 20th century, liberty-style Villa Baronessa Incalzi. With its weathered, deep-red exterior walls and a porticoed seaview terrace, it’s the villa that serves as the fictional seaside Sicilian summer home of Fratelli Caputo, a popular Italian TV comedy series filmed on location here in Puglia and not on the island of Sicily.
Creta Rossa, it’s the ideal spot for us to lace up our boots and go for a trek followed by a picnic, where we spread out our blue tartan blanket on one of the small sandy beaches or atop a rocky tabletop gazing out to sea and just chill.