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  • Writer's pictureMark Tedesco

Our Italian Adventure: Our typical day in Puglia

PART 47: It might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.

We live in Puglia in the Summer and then back again in the winter.

Step 1: How is our life different in Puglia? How is it the same as in California?

I reflected on this today and would like to share some of our experiences.

Our weekends tend to be more unstructured, but I will describe our typical weekday.

Step 2: Early morning. I can't function without coffee, so I first roll out of bed and turn on my American percolator. Yes, I admit it. I like the sound and smell of coffee percolating, so I brought one over and, before anyone else is up, I turn on my coffee, return to bed, then get up when the coffee smell is wafting into the bedroom.

It is gym time once the coffee is consumed and my brain is awake. My partner and I walk to our local gym and have a focused workout at the beginning of our day.

Step 3: Healthy breakfast. I found myself eating croissants for breakfast every morning in Puglia, so I changed that habit, and now, right after the gym, I consume a protein-rich meal.

Step 4: Mid-morning. We drive 10 minutes to a beautiful coastal town (Santa Caterina) and have our "real" coffee. Our table is about 30 feet from the Ionian Sea: the sun sparkles, the water laps, and the coffee is fantastic. We have made friends among the staff there and other friends in our area, and we always enjoy a laugh or chat to start the day.

It is a moment of relaxation as we gaze at the sea and smile.

Step 5: Late morning. After coffee, it is field trip time. We get out every day to explore a new area or return to a previously visited site to savor it more deeply. This morning, for example, we drove to Santa Maria Leuca to view the panoramas, lighthouse, church, and sea (without the presence of summer tourists).

There is so much history, culture, and nature in Puglia that we have many choices of destinations within an hour of us.

We also go hiking in the hills above Santa Caterina or to our favorite beaches before the crowds arrive.

Step 6: Errands. Though I'm not too fond of shopping, sometimes we must get supplies at the grocery store or mall; when we do this, we sacrifice our field trip. We keep this from happening too often, but sometimes we can't avoid it.

Step 7: Lunch/pranzo. We eat lunch more often at home during the week compared with last Summer. Eating at home allows us to control our eating habits and stay within budget.

Step 8: Afternoons. Slowing down to rest for an hour at the beginning of the afternoon is a habit in Puglia that makes the day more relaxing. We are learning that the riposo is sacred.

After riposo: I usually devote some time to writing, either working on my new book (8 books published so far) or on a blog. It is a way to tap into creativity and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

Step 9: Evenings. During the Summer, evenings are for friendship. Cultivating relationships is number one on our list here in Puglia; usually, local friends reach out to go to a festival or pizzeria or walk around Lecce together. Sometimes we organize a dinner, gathering, or just an aperitif at Santa Caterina.

In the winter months, when local friends are away for work, I take a long walk every evening before dinner to explore the historical parts of our town; I wander in and out of churches, courtyards, and alleys and clear my head. These evening walks help me slow down, stop planning and be grateful.

Insights: We are discovering that living in Italy is more meaningful if we have fulfilling and purposeful days. We are learning to use our time here to explore beautiful areas, build meaningful relationships and become part of the rhythm of life.

More next time.

My book is "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." Amazon US:

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