Ylenia is a Lecce native with over 10 years of tourism in Puglia, the heel of Italy. She knows the area very well and selects the very best cooking lessons, yoga retreats, winery and gourmet tours, excursions to artisan food and producers, incentive ideas as part of your vacation in wonderful villages throughout Salento and Puglia.
You wake up in a masseria eating fresh pastries or local crostata then spend the morning hours with her exploring local villages, going to the beach and cooking lunch with an excellent local negroamaro wine. Cooking classes take place in spacious country kitchens.
Each day of the program with her will include markets days, wine cantina trips, olive orchards visits, artisan shops, local farms, but also water painting under olive trees and photo shooting of the stunning places you will visit. Outdoor activities are welcome as well!
Interview with Ylenia
When did you discover your passion for wine?
Being a Pugliese native I consider WINE as a very important part of my personal culture. I was grown up in the land of Primitivo and Negroamaro wines where aromas of liquerice, plum, tobacco, black cherry, thyme, peppers and more smells make you feel ONE with nature in a glass. Full bodied and earthy red wines have allowed me to appreciate the taste of a wine and its fragrances in such a natural way with a special attraction for wines of a well definite personality.
There's not a "WHEN" in my passion for wine, it's my personal cultural Pugliese background accompanying me since always.
It comes from the memorable strolls I took with my family in some wonderful countryside landscapes with my grandfather telling my sisters, brother and cousins simple, genuine farmers' stories about grapes harvest caressed by the breeze coming from the nearby sea.
What are your key highlights of the Puglia wine region?
Live it like a local with locals and not like a tourist, mingling with the folks and allowing them to introduce you to the most authentic Puglia lifestyle. Food, wine, warm hospitality, artisanal crafts and photography and a beautiful landscapes make this place a really must do visit in Italy.
When are the best times to visit Puglia?
It depends on the visitors' preferences. Wine and food experiences can be run year round. Puglia is a land rich of traditions and history and WINE is doubtless one of the most attractive aspect of it. Spring, late Summer and fall are very appealing.
Do you have a personal favourite winery in the region and if so why?
Well, I am an active member of the local wine road Strada del Vino Vigna del Sole and designing custom tours since 1999 I know some of the really best wineries and winemakers of the area. It's hard to say one instead of anotherone, because each one has its own charm. I am surely attracted by those wineries having a long family history, telling a story of wine, loves and grape harvests through the years.
Also a familiar welcoming in a winery is something important for me. When it is about visiting a winery where people are cold and simply business oriented that's not my kind of winery. A winery is a place to enjoy and relax tasting a glass of some wonderful wine and eventually discovering the history of that place. The general set is also very important for me. Details make the difference also in a winery!
What is a traditional local wine and food pairing dish?
I live in the beautiful Salento area, in the southern part of Puglia, a land very popular for (but not only) its Negroamaro, Primitivo and Salice Salentino wines. These are robust red wines perfect for a pasta dish, preferably sagne 'ncannulate hand made pasta with tomatoes, basil and cacioricotta cheese on top.
Because of their robust nature, these wines are very full-bodied and pairing them with seasoned cheese can be a very lucky combo!
Finally, which wine region in the world would you like to visit next?
I am a fan of California and Napa where many of my friends live. Wineries and wine friends everywhere -how wonderful! When I travel I explore a new destination through their local wine and food. It's pure anthropology, it's a direct dialogue connecting you with the most authentic life of the place you're visiting. An abundance of tastes and smells in a dish or in a glass told by the locals. On my list for sure Porto, Andalucia and Loire Valley.