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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Our Night at Winemaker Alberto Longo’s Masseria Celentano Relais

After a tour of Pompeii with our guide Georgio (a guide is highly recommended to get a much greater context of the ruins), we drove 3 hours to northern Puglia, a very rural part of the Italian peninsula, dotted with rolling vineyards, olive trees, and fields of cabbage. Soon we arrived at the charming Masseria Celentano Relais, a 400-year old farmhouse and plaza that felt like something out of the Spanish countryside, with red-tiled roofs and whitewashed stucco buildings. The Masseria has five rooms for rent, including a former chapel with high ceilings that Lisa and I slept in. Another family, including a couple getting married the next day, rented the remaining rooms. 

We met Alberto Longo, an award-winning winemaker of Primitivo and Negroamaro, the red wines best known in the Puglia region, at dinner that evening. He was joined by his wonderful parents, including his 91-year-old dad, dressed impeccably in a 3-piece suit and fedora, and whom he learned winemaking from. We dined on prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, fresh baked bread dipped in his own heavenly olive oil, sliced aubergine, orecchiette with escarole, and a tender rabbit skinned on premises. All washed down with his sparkling wine, rose's, and reds from the vineyard his father started in 1968. Another homemade treat was an after-dinner liqueur called Nocino that Alberto's mom makes from the walnuts found on property. Delicious! 
Staying at a Masseria or historic farmhouse is becoming more and more popular in Italy as travelers strive for an authentic Italian experience far away from the growing mass of tourists. It's hard to top the experience of staying at Alberto's home, one of the highlights of our trip. The next day, we got a chance to visit Alberto's vineyard, a 10-minute drive from his home, and onward to the historic city of Lucera, where Alberto has his own wine store. Here, people were lining up to fill their own bottles from several large tanks, not unlike filling your growler at a microbrew. Very cool. 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/25/18 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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