Corsica, an Island off of France

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about my travels on the blog so I thought I should share beautiful Corsica with you. I’ve been stockpiling pictures from our holidays because life has been crazy, but it’s about time I told you about this beautiful island with its own very distinct personality!

Corsica is a little island in the Mediterranean just south of Italy and technically a part of France, though the locals would much prefer they were a country on their own! I like to think of it as a hidden gem as it is not overun with tourist as some of the Med islands can be. Not only that, the Corsican culture and traditions are still largely ingrained in the locals.

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

The thing I was not expecting was the incredible blue crystal clear water and the beautiful soft sandy beaches. One would think they’ve landed themselves in the Maldives or somewhere equally exotic. So clear and blue that you didn’t even need a snorkel to see the beautiful sealife at your feet. There’s little better than hiking through the marquis (the native plants that cover the island) and finding yourself a little private beach to lay out on the whole day.

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + HoneyCorsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

For the days you don’t feel like laying on the beach (I’m not sure how you can resist) there is so much to explore inland. There are so many tiny villages nestled into the mountains, it’s incredibly difficult to decide which ones to see. If only we had enough time to see them all! It was amazing how slow the life was in the villages and how untouched they really felt. We spent time just wandering about and enjoying a coffee or some lunch in the most picturesque locations. When you’re bored (really??) of the little villages you can always take a visit to the larger towns of Calvi and L’ile Rousse. Though far more touristy, they’re beautiful in their own rights. Calvi is built into the hillside and has an amazing Citadel at the very top with the most incredible views. It’s a bit of a hike, but you feel as though you’ve been transported back in time visiting it.

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey
Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

We prefered the more relaxed and less traveled parts of Corsica and made an effort to find the hidden beaches, tiny roadside fruit and veg stands and little restaurants. When we weren’t eating, drinking or lounging – we were exploring the countryside on the most amazing driving roads! What I would give to be back! 

Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey  Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey Corsica, France | Fig + Honey

Where We Stayed

Pietra Nova

A super unique home located just below the mountains and two minutes from the sea. The most beautiful views of the mountains, the bay and the village just from sitting out on the deck. Definitely recommended for a super relaxing time made all the better by the friendliest host – Nathalie!

Where We Ate

Le Matahari

We ended up eating here multiple times during our stay in Corsica we enjoyed it so much. The food was delicious and the staff was gracious (especially with our minimal french). However, the best part was definitely the views. Sitting right down by the water at sunset in the sand is an experience you don’t get to enjoy every day! Missing it already!

Le Pain de Sucre

This is another place just on the beach and perfect for lunch. You can lounge on the beach right out in front all day and come here for a bit of food after. Love the beachy vibe and beautiful views!

Occi

A tiny bar located in the equally tiny town of Lumio. No frills food but beautiful views!

Via Marine

A cute little restaurant located in Calvi with delicious pizza and great views!

La Table

Michelin 1 star restaurant located at the Hotel La Villa. Amazing food and great service – definitely a treat!

Where We Went

L’Ile Rousse

A bustling little seaside town just down the road from where we stayed. Hosts a little farmers market some days of the week and lots of open air seating to enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by.

Calvi

A much larger town than L’ile Rousse, incredibly hilly and slightly more touristy. Worth a visit to see the amazing citadel and the views from the top. We stopped for coffee and ice cream as well as back one of the nights for some pizza!

Hotel La Villa

Beautiful Spa and perfect for massages and a relaxing day. Amazing grounds and views of the bay all tied in with very attentive service. Eat at the restaurant and you won’t be disappointed!

The French Alps

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Most winters all I can think about is escaping to a sunny spot in the world and feeling the warm sun on my back. Images of a beach side villa opening up onto a white sands and clear waters are what dreams are made of. So venturing further into a snowy winterland is most often not on my radar. However, after visiting the Alps during the winter my mind has most definitely changed.

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Though I was in love with the Alps during the summer, I must say that winter is even more breathtaking (if that’s even possible!) We made our way to Chamonix, a beautiful little city in the French Alps and spent our time eating fondue and baguettes, enjoying the view of the mountains from a warm cafe. Even if you’re not a huge winter sports fan (I can’t remember the last time I strapped on some ski’s), it’s just as lovely soaking in the cozy atmosphere of the little alpine villages.

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Though Chamonix had no snow, we took the Aiguille du Midi cable car all the way to the top of the mountain where we were able to see the Alps in all their snowy glory. It is an amazing feeling being up so high in the world and amongst these majestic beasts. You quite literally feel as though you’re on top of the world which is a feeling I highly recommend! The sun is incredibly intense all the way up in the sky and could possibly be sunnier than sitting on a beach! However, far colder! I must say being so high and being able to look out onto such an extreme landscape really humbles you and reminds you that there is much more to the world that exists in your view.

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Anyway, enough with the words- I’ll let the images speak for themselves!

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Travel | The Fjords of Norway

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve been to the middle of nowhere, which I find quite surprising. I’ve always thought I’m more of a city girl, but the more of the world I see, the more I’m drawn to the serene beauty of nature. Though Paris, London and Melbourne will always hold a place in my heart, the middle of nowhere is becoming more and more enticing to me. Norway very much fits the bill and is probably one of the more secluded places I’ve been, next to being on safari in South Africa. So when it came time to find the perfect getaway for our wedding anniversary, Norway was top on our lists.

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

I fell in love with the dramatic landscapes that we saw at every turn in Norway. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more breathtaking, you’d stumble across another perfectly still fjord reflecting the mountains, sky and everything around it. Though the fjords are the most famous, the landscape changes dramatically as you move closer to the ocean and as you move inland towards the mountains. It is always so tranquil and it’s hard not to find a bit of peace of mind while there.

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

When there are very few villages for miles and miles in each direction, finding food is a tad bit difficult. You always need to have a plan (which is usually rare for me) and know that often picnics are usually a great option! A bit of cheese, crackers, nuts and cherry tomatoes actually make a yummy lunch when you’re sitting by the side of the road soaking in the views. But when you do find a village or city, you can be sure the food is deliciously traditional and very hearty. A lamb stew or a fish pie on a cold evening is just what the doctor ordered, but creamy fish soup or bacalao (dried salted cod) is also welcomed! The great thing is that most places we ate at took pride in carrying on the tradition of eating off the land and sourcing local. It’s always exciting to see chefs interested about the life cycle of the food they cook and being passionate about serving traditional Norwegian fare. It also means that you can expect mostly fresh, smoked and salted fish as well as lamb and reindeer for your meals!

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

We ended up taking a risk and venturing up to this beautiful country on the off season. And though Norway’s national tourist board really doesn’t advertise the autumn as a good time to visit, I would wholly recommend it. If you manage to time it right (we just got lucky) you can see the leaves change from green to beautiful yellows, oranges and reds. The landscape is completely transformed and is undoubtedly breathtaking. We couldn’t stop taking pictures even though they never seem to accurately capture the beauty of the place. We got really lucky with a bit of warm weather and since it was low season, we had the roads and the beautiful nature virtually to ourselves. Perfection!

Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey
Norway | Fig + Honey

Recommendations:

Juvet Landscape Hotel | Hotel | One of the most unique hotels we’ve stayed in so far. Made up of minimal cabins placed in the middle of nature overlooking a perfectly blue stream coming straight from the mountains above it. The most amazing views from enormous glass windows give you a private view of breathtaking nature. Great place to forget your worries and

Storfjord Hotel | Hotel | A beautiful luxury hotel set high up above Storfjord with a breathtaking view of the Sunnmore Alps. Very friendly and attentive staff and beautifully decorated rooms. The most perfect home base as you travel and hike around the region.

Pingvinen | Bar/Restaurant | Great little bar in Bergen with lots of atmosphere serving no frills Norwegian food like your grandmother would make! More of a pub, less of a restaurant.

Invit | Cafe/ Restaurant | Perfect for a light lunch or a coffee.

Lyst | Restaurant | Great restaurant on the pedestrian street in Alesund. Be sure to try the fish soup!

Rost | Shop | Beautifully designed shop in the Bergen Bryggen with lots of great things for the home.

Trollstigen | Destination | Beautiful place with amazing architecture to stop and enjoy the scenery. Well worth the drive!

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

Life has been a bit hectic lately with a lot of back to back traveling and very little time to experiment in my own kitchen. Since I’ve mostly been cooking last minute meals and quick fix dinners, I don’t have a delicious food post for you today. Instead I’ll show you a bit of Istanbul, our latest adventure, through my eyes!

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

This visit to Istanbul was for a lovely wedding of a couple good friends of ours. I won’t go into too much detail about the wedding, let’s just say it involved a lot of alcohol and a long night of crazy Turkish dancing. I’ve had the pleasure visiting Istanbul before, exploring all the beautiful tourist sights, so this trip was all about exploring the more local areas and diving into the culture. I’m so glad we had time to see the other side of Istanbul, as it is so different to the Sultanamet area and equally as inspiring.

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

As hectic as Istanbul is, the streets of Karaköy offer a tiny bit of tranquilly among the chaos. There are really great pockets of restaurants and cafés scattered along the area which are perfect to spend the afternoon watching the world go by. One of my favorite days was wandering around the Karaköy area and meeting all the young shop owners, chefs and cafe servers. I really love the air of opportunity in this part of Istanbul. There is so much design and progression everywhere and it shows that the younger generation is embracing the opportunity to participate in the global design community. Every young person you talk to is excited to ask questions and have a quick conversation with you. I was lucky to meet two ladies who just started their new candle company using all local and natural ingredients. Of course I had made space in my suitcase for a few of these beauties.

Turkish Coffee Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Unter Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

The food is also something not to be missed. There is much more to Turkish cuisine than just the humble doner kebab which can be found on just about every street corner (though you must have at least one of these to keep you going!). Turkish pidas which are very much like pizzas without the tomatoes are oven baked and very delicious as well as the chicken kebabs which are so flavorful. However, my favorite has to be the mezzes. It’s hard not to order everything on the menu at once, but I haven’t met a mezze that I didn’t like! The grilled eggplant with tahini and yogurt, cauliflower with almonds, roasted pepper and walnut dip, hummus or tomatoes with sumac. All eaten with a delicious bit of Turkish bread. So many options and never enough space in my stomach! Make sure you have a bit of Kunife and try one of the roasted corn on the cobs from a street vendor.  I’m positive you won’t leave this city feeling hungry!

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

A visit to Sultanahmet is a must if you are in Istanbul. The Blue Mosque is beautiful inside and out and the Hagia Sofia is so much bigger closer up than you would think! The Grand Bazaar is a world of its own and full of interesting stalls ranging from jewelry and handbags to trinkets. It’s easy to get lost, but that’s part of the fun. The spice market definitely hits your nose before you even enter and is filled with spices, teas and dried fruits along with the stall vendors shouting friendly jibes at you. This whole part of Istanbul is beautiful and full of life. It is very well kept and relatively modernized. The streets are clean and buildings are renovated nicely which contrasts greatly with the other areas of Istanbul where a little bit of crumbling adds to the chaos and the charm.

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Taksim Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

The waterfront is very much an important part of the city life. All along the coast people gather and have picnics, go for walks, go fishing and a sometimes a quick dip and the street vendors set up shop and sell everything from chestnuts to fresh mussels with a slice of lemon. My recommendation would be to avoid the crowded and long boat tours and instead spend a day driving up and down the coast if you can, as the views are beautiful and you still get to see a bit of the city life too. There are some beautiful areas just north of Karaköy and a lovely promenade to have a walk or even a picnic.

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

My favorite part of traveling is trying to capture the true feeling of the cities. Through food, through the architecture, the people and through my camera. It’s immensely harder when in such expansive cities like Istanbul, but it’s a challenge nonetheless. Istanbul is just huge. It extents on for miles and miles and it seems as though you’ll never reach the city limits in any direction. It’s just amazing how many people live here. It is very much a link between Europe and Asia and you can see this through the culture, the people and the way of life in this city. I joke with my husband since he hasn’t yet had the chance to visit Asia that this is just the first step.  Things get much more chaotic the further east you go!

Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey
Istanbul, Turkey | Fig + Honey

I had a lovely time exploring this city and taking in the sights, smells and celebrating a beautiful wedding with friends. I can’t wait to experiment with some of the spices and flavors so stay tuned for some new recipes!

Where We Stayed

Mama Shelter – Great concept with a lot of quirk and life. Great to hang out in the very funky common areas and escape the city to lovely calm rooms.  The rooftop is the most amazing as it sits atop the 7th left and has a perfect 360° view of the waterfront, Blue Mosque and the rest of the city. HUSEYIN AĞA MAHALLESI
İSTIKLAL CADDESI No:50-54 

Where We Ate & Drank

Kota Cafe – Great location in Karaköy and has a lovely Turkish coffee. Lüleci Hendek Cad. No.25 Tophane

Mum’s Cafe – Amazing homemade Iced Tea! Perfect when it’s so hot outside!  Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi Fransız Geçidi Sokak Kapı: 1 Daire:16

Unter – Lovely restaurant serving up a modern take on Turkish food. Try the Kokorec (roasted lamb intestines with peppers served on a brioche bun) which was highly recommended by the chef and the Captain Ginger cocktail. Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mh., Karaali Kaptan Sk No:4

Antiochia – Great place for mezzes and delicious kebab! Try the chicken kebabs and the Eggplant with yogurt sauce. Asmalı Mescit Mh. Minare Sk No:21

Munferit – Great design inside and really great mezze dishes to share.  Try the Fried Eggplant with Tahini, Cauliflower with Almonds and the Black Couscous with Calamari. The food was amazing but the service could have been a bit better. Yeni Carsi Cad. No:19, Galatasaray, 34425 İstanbul

Mama Shelter Rooftop  – Amazing views and great cocktails with a live DJ on the weekends. HUSEYIN AĞA MAHALLESI İSTIKLAL CADDESI No:50-5

Puglia, Italy

Bari in Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Orecchiette in Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Bari in Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

Traveling has become a second job for me and Italy is the country that we have had the pleasure of traveling to the most in our few years in Europe. We’ve been to Milan, Venice, Verona, the Italian Alps, Val D’Aosta, Piemonte, Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Lucca, Turin, Rome, Florence, Bologne, Pisa, Sienna, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and many more tiny little villages in between. You name it, we’ve been there. Usually we end up in Italy somewhere because the draw of the sunshine and the delicious food always wins out over other options. Not only that, but there is so much to see and do as the country is very diverse from top to bottom.

Bari in Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Bari in Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Bari in Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

However, we realized we had really been missing out on a very important part of Italy. THE SOUTH. We have heard so much about this magical place (most of all about the beautiful beaches and abundant fresh veggies) and were dying to explore. So when a couple of our Italian friends were visiting Puglia for a long holiday, we were lucky enough to be invited along and as you can imagine we jumped at the chance.

Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

Puglia is relatively untouched compared to the more well known parts of Italy. The landscape and architecture in this corner of the world is beautiful in its own right and the weather is absolutely amazing! The sun shines most of the day and blue skies are the norm. The people are incredibly friendly and the food is so fresh and flavorful. You can see tomatoes getting red in the intense sun, huge watermelon fields on the sides of the roads and olive trees just about everywhere you look. If you look a bit closer, you’ll be sure to see fig, lemon, orange, almond and pomegranate trees and zucchini and chili plants growing in every tiny untouched piece of earth. The super sunny climate is perfect for growing some of my favorite fruits and vegetables and you can very much taste the difference. The tomatoes are especially flavorful and should most definitely be eaten with every meal in some shape or form!

Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Patu in Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Patu in Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

Though all the locally grown produce is absolutely delicious, the seafood must not be forgotten. Mussels, clams, calamari and fish of all sorts are in abundance. The best place to indulge is right by the sea where you can either buy the super fresh catch of the day to take home or find a little restaurant that will serve some up for you. We couldn’t resist doing both many times!

Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

Life is slow and relaxed and you can very quickly find yourself adapting to this way of life! You don’t ever need a watch, you can tell the time of day by when people take a lengthy afternoon siesta and when they rise again. Long afternoon naps in the heat suited me just fine.

Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

We stayed in a beautiful tiny little village close to the very tip of the boot where the Adriatic and Ionic seas meet. With either sea only 15 minutes east or west, Patu is the perfect place to spend your days by the sea and your evenings enjoying the cooler temperatures, watching the locals slowly come out and catch up with each other about the days events.

Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Vongole Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

I’m always so amazed at the kindness of people, especially the ones who invite you into their homes to share cooking secrets and their favorite local foods. I suppose it’s not really that surprising because food is a thing to be shared and culturally it’s natural to eat with others. Especially here in this part of Italy where food is given with love and in huge quantities.

Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

I was so excited to spend the afternoon with Francesca, her mother and a couple of her local friends. Francesca owns a little B&B in Patu called Buongiorno (how fitting) and loves cooking and food as much as I do! She has a cellar full of all her organic canned tomatoes and fruit jams- all done at home from local produce of course. She is passionate about the quality of her ingredients as much as she is about the end product itself.

We spent the afternoon making a very local pasta that is made without eggs and twisted up into lovely long twirls called Sagne Torte. After I had some lessons in the correct twirling form, I tried my hand at the most delicious (and incredibly fattening) traditional pastries from the area, called Pasticciotto Leccese. These were also lots of fun to make using local ingredients along with the homemade mandarin jam that was delectably hidden in the middle of these beautiful sweets.  They were delicious right out of the oven and just as delicious a couple hours later when we snuck another yummy bite! Even though we didn’t share any of the same languages, the language of food is strong enough and we had a lovely time cooking together!

Pasticciotto Leccese , Italy | Fig + Honey
Pasticciotto Leccese , Italy | Fig + Honey
Pasticciotto Leccese , Italy | Fig + Honey

Most parts of Italy are amazing, but if you’re looking for the more untouched, less touristy and very authentic part, then Puglia is where you must go. You will find yourself enjoying the slow ways of life and very obvious connection to the land and sea that all the people seem to have. Theres a lot of passion about this place and if you’re lucky, you might find someone that will share theirs with you. Can’t wait to return!

Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

Pasticciotto Leccese , Italy | Fig + Honey
Puglia, Italy | Fig + Honey

Where we stayed

A Patu in Corte  – A beautifully decorated apartment right in the middle of the village behind a very unassuming door.  Great cooking facilities, beautiful decor and lovely stone sinks! Perfect place to spend a week and very very close to both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.

Where we relaxed

Lido Gold Beach Club – A relatively small quiet piece of beach overlooking the Ionian sea compared to the huge and full beach clubs on either side.  Great beach chairs and umbrellas and much nicer design than some of the competition and a little farther down the beach to escape some of the crowds!

 

Matera, Italy

Sassi in Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey

It’s rather unfortunate to say, but after traveling all of Europe for the past three years, most of the little medieval villages across the continent tend to blend together. It’s not that they’re not all uniquely beautiful and equally amazing, it’s just that most of these places were built in a similar time period with similar materials for similar purposes.

Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Matera Sassi, Italy | Fig + Honey

Matera however, breaks all of the rules. It’s so uniquely different to anywhere I have been to in Europe so far (or the rest of the world for that matter) and it was very much unexpected. Matera is located all the way down south in the heel of the Italian boot where the sun always shines. Supposedly it was created in the 3rd century BC making it significantly older than most of the European settlements that I’ve visited before. I have a hard time wrapping my head around these numbers as you expect the world to have changed so much more in so much time.

Matera, Italy | Fig + HoneyMatera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Sassi in Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey

The Sassi (stone built houses) of Matera are really what have made this place so famous. As the world moved into more modern times, thousands of people came to live in these caves and houses built into the landscape. However, as there was no running water or modern conveniences, they were considered completely unlivable and very much associated with complete poverty. In the 50’s this “shame of Italy” was completely emptied by the government and its inhabitants relocated to housing projects. Over the years, these buildings are slowly transforming again into livable and modern hotels and houses, but many still remain abandoned.

Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Sassi in Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey

The background is just so fascinating but it’s probably enough of the history lesson. By far, this is one of my favorite places in the world and it’s very easy to see why. The color palate is completely muted and is really what makes Matera feel so surreal. Neutral tones everywhere contrast deeply with the windows letting very little light into these stone buildings. The result makes you really feel like you are transported back in time.

Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Sextantio Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Sextantio Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey

We were lucky to get a room in the Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita which has transformed quite a few of these Sassi into a very modern hotel. The original furniture throughout is starkly contrasted with the beautiful bathtub in the corner of a candlelit room. However everything comes together just perfectly and is actually incredibly romantic. The large breakfast spread is all locally sourced and of course delicious. Mozzarella for breakfast works so well!

You must visit this little corner of the world if you ever have the opportunity. It’s breathtaking, fascinating, beautiful and humbling all in one go.

Sextantio Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Sextantio Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Sextantio Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey
Matera, Italy | Fig + Honey

Where we stayed:

Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita – A very historically restored hotel set a little off the beaten path.  Amazing views, beautiful rooms and a great mission to protect the heritage of Italy.

Where we ate:

PaneCotto – Great lunch spot serving locally made food.  You must try the mozzarella and the fried dried peppers.  The focaccia is one of the best I’ve ever had and is perfect with the proscuitto and local tomatoes!

Il Terrazzino – Restaurant with the perfect view overlooking the Sassi di Matera.  Try the baked orecchiette – it’s delicious but incredibly filling!

Trattoria Lucana – We went here based on so many good reviews of the place but were a bit disappointed.  The food was mediocre, the atmosphere was lacking and wine was relatively overpriced. After talking to some locals it sounds like the place has changed hands and has been declining in popularity for some time now.