Although Squinzano is as close to both our Puglia villas as Torchiarolo we had never really explored it (except for visits to the Cantina). A guest entry in the Villa Rosa guest book mentioning Squinzano prompted me to say to friends that we did not really know Squinzano very well. Our friend Mino is originally from Squinzano and his wife Val offered to show us around.
Our first stop was the People Bar, for cappucino and pastries. What a fabulous place …. just to go in and see the marvelous food on offer was an outing in itself. Sitting outside in the sunshine enjoying a cappucino and a spinach and ricotta pastry – an excellent way to start the day. The bar has changed hands since our last visit but hopefully it’s still as enjoyable.
After ‘elevenses’ we took a stroll through Squinzano, down wide streets into a maze of smaller streets, simply enjoying the sunshine and the ambiance. Val had a mission, she was going to show us where her two favourite restaurants are. The first, the Antica Venere, located on Via Botteghe Nuove, is a beautiful red building with an archway from the street leading though a little courtyard into the restaurant itself. We’ve since had the opportunity to have dinner at the Antica Venere and had a very good meal there. We continued to wander through Squinzano, past a beautiful church facing a delightful piazza, until we found the second of Val’s choices, now a firm favourite, Ristorante La Mattra.
Squinzano calls itself “City of Wine, Olive Oil and Music”. We’ve certainly had good experience of the wine, we buy wine from, and have been to wine tastings at, the Cantina “La Vigna dei Baroni Martucci” located on Via Lecce. The white is one of the nicest bulk wines we have tried here in Puglia, and both the NegroAmaro and Primitivo are offered as the red “sfuso” wines. As well as the bulk “sfuso” (3 and 5 litre containers) the Cantina has a wide range of bottled wines including prize winners. You should be able to taste the wines if you visit the Cantina (or you could take a wine tour and visit several cantinas)..
Squinzano is the administrative “owner” of Casalabate having taken responsibility from Lecce a few years ago. Since the change of responsibility we have seen marked efforts to improve Casalabate, the marina of Squinzano and Trepuzzi. Squinzano is also home to Cook in Puglia, the cooking and wine school. We have enjoyed a number of wine tastings and other events at the school and also hosted a birthday party there. Yle and Michele, from Cook in Puglia, work tirelessly to promote Puglia and introduce visitors to a Puglia and Salento that they might not otherwise find.
One of the best ways to explore Squinzano and to find out more about local food and wine is to take the Squinzano foodie tour. We went on this tour with a group of friends and thoroughly enjoyed it. Put on your walking shoes and go hungry. You will be taken to a number of different food establishments where you will be able to sample all sorts of local specialities. All finished off with a glass or two of very good wine. Contact us if you would like to know more or to book a Foodie Tour.
Like most Puglia towns, small and large, Squinzano comes alive in the evening and fairly buzzes! Try an afternoon visit to explore the town, buy wine at the Cantina or have a wine tasting at the Cook In Puglia school, have and apertivo and then dine at Li Manchi, in the olive groves just outside Squinzano, on your way home.