The Mediterranean Diet is Alive and Well and Living in Puglia

Not everyone living in the Mediterranean is adhering to the Mediterranean Diet these days… To the point that some people even think the Mediterranean Diet is dead! Rubbish! Plenty of Italians are still eating healthy, vegetable-base meals with olive oil, accompanied by water and wine, maybe a little pasta, maybe a little fish, hardly any meat. And it shows!

On a recent trip to Puglia, I found the Mediterranean diet was alive and well and living in the province of Lecce.

Side trip to Lecce: no filters needed, get a load of that blue sky! And talk about Baroque!

Special Lecce-style Baroque is carved into white stone with a golden hue: illuminated by day, it is candid, sparkling, brilliant, by night, it is golden against a black sky.

We are talking the tip of the heel of the boot. Olive groves, rich, red land, bluest sky, crystal sea, stunning architecture…

I was happy to find a place that is near and dear to my heart: La Rua de li Travaj in Patù. I had the great good luck to start eating here some 18 years ago, and make regular pilgrimages to the place. It had been a few years now, but I discovered that they are still faithful to the tradition of dozens of antipasti, almost all vegetable-based: the Mediterranean Diet at its best.

The intrepid team of Italian Grapevine made its way through the dark streets of this tiny village in Puglia (no lights! all the better for star-gazing afterwards!) that looks something like a film set…


You would think on a Monday night in the hinterlands of Santa Maria di Leuca you wouldn’t need a reservation… but you would be wrong! The joint was jumping! Locals and foreigners feeding on what can only be defined as the quintessential Mediterranean Diet.



The Mediterranean Diet at its best. Here you go:

Fresh fava bean season brings the classic pairing of fresh cheese and beans (left), but also grilled vegetables, sundried tomatoes and more…

What I love about Southern Italy are the myriad ways eggplant gets prepared. Here, some melanzane alla parmigiana (left) with a ceci bean concoction, and sausages (right). The plates just keep coming when you order antipasto here.

Many ways to make ceci beans as well, and don’t forget the broccoli rabe – we are in Puglia after all! So tasty!

Some dishes I am sorry to say were gobbled up so quickly that yours truly did not even get a chance to take a snapshot!

Mouthwatering, I know… We accompanied all this with a local wine, what else?


Negroamaro, one of my favorite Pugliese grape varieties… and a perfect pairing for local cuisine.

So are you making that plane reservation now? Buon viaggio!

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