Explore southern Puglia in Salento by 5: Friendship, Food, Music and Travel Within the Heel of Italy’s Boot, an unusual travel book written and illustrated by 5 friends – 3 locals and 2 travelers from California. Salento by 5 gives the reader a diverse look at the traditions, history, food, and sights of the Salento Peninsula from 5 different perspectives.
Stories are told by 3 English-speaking teachers from the Salento Peninsula who have befriended a couple from the US, Audrey and David Fielding. Over the years Audrey and David make many visits to the coast town of Otranto and their friends introduce them to the many charms and secrets of Salento, an area still somewhat off the beaten track for tourists from the US.
Audrey, a writer, records their experiences in a journal, while David, a sketcher, creates his memories in watercolor. They use these memoirs to create a book with their friends who also add their unique voices: Luciana Cacciatore recounts the area’s history with stories about her family and their land, Carlo Longo talks about the music and traditions, and Lucia Erriquez introduces us to the foods and cooking traditions.
Audrey and David recount their experiences and trials of trying to learn the language and understand the culture, as well as letting the reader discover Salento as they did. You’ll feel like you’re right there with them.
Not only do their personal stories make a great introduction to the region but each author suggests their favorite places to go and things to do in Puglia in sidebars throughout the book. You’ll discover places to eat, beaches, and sights that are off the tourist radar. Recipes are included throughout the book as well.
Salento by 5 is part travelogue, part guide book, and part cookbook but it’s much more than that. Personal stories by locals take the reader beyond the usual travelogue and really give a sense of the place. Even if you’ve been to Puglia, you’re likely to discover some new things, as I did, and enjoy a different perspective about places you may have already been.
For those not familiar with the location, the Salento Peninsula is the Lecce province of Puglia, shown in light brown on this Puglia map. And if you’ve never been, Salento by 5 is a fantastic introduction.
Although the book is also available in a Kindle version, the small screen doesn’t do justice to the sketches and photos so it’s probably worth the extra cost to get the print version (using the link at the top of the page) . You can see more examples of David’s sketches and photos in the Salento by 5 Gallery.
Salento by 5 was published by Gemelli press. More from Gemelli press – Coins in the Fountain: A Midlife Escape to Rome.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of the book by the publisher, however that did not influence this article.