Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Puglia- part 1

The first three days in Puglia have been a fine blend of highs and lows; the highs are our daily experiences of amazing landscapes and historical wonders, the lows our nights of sleeping three to a bed in a very small camper. 

How bad could it be? I thought, reasoning that Nina finished most nights in our bed at home and as we really did all love each other very much, sleeping in one big pile would be one big hug. But no.
 I shy away from the term 'nightmare' just so that I have it in reserve for the coming nights. There  may be an undiscovered rule of physics that any child in a bed will occupy no less than half the available space. 

I have been so tired in the mornings that I have developed 'recognizitis' where every person I see seems familiar to me, as someone I know personally or from gossip mags. I swear I saw Anna Wintour in the campground bathroom, disguised as an Austrian tourist rinsing her cutlery. 

The nights are a fog of flailing limbs, aching shoulders and slight claustrophobia, pierced at dawn by Nina flinging open the blinds and declaring it to be 'daypime'. The little shit will then nap each time we get in the car.

 After passing through plowed snow roads to reach Puglia, we were rewarded by a first day of spring weather on the promontory that makes up the Gargano National Park- the 'spur' of Italy's boot when looking at a map. It was so warm we found a small beach, stripped off and had a very quick dip in freezing water. But an Italian beach in the sunshine with noone on it is a treasure not to be missed.

Then on day 2 the weather turned cold and windy, so we were accidental pilgrims, visiting Monte Sant'Angelo and San Giovanni Rotonda. The first we visited simply to see the town on the mountain, only to be informed by a very enthusiastic haberdasherer that we were, in fact, in the town of the most IMPORTANT church in Christendom as it had been blessed by non other than the Archangel Michael HIMSELF, and that every important person in CHRISTENDOM had been there to pray in the cave. So we visited the cave. As with most places of pilgrimage I find the most interesting thing to be the ex-voti left as thanks by those who have been healed or saved thanks to prayers answered and the grafitti left over hundreds of years by visitors.

 In a nutshell, the angel appeared in a cave to the bishop of the town in the 5th century and has been a place of pilgrimage since, including an important stop for crusaders heading to the middle east. I couldn't find out what a bishop was doing in the cave in the first place. 

We then headed to San Giovanni Rotonda, home of Italy's newest and favourite saint, San Padre Pio. Padre Pio has quite the story, including the bearing of the stigmata for 50 years of his life, and is reportedly the figure most Italians address their prayers to. As non religious pilgrims we didn't quite know what to do with ourselves once we reached the Renzo Piano designed church in honor of the new saint, so we bought souvenirs for our grandmothers and headed back to Pampert.

Day three and we hit a town called Andria famous for its cheese and the Castel del' monte, an imposing structure perfect for a picnic of said cheeses. 

Heading downhill from the castle we happened upon some Trulli in a field and had a poke around, spied some interesting wildflowers, and Ninas favourite sight; animal poo.
We will be no doubt seeing many more Trulli as we head down the 'heel' of the boot. Now that I think of it, I should have lit a candle to Padre Pio for a decent nights sleep. 

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