I have some big news for you here- Wherever you are reading this, you're just as much in Puglia as I am, which is to say, not at all! Due to my child then husband getting sick, I'm exploring Puglia from the comfort of my giant bean bag.
Advantages to this mode of travel include
a) No travel time, no parking issues, no driving to do
b) No having to stop and eat, or if we're salivating over virtual meals, no stopping eating! Yay!
c) Its always sunny on the internet, no bad weather, no illness, no winter closures.
So here is our proposed itinerary for part two of Puglia, illustrated with other people's better pictures.
Cruising south along the coast our eye is caught by some strange bits of fluff on sticks in a lake. Could it be? Yes! Pink Flamingoes! (me no see, says Nina from the back)
We head into Bari, the largest town and capital of the region of Puglia. A bustling port town, Bari doesn't have the air of a tourist resort that most other cities in Puglia have. As we're wandering down the quay we find a salty old man with a tray carefully laid out on the back of his 3-wheeled ute.
He's selling Ricci di mare, sea urchins, already carefully sliced in half and cleaned. For ten euro we have a tray and a bread roll and are sitting on the dock, sun on our backs, scooping the raw urchin up with the bread. Delicious!
Raw fish is a big part of street food here, and a little further down another man is guarding a bucket as if it contains half dozen cute puppies. It doesn't, it contains a fairly large octopus, which he encourages us to buy by exhorting the freshness, slapping the poor creature to elicit a reaction. No we are not eating raw octopus today. We do tuck into some panzerotti fritti- which is pretty well described as the origin of the hot pocket. Picture a half moon, closed pizza, deep fried. Yup.
We're going to be staying in the only camping open at this time of year, right near the centre of Alberobello, so we take an inland road from Bari with one last stop for the day, at Castellana Grotte, where we visit the caves for which the town takes its name.
I forget I'm a little agoraphobic when we enter the main chamber, an amazing mix of stalegmites and stalactites (if you don't remember which is which, stalactites have to hold on 'tight' to the ceiling), with a large opening with daylight streaming in. The caves also boast the whitest white cave in the world, of the purest alabaster.
At Alberobello we find our campsite clean and peaceful, and fully enclosed showers with good pressure and endless hot water. I could cry.
Sunday is what I've been waiting for, and I get everyone moving early to head to the next town Martina Franca, which is hosting its monthly antiques fair. Its not that I'm a materialistic person, I just love old stuff. I love it even better if its showing wear, or I can get it for a bargain and do it up, or if its from my own particular interest area- vintage fabric industry apparatus. Sadly, here is where this whole virtual trip fails me, as I can't invent fabulous finds, and I don't want to believe the day was a bust either.
On the way back to Alberobello we spot more Trulli in the open fields and stop to poke around. They're just there, not being used in any way, and I wonder if they're actively maintained or just really robust.
Alberobello is a town of trulli, and that's what people come to see. Hotels of little truly with white painted roofs, little shops made of interconnecting trulli. To better appreciate the town I turn to wikipedia, which informs me that most in the town were built in the 'late 20th century' What?! I was born in the 'late 20th century'. I don't think people living in single room stone houses in the 1980's is anything to brag about. Its a cute town, and has Unesco world heritage status, but its very touristy, even for a virtual winter visit.
undertsandingitaly.comJust look at that picture though- aren't we blessed with some fine weather? Wow. I do have more to include from this part of Puglia, so I will stretch it into another post. Lets all sit down at a virtual table and indulge in another local speciality- orecchiette (little ear) pasta with cime di rape (turnip greens). Virtual pasta has no carbs.
(This story is mostly a work of fiction, with details provided by other times, other places, or other people who have visited these places for realz.)