When I was up to my eyes packing and clearing my house, I mentioned to Fidz that I would need a holiday when I returned to Italy. He stepped up to the plate, as we say in Canada and organized a trip to Puglia, the heel of the boot that represents Italy on a map.
Puglia is the second bread basket of Italy, the other being Emilia Romagna. On the drive down from Rome which took about 7 hours, we saw olive groves, vineyards, fruit orchards, and fields of corn and other crops as we entered the southern states of Campania, Abruzzo and Puglia. Puglia is more beautiful to me than Tuscany as it is bordered by the ocean, is relatively unspoilt, and has fewer tourists. The Salento coastline has beautiful beaches, some sandy and others more rugged and rocky.
The historic centre of Gallipoli is a small island about 1km in radius connected to the mainland and the new town by a bridge.
We are staying in this quarter which is very picturesque with narrow streets and about 17 churches some of them next to each other!
With a thriving fishing industry, fresh fish is on every menu and the specialties include spaghetti with sea urchin eggs, fresh marinated anchovies and of course all types of seafood. Walking along the seafront, one sees fishermen mending their nets or preparing their nets with bait for the next catch.
Since the streets are narrow and the houses close together, a walk before lunch is an intoxicating experience with the smell of fish, herbs and cooking emanating from every household and the underlying smell of the sea all around.
Today on a visit to the Duomo which has a disturbing painting of Saint Agatha (Saints, Breasts and Cakes) with her breast cut off and being held aloft by the nipple, we saw a garbage truck outside the church. There seemed to be a lot of activity and well dressed people standing around it. It turned out that there had just been a wedding ceremony in the church and the bridal couple were leaving in the garbage truck which was driven by the groom. Presumably one, or both of them worked in garbage disposal.
For a conservative foreigner like me, I couldn’t get my head around the symbolism of departing from one’s wedding in a garbage truck but then again this is Italy and all aspects of life are equally embraced!