Today we set the alarm for the first time. You have to do that if you want to rise early as it is so quite and dark (hunting season aside) that you could sleep forever. So we are up at 7:30 to get on the road to Gallipoli. It is just under 2 hours away, depending on the route you take. We decide not to go direct to the highway and go through Ostuni. A.bit of a mistake, as I have said through a town, and we lose some time but do arrive after about 2 hrs and driving like an Italian on the freeway. Our little Citron C1 has a lot of pep for a miniature car.
The old town of Gallipoli is over a bridge from the new town and you find yourself facing an ancient fort that stands guard of a small island. The fortified town is Greek in origin and is so small that it takes about 30 minutes to walk all the way around the seaside wall.
It is exactly one of those ancient seaside towns that Gail and I love. Ancient building but with people living amongst the tourist shops. Their laundry out either in windows or doorways. The local man selling fresh vegetables out of the back of his 3 wheeled API and the men holding court in the Piazza Duomo.
The people of this town are incredibly friendly considering they must be swarmed by tourists most of the year. Gail chats with one of the locals making cane baskets that they are famous for in Gallipoli. He speaks 7 languages but one is not English but they have a full conversation and he brings in his one friend that is the local English speaking guy ..sort of !!
We come across an Ancient Farmacia where all the drugs are in beautiful ceramic pots and the décor is so elegant it could be from an expensive palazzo. Then in a truly old palazzo we come across a beautiful jewellery shop. Gail buys a ring in ’brunito’ or in a darker silver. It is very unique and a great souvenir of a special town.
Lunch, of course, is along the sea where you see local fisherman working on the rocks for delicacies and a sandy beach is full of sunbathers. The water must be warm as many people are enjoying it and they prefer warm water here.
We have fresh fish of the day that comes full on and then they cut off the head and tail and slice open for you. It is delicious and as we enjoy it a wedding party comes by for prosecco and pictures. The day is another spectacularly warm October ..at least 30 today and not a cloud to be found.
On our way home we go via Manduria, home to the Primitivo wines and find a old museum and of course some wine tasting. From there is a short trip to the ancient town of Oria, high on the hill. It has incredible history but as it is late in the day we give it only a short view and vow to come back later. It is one of the few towns in our area that are shown on the ancient maps in the Vatican museum.
Friday, our last full day Gail decides another quick load of laundry is required. Laundry here is not a short and simple thing. The washing machine takes hours. We even had one guest called Chris to say it was broken. Why, because first it spun one way, then stopped, then it spun the other way and kept doing that ! That is how they work in Italy, of course we can’t understand who would want to spend their time here actually watching the machine !
After another afternoon in the sun reading ..okay and the odd nod off we going into town. But behind us in the field I can hear people laughing and talking, including a child. It is somewhat dense bush so I am not sure what is going on. But as I fold the laundry they come out onto the road and we attempt to chat.
They have been picking porcini mushrooms in the brush behind, who knew. They are huge… they are more the size of what we call Portobello but they are definitely porcini. I think when we return Bob and I will need to go for a search. They tell me how much they love our place, ‘bella casa’ and are all smiles. The Italian people are so lovely.
We head into town to see Gabry. She is the original agent who has become both a friend and our godsend. Whenever we have a problem that really requires either an Italian, a local or both she comes to our rescue. Like the time we misunderstood the ENEL or hydro bill and owed 1500 euros. Gabry helped straighten it out,.hey who doesn’t pay there bill for a year and half !!! And what company still provides you power when you haven’t paid in that long. Just in case you wondered it was the bank who suddenly stopped our direct payment. I will never understand Italian banks.
A short visit ..a couple of wines in town and back for the fridge clean dinner. Whatever is left will go to Rosa our cleaning lady. She is lovely. This afternoon she dropped off the clean linen so we try to explain what need to be done before we return. Our little Italian, her little English and somehow we figured out that she just needed to change the two rooms and we needed no new towels..or at least we think ..will see when we return.
Off to the UK in the morning.. Bob is picking us up at Gatwick and Jan has told us dinner and wine will be ready. Can’t wait to see them and the Althorne/Fambridge gang as it has been over a year.