Sunday, March 12, 2023

Alberobello and Poglignano del Mare

Alberobello is a UNESCO world heritage site.  It is the only place in Italy where these unique homes with conical roofs exist.  They are called Trullo with the plural being Trulli.  The town is small, with lots of souvenir shops, as you would expect, but the homes are interesting and it's a lovely place to spend an hour or two walking through these unusual homes.  The homes date from around the 14th century and the house could be easily dismantled enabling the owner to avoid paying taxes on the home.  Tax evasion in Italy is an art form.  Some trulli have white-washed markings on the roof to ward off evil spirits, so the legend goes.  

Street performer

After our walk-about it was time to go to the seaside.  

Polignano del Mare is the victim of numerous Instagram and Pinterest posts, so it is crowded, even in October on a gray day.  We did another walkabout here, and of course, you cannot end the day without gelato.  Each tour guide that we met, had to take us to their favorite gelateria, which of course had the best gelato on the planet!  

Even in October, the Italians love the seaside

Always caffe for me!

Ciao for now.

Olive Oil , Grape Juice, Curds and Whey

60% of the olive oil in Italy comes from Puglia.  This is a typical tree---look at the trunk, it's been here a while!  A visit to this beautiful olive oil producer was definitely an education, including an olive oil tasting.

We arrived just in time to see the oil being pressed from these olives

the original wheels

Into the more modern press

filling the stainless steel containers

Sadly, the olive trees here in Puglia have been infected by a bacteria, that is killing many of the trees.  European Union regulations require strict controls on what is used to combat disease in trees.  To date, there is no effective treatment and many of the trees are dying.  

Our next stop is a winery to taste the local wines of the region.  

Primitivo Rose

a lovely white 

We moved on from the olive groves to this vineyard and did a wine tasting.  Puglia is most famous for its Primitivo, or Zinfandel.  Its whites can be Verdeca, Bombino Bianco, or Greco Bianco.  Whites are quite minerally but definitely refreshing.  Other reds would be Negroamaro or Nero di Troia.  Certainly, there will be other grape varieties, but many producers have limited production, and the greater number of export bottles you will see in your local wine shops will be either Primitive and Verdeca.  With climate change rearing its ugly head, many vintners are turning to other grapes that can better tolerate the heat and the salty climate here. Next up, we headed to watch mozzarella being made, old school style.  

We were fortunate enough to watch a master at work, and you can tell from the video that he loves what he does.  He's making the mozzarella into a cute little mouse, or topolino.  We were served a few types of cheese, fresh, and aged, all delicious.  The only ingredients are milk, sometimes a bit of salt, and rennet.  Can't get any more fresh than that.  

After this repast, we were off to lunch.  There is always food!  Ciao for now.  

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Will You be My Trullo?


Puglia is famous for the conical roofed houses called Trullo or Trulli (if there are more than one)  Our next accommodation for 7 days was a 400-year-old Trullo that had been meticulously restored.  2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, pool, air conditioning, and a jacuzzi off the master bath.  High up on a hill it was a beautiful place to call home for the week.  We'd arranged a driver and some tours to help us get to know the culture, food, and wines here.  

A neighbor's cat came with the property

Our first night here, our landlord suggested we head to the local machelleria, where we could pick out the meat we wanted to eat, and they would cook it over an open flame.  Always up for an adventure, and trust me, GPS in Italy always delivers, we set out--the machelleria was only .5 miles away but took us the long way and we got there in a half an hour.  
Since we are Americans, we always end up arriving for dinner really early---at 7 p.m. the butchers were just putting on their aprons but were so happy to have us, we thought we were probably their only customers that night....not a chance!   Forno Masseria Lisi Anna is a great place to get a taste of Puglian hospitality.  
After picking out our meats, we headed for the dining room which had a great view of the open kitchen

A bit different from the Bari foccacia, this one was a little less crunchy

Potatoes in the embers

Pork with potatoes and grilled veg

I opted for steak

Breaded pork cutlets

The butchers are also the cooks--what could be better?

And, cannoli for dessert! 

So, more food than we could possibly eat, great service, 2 bottles of local wine, and the bill was 68 Euros.  Our first night in Fasano closed, with the restaurant bursting at the seams with lots of customers, some seeming to be part of a sports syndicate.  We'd found a gem in the middle of nowhere...that happens a lot in Italy.  Ciao for now.