Wednesday June 8
Puglia is not known for being a major tourist area compared to Rome, Florence and Venice, but many Italians and Europeans come here during the summer. It is not that easy without a car to travel to the small towns, so I arranged a private driver today to take me around to the towns where the trulli homes are. That is actually the main reason I wanted visit Puglia when I was making my itinerary. So today I will be going to Martina Franca, Alberobello and Cisternino.
Angelo picked me up at 8:15 in a minivan and we drove through the campagna (countryside) from Ostuni to Martina Franca. Although Angelo speaks only Italian, we were able to communicate with no problem. Thank you Lori, for teaching me how to speak and understand enough Italian to enjoy myself in these small towns.
Within ten minutes I got my first sight of the trulli and they were dotting the countryside more and more as we drove the half hour or 45 minutes to Martina Franca.
Angelo dropped me off at the centro storico and I had an hour and a half to walk around and explore on my own. This town was exceptionally clean and I loved the stone alleys and narrow streets with flowers on the steps.
Although this town did not have the trulli within the walls of the town, I found the centro very charming with its piazzas and I am glad I decided to make a stop here.
The basilica was beautiful and actually a Mass was being celebrated when I was there.
While exploring the streets I found a man cleaning his vegetables out of his truck next to the small shop where they were sold. He was happy to allow me to capture this memory with a photo.
I stopped in at Gran Caffè and had a Coca Light before I met Angelo. Angelo was waiting for me at the agreed time and next he drove me to Alberobello, the main town of the unique homes, called trulli, and in fact, it is designated as an official Unesco location. As Angelo said, “tanti trulli in Alberobello.”
These homes are very old, and are no longer built, so they are very much in demand and very expensive, according to Angelo. There was even a trullo-shaped chiesa (church), La chiesa a trullo, which is made entirely of stone.
The trulli are built completely out of stone, and they are cool inside. They are built without mortar and the stones are laid one on top of the other. They characteristically have dome-shaped roofs and can only be found in the Puglia region of Italy.
I had read that Alberobello was sort of a tourist trap, and actually it was. There were numerous small shops that were also trulli, and the shopkeepers were outside encouraging me to enter and buy something.
Although they were were engaging, the same items that I had seen in Ostuni for two or three euros were five or six euros. There were some unique handmade items made by local artisans out of stone, miniature trulli homes, which were probably worth buying.
After an hour there, Angelo picked me up and we drove to Cisternino. On the way he stopped so I could take a few photos of the trulli that were in the countryside. Once we arrived in Cisternino, I had an hour, so I checked out the Basilica, the Church of St Nicolas of Patara, dating back to the 16th century.
Then I wandered around the small streets, aware of where I was going because it was a good possibility that I could get lost here. I also found the very tiny Church of St Lucia that had only one room and measured 5×6 meters.
I was hungry so I asked a local woman where to eat, as I didn’t see too many open places, and she suggested Trattoria Bere Vecchie and even told me how to find it.
This was a wonderful spot and I had the most delicious lunch here. I had a pasta dish, orchiette with a pomodoro sauce and fresh formaggio, but the pasta was a dark color, similar to the pasta I had at the hotel restaurant. In addition to pane, they served me some sauteed zucchini and also a raw vegetable plate, and along with a liter of aqua naturale, the bill was €10 and well worth it!
Angelo returned me to my hotel, where I relaxed and actually took a nap for the first time!