|Inanimate water statues + scarecrows in the ghost towns of the boot's heel||
12/18/22 | Puglia > In the last post we said the waves were lapping, but really they were breaking... now they are lapping... calm, no wind. The quarter moon made its arc across the sky, shimmering on the surface of the sea. 1 thing we don't like about our house in D.C. is we rarely see the moon, or the sun rise or set, unless we get the ladder out + go up on our roof. Hopefully our place in NYC we'll be able to see a big swath of sky + sunset, like our place on 560 Riverside. Only 2 days here in Monopoli + we can sort of tell what time it is by where the moon is. It's still dark, there are 8 boats fishing w/ lights outside our door/window... presumably for calamari? 1 of our beefs w/ Italy is that there is little life, outside of humun life (+ their domesticated pets + livestock). U nvr wake up in the middle of the night + find some weird creature in your bathroom, except maybe a fly or mosquito. No lizards or geckos, like U might find in Mexico or Southeast Asia (tho once in Rome we stepped on a scoprion). Italy doesn't even really have mice or rats. The whole time living in Italy we've seen 1 rat, even tho they leave garbage on the streets on pickup day. When we first visited Italy 20 yrs ago they had lots of feral cats, now not that many (except in Vieste, where we saw 27, along w/ 5 feral rabbits + 1 stray dog), which is a good thing. Hardly any birds, except pigeons + seagulls (the flying rats of Rome) + the starlings in November–December in Rome (which most Italians loathe). When U poke around in tidepools U rarely see anything living. We've heard the Mediteranean is fished dry, yet the fishing boats still try + we suppose plenty of Mediterannean fish have reached our belly. Not that there's a lot of wildlife in NYC, but it's a city so you'd expect that + when U go into the parks there's lots of birds + squirrels + coyotes + we saw a wild turkey once + a raccoon in Central Park + yes, mice + rats.
(evening) > Drove 1½ hrs further south into the middle of southern Puglia, to a masseria (Naturalis Bio Resort + Spa) not near any town really. Puglia has this tradition of masserias, fortified farmhouses/haciendas that have been converted into villas/hotels, sorta like agriturismos you see in other parts of Italy but fancier + in this case there's an associated spa. We walked around the grounds, through the olive trees + vineyards + farms then ate lunch. Talk about farm to fork, most everything we ate was sourced from this farm, including the wines + olive oil + wheat for the bread (baked on site) + honey. Then we pampered ourselves in the spa, steam bath + jacuzzi. Feel totally relaxed + spoiled. Then watched the Argentina v. France world cup final.... oi! They really have to do something about that stupid shoot-out thing, it's no way to win a game. Again, we were the only ones at dinner... 1 cook, 1 waiter, just for us. As usual, we're the only ones staying here. Despite the lack of crowds, think we've been exposed so far to 2 of the 3 things going around... 1 day had a scratchy throat + yesterday had a runny nose. No surprise since we've been exposed to all sorts of people coughing, sneezing on this trip + being in isolation for 2 years our immune systems are not used to these things.... everyone just needs to be exposed. We've only seen a few ppl wearing masks on this trip so far... after the tourist blitz last summer seems they threw in the towel, all bets are off. Very different than a year ago when 1 couldn't even go anywhere without a green pass + mask on.
12/19 | Otranto> Continued a bit further south to Masseria dei Monaci, on the outskirts of Otranto, on a hill overlooking the sea. There were no marked trails or roads + when we asked at the Masseria they didn't know if we could walk to Otranto along the shore, but from googlemaps we could tell that we could just start walking on a path thru open fields past a bauxite quarry until we hit the ocean, then we found a nice trail going along the entire coast, desolate + not a soul in sight except for a forager. Eventually found our way to Otranto + walked around + ate at Il Corsaro, which was good despite the 3.3. google rating. Walked back a more direct way along a desolate road. Again, we're the only ppl staying at this masseria, to the extent that the restaurant is not open. They left us the keys to the gate + left the premises at 8... we're sorta like Jack + Wendy in The Shining. So we drove into Otranto, which was a total ghost town, walked around (~11 miles on the day) + ate at La Cornacchia e il Mosto, which was salty + shitty, but at least it was open + a bit different than usual, no pasta, but grilled meats + lentil/bean soups in clay pots.
A lot of the olive trees are dead b/c of an evasive bacterial infestation (xylella fastidiosa) from Costa Rica that started hitting Puglia around 10 yrs ago, around when we were last here... so many trees have died since, strikingly shocking + sad.
|# 1057 <(current)> 1059 > Eating monkfish + sea urchin to reach the abandoned sanctuary at the end of the world|