Living the Dream

This is my Heaven
4th July 2015

Despite not sleeping on a proper bed we had a surprisingly decent nights sleep. The sofa bed turned out to be more comfortble than we expected. It also stayed quite dark inside long into the morning. The small trullo design made it snug and cosy with not much in the way of natural light. If it wasn't for our empty stomachs we probably would have stayed in bed until the afternoon but hunger got the better of us.

Shortly after 10am I opened the door and stepped out of the darkness into the dazzling brilliant sunshine of another beautiful day.

I busied myself preparing breakfast. It wasn't the lavish spread we had become accustomed to over the past two days but I did my best to recreate a similar experience.

There was a lack of a toaster or grill so I improvised and toasted my bread over the gas hob as if I was camping. It worked fine. In fact the sense of acheivement made the bruschetta taste even better.

I topped the bread with lovely sweet tomato and basil. Also on my plate was a large dollop of ricotta which wouldn't have tasted any fresher had it come direct from the farmers churn this morning. Julie had some slices of cooked ham on her plate. Whilst it was only a simple spread it was also perfect.

It was so peaceful sat outside eating our breakfast. Only a few joggers and one of those little three wheeled trucks that are so popular on the continent disturbed the tranquility.

"When I die" said Julie "I hope that this is my heaven" and I couldn't agree more.

Even the time spent together washing last night's dishes was a pleasure. We seem to be floating about on a cloud of relaxation, from the lounger to the pool and back again onto cloud nine. It was heavenly.

Eventually we almost reluctantly decided to leave our oasis behind and pop out to the supermarket for some supplies. The next one down the list of our Google search was called Penny Market in the nearby town of Noci 6km away.

It was quite easy to find on the outskirts of the town but it turned out to be a little more basic than yesterdays supermarket.  We didn't get that excited and only bought the essentials such as more cheese and more wine!

On the way back we decided to pop into the centre of town to have a quick look at the world famous trullis of Alberobello.

There were a few brown tourist signs showing us the way to the truilli zone which was useful as we didn't have a clue where we were going.

With eyes peeled we caught a glimpse of a cluster of conical roofs so we parked at the first car park we came across. It was on Via Cadore. It was a long stay car park complete with hook-ups for campervans which was very interesting. (Because that is another dream of ours, to do Europe in a campervan.)

Before jumping head long into the streets of trullitown we stopped for a late lunch at a restaurant called La Fontana 1914. I had a mozzarella and tomato sandwich, which was literally cheese and tomato in a bread roll. Basic but tasty.

Julie the adventurous went for a traditional Puglian dish known as bombette. They were thin slices of pork wrapped around some cheese to form a ball and then grilled.

She had three small bombettes which she really enjoyed. However they were served with three ugly looking sausages which she couldn't bring herself to eat.

With lunch done we began our self-guided stroll around the quaint streets. It was such a peculiar sight. The truillis were all concentrated into a small area on the side of a hill. Many were turned into shops to cater for the hordes of tourist but there were a surprising amount that were still homes.

The story goes that in the 17th century a feudal lord called Count Acquaviva relocated a large workforce into the area but to avoid paying property taxes he followed the local tradition of building these temporary houses.

I'm not so sure how true that story is. It could just as easily have been an elaborate tourist trap from the very beginning.

We spent quite some time wandering the streets. It was surprising that despite its status as one of Italy's blue chip tourist attractions and that it was the weekend, the streets weren't busy. I guess the day trippers had all gone home as it was 4pm.

They had left behind plenty of souvenirs but we resisted the temptation of cluttering up our suitcase with a collection of miniature truillis.

Up Via Monte Sabbatino, down Via Monte San Michelle along Via Monte San Gabrielle, there wasn't a corner of the UNESCO World Heritage Site we hadn't covered.

On the corner of Largo Martellotta and Via Monte Cucco was Gelateria Arte Fredda. We stopped to have a closer look. I succumbed. I couldn't help myself. I had to try a gelato. I decided against being too whacky choosing the safe option of a scoop of traditional chocolate ice cream to fill my cornet.

I often judge places by their simplest dish. If they pay as much attention to it as they would their signature dish then I am suitably impressed. The cioccolato was a good choice.

I had to eat it quick however as it was melting rapidly in the 30C temperature. I didn't mind though, I normally shove my food down, that's how I usually eat.

Licking furiously before I began dripping on the pavement we walked back up Via Monte San Michelle where we popped inside cafe L'Aratro. It lured us in with the promise of a panaramic view from their rooftop terrace. To be honest the view wasn't that amazing. There wasn't even any tables and chairs up there so we didn't stay long.

Back down on street level we continued up the hill to Via Monte Pertica where we came across possibly the most photographed truillis in Alberobello, the ones with the mysterious symbols painted in white on the roofs.

We had seen others but here there were five in a row, a sun with rays radiating from it, a dove again with rays eminating from its wings, a crescent moon with a plus sign (or possibly a small cross), a large cross on a hill and a heart with an arrow through it.

Several of the souvenir shops sold posters explaining the symbols, often categorising them into Christian, primitive Pagan or magical alchemy symbols.

The arrow pierced heart which I thought celebrated cupid was apparently meant to represent "Mary's transfixed heart" where the Mary in question was The Lady of Our Sorrows the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I don't know where the symbolic connection with the mother of Christ was made.

Neither was I too sure what purpose these symbols served. Perhaps they were to ward off evil or simply for good luck or possibly even purely decorative. Whatever the reason they did add character to the trullis.

Moving on we continued up to the top of Via Monte Pertica where we came to a trulli church, well sort of a trulli church. Chiesa San Antonio di Padova looked like a regular church bit it had several domes in the style of a conical trulli roof.

Built in 1927 it was a late addition to Alberobello but at least the town planners ensured it was inkeeping with the style of the district. People were walking inside so being nosy I decided to join the congregation.

When I got inside there were only half a dozen of us milling around. Nobody appeared to be there for their religious benefit. We were all just having a look and to be frank there wasn't much to see.

The interior was very plain, white washed and totally unembellished like the exterior. Even the naive was simple, mostly white marble. There was no gold, no richly woven tapestries, none of the usual ecclesiastical oppulence. The only splash of colour was a vibrant fresco as a backdrop for a statue of Christ on the cross. It was quite striking, as if a three dimensional Son of God was emerging from the painting.

I think I was in there less than a minute before leaving. Julie even said "That was quick".

We returned to the car and drove the short distance to our own beautiful little trullo in the countryside.

Having seen the ones available to rent in the middle of Alberobello we were pleased we had chosen a more rural setting.

After relaxing for an hour or two we made a start on supper where we made use of the barbecue. An Aubergine, courgette a red and a green bell pepper were chargrilled to perfection.

I also sauted some left-over potatoes from last night, seasoned them well with salt and oregano. And for Julie thin strips of what looked like belly pork were put on the barbecue.

Another delicious meal from our al fresco kitchen.

However, the best thing on the menu was something I didn't cook, something that was just taken out of its packet and put straight on the plate. The burrata cheese!

It was huge, about the size of a fat hamster! I took a knife to the wobbling sack of cheese and cream and it oozed out all over the plate. It was such a beautiful thing and I lapped it all up like a Chesire cat.

We sat out until it got dark waiting for Guisseppe the Ginger Tom Cat to turn up but he didn't.

Tonight, I suppose because it was a Saturday night we were could hear live music coming from somewhere. It was some kind of accordian karaoke. The nearest bar would have been the Bosca Selva campsite but that seemed too far away.

Perhaps one of our neighbours were having a racous party.

We didn't mind, in fact we switched off our music to listen to them. It somehow added to the holiday vibe.

There was beautiful colour to the moon tonight as we sat outside beneath the stars until late, bringing the evening to a close when the wine ran out.

Back inside the trullo I switched the TV on for a bit and came across some talent competition with a singing nun.

How perfectly Italian!

I even woke Julie up because I was laughing so much!

Today felt like our first proper leisurely day and it had been absolutely delightful. There were moments during the day where Julie was virtually bursting with happiness. It's been such a release after frankly a very stressful six months.

Next Day >>>

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