Living the Dream

Festa di Birra
11th July 2015

Well, today was our last day of our holiday. I had planned to visit Martina Franca but we decided instead to spend another glorious day doing nothing.

We sat outside in the shade eating breakfast which was quite a feast this morning. We had plenty of food left over and we didn't want to waste too much.

We had peaches sliced and topped with yogurt which was delicious but the cardoncelli mushrooms stole the show. They were actually last night's leftovers re-heated and they were incredible.

After breakfast I went to have a closer look at a trullo for sale just down the road. When I went to put my shoes on, which I had left outside Julie said "Watch out for any scorpions".

She was right, any kind of critter could have crawled in there so I gave them a thorough check.

The trullo was in its original unconverted state set amidst an olive grove. Quite idyllic. Perhaps we could stay here forever afterall.

Unfortunately the only contact information was a telephone number and my Italian was not up to negotiating the purchase of a house.

I realised today that if we wanted to make our dream a reality then I should really start learning the language.

Around lunch time we popped into Alberobello for what was becoming a lovely routine.

We sat outside Bar Tropicana using their wi-fi to connect to the world. No major happennings today.

We then grabbed something to eat from a bakery called Panetteria dei Trulli. They didn't have much in the way of choice but what they did have was delicious.

I had a lovely tomato topped focaccia pugliese. Julie had one topped with potato and filled with proscuitto.

We then moved on to dessert and a few doors down to the gelateria Arte Freddo.

It was a popular place and I had to wait my turn to be served. There was a bewildering choice of flavours available and after much deliberation we went for the Fragola della Bosca or Wild Strawberry.

We had the choice of it in a cone or a tub. As we wanted to sit down outside to write some postcards I decided to go for the tub option.

Unfortunately the gelato didn't taste as nice as it promised. It had an odd taste to it and we struggled to make a dent into the large generously filled tubs.

Moving on, we walked around looking for some token gifts to buy the grandchildren. The gift shops were really expensive so we resigned ourselves to buying chocolate at the airport for them instead.

We quickly scooted around the supermarket for some wine and a few supplies. I was so excited to come across courgette flowers which I planned on stuffing later both "with cheese" and "in my mouth".

We returned home to our perfect trullo.

I had a little too much sun yesterday so I spent most of the afternoon in the shade. There was plenty of it. The design of the gazebo (or was it a pergola?) was superb.

"I want one of these at home" I said and set about photographing it from every conceivable angle.

The reality however is that back home we probaly would only have weather warm enough to cook and eat outside for a week or two a year at the most.

Still, it didn't stop me from making notes about its construction.

I even took photos of the swimming pool which I knew we definitely wouldn't get the weather for back in the UK but it was such a great design I took notes for when we do eventually end up living in Italy.

We had our supper a little earlier this evening because of our plans to go to the beer festival later.

I began by firing up the oven. It surprisingly reached a temperature of 200C within no time.

Just as a little bit of a joke for everyone we know on Facebook our starter was a Findus Crispy Pancake. After all the lovely #foodporn I'd been posting over the last week we thought it would be funny to post something totally out of character.

I remember as a child absolutely detesting these disgusting little pockets of super-heated vomit. I mean, they were worst than Pop-Tarts. Actually I was surpised that they were still being made. Who on earth still buys them?

By some twist of fate I ended up really enjoying them. Call them something Italian like Sofficini and fill them with spinach and mozzarella and I honestly really liked them. Hands up, I would definitely buy them again.

I'm such a sucker, but all joking aside they were really tasty.

The crispy cheese filled snack theme continued as I also made stuffed courgette flowers. They were absolutely delicious.

The oven by now had reached 300C and the jacket potatoes inside were cooking well. I also baked the last portion of the parmigiana di melanzane from the freezer.

There was too much food but we didn't want to waste any. We ate the lot.

As full as two pufferfish we rolled onto the chairs and waited for the pain to subside.

A little bit later at 8:30pm we headed out to the Festa di Birra in Alberobello.

Unfortunately I had no choice but to be the designated driver as it was only my name on the car rental agreement. We had thought about walking down but in the end we were too tired to even think about it.

We parked up surprisingly near to all the action in the main street, Largo Martellotta.

It was still early in party terms and things were just getting started.

The street had been transformed into a huge Bavarian Beer Hall with several stations selling German and Belgian beers such as Hofbrauhaus, Klosters Andechs, Palm and a few others.

Italian beers were noticably absent.

There was also a small fun fair set up in one corner. By small I mean two or three rides. Not that exciting.

We stopped for a small beer from a brewery we hadn't heard of before. It was called Krombacher and apparently one of the most popular beers in Germany.

They had quite a selection of beers available. The standard pilsner, the wheat beer, the dark beer, and a few others that I didn't quite understand the barmaid when she described all the choices.

We went for the pilsner as it was the easiest one to ask for. It came served in a plastic tumbler, for which we had to pay a 1 deposit. The idea was that you held onto your cup throughout the evening, returning it at the end of the night, leaving no mess behind.

You could even decide to keep it as a souvenir, which is what we did.

In addition to the beer festival the "Starry night" light show had just started shinning swirly patterns across the white canvas of the trulli walls.

We walked up Via Monte San Gabriele and got caught in the spotlight. It felt a bit disorientating like we were walking inside a lava lamp.

Of course the best place to experience the lights was not right in the middle of it all but up on the vantage point we had found earlier in the week. So that's where we went next.

I was expecting it to be full of people cramming themselves onto the balcony for a better view.

There was a steady flow of people coming and going but there was plenty of room for us all to enjoy the Starry Night projection.

As light shows goes it wasn't that spectacular, there wasn't any lasers cutting across the sky nor was it accompanied by thumping music to create an atmosphere. It was simply a handful of colourful snippets of Van Gogh paintings being projected onto the trulli.

It was pretty enough but I still didn't get the relevance of celebrating the Dutch painter during a German beer festival. How very un-Italian, how European.

After a few minutes of watching the splashes of colour on the trulli we moved on, still with beer in hand.

We crossed Piazza del Popolo towards the Basilica Santuario Santi Cosma e Damiano which looked really pretty illuminated at night. We walked all the way up to its steps for a closer look. It was all quite straightforward except for a wonderful bas relief high above the front door.

It was of Jesus on the cross flanked by his mother, the saints Peter, John and Paul and with the 17th century Cosma and Damiano who must have miraculously mastered time travel to be present at the crucifixion.

We retuned back down to the beer festival where it was getting busier.

Having already had a small beer I didn't want another because I was driving and as Julie's not a big fan of beer we sat at a bar and ordered a glass of wine for Julie and a fruity non-alcoholic cocktail for the designated driver.

It tasted really nice but it was presented in a jam jar with a slice of melon, (yes melon, not lemon). I felt a little self-concious sitting there at a beer festival sipping my melon mocktail. Julie found it so funny.

It felt like the party was only getting started. I wished that tonight wasn't our last evening (for many reasons) especially as it would have meant we didn't have to leave so early. Julie did suggest that we could stay and party, leave the car and walk back to our trullo but the melon juice must have gone straight to my head and I was struck by a moment of sensible behaviour.

So at 10:30pm we left the festa di birra and went home to bed.

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