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Late Doors

Puglia, Italy

Puglia is the long heel bit of the boot shape layout of the country. First time in the south for me after quite a few other trips mainly in the North and  one or two differences were immediately apparent. The geography away from the coast line is scruffy and baron with a sparsity of visual treats on show unlike our travels in the North. Livestock is virtually non-existent and for miles and miles the only sights to break the monotony are the narled old olive trees that forlornly grasp the baking sunshine. The south is most certainly poorer than the North. Some fierce obelisk structures erected by Mussolini's regime still remain,  bombed out from the second world war, dilapidated, covered in weed "Lecce Ultra" graffiti.   Ugly concrete suburbs greeted our trains as we headed into the towns of our destinations and only in the heart of the towns and particularly on the coast was the thrill of being in Italy felt.

The trains of course were superb. Reliable, comfy, plenty of room and great value. Jeez, I almost felt a tinge of pride when I saw some of my old work's axles on the Trenitalia trains.

First things first, let's get the negativity out of the way.

For a country that civilised Europe, gave us opera and the finest simple food on the planet a minority of Italians  show a breathtaking disregard for their fellow human beings. Moving aside on the pavement must be seen as a mark of acute weakness, stopping at a zebra crossing tantamount to announcing your homosexuallity to the world and taking your place in a queue, especially behind a foreigner a sure sign of imminent madness.

Maybe it's me, entrenched in British manners and conduct and these particular Italians are "Post manners" as it were, not requiring a set of rules that prevent arguments, or worse but I tell thee, If they carried on like that here they'd be carnage.

I know they gave us Gucci, Armani, Versace and Prada and looking good in general but fuck me some of them walk around as if the very concept of their existence is a gift to mankind. The sulky pouting expressions of disinterest in anything other than their own narcissism is only matched by the  certainty of their own sense of aesthetic perfection. Even a chat to  partners at the dinner table is too much for some as if some movement of the lips would dislodge their hair or alter the angle of their sunglasses. The women are even worse but thankfully didn't also feel the need to suck on tooth picks after the meal whilst starring idly into a phone as their partner tries to talk.

Look, I know Da Vinci has done some pretty close up full on penis rich art but I think certain Italian men should understand that stood in full view of the public whilst rubbing and pulling on their todger rearranging it to suit is not a pretty sight for the test of us. Their little chipolata clasped betwixt thumb and forefinger is apparent to all despite the cloak of invisibility they think is in front of it.

I've done research on this twattery and a common denomination is a lack of team game participation when young that gives you a respect and appreciation for others. I also blame it on way too much love and attention lavished on them as kids by doting mothers and the quicker a culture of a smack round the lugholes for mithering and a good kicking for showing off is brought to the country the better if you ask me. I know you will.

That said and as usual the vast majority of Italians and indeed all our European cousins were brilliant. Hospitable, helpful, friendly, mannered and cultured to a heartwarming degree. I love the way the generations mix on a night out and I firmly believe there is something about Catholicism that ingrains an egalitarian fluency in societies.

Took in a few places, some for a day trip others for longer that included old towns , fishing towns and even a cave house. Discovered a few new taste sensations and added Italy to the growing list of countries getting their act together brewing proper beer. First off was Brindisi where we flew to from Manchester. Then followed by Trani, Ostuni, Bari, Lecce, Gallipoli and back to Brindisi. Ill hopefully post a lot more on each town laters
Plastic Man

What attracted you to that neck, or should I say heel, of the woods?

Did you buy some sort of rail pass? They probably do good deals for pensioners like you.

I passed through Brindisi following an overnight ferry from Greece travelling "deck class". You were only allowed to go inside the ferry to use the toilet. Thankfully it didn't rain.

My younger daughter did a student exchange with a contemporary in Sicily. Your descriptions of the vague arrogance and aloofness that you experienced brought back horror memories of the Scicilian girl we had to endure for a week, and the stories my daughter brought back of the girl and her mother. Perhaps it's a southern Italy thing?

The 14/15/16 year-old Italian girl had a a 28 year-old boyfriend. Her chain-smoking mother was oblivious to the fact that others in her charge may feel the need to eat. It got so bad that that the teachers from England were having to provide my daughter with food parcels as she wasn't otherwise being fed.
sheeps

*cancels Naples holiday*
Late Doors

We chose that region purely because we love Italy but haven't visited south of Rome. Originally we wanted to include Sicily but the island warrants a dedicated trip. I think it was seeing the white clad town of Ostuni on the mountain  on telly that kicked the trip off. I knew the south is different to the north similar but inverted to Britain.

Don't be put off sheeps, I just wanted to get a tiny winge out of the way first and believe me, going hungry won't be a problem

Brindisi

I thought this place might be nothing special so we book ended the trip with a night both ends seeing as if was the airport town. We were wrong, its lovely. Got there late and the area around the station isn't the most salubrious so we cautiously headed down the deserted main st to our digs.

Just time to have a hours wondering so we headed down to the harbour/dock side. Wow, the place just opened out. Hundreds of people taking a stroll on the front whilst we had a glass of wine and tapas.
We came again, this time in daylight at the end of the trip in a more leisurely manner. The previously thought glum area took a fresher, livelier perspective in the sunshine whilst the expanse of the harbour area was vast and almost luxurious. The little town was easy to wonder around but the harbour front restaurants were the place to be. The wine bar we visited at the beginning of the trip was classy and elegant and restaurant Betty had some sensational sea food.

When the rain came we dashed into an ordinary cafe bar to see it out with two beers in the company of four Peruvian lads quaffing Heineken, having a laugh playing guitar. Ace

Trani

Took the trenni to Trani, tranquil Trani lying on the coast half way up "The Heel" on the North East Adriatic coast. What a lovely serene feel the place had, utterly unspoilt by any tourist shit yet having all the trappings of a classic tourist destination. A sheltered port, real fishing boats, a huge cubic Swabian castle, a three tiered doumo that is actually three stacked separate churches and nice waterside restaurants and bars. Everything was compact and the whole place was chilled to perfection.

Restaurant"kilometre zero" was fish heaven. I had three ginormous prawns from Gallipoli with grilled squid and a mackerel type fillet in a mixed grill and holy Moses it was as good as food gets for me.

Bari

The new town was nothing special but you have to walk through it to get to the incredibly narrow, impossible to plot through winding alleys of the old town. I say the new town was nothing special but a baffling amount of middle aged women seemed to assemble in the square for seemingly no other reason than to give the place a tense and melancholic sense of expectation. Weird.

The old town is notorious for bag snatching by little scroats on scooters so we kept our wits about us. It was fine though. Certainly not touristy as it's a living working proper town but it does house an apparently authentic lookalike painting of Mary (The Madonna, not QC Mary from town) done from a sketch of her by Luke (the apostle, not Darth's lad)  that was rescued from Constantinople in the eighth century. Didn't see it myself as it wasn't on display but the church was impressive.

Ostuni

Ostuni is the archetypal Italian village high up, nestled into the hills with its gleaming white Hodge pot buildings scrunched together beaconing the sea in the near distance. The streets are narrow and space economically used. Our apartment was literally a two roomed cave albeit with a front door.  The cathedral is the main draw up a steady incline with tiny streets sprouting away. A fabulous bar with ace beer sat in one whilst the rest if the winding alley hosted smarter lounge bars and high end restaurants. Pizza was the order of the day as we took our turn waiting in what was clearly the place to be.

Some kind of town council event was going on on the main square. Some suited mouthpieces were patting themselves on the back untill a comedian finished off events. He wad apparently popular but we couldn't understand a word. Funny enough I got the just of what he was on about simply from gis tone and manner.

Special praise for the mass who owned our digs. She picked us up in her tiny black vintage Morris Minor to drive us to them down the hilariously narrow lane. Cute and pretty as a picture as well. Car wasn't bad either.

Gallipoli,

Not the notorious World War sight but a previous little island now bridged to the mainland on the south side of the heel. The whole place has the the feel of an island and is very much a tourist place almost exclusively Italians. Narrow streets, fish places of all shapes and sizes and the silliest head waiter on the planet who enticed me into some restaurant rage with his arrogant buffoonery and giving our table away to a pair who didn't fancy queuing with the rest of us.

Lecce.

Four nights in this fascinating and lovely town. Again, the new town area is nothing special but the large old town with its 120 churches is a living museum of mainly Baroque  art.

It was here I discovered the savoury veggy heaven of turnip tops, fava been purée with chicory and espresso on ice with almond milk. That coupled with the tastiest pizzas and freshest plumpest juiciest sea food I've ever had make it into the top five eating spots I've ever been to.

That was Puglia. We left with massive fondness and some everlasting memories. Dinky beer glasses, silly tattoos on beautiful petit girls, honking horns for no reason, breast feeding and even arse wiping on restaurants and the most well mannered buskers in the world who don't come into the cafes shaking a hat at you.
sheeps

Sounds fantastic.

We were deliberating over Sicily before we settled on Naples, we both love Italy, such a friendly place in our experience.
Heyho

Yes I agree. Sounds great. Never been to Italy. I really must, soon.
Late Doors

Any place that can add Tasting Notes to Tennents Super (i kid you not) on the menu cant be bad can it?
Plastic Man

Late Doors wrote:
Any place that can add Tasting Notes to Tennents Super (i kid you not) on the menu cant be bad can it?


I'm sure I've recently seen that done for Carlsberg Special Brew, but can't remember where. Waitrose, maybe?
Plastic Man

Plastic Man wrote:
Late Doors wrote:
Any place that can add Tasting Notes to Tennents Super (i kid you not) on the menu cant be bad can it?


I'm sure I've recently seen that done for Carlsberg Special Brew, but can't remember where. Waitrose, maybe?


Dock

Great write up LD. Sounds an interesting place. Re you're "I firmly believe there is something about Catholicism that ingrains an egalitarian fluency in societies". I'd argue the exact opposite, or maybe I've misunderstood the statement. Might be one for the pub?
Late Doors

Plastic Man wrote:
Late Doors wrote:
Any place that can add Tasting Notes to Tennents Super (i kid you not) on the menu cant be bad can it?


I'm sure I've recently seen that done for Carlsberg Special Brew, but can't remember where. Waitrose, maybe?


Essences of grass and park bench, a perfect accompaniment to church bells and the acidic after burn of a little sick up
Late Doors

Dock wrote:
Great write up LD. Sounds an interesting place. Re you're "I firmly believe there is something about Catholicism that ingrains an egalitarian fluency in societies". I'd argue the exact opposite, or maybe I've misunderstood the statement. Might be one for the pub?


Cheers. Well I based it firstly on plain experience and observation. I've been to all sorts of countries and became aware that the countries where manners, respect and social decency transcended class and demography were all predominantly catholic countries. Ireland, Spain France and Italy primarily. I know jack shit about organised religion but I know it was nothing to do with fairy stories about donkeys and wise men. It must be something more philosophical. To be honest I haven't fully understood it myself but I intend to research into it a bit more
sheeps

Late Doors wrote:
Dock wrote:
Great write up LD. Sounds an interesting place. Re you're "I firmly believe there is something about Catholicism that ingrains an egalitarian fluency in societies". I'd argue the exact opposite, or maybe I've misunderstood the statement. Might be one for the pub?


Cheers. Well I based it firstly on plain experience and observation. I've been to all sorts of countries and became aware that the countries where manners, respect and social decency transcended class and demography were all predominantly catholic countries. Ireland, Spain France and Italy primarily. I know jack shit about organised religion but I know it was nothing to do with fairy stories about donkeys and wise men. It must be something more philosophical. To be honest I haven't fully understood it myself but I intend to research into it a bit more



Army patrolling the streets helps.

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