In Vacanza

As summer goes on, the hot, humid weather brings back memories of vacanze estive (summer holidays), our escape from the intense heat as I was growing up in the Puglia region of Italy. We lived outside of Taranto, a major Italian Navy port, and I vividly remember spending part of our summer on villeggiatura out in the country (fig. 1) in my family’s rented trullo outside of Alberobello (fig. 2). I returned to this Italian region a few years ago and, not surprisingly, found little change in the architecture and surrounding atmosphere. The trulli (fig. 3) are conic-shaped structures typical of this part of Puglia. Not seen anywhere else in the world, the trulli have been constructed for centuries utilizing local stones and rocks (fig. 4) always following the traditional design configured to provide a comfortable, cool environment during the summer months while the insulating capability provides pleasant temperatures in winter. I remember living in a small, single-family house (fig. 5), probably rather spartan in those days. Today, modern and comfortable features are available inside, with several multiple trulli complexes (fig. 6) now being built. The local agriculture is particularly known for its wine, pasta and olive oil production (fig. 7) and local shops (fig. 8) are a wonderful source of the best pasta, orecchiette and mouth-watering mozzarella. Alberobello offers some rather interesting architectural details with baroque notes (fig. 9) mixed with Arabic styles certainly reminiscent of ancient periods of Eastern dominance of these lands (fig. 10). As I walked around the town, I remembered herds of sheep and mules wandering around the narrow alleys (fig. 11) into the nearby fields where they would spend most of the day often attended by young boys helping the contadini supervise their animals. Local and international tourism seems to have discovered this Italian region, leading to increased traffic and demand. Shops and trattorias are commonplace (fig. 12), however the traditions and the typical flavors remain well-preserved, thanks to the local population intensely committed to their region. For anyone looking for an unusual corner of Italy to visit soon, Puglia would be a fantastic destination. Buon viaggio!

More in this category: « La Spiaggia Buon Appetito! »