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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

21 May 2018

Rainy day in Puglia

3 May 2018

When we opened the front door this morning it was grey and pouring with rain. So we grabbed our most waterproof stuff and squelched into the town square to find a cafe for breakfast. The rain was even heavier by the time we got on the outside of a chocolate-filled croissant and a coffee, and we got back to our trullo (singular of trulli) utterly drenched. A quick change and some radical drying of shoes and jackets, and we decide to drive out to explore Puglia anyway in the hope that the rain would abate.

We drove through pretty Locarotondo and it was still raining. We drove past pretty Cisternino and it was still raining. We drove around the tangled streets of old Ostuni and it was still raining. We drove all the way to Lecce, the southernmost city of any size in Italy, much further than we’d intended, and it had just about stopped. So we explored Lecce.

Lecce

Lecce


Okay, first we had to park. This involved driving around and around myriad streets with every parking spot stuffed with one, or sometimes two inventively parked, cars until our gyrations had taken us far enough from the centre of the old city that we started to spot spaces.

Lecca’s old city centre is charming to ramble around, though. It’s described by at least one guidebook with an excess of imagination as “the baroque Florence of the south” and even though I haven’t been to Florence yet I can tell this is laying it on a bit thick. In fact, I’ve a fairly good hunch that Lecce is to Florence as Cheltenham is to Bath: a bit smaller, less consistently lovely and lacking geography. It’s amazing how much being built on or among hills does for a city’s looks. Eh, Matera?

Still, it was pleasant. And there are two particular churches in Lecce whose baroque facades are truly amazing, and the main reason for its UNESCO listing. Both of these churches were being restored and had their facades completely covered. WTF Lecce! We had to console ourselves with the church covered in cute carvings of putti carrying letters to spell out a blessing.

Cutie putti

Cutie putti


This is going to be quite the holiday for “UNESCO bagging”! Berat… Gjirokaster… Butrint… Castel del Monte… Matera… Alberobello… Lecce… Rome! Perhaps a bit unfair that Rome only gets one listing, when it surely has half a dozen sites that would deserve listing if they were found on their own elsewhere. But hey, what can you do? It’ll have to be a grand total of eight in one week. Not bad.

On the way back we found Ostuni actually getting the odd glimpse of sunlight, so we had an evening ramble in the White City. It really is white, and a warren of little passages and alleys. Beautiful spot, I wish we had more time to explore it.

Ostuni, the white city on the hill

Ostuni, the white city on the hill


So in the end we had a nice day out. And in the evening we enjoyed a three course feast at a local restaurant in a trulli. The owner was dressed in local costume, which I had taken initially as a Really Bad Sign, but the food was actually spot-on. When we emerged from the restaurant… yes, it was tipping with rain. And we got utterly drenched through to the skin on the walk home through the streams and lakes that the roads of Alberobello had become. It was a rainy day.
Ostuni's white alleyways

Ostuni’s white alleyways


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