We had an early start this morning headed to Puglia and the town of Alberobello, noted for trulli dwellings, odd little huts made of stacked stone (no morter) and topped with cone shaped roofs.
There are thousands of these trulli in Alberobello and some historians trace their provenance perhaps to a Turkish tribe? They can be found
singly in a farmer’s field or with
multiple coni in town for a larger family’s needs.
We even found one for sale
and our guide advised they are quite expensive! We wandered the pretty streets and found handcrafted souvenir items to buy.
We met at a trullo for an insider’s tour of what life was like in such a tiny dwelling. Afterward we headed over to Gino’s
for a delicious sampling of local appetizers and
wine pairings. I fell hard for something called crema di cima di rappa which turns out to be a kind of pesto made of turnip greens (a familiar taste from my childhood). After a little shopping at Gino’s we hopped back on the bus and headed to Matera.
Matera is the city of cave dwellings or sassi.
Humans have lived in this area since the Paleolithic Era when they crawled into caves in the hillsides carved out by the seas.
Eventually people began to carve out their own caves from the soft limestone and then build structures in front of the caves.
It’s an odd assortment of structures with over 120 churches
of various vintage. People lived here without proper sanitation and running water until the 1950s when the government became aware of the wretched living conditions - people living with and like animals and evicted them from caves and built proper homes for them.
… and I thought my kitchen was small! Once “the shame of Italy” Matera is now a World Heritage Site.
We had an interesting tour with our guide, Analisa, and saw Byzantine frescoes in cave churches as well as Medieval ones in the same caves. (No flash pictures allowed.) The spa hotel we stayed in was built into caves, as was the restaurant
where we’d had dinner the previous night. Needless to say, improvements have been made. There have been many films shot here due to the primitive environment, including Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.
After our morning step back in time a group of us had lunch at Il Terrazzino overlooking the sassi where I ordered melon and prosciutto as antipasto before my orrechiete di rapini. Instead of a slice of prosciutto over a slice of melon
this is what I got and no one wanted to share it with me. Mine all mine! Next year I am going to try to grow melons in my garden! I’ve never tasted such delicious melons as I have here and in Sicily. I wonder if I can import volcanic ash to add to my garden soil?
We had a free afternoon and I wandered around snapping pictures. After an afternoon rest a few of us had dinner at Nadi where I had my first taste of Tagliatelle con Truffalo Bianco. Delicioso!