Unspoilt Apulia. Italy

 

Image above of UNESCO world heritage site “The Trulli of Alberobello”

When you think of Italy, you may think of world renowned cities: Rome, Pisa, Florence and Venice and also perhaps the picturesque towns of the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre. Oh and lets not forget Sardinia, Sicily,

What you may not have heard of is the beautiful South Eastern province of Apulia, located on Italy’s heel of the boot.

What makes this region worthy of a visit?

Unlike much of Italy, Apulia is unspoilt. It offers glistening waters and grottos in the Salento peninsula ( only 2 hour drive from Alberobello), rich history with greek influences, rich arts and most importantly AUTHENTICITY.

The town of Alberobello has been listed as a world heritage site for the 14th century conical houses that are scattered all around the area.

Because this region is yet to experience the tourism boom, it also means you should be prepared to speak at least a bit of Italian as a large majority of people here DO NOT understand english at all.

Our Experience

Upon picking up our rental car from the city of Bari (where we flew in from) and following the GPS directions guide us to our destination, my family and I ended up getting lost in a place that felt like the middle of nowhere.

We pulled into a farm house (same look as the conical white washed housing in Alberobello). I saw an elderly man sitting outside. I stepped outside the car and approached him.  As I spoke I could see his face, filled with confusion. He did not understand a single word of english. I kept pointing at the map, repeating the name of the town Alberobello and repeatedly pronouncing the name our home stay. Nothing! No clear understanding.

Moments later, his wife came out, she tried to assist but was just as puzzled by what we were trying to say but regardless both of them showed true sincerity in wanting to help. He started to explain in Italian- not understanding a word he spoke- but I read his body language. He was creating circles to indicate a round-about to expect and pointed out the directions we should follow. He gave us the right direction.

Approximately an hour later, we finally arrived in the town of Alberobello. Little did we know that houses were NOT so easy to find in this tiny little town, neither was direction getting any simpler, mind you we had our GPS on. We noticed a grocery store so we stopped there  to ask for help. Although the staff did not speak English they were more than willing to assist us in reaching our home stay. They contacted our host (who we also discovered was not fluent in English) and agreed she would meet us outside the grocery store. Minutes later our host arrived and it seemed all our problems were behind us.

That is until we tried to start the rental car and it refused to turn on. The car was a semi automatic model of Picasso brand ( we had paid extra for an automatic but this is what we were blessed with).  Our host tried to assist but didn’t succeed. The grocery store staff all came out trying to assist us. One by one they all tried to start the car but no luck.

Just as we were about to give up all hope, a special visitor pulled into the parking lot and was about to head inside the grocery store.

“Noureen”- few staff members yelled her name and brought her straight to our car.

Who was Noureen?

A British expat residing in Alberobello, fluent in both Italian and of course English.

What was better than the fact that Noureen could communicate with every single person present at the grocery store parking lot?

The fact that Noureen was familiar with how Picasso cars worked.

Apparently they are quite common in Britain. In no time, Noureen showed us just how to navigate through this mysterious car and had us finally on our way to our home stay.

Once we arrived at our farm house Masseria Mazzalorsa, we were very impressed with how cool, airy, tranquil the space was. It was mid August yet there was no A/C  because the home was already cool enough as is.

Our host Cecilia may understood us always but my was she gracious, kind, accommodating and more than hospitable and no amount of words were needed to see that. We had the freedom to pick out fruits and nuts from her trees. The food available at her home was nothing short of fresh, tasty and made with tremendous love. On our last night, she even took us to the popular pizza joint in the neighbourhood. She was so welcoming and filled with love, and made it her # 1 priority to make sure we had a positive stay. We stayed in other areas in Italy but we certainly didn’t experience that level of kindness anywhere else as Alberobello.

Here is the link to her home stay on Booking.com http://bit.ly/1IdJXEq

We had looked up various other trulli homes before choosing ours- most of them serve as farm houses used for producing and growing food. As a guest you often have the privilege of consuming the food growing in the backyard. Some homes even offer authentic cooking classes. The main challenge we found with booking Masseria farm houses in Alberobello and surrounding areas was that a majority of owners required their guests to stay a min. of one week. This was one of the few that allowed shorter stays.

Are you heading to Apulia or have you already been? drop me a line and share your experience!

 

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