Please excuse the cliché but we are in Trulli country and everywhere you go on the country roads, you see these funny little Smurf-like structures made of stone in the shape of a mound. They date from centuries ago during feudal times when initially they served as storage sheds and later were converted into homes by the local people. Apparently they could be erected quickly because they require no mortar. So in order not to pay property taxes to the king of Naples, the lord of the area of Alberobello where there are still 1600 trulli, had his serfs dismantle their trulli and then rebuild them again after the tax man had passed. This went on until 1797 when the king sided with the serfs and declared an end to the feudal government in the town.
As you visit this area, especially in the countryside where there are clusters of trulli between the olive groves, you half expect a little blue creature (Smurf) to pass by. In Alberobello, you can visit Trulli and meander through narrow alleys where each trullo is now privately owned, and many renovated.
We are in the province of Puglia, in a town called Martina Franca, situated in the Valley of Itria. This is part of the heel of the Italian boot. It is an area that produces some of the finest olive oil in the world. We were treated to a visit of an olive oil company that has been in the same family since 1889.As the present owner told us, in Martina Franca, olive oil is more important thatnfood.
The other fascinating thing in the Itria Valley of Puglia is the beautiful towns, made of white stone, and dating back many centuries. The architecture of Martina Franca is baroque; the older homes have ornate carvings over the doors and windows, and pretty iron balconies, dripping with flowers.
This is slow travel at its best. We have spent the week walking through the town, shopping in local shops to buy our food for supper. People are very friendly and all say they know about Canada and what a great country it is. The tourists that come here are mainly from the continent. At this time of year we are almost alone. Our little apartment (AirBnB) is fine. It is in a typical stone building on one of the back streets of the historic area. Other than having to deal with little ants on the first day, there have been no other problems. We enjoy not having to eat out every day but rather to buy local produce and cook it ourselves. Last night I cooked a delicious rabbit meal that was a recipe given to me by my Italian secretary years ago. Delicious. The wine here is from primativo grapes…hardy and a deep red, at only $2.99 Euros a bottle!