APULIA, ITALY Trulli in Alberobello, The Crypt in Oria, Svevo Castle, Oriaâ€™s Cathedral Basilica, Lecce, Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli, Castel Del Monte, Sassi Di Matera, Spa Santa Maria Cesarea Terme, Legends of Resistance, Ostuni, Grottaglie, Cucina De Italia
THE TRULLI OF ALBEROBELLO
Why visit Apulia? To live in a charming trullo, visit castles, explore the cave dwellings of Matera, walk over the Appian Way, tour masseria, buy beautiful ceramic souvenirs, enjoy a day at the spa, learn about the areaâ€™s history, admire rococo architecture, and perhaps even be serenaded by the gracious and talented Al Bano Carrisi. This book highlights the places you wonâ€™t want to miss. by Laurie McAndish King
A pulia, also called Puglia, is the “heel”
of Italy’s “boot,” a land between two seas, an area settled since at least 4,000 BCE. Apulia has a rich and unique heritage, having been influenced by many cultures, including the Anatolians, Byzantines, Arabs, Greeks, French, and Spaniards.
The town of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was probably founded in the 15th century and is still home to more than 1,000 trulli.
Trulli â€”cylindrical dwellings with conical roofsâ€” date from the middle ages. Each is hand-built, and each is a lively and unique tribute to the artistry of ancient architects and the ingenuity of modern occupants. Cool in summer and warm in winter, their walls measure up to three feet thick.
Trulli were originally built as dry-stacked structures— without mortar—so they could be quickly deconstructed when word came that the tax man was on his way. The story of this practice, recounted on page 8, is a fascinating part of Puglia’s history.
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Hereâ€™s the comfortable inside of a guest trullo in Alberobello. (Trullo is the singular of trulli.) This one had a kitchenette with a stove, sink and small refrigerator; one bedroom with a queen-sized bed and room to hang clothes; a sitting room with a dining table for four, more storage space, and a second (fold-out bed); and a bathroom with shower. For booking information,contact Trullidea: +39-080-432-3860.
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fields or huddle together to form towns like Alberobello. Laurie McAndish King And it was in Alberobello that I lived in a cozy trullo: one central Apulia’s rivers have run for room with a kitchen alcove, a secmillennia, but you cannot see them. ond room with a bed, and a small Instead, pale yellow fields stretch separate bathroom. The walls, which out, dry and flat, criss-crossed by low were nearly three feet thick, kept the stone fences. Sinuous ribbons of interior comfortable even in Apulia’s green vein the landscape; they are hot summer, and also housed storage the only hint of an extensive system alcoves and cabinets. Above the of underground rivers that escape main room was the rough wooden the evaporative effects of heat and floor of a loft used for storage. A wind. Nevertheless, this narrow trapdoor in the kitchen provided strip of land is productive: Apulia access to the cistern. The front door, produces nearly half of Italy’s olive barely five feet high, was a constant oil, and about three-quarters of its fruits and vegetables. And, as I would reminder of times when people were smaller. I felt like a hobbit. learn during my nine-day visit, Trulli history gets interesting subterranean rivers are only the during the Middle Ages, with a law beginning of its surprises. Prammatica de Baronibus called the Strategically located between that prohibited the construction of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Apulia new cities without regal authorization— was conquered by Greeks and Goths, and taxation. Reluctant to share his Lombards and Byzantines. Its wealth with the king, the local eastern-most town, Otranto, was landlord, Gian Girolamo II of Acquaviva infamously devastated by the Turks —also known as Il Guercio, or “the in 1480, on which occasion eight hundred prisoners were decapitated. But counterbalancing this history of oppression is a long tradition of creative resilience: As though they have taken advice from the earth beneath them, the people who live here have their own methods of overcoming seemingly indomitable circumstances. Apulia is alive with history and legends of resistance, most notably man with a squint”—cleverly the story of trulli. These charming circumvented the ruling; he required homes are based on an ancient that all construction in his fiefdom be construction technique, brought to done without mortar. That way, the Italy by Anatolian tribes several dry-stacked trulli could easily be thousand years BCE. Once drypulled down in the event of a royal stacked like the stone fences that inspection. Il Guercio thus avoided surround them—and skillfully conpaying taxes, and at the same time structed using only locally available pocketed money he collected from materials—trulli are testaments to the resident farmers. their builders’ ingenuity. Their grey Neighboring feudal lords grew conical rooftops sit like pointed hats envious of the arrangement—such atop whitewashed cylinders, stone courtly jealousies were no doubt a circling upon stone with impressive common problem, back in the day— precision. The trulli crouch in wide
Legends of Resistance
and brought a formal accusation against Il Guercio to the Royal Court of Naples. To avoid royal penalties, Il Guercio ordered the “temporary” trulli to be deconstructed, which,
not surprisingly, angered the local citizenry who had been living in them. Nevertheless, for many years hence the trulli were built, then disassembled to avoid taxes. Homes appeared and disappeared like mirages, until their inhabitants could bear it no longer. In 1797 they obtained an audience with King Ferdinando IV of Bourbon, who was sympathetic to their plight (or perhaps he was simply in need of additional revenues) and decreed that the town of Alberobello be freed from the Acquaviva family’s control. Since that time, the trulli have been built with mortar—and the residents of Alberobello, one can imagine, have felt much more secure in their homes. If trulli are the most obvious reminders of Apulian creativity, pupi are surely the most amusing, and the hilltop town of Grottaglie (“the original home of terra cotta”) is the best place to find them. Here I wandered steep, winding streets spilling over with ceramics studios and shops. The shops, in turn, spilled over with pupi: ceramic figurines notable for their prominent, voluptuous breasts bursting out of tight bodices. If you visit, do not hesitate to examine them closely, for while pupi have the body of a
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woman, they may also have the visage of a man, including a luxuriant mustache! I couldn’t help being charmed by such playful sexual ambiguity. The legend of the pupi begins with the legend of Ius Prima Nocte, or “law of the first night,” a medieval privilege—widely disputed by historians—that allowed the lord of a manor to deflower “his” peasant brides on their wedding nights. Once upon a time, a young man who was about to be wed objected so strenuously to this tradition that he determined to defy it. Dressing up as a young woman, the young man planned to impersonate his fiancée for the requisite performance with the lord of the manor. (The retelling did not address his specific plans for the actual confrontation. One would hope it was scheduled to take place on a dark, moonless night.) His costume was somewhat convincing, and the young-man-dressed-as-a-youngwoman obtained an audience with the lord that evening, only to discover that he had made a small but serious error. In his haste, he had forgotten to shave off his mustache! Now the lord was no fool, and even in the dark he quickly ascertained that the peasant in his
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painstakingly painted with a skull bed was not a bride. The lord was and crossbones, I knew the so amused, however, by the young mummies could not be far. Several man’s ingenious form of chivalry sets of keys later, we descended 24 that he declined his Prima Nocte narrow stone steps into the cool air privilege, and they all lived happily of a crypt beneath the cathedral. We ever after. stopped at the doorway in stunned Grottaglie’s ceramicists silence. commemorate this “historic event” The narrow chamber stretched with the production of beautiful and out before us. Along the left wall skillfully made pupi, which have were 11 niches, each about 5 feet become a favorite souvenir for high and home to a mummified tourists and a source of income for monk who would stand there for the town. At one studio, we asked a eternity—or at least talented ceramicist, for the indefinite “The pupi future. On a ledge a breasts—are they few feet above them inspired by your sat a long, neat row mama or your of more than 60 wife? Or perhaps human skulls, by fantasy?” cheekbone to “They are cheekbone, each inspired,” Leonardo smiling up towards answered with a heaven. The wise smile, “by scalloped symmetry tradition.” of the skulls gave Some Apulian the row a lively, traditions, however, decorative feel, in are not so playful, contrast to the as I discovered in Dr. Josepino Malva gruesome figures Oria. Our guide below. The room’s only other there was Dottore Josepino “Pino” adornment consisted of grey-onMalva, a compact man with black oil paintings of human pumpkin-colored pants, thousandskeletons in various states of work dollar Missioni eyeglasses and or conversation. One was shown serious smoking habit. He held the shoveling skulls; another signing a keys to the crypt—the one hidden contract. beneath Oria’s Cathedral Basilica— Who had these men been, and the one that houses a private display why were their eerie remains of 11 mummified monks. preserved in the crypt? Plaques with Italian mummies? These had names and dates of death told only not been mentioned on the itinerary. a small part of the story. The earliest I had to wait nearly an hour to learn death was that of Pietro Biasi, morto their story, during which time my 1781. In his mummified form, Pietro thoughts wandered more than once looks to the right; his right cheekto the Italians’ fabled skill with fine bone is partially hidden by a dark leather. shawl covering his head and First Dr. Malva guided us shoulders, as though he has just through the public areas of the turned his head. He appears to be cathedral complex, about which he calling out to someone. Antonio was quite knowledgeable, having Damico, morto 1825, hunches his authored several books on Oria. shoulders and clutches both hands When he finally led us to a blue door,
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over his abdomen, his face contorted as if in pain. These monks were members of the Confraternity della Morte, an organization not unlike the Knights Templar, which had the popeâ€™s official sanction to protect religious pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem. Members of the Confraternity believed it was a special honor to die in the military service of God, and a further honor, for both themselves and their families, for their bodies to be mummified so they could be venerated long after death. The order was therefore familiar with the process of mummification. But when Napoleon issued a decree forbidding burials inside church buildings throughout Europe, mummification acquired a new significance: that of a final act of defiance. If the monks could not be buried in the church, well then, they would be mummified and placed in a holy crypt instead. And so these warriors of God stand, grim reminders of another time. The Confraternity della Morte still exists, however, and is headquartered in Oria. Exploring Alberobello, Grottaglie,
and Oria, I discovered that much in Apulia is not what it seems: the trulli were there, until they were not; the pupi are women, unless they are men; the monks could not be buried, and so, by God, they were mummified.
Stories create cultural continuity, passing along the acquired traits that define a people from generation to generation. And these tales, of home building, wedding traditions, and even death, taught me about the profound resilience of Puglian people: Like the rivers that run beneath their fields, the people of Apulia live life on their own terms.
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Former members of the Confraternita della Morte (Holy Deathâ€™s Confraternity) linger in a private crypt beneath the basilica. The religious order still exists today, and is headquartered in Oria.
riaâ€™s Svevo Castle was O built from 1227 to 1233 by
order of Emperor Frederick II. The castle was situated on the ruins of an ancient Messapian acropolis, and housed a parade ground large enough for 5,000 soldiers. Several cylindrical towers, one massive square tower, various barracks, storerooms, cisterns, and secret passages complete Castello Svevo.
Besieged and assaulted during multiple revolts from the 13th to early 16th centuries, Castello Svevo proved unconquerable. The fortress was converted to a residential palace in the 16th century, and is now a national monument belonging to Counts Martini-Carissimo of Castel d’Oria, who restored it and care for it. Paul Bourget, in his Sensations d’Italie, described Castello Svevo as a “gigantesque bijou de pierre” (gigantic jewel of stone).
Even castles have laundry day.
Inside the castle, view medieval furniture and clothing, frescoes, coats of arms, suits of armor, chain mail, flags, shields, spears, swords, and other weapons.
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An earlier, Romanesque structure was seriously damaged in the earthquake of 1743, and was subsequently pulled down to make way for Oria’s current cathedral.
The present basilica is a monumental baroque building, begun in 1750. The facade is made of stone blocks carved from local carpano (a compact, yellow-colored tufa, or volcanic stone). Facing west, it glows golden in the sunset.
The interior of Oria’s Cathedral Basilica was intricately painted in many shades of red, green and yellow to simulate marble, which was not available when the cathedral was built. Below is the ceiling, decorated with fine gold.
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Inside Castello Svevo’s grounds, the remains of columns and marble sculptures mark the entrance to the Hypogeum of Saints Crisante and Daria, built in about 890 on the ruins of a pagan temple. Fellow traveler Chrysa standing beside the image and relics of her name saint, St. Crisante.
Inside the cathedral, view this “si” or “no” box, representing an old method of secret voting. Each person took one bean and put his hands into the round holes in the box, where the bean could be moved from one hand to the other. The voter then dropped the bean into the left drawer to indicate a “si” vote or into the right drawer to indicate a “no” vote. After everyone had had his turn, votes were easily tallied by counting the beans in each drawer.
LECCE now a city of about 100,000, Lhasecce, been inhabited for more than
2,000 years, and was under the control of the Byzantine Empire for more than 500 years. Its architecture reflects both Greek and Roman influences. This beautiful city is celebrated as “the Florence of southern Italy”
because of its more than 40 baroque churches and palaces, which were decorated to glorify God by demonstrating the richness of the land. Pomegranates, apples, grain, and cherubs garlanded with flowers were frequent motifs. Lecce’s main export is “Lecce stone,” a soft, malleable limestone
which is especially good for sculpting. Lecce is also known for producing papier mache religious figures, designer clothing, wine, and olive oil. And don’t miss the small art galleries and artisans’ shops in the center of town.
If traveling with family or a small group, these small vans are perfect!
19 Ceramics and papier mache figures are also produced in Lecce.
Below is the basilica of Santa Croce, The Church of the Holy Cross. This magnificent baroque edifice was begun in 1353, but not completed until 1695.
Romance is alive in Apulia. All across the region, we came upon couples posing for their wedding photos.
Lecceâ€™s amphitheater, built in the 2nd century, seated an audience of 25,000.
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onte Spagnoletti Zeuli has produced olive oil and wine C here since the 17th century. Tour the complex and you’ll
learn that white wines are aged slowly—to protect their delicate bouquet—in barrels at a constant temperature of 17°C (62.6°F) and at 95% humidity. Red wine ferments for only about a week at 30°C in steel vats like the one at right. Because of Apulia’s summer heat and aridity, its vineyards are known for high yields, and the grapes are typically high in alcohol and robustly flavored.
These giant stones were used for crushing olives. Italian families use an average of 20-25 liters of olive oil per year for cooking.
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Emperor Frederick IIâ€™s architects
combined flamboyant Moorish detail with somber Romanesque lines in the beautiful and mysterious Castel del Monte, now a UNESCO site.
Lacking servantsâ€™ quarters, stables, store rooms, and a military moat, the castle was probably not used as a long-term residence. Its octagonal structure suggested power, eternity, and spirituality in the vernacular of the day.
The Castel del Monte Conundrum Roger Nicholas Webster
The experts do not agree on when the structure was built, why or by whom. The reigning consensus is that Frederick II had it built in 1240. He was a thirteenth century demigod who during his life acquired the titles King of Germany, Italy, Burgundy, Sicily, Cyprus, Jerusalem and Holy Roman Emperor. Yet, there is little evidence that Frederick ever slept there. The Castel is not built for habitation, nor does it have a military purpose. One document suggests that the building existed long before Frederick’s time. Clearly, here was an ambiguity reminiscent of the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx of Egypt. Frederick II was as fascinating as the Castel attributed to him. He was a brilliant egomaniac who believed himself the reincarnation of Christ. He gathered the leading architects, mathematicians, musicians, and astrologers of the time to his court. Fibonacci, the great Italian mathematician who introduced Indo-Arabic numerals to the West, was among them. Did this mathematical genius influence the building of the Castel in any way? It has been called a “book of stone,” holding the most sophisticated scientific knowledge of the Middle Ages.
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onâ€™t miss Matera, where D families have carved their homes into hillside caves. In the 1950s Carlo Leviâ€™s moving writings about the people who lived here brought world-wide attention to the area, which has been continuously inhabited for more than 7,000 years.
The Passion of Christ is one of several films that were shot here.
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Most inhabitants were moved out beginning in 1952, when the appallingly crowded living conditions in Materaâ€™s sassi came to the attention of the rest of the world. At that time, Materaâ€™s population was about 30,000. Since then, the sassi (old quarters) have been given UNESCO World Heritage status.
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In addition to a family—they averaged six children, despite a 50% infant mortality rate—the sassi was likely to house chickens and a horse. A large wooden cabinet which held the family’s grain was divided into two compartments, one for wheat for human consumption and the other for the animals’ fodder. The kitchen is in a small alcove, which contained niches and shelves to hold crockery and kitchen pots.
Furniture consisted mainly of a matrimonial bed. This was very high, in order to be as far as possible from the humidity of the floor, and also in order to utilize the space underneath. The family’s chickens were also generally housed underneath the bed. Children slept with their parents, or on corn-husk-filled mattresses set atop boxes, or in the lowest drawer of the bureau, left open at night.
Since the cave was not equipped with toilet facilities, the family used a cantero, a painted chamber pot with a wooden lid. You can see it to the left of the bed in the photo below. The loom was used during winter months to prepare necessary clothes for the family and dowries for the daughters. Farming implements, as well as animals’ harnesses, are hung on the walls, along with sieves, baskets, a breadboard, a hand drill, and other tools necessary for daily life.
The museum houses ancient pottery, life-sized and miniature sculpture, decorative friezes, tools and implements, elaborately painted vases, and human skeletal remains.
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Just outside the museum is an excellent archaeological complex, where you can view the remains of ancient homes, shops, workplaces, and cemetaries, as well as the historical Appian Way!
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Spa-ing in Puglia Mary Jean Pramik We drove south along the coast for three hours to Santa Maria Cesarea Terme, the health capital of Puglia. After visiting the nearby bat-claimed Grotta Zinzulusa—a cavern of dagger-like stalactites and stalagmites— earlier in the day, we needed massages.
The sun pierced the green-blue Adriatic, welcoming us to Santa Cesarea Terme, a seaside town hovering on cliffs. The sea crashed and beckoned. In ancient times, “terme” referred to communal public baths. Today Santa Cesarea Terme offers serious medical relaxation therapy. The spa participated in the medical aspect of this clinic of sorts. The intake aide had everyone fill out one-page medical information forms: any serious illnesses or disease to declare? Prescription drugs taken? Time of last meal? (Apparently mud baths require a fasting time of at least three hours.) For a basic massage, I had to clear a blood pressure check just after climbing up two flights of marble stairs from the street. Smiling Doctor Pizzara knew little English, and I spoke
less Italian, but he cleared me for the massage. We shook hands on it, in a gracious exercise. Pay at the window, said the clinic representative. I had a two-hour wait, so was instructed to enjoy the sulfur pool that dangled off a ragged bluff across the strata. The pool water indeed smelled of sulfur, and the spa brochure claimed it contained a touch of iodine as well. The warm water had a softness that slipped over my skin. It also turned my favorite sterling necklace black. I slipped out of the pool and down the natural rock stairs into the water, making sure not to step on any of the spindly black sea urchins that waved in the tide. The Adriatic was a definite contrast to the sulfured pool perched above. “Let me show you,” spoke a middle-aged Italian in the sea-edge grotto. I followed her up the granite steps. She led me to the side of the pool and pointed to a plaque cemented in the rim. “USAF Division 15. May 15, 1945.” The United States Air Force had helped construct the pool. Winning the hearts and
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minds of the vanquished was that simple, back in those days. Work together to build something so beautiful and free as this pool. The call came to vamoose, and I clambered back up the white stone stairs of the pool area, crossed the empty coastal boulevard, and sped up the three flights of stairs to a massage room. A smiling matron handed me a paper gown, much like those in our own physician offices. I waited, leaning on the edge of the Naugahyde massage table. After a light knock, to my surprise and chagrin, in floated Francesco: a burly, black-pony-tailed, tattooed, hairy-armed guy. His neck and open-shirted chest sported several sun-and moon-sign necklaces and a white ivory cross. In my panic, I failed to count the number of earrings dangling from each ear. “Okay you can take your clothes off. It does not bother me,” said Francesco, who seemed all business. “Well, it bothers me,” I said, never having had the pleasure of a massage by a male therapist. Living the sheltered life of a runner in San Francisco, I had met only female massage therapists, and female physical therapists for that matter. I kept the paper on and reclined on the table. Francesco made do. After about twenty minutes of manipulating here and there on my tense body, Francesco commented, “You don’t relax. Why not?” Precisely the question I often asked myself. I stammered something about working two jobs, training long hours throughout the week, but I could sense that Francesco didn’t buy it. He continued his sure hands all over my tightened body. He focused for a full fifteen minutes on the bottom
of my feet—gently, kindly. As a runner this was an entirely novel experience, and a good one. Plantar reflexology is a specialty of the spa, I learned later. Much like the Chinese body-organ linked meridians used in acupuncture, the reflexology theory holds that the bottom of one’s foot connects with organs and eyes, ears, nose, the senses. I drifted off to the accompaniment of New Age tunes piped through the ceiling, any qualms about this masseuse erased from my touchiness. Francesco generously extended the allotted hour and continued his manipulations. I recall none of the last thirty minutes. “We are finished,” he announced, nodding a slight bow and leaving the room. After a slow dressing, I floated down the granite stairs. Four of my travel-mates waited in the central room for their turns at the spa offerings. “What did you do?!” Roger and Tom said in one voice. “You look so relaxed.” Doreen and Ethel “Yessed” in agreement. “I had a massage,” was all I could say. As I waited for them to enjoy their spa experiences, I sat on the marbled terrace of the adjoining hotel gazing out over the Adriatic in the late afternoon sunlight. Two young lovers strolled by, she in green wrap, he in pale blue shirt and shorts, confident of each other’s caring. Red azaleas climbed the undulating palms along the strata. Two couples slapped down cards at the table next to me. “Questa! Questa! What do you mean?” they laughed. “Ah Puglia,” I sighed.
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Grotta Zinzulusa was originated by intense processes of marine erosion, and takes its name from natural concretions—called zinzuli in the local dialect— hanging from the vault in its access area. The grotto’s river, still flowing, is home to unique creatures such as Higginsia ciccaressi, a rare sponge, and Thyphlocaris salentina, a blind, albino prawn.
stuni was destroyed in an O earthquake in 1456, then
rebuilt on three hills, with a cathedral on the highest spot.
This is one thing I love about Italy: ancient history is everywhere. In Ostuni itâ€™s even preserved (below) in the middle of town.
G ROT TA GL I E seven Fasano brothers— Tandhe one sister—along with many
other ceramicists, create worldfamous pottery in Grottaglie. The hilltop town has been producing clay and ceramics for more than 2,500 years.
This tall vase will hold sticks of bamboo or other decorative elements.
Cosimo throws a vase nearly as tall as he is. Behind the wheel is a photo of Francesco Fasano taken 30 years ago at the same potter’s wheel.
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Leonardo will make these horses into lamps, candlesticks, or flower vases.
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The Gallo of Grottaglie Ethel Mussen
“Fondato a 1624” declares the legend over the entrance to the ceramics workshop in the old city of Grottaglie. “Fasano Nicola” is the name above the date, the ancestor of the seven brothers who produce and sell maioliche or faience—tin-glazed earthenware—seen throughout Apulia. Grandfather Francesco introduced the saucy rooster image to his early dishes so diners would be able to have chicken on their plates every day of the year. It became a trademark of the workshop and the genre, and a pattern popular with the public—a jaunty center bordered by blue-dotted rosettes and a simple rim line. Now his grandson, Francesco, the padrone of the factory demonstrates his skill at the decorator’s bench for the visiting giornalistas. Deftly he stokes in the comb and tail feathers to the rotund body, then outlines the slim legs and feet, and lo, the gallo crows on the plate. The cock abounds here in the stacks of bowls and plates in his shop across the lane, and is also seen in the many ristorantes of Apulia that serve their cuisine on his tableware. Inside Francesco’s factory, he leads us to a potter’s wheel. He points to the photograph of his twenty-five-year-old self, turning a vase. “That was twenty-two years ago,” he boasts, stroking his stilldark hair. Just below the photo, we watch stocky Cosimo as he pedals the same wheel to hollow out an emerging pupa, one of the trademark figures of Grottaglie. The skirt swells and is decorated with a comb-like instrument to make a pattern; then the waistline is delineated, the bosom shaped. The graceful neck awaits a head, perhaps with a mustache to illustrate the tale of the local husband who resists his lord’s droit du seigneur of deflowering his virgin bride by presenting himself dressed in her costume, mustache and all. Across from Cosimo, Leonardo merrily completes a female horseman, as he dabs rosettes, a collar, hair pieces, and the horse’s tail into place. Someone asks
how many of these he completes each day, how long it takes to finish one. “Maybe three,” he tosses his head and smiles broadly. “I shouldn’t say here with the padrone...” Indeed, beside me Francesco bristles. “You should ask me the questions!” he protests. “How long did it take you to learn to do this, Leonardo?” “Since I was twelve, and I worked here summers, until after I left school and really studied. Then I came here.” After Francesco shows us the ancient wood-fired kiln carved out of the stone hill, we pass carts laden with trays of drying biscuit or unglazed clay plates and bowls and enter the
decorating room. here two men are mixing a pink glaze and dipping enormous garden planters into the liquid. I suspect this will fire to the sienna brown we associate with earthenware, since oxides burn into another hue. Enormous room-sized electric kilns are open, one awaiting its load of dried wares already separated by staggers, the other kiln partially emptied but still housing one towering load of rosy terra cotta, or cooked earthenware. It is cooling, ready to be dipped into glaze, dried, and decorated before returning to the kilns for the final firing. This is the normal routine for all maioliche and faience, spanning several days of waiting and processing. By another entry way sit two decorators. One is scraping the edge of a series of glazed dinner plates with a knife
so that the earth color show through like a brownish border. He brushes on a clear glaze to seal the porous clay. “Your glazes are lead-free—sensa piombo?” I ask. But of course, he reassures me it is a non-lead varnish. “We don’t use lead any more.” Below, to his right, a wide-eyed child of four sits solemnly at her own decorator’s desk. Clad in a plastic apron, she fills a round brush with bright pastel colors from a palette and blobs abstract patches of paint onto a salad dish. Claudio, her apparent mentor, interrupts his work to take a painted plate from her. Wordlessly, he hands her a blank and she intently applies her craft again. Claudio washes off the paints before they dry and puts the plate aside. “Does she know what you are doing?” I ask Claudio. “No,” he confides, “she thinks they are sold, and when there are no more left, she is happy that the shop has sold everything.” This is Francesco’s granddaughter, and I assume this is how all the children in Grottaglie were trained: by their fathers and the gentle artisans of their families’ respective workshops. I cross to Francesco’s great shop with its massive display of vases, garden pottery, and horsemen, male and female. Pupas are large and small, with and without mustaches, garments painted in blue on white. The next room overflows with tableware in colors and designs for every taste and holiday. Next to the traditional dishes with rosettes and blue lines, there are rectangular plates in cream with a red antler-like tree in the center. The next night, at a splendid dinner at the Masseria Cantone—a working farm turned glamourous inn outside the baroque city of Martina Franca—our table was set with the complete service of the plain creamy provincial pattern with its simple orange edge. A printed label on the back indicated that the manufacturer was Nicola Fasano at Grottaglie, Italy. Our hostess proudly identified the maker and then pointed out the collection of antique chargers mounted on the walls—all from Grottaglie, and all from Fasano, a family of talented artists and entrepreneurs whose art survives and thrives.
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The rooster is a symbol of abundance: “Every day I have chicken on my plate.”
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artina Franca, a city of 50,000 M founded in the 10th century, is charming with its lively outdoor scene, beautiful palaces, and rococo architecture.
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Vertical sundials like this one were common in town squares before pocketwatches were invented.
43 Baroque and glowing with pink-white stone, Martina Franca is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll: You might happen upon a resplendant wedding party, a marching band, or artisans selling their wares.
rightly-colored buildings, pale Bfields dotted with round bales
of hay, never-ending vineyards, ornately carved doors, street vendors, friendly faces ... these are some of the things you might see out the window as you drive through Apulia.
Local school children perform folk dances in traditional costumes.
Youâ€™ve got to love Italian menâ€™s pants!
Alberobello residents and tourists alike enjoy outdoor cafes and lively nightlife.
There’s no shortage of culture— or couture—in Apulia; this Dolce & Gabbiana dress was priced at 4.300 euros!
Staying in trulli or other accommodations that include a kitchenette gives you an opportunity to meet the locals and learn first-hand how they live in Apulia. This deli makes it easy to find familiar foodsâ€”and even familiar brandsâ€”for those times when you prefer to prepare your own meals.
Shelves at a deli in Alberobello.
Cheese in cute, piglet-shaped servings.
Friendly meat-cooking man at deli in Alberobello.
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Waist-ing Away in Puglia Laurie McAndish King
To paraphrase a well-known aphorism, a journey of one thousand excesses begins with a single bite. And—one single bite after another— I happily ate my way through Apulia, in southern Italy. Anticipating the visit was a gastronomic adventure in itself. Apulia has a long coastline, an agricultural heritage and a tradition of frugality. It is known for healthful and unpretentious cuisine, influenced by centuries of interactions, whether by trade or invasion, with Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs, French and Spaniards. My heart was set on tasting the local specialties, particularly the superb seafood, burrata (a rich, fresh mozzarella) and orecchiette pasta. But my heart—and my waistline—expanded to embrace lowly vegetables, ripe fruit and humble bread as gourmet highlights. In Apulia, I discovered, fine food and folkways combine to make an irresistible repast. Our culinary experiences, which I quickly came to regard as orgies of the very best kind, typically began between one and two o’clock in the afternoon and lasted until three-thirty or four, once even five o’clock. As in many other countries, the long meal here is timed to coincide with the hot afternoon sun, which precludes heavy labor both indoors and out. But no matter what one’s vocation, a meal in a hurry is an unthinkable insult in Italy, where sharing food is one of life’s simple— and essential—pleasures. And the fact that the event was stretched out over such a long period of time
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somehow made my holiday gluttony seem almost acceptable. We ate at least five courses at each meal, beginning with antipasti. These were typically five or six small, very flavorful dishes, such as mozzarella tied into a small knot (nodino) or fresh seafood. Often there would be julienned beets or carrots dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Ristorante Orsa Maggiore’s antipasti included zucchini flowers fried in a light, tempura-like batter; and pittule, a fried croquette-like dish made with a batter of flour, potato and yeast surrounding a bit of blanched cauliflower. I never managed to choose among the antipasti. In fact, I felt compelled to try every one—in the name of culinary research— and a small bite never seemed to be quite enough. The antipasti were offered in such quantity and variety that I was inevitably satisfied after sampling them, but the main meal was yet to come. After the antipasti we were presented with a “first course” of pasta and a “second course” of meat, the portions of which were inevitably generous and understandably quite filling. These were followed by a palate-cleansing raw vegetable course at which slices of carrot, cucumber or finocchio (fennel bulb) might be served. At the
restaurant Trullo d’Oro we cleared our palates with raw slices of a pale green, slightly sweet vegetable called carocello, specific to this region, which reminded me of a honeydew melon and others of a cucumber. Next came the fresh fruit course featuring sweet watermelon slices; perfect, firm-but-juicy Bing cherries; small, tart apricots and sweet plums during our June visit. We finished with cookies or a cake course and then a serving, if one dared, of strong limoncello liqueur. An espresso was available to top it off. The meals were so huge and so delicious that I began to eat myself sick on a daily basis. And I began making promises to God: every day, I swore that if I could only finish this one last meal—sampling just a bite or two of everything that was offered—and then make it through the afternoon, I would never again overindulge. Every afternoon I pictured myself virtuously pushing away from the table at the next meal, maintaining my figure and my health. And every evening I sinned again, salivating the instant I saw the menu. Mussels were among the most difficult to resist. Don Carmelo Ristorante Pizzeria served them in the peasant style—that is, combined with other ingredients into a onedish meal, characteristic of this part of Italy because it was faster for working families both to prepare and to consume. Preparing a mussel tiella (casserole) is quick and simple: slices of zucchini and onion are layered together in a baking pan. Chunks of peeled potatoes are added and steamed, opened mussels in
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At Casa Nova, enjoy eggplant with cheese and bacon; octopus with celery; beets with olive oil and lemon juice; potatoes with mushrooms; mozarrella tied into knots (nodo) or small knots (nodino); omelette triangles filled with tomato and bacon; fava bean puree; mussel casserole (mussels cooked with rice, potato, zucchini, tomato, cheese, and breadcrumbs); and other delicious dishes. Meals in Puglia are a definite highlight. Hereâ€™s just a taste ...
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their shells are arranged on top, then layered with rinsed rice and sliced tomatoes. Finish with Pecorino cheese and breadcrumbs and bake in a hot oven for half an hour. One taste and I became a mussel maniac. When cooked, the smooth, flesh-like morsels tightened and huddled—warm and peachcolored, sweet and tender—at the edge of their rough blue-black shells. They hunkered there, clinging, small and succulent, as if anticipating the approach of my hungry tongue and teeth. The mussels’ slippery folds released trickles of the dish’s rich juices, inviting exploration. (Simultaneously providing plenty of selenium, vitamin B12, zinc and folate.) I savored them at every opportunity. Another local staple is purea di fave (broadbean puree). Many broadbean recipes call for the addition of cooked potatoes or a little milk for smoothness and to extend the dish. The heavy, pale puree is traditionally served with bread and a counterbalancing cicorie—wild chicory, salted and boiled, then cooked up with olive oil to a deep, bitter green. In the one-dish version, the chicory and fried cubes of dry bread called cecamariti (“husbandblinders”) are stirred together with the bean puree. The origin of the expression “husband-blinders” to describe food is not clear. The most likely
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explanation, in my opinion, is that leftovers are used to create a dish so tasty that it dazzles—or blinds—a husband into thinking his wife has slaved for hours in the kitchen. But there is also the possibility the expression was used to describe a dish so filling it will placate a hungry husband, or a meal so delicious it will drive a husband to overeat, and subsequently to fall asleep. My favorite explanation suggests that cecamariti have the power of “putting husbands to bed, leaving wives free to meet their lovers.” Husband-blinding may be the most picaresque of Apulia’s culinary traditions, but it is certainly not the only one. Fortified farmhouses— called masseria—dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries dot the landscape. Inside, the masseria resembled agricultural factories: wheat was separated, grapes and olives were crushed, and cheese was made. Today, converted masseria continue their tradition as an important part of Italy’s agritourism industry, providing intimate venues for weddings, cooking classes, romantic vacations and wellness spas. They still use
house-grown or locally produced fruits and vegetables and often make their own wine, cheese and olive oil. At Masseria Tenuta Pedale the fresh fruits and vegetables were irresistible. Here I discovered a delicious way to prepare carrots: sott’olio (under oil), parboiled and served with capers and a sprinkle of salt. Zucchini and eggplant are also traditionally prepared sott’olio: first they are salted and weighted to draw out moisture, then they are julienned, simmered with a little vinegar and water, cooled and dressed with garlic, mint and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Trullo d’Oro in Alberobello served beetroots prepared in a similar fashion. I had expected balsamic vinegar or perhaps red wine vinegar, but in Puglia a simple white vinegar suffices. At Trullo d’Oro I also enjoyed a perfect plate of orecchiette (little ears), another specialty of the region. These small pieces of pasta were traditionally made by local women, who pulled a bit of dough off a larger piece and used their forefingers to poke it into a “little ear,” ideally shaped for catching and retaining sauces. My favorite way to eat orecchiette was with a sauce of hot fresh tomato chunks, a shaving of
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Orecchietti with shrimp and mint; orecchietti with mussels and squash flower; orecchietti with fresh tomato, garlic, and cheese; verdura cotta (cooked green vegetables); pickled sweet peppers and mushrooms; burrata; broadbean puree with greens; a fabulous dessert of vanilla custard in flaky pastry (sfogliatine con crema); and souffle al cioccolato.
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hard Pecorino cheese and fresh basil leaves. Something about this dish made me feel very naughty, as though I were actually chewing on the ears of little children, so I was tempted to hurry through it. But a perfectly al dente mouthful requires that one slow down and savor the flavors and textures. La Cantina in Alberobello served one of the most irresistible culinary temptations: burrata, a local mozzarella that is simply, deliciously addictive. A large burrata is the size of an orange, a small one more like an egg. In fact, it reminds me of a soft-boiled egg, although round rather than oval in shape, with an outside layer the consistency of cooked egg white. Inside, a silky white melding of fresh mozzarella and cream bursts from its round white rind and spills forth like a softboiled yolk, oozing onto the plate, running together with the pool of golden olive oil that sits beneath the cheese. The taste is as creamy as one would expect, yet light enough that I could eat quite a lot—and I did. Luckily for cheese lovers like myself, the companionably hearty Pugliese bread was served everywhere, its light, yeasty fragrance wafting from each restaurant table. Loaves have been made in the same way for centuries, and are deservedly world famous. Legend has it that the Roman poet Horace described them in 37 BCE as “by far the best bread to be had, so good that the wise traveler takes a supply of it for his onward journey.” Traditionally, Pugliese bread was baked into large loaves with an exceptionally crunchy crust for a long shelf life—easy to send off with a working husband who might be fishing or herding sheep for days at
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a time. Dense and pale straw-colored, its ingredients are hard wheat flour, water, salt and biga, a yeasted starter. Multiple long rise cycles and baking at gradually decreasing temperatures are the secrets to producing the chewy loaf; spritzing with water as it bakes produces the characteristic crust. Pugliese bread is even useful when stale; it is porous enough to absorb other ingredients and therefore ideal for making crostini and bruschetta, lightly toasted bread slices spread with olive oil, cheese, tomato, meat sauce or other savory toppings. And of course it is essential for the infamous cecamariti. Good as Pugliese bread is, Il Gioiello (The Jewel) in Alberobello has improved it. Their version, dotted with crunchy almonds and liberally studded with chunks of dried fig— ripe, sweet and moist—served steaming hot, is the most delicious bread I have ever tasted. It was served with a sampling of fig jam, onion marmalade, and marmellata di peperoncino e cioccolato—a remarkable conserve of rich, dark chocolate spiced up with hot peppers. As I perused the menu,
I made a mental note to follow Horace’s advice and stock up on a few loaves for my onward journey. And the figs! In Oria, Alla Corta di Hyria’s figs with balsamic reduction were so succulent they inspired me to a When Harry Met Sally-like dining performance. Warm sweet fig halves slid into my mouth like oysters; their soft, furry skin a welcome surprise. Eyes closed, head tilted back, I settled into a moment of gustatory ecstasy, the fig’s firm roundness heavy on my tongue, until the sweet-sharp tang of a sugared balsamic reduction filled my mouth and returned me to consciousness. Which was a good thing, because I would not have wanted to miss the rich, earthy flavors of crostini con crema di tartufo: rounds of crunchy toast topped with creamy truffle spread. L’Ancora (The Anchor) in Monopoli served one of our finest meals, a two-and-a-half hour festival that began with a surprisingly tender little octopus. One bite followed another as we moved to what may well have been the most exquisite dish of our visit: lobster-drenched
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A seven-course, two-and-ahalf-hour lunch at L’Ancora (The Anchor) began with octopus and shrimp, then moved to an exquisite lobster spaghetti, grilled seafood, veggie salad, gorgeous fresh fruit plate, sorbetto, and cookies. Plus hors d’oevres to start ... and Limoncello for a memorable finish.
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Small molded mounds of risotto with pieces of zuccini and shrimp; omelette filled with paper-thin slices of potato, carrot, and zucchini, stacked into a short tower; mussels and spelt in tomato sauce; plus the dishes pictured here.
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spaghetti. The silky sauce was deep adobe in color, thick and bisque-like, intensely flavored with lobster and peppered with small pieces of the sweet seafood. Ironically, this is the one dish I had tasted at home. Or perhaps it is not a coincidence at all that one of the finest recipes of the region should have been appropriated. In an attempt to recreate the meal in my own kitchen, I googled “recipe for spaghetti with lobster sauce” and got 156,000 results. If only I knew which one L’Ancora used. But my final large meal in Alberobello was by far the most memorable. A friendly Apulian invited me to his family’s home in
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Eggplant, ham, and cheese layered in very thin slices and topped with tomato sauce; zucchini flan; cheese with ricotta cream; and the meat dish: lonzetta di maialino farcita con verdure di stagione e contorno di patate al rosmarino.
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a multi-domed trulli in the countryside beyond Alberobello. Outside, olive and almond trees circled the house and huge, pinkblooming hydrangea brightened the front yard. Inside, a gay multicolored tablecloth peeked out from beneath more than a dozen dishes. I surreptitiously undid the button at my waistline and settled in for the feast. The locally caught octopus was tender, light and delicious. Cold, thin slices of beef served with a smooth sauce of mayonnaise and tuna were equally appealing. A cool insalata di riso (rice salad) proved perfect for the hot day: pieces of tuna and sausage provided protein, and the light
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dressing of lemon juice and olive oil with capers added enough sharpness to balance the flavor. The family shared anchovies and omelets, salad, bread, olives, cucumber, pizza, cheeses and more. Then we moved outside for fruit, two cakes, gelato and limoncello. Not speaking Italian, I missed much of the conversation, but the hospitality was unmistakable. As my journey of one thousand excesses drew to a close, another maxim twisted in my imagination: A waist is a terrible thing to mind!
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Pittula (vegetables fried in a light batter); savory pie made from spinach or chard; delicious swordfish with breadcrumbs and shredded parmesan; mussels in light tomato sauce; crunchy circles of hard bread; and bread with olives (watch out for the pits; theyâ€™re still inside the olives).
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Crostini with black truffle spread; carpaccio with rocket and parmesan; eggplant with garlic; roasted pork with almond cream; rice salad with cheese; broccoli rabi; orecchietti with tomto, beans, rosemary and cheese; steak with potatoes roasted with rosemary; figs with balsamic reduction (heavenly); panna cotta thatâ€™s light as air ... all enhanced by the celestial music on The Very Best of Era and the smooth, heady Yppocras Elixir Prunus.
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Locals dining at the restaurant give the thumbs-up.
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Built in the 16th century, masserie were fortified farmhouses surrounded by walls for protection from marauding Turks. Olive oil, wine, and cheese were produced, and wheat was separated, in the internal courtyard. Today, masserie have been converted to spas, private churches, cooking schools, and hotels, but they still serve fresh, delicious fare that is produced locally. Be sure to include a few on your itinerary.
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Creamy burrata is made by filling an exterior sheet of mozzarella with soft mozzarella and cream, then forming it into a ball. Youâ€™ll also enjoy coppacola; salami; spinach souffle; broadbean puree with sweet peppers; zucchini-flower pittule (with tempura-like batter); and quiche.
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Tasty orecchiette; horsemeat stuffed with cheese and greens, rolled and served with pasta and tomato sauce; and what must surely be the best bread in the world: a Pugliese-style loaf studded with almonds and chunks of ripe fig.
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A summer Sunday dinnerâ€”here in a traditional trullo homeâ€”might include more than a dozen delicious dishes, such as orecchiette; octopus; mozzarella and tomato rolls; nodino; omelette with tuna; cucumber salad; cold rice salad with capers, sausage, and tuna; sliced beef with two sauces; fruit; and cake.
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Could I Eat a Horse? Laurie McAndish King
The instructions were unnerving: Boil olive oil in a hot pan, lay the horsemeat in flat, and turn it when it starts to rise. I tried hard not to visualize horseflesh rearing up out of a pan of boiling oil. We were in search of the “Puglian delicacy” I had read about in a guidebook and was determined not to miss. My plan was to find a restaurant that served horsemeat, convince one of my more adventuresome traveling companions to order it, and then to beg the smallest bite, just a tiny taste—after all, it was a regional specialty. But things did not work out according to my plan. I first asked at Casa Nova in Alberobello. It was a white-tablecloth restaurant with a large menu, and seemed a likely source. But I was met with a puzzled expression. No, they did not serve carne de cavalle. Perhaps the waiter did not understand my broken Italian. “Horse, cavalle?” I repeated, pantomiming a gallop. I felt foolish pantomiming in a nice restaurant, but I was halfway around the world and really wanted to try horsemeat. “No. No cavalle.” No matter; we still had more than a week to go. I would find it at the next restaurant. I persisted at Osteria degli Angeli in Lecci, at Ristorante Orsa Maggiore in Castro Marina and at La Sommita in Ostuni. Surely these fine Puglian establishments served the local specialty. But not a single one offered it. I tried requesting carne equine, thinking perhaps I had used the wrong word, but no matter how I asked, horsemeat was simply not on the menu. I enlisted the assistance of my travel companions: would they help me find a menu with horsemeat? “Horsemeat?” MJ asked incredulously. “You want to eat horsemeat? Why?”
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“It’s a specialty of the region,” I explained. “I thought you were a vegetarian.
How could you eat Mr. Ed?” “I’m not completely. And I just want to try him. I mean it.” They promised to help look. Days passed, but no one found cavalle. (If I had not been looking myself, I would have doubted their sincerity.) Taking a seat one evening at La Cantina, I had nearly given up the search, when Connie and Linda spotted Involtino al sugo di vitello o puledro on the menu and alerted me from across the room. “Rolls of veal or horse and tomatoes,” the translation read. There it was. In that moment, when I expected to feel delight, a seed of doubt arose. I was not certain whether I could actually eat an equine. I had never owned a horse;
my personal experience of them was not unlike my experience of cows, visible chiefly in rural fields, and from a distance. I eat steak occasionally, but I began to worry that horses might somehow be different. Could I actually consume a Seabiscuit steak? A Black Beauty roast? Filet o’ Flicka? My companions were watching, waiting—probably thinking I would not go through with it. I ordered the involtino. The waiter raised his eyebrow in what I took to be a disapproving look. Although horsemeat was listed on the menu, he informed me, La Cantina was not serving it tonight. I began to wonder whether the dish really existed. Perhaps it was the Puglian equivalent of an urban legend, making for colorful copy in the guidebooks, teasing tourists, even appearing on the occasional
Giovanni’s sparkling clean butcher shop, right on Alberobello’s main street, specializes in locally produced horsemeat.
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Documentation showed place of birth, date of sale, and certification of cleanliness for the meat we purchased.
Giovanni and Dina stayed open late to cut us some steaks and explain how to prepare them.
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menu, but never materializing in an actual meal. And perhaps that was just as well. But Annelize assured me that horsemeat is indeed eaten in Europe: “It is common in France, where culinary appreciation surpasses sentimentality,” she explained. This perspective momentarily renewed my resolve, as I am not accustomed to being accused of sentimentality. “I ate it a lot as a student in Holland. It is very tender in comparison to the average beef,” Annelize continued. “The muscle structure is somewhat coarser, the taste a little sweeter. I imagine it is comparable to human flesh; that is what cannibals report.” The expression on my face must have matched my flagging enthusiasm, because later that evening Chrysa took it upon herself to assist in the quest. Since I had had no success at restaurants, we switched to butcher shops. If they served the restaurant business, they would be able to tell us which restaurants to try. We located a butcher shop that sold beef, veal, goat, sheep, pork, chicken … everything, it seemed, except horsemeat. “Si vendono il carne de cavalle, do you sell horsemeat?” “Cavalle? No.” Did they know where we might find it? “No.” We had better luck at a second butcher shop. Although they did not carry cavalle, they reluctantly sent us “down the hill, turn left, then turn right.” We followed the directions, and ended up at a deli. No cavalle. Chrysa persisted, searching up and down Alberobello’s steep, narrow streets. Three hundred meters down the main road, Largo Martellotta, she saw the sign: Macelleria Carne Equina. (Surely the locals all knew it.) A second sign outside the shop featured a large horse’s head. Inside, Giovanni was sweeping up for the night. Not that there was
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anything to sweep; the store was spotless. All the meat had been put away for the evening; the empty glass cases and stainless steel counter sparkled. Gleaming white tile walls were sparsely decorated with framed photos of horses and donkeys. I was relieved that they had already closed. “Si vendono il carne de cavalle?” Chrysa asked, poking her head through the open door. “Si. Would you like some?” Giovanni pulled out a chunk of meat the size of … well, the size of a
horse’s head. It wasn’t a head, of course. It was bright red and marbled with white, and it gave me the creeps. This was the real thing. He cut us two thin steaks. At five euro and change for almost half a kilogram, our horsemeat cost less than 12 euro/kg. Lamb, by way of comparison, was 20 euro/kg in the butcher shop down the street; veal was 22. Suddenly I understood why no one had wanted to serve me cavalle: it was budget food, most commonly eaten by students and others for whom price was a major consideration. Giovanni showed us four pieces of paper, neatly stapled together. The first was a Certificato Sanitario, a health certificate pronouncing the meat livero consumo. (My best guess at a translation was freed for eating.
I don’t think the horse’s liver was being singled out.) The remaining three papers documented Giovanni’s purchase of the horse that had supplied our steaks, the name and address of the seller, our horse’s name and birthday, the name of the ranch where it grew up, its parents, their bloodline, the date and place of the slaughter … the horse’s upbringing and education, for all I know. My resolve weakened. Giovanni’s wife, Dina, explained how to prepare the steaks. “Boil olive oil in a hot pan, lay the horsemeat in flat, and turn it when it starts to rise.” “Then what?” “Sale, salt.” Realizing that we were tourists and probably did not have our own supply of seasonings, Dina was kind enough to put a little salt into a plastic bag and send it home with us. A pinch of salt after we cooked it was all the steak needed, she explained. Chrysa and I thanked Giovanni and Dina and left them to lock up the shop. We stopped at the deli to pick up a few other things for dinner, in case the horsemeat tasted awful. Back at our trullo, Chrysa fried the steaks according to Dina’s instructions; they “rose” in the pan when cooked, just as she had said they would. I cut up fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. We rearranged some wildflowers MJ had gathered on her morning jog, played Chrysa’s new Al Bano Platinum CD on my laptop computer, and set as pretty a table as we could. We wanted a pleasant ambience for our first taste. Chrysa was braver than I; she tried it first. She liked it. I swallowed my tomato and had a gulp of water before slicing off a piece of meat. I wasn’t going to eat it with anything else; I wanted to really taste the horse. The first bite was moist and tender. It was delicious! It tasted just like beef.
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Adventures in eating: this horsemeat was easy to prepare, nutritious, tender, and delicious.
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Stop by to enjoy the food and wine, and, if you’re lucky, the very gracious Al Bano Carrisi might treat you to a guided tour of his home, private chapel, winery, the grounds and recording studio ... a bubbly Proseco tasting, and—best of all— a serenade!
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BOOKS ABOUT THE AREA:
• Venturing in Italy: Travels in Puglia, Land between Two Seas, Edited by Barbara J. Euser and Connie Burke. Travelers’ Tales, 2008.
• Here’s a link to the Italian Government Tourism Board’s website on Apulia: http://www.italiantourism.com/puglia.html
• Christ Stopped at Eboli, Carlo Levi, Levi Press.
• Delicious Italy: Bite-sized portions of information for the independent visitor to Italy: www.deliciousitaly.com/visualizza.php?id=13®ione_ id=12
• Lonely Planet Guide to Puglia & Basilicata
“The best education for a clever man can be found in travel.” — Goethe
They weren’t kidding around when they named this upscale restaurant “The Summit.” I nearly got vertigo at the top.
Most of this information is from my notes; I cannot vouch for its historical accuracy. All photos are by the author. Photos © Laurie McAndish King. Stories are copyrighted by the authors, and used with their permission. Book design and production by Jim Shubin, www.shubindesign.com © Laurie McAndish King 2009
Discover Italy's newest "it" destination with award-winning travel writer Laurie McAndish King in this full color, photo-filled, user-friend...