Day 57 Trani to near Lecce, Puglia

It’s amazing how much better you feel about the day when you wake up to sunshine. After arriving at our campsite last night, it rained solidly all night, but just before sunrise the rain cleared, and we rose to bright blue skies and a wonderful view of the Adriatic yards from Oscar. We were tempted to stay another night, but had already made plans further down the coast, so packed up and set off. Just as we were leaving, the other couple on the site, told us of their dreadful experiences a week or so earlier of being completely snowed in for four days in Tuscany, after a heavy snowfall there. Unlike us, they didn’t have the benefit of a diesel heater, so had spent a few days absolutely frozen. But they did give us a very good tip off for morning coffee – the small fishing village of Bisceglie, just a mile down the road. So we went off to explore, and indeed, it was a gem. Totally un-touristy, with a little harbour with local fishing boats, and a few pleasant cafes around the waterfront. So that is where we started our day, sitting in the sunshine watching the boats.
Next we set off to what we christened ‘Hobbit-land’, or the town of Alberobello to be precise. It is set inland from the coast, up in the hills, amongst fertile farmland and olive groves – and what a treat it proved to be. The attraction of this town, and indeed the surrounding area are the strange cylindrical houses with conical roofs called ‘Trulli’. There are over a thousand of these structures throughout Puglia, but the highest concentration are in this town and it’s environs. The walls are made of stone, painted white with slate roofs, and do look like they have come straight out of a Peter Jackson film. Any minute you expect a Hobbit to pop out of one. They first appeared in the late 15th century, and were built without using any mortar. The benefit of this, apparently, was that this made them easy to dismantle, so allowing their crafty owners to avoid paying taxes. So you see, tax avoidance has been going on for centuries!
They indeed made a stunning sight. We first started spotting them in the local farmland approaching the town, some joined together to form charming farm-houses. Once in Alberobello, they were everywhere, with literally hundreds of them on one side of the town, snaking their way up the hill. We walked along these limestone paved ‘Trulli’ streets, up to the ‘Trulli’ church. On some of the conical roofs were painted symbols in white paint, some religious signs, others signs of the zodiac. It was truly fascinating wandering around this town, and once more, all the better for being quiet – apparently in the summer, this place is heaving with tourists. We even stopped and had our first ‘gelato’ of the trip, sitting on a bench overlooking the hillside of little Hobbit homes. Howard commented how clean the place looked, and on queue, we spotted the first rubbish cart and road cleaner of this leg of our trip. It may be because this is a UNESCO Heritage site that it is kept so pristine, since it is in stark contrast to the other parts of rubbish-strewn Southern Italy we have encountered. Although Trani was also pristine, so maybe this municipality has more funds to allocate for rubbish collection.
We eventually dragged ourselves away from this lovely spot, and headed to our campsite, just south of Lecce. It is an ‘agriturisimo’ site, which basically means it is on a farm, with some area put aside for camping. Only one other German motorhome was here when we arrived, so the farm owner kindly opened up one of the bathrooms (heated) in one of the cottages he also rents out, rather than having to use the rather dated and chilly washrooms in the field. So tonight we have a toilet seat and a warm bathroom – bloody marvellous!
Tomorrow we plan to explore Lecce, dubbed the ‘Florence of the South’. We will see!

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