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  • Day14


    April 14, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    This may be my shortest blog EVER!

    The wines produced in Puglia are primarily Negroamaro and Primitivo. On Sunday, we thought we'd make the fifty minute drive to visit Manduria, probably the largest and best known Primitivo producing region.

    This being Sunday, and off season, we figured most things would be closed, but we hoped we'd find enough attractions open to keep us busy for the afternoon. WRONG!!!

    When we left Gallipoli, I programed "Manduria" into La Grande Orange's GPS. As we drove north, the closer we got to our destination, the roads got worse and worse. Narrow, winding, potholed, and sometimes not paved at all. Oh yeah, we were definitely driving through vineyards as far as the eye could see, but the vines had all been pruned back almost to stumps and there wasn't another car, or soul, in sight. Certainly, my hopes of stumbling across an unknown winery that produces great wine were slipping away as quickly as the south's blue skies were turning to grey.

    We nonetheless soldiered on until, eventually, the GPS announced, in the middle of a vineyard, in the middle of nowhere, that we had arrived at our destination. Not good.

    Brenda then programmed in "Manduria Centro Historico" into the GPS and within ten minutes, we found ourselves in the old part of the city. But wait a minute. We had no trouble finding a place to park and there didn't seem to be very much activity on the streets. Where is everybody?

    We wandered around and came across a very old looking church that, like everything else, was closed. There were no signs outside to tell us about the buildings age or origins and no tourist office to offer any information.

    Undaunted, we continued to explore the empty streets and closed shops until we finally broke down and admitted that there would be absolutely nothing to see here today. Once we made that admission, Manduria began to sprinkle some rain upon us. We had wandered almost 1.5 kms from the car, so we hastened our pace to make sure we didn't get caught in another Pugliese downpour. I had my little travel umbrella, my Tilley hat and my nylon windbreaker with me, but Brenda was unprepared for inclement weather. After all, when we left Gallipoli, the skies were cloudless, and the temperature was on the rise. Who knew?

    We hadn't walked a block when the raindrops began to increase in size, and we were suddenly being pelted with hail. HAIL FOR GOD'S SAKE! In April!! In Southern Italy!!!

    We ducked into the covered entrance to a building and took shelter for at least fifteen minutes as we waited for the storm to pass. It was quite surreal because all around us, the skies were blue.

    I don't know, maybe my numerous walks through all these churches without once making a sign of the cross, even when passing in front of the altar, combined with not attending mass this morning has finally caught up with me. Maybe the big guy is trying, not so subtly, to tell me something.

    Naaaah! It's just bad timing.

    After the rain stopped, we made our way back to La Grande Orange and hightailed it back to Gallipoli, where we thought we'd go for dinner at the only other gluten free pizzeria in the city, Capri New Style. Since it was only a couple of kilometers from our accommodations, and we'd already spent two hours in the car, we decided to walk. As it turns out, the restaurant is located way off the beaten track, which required us walking along a rather busy highway, with no sidewalks, for almost one kilometer. Since nightfall was rapidly approaching, I was very concerned about how safe it would be to walk that road after dark, particularly since I was wearing mostly black. Well, in the end, there was no need to worry since the Capri New Style was not open, nor was it going to be opening any time soon.

    I guess some days are just like that.

    We turned around and walked the 2.1 kms back to our apartment while the sun was still above the horizon and I didn't have to use my cell phone as a flashlight. I ended up eating a rather forgettable pizza from the pizzeria in our building and Brenda just had a serving of fries.

    On the bright side, the €4.99 on sale bottle of Bolla Prosecco we bought the other day was a very acceptable accompaniment to my meal.

    There's always a silver lining.
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