TarantoFebruary 11, 2017 in Italy
Continuing north west up the coast of Italy's heal we passed some beautiful wide sandy beaches and saw a couple of groups of surfers enjoying the sizeable waves.
In one of the towns we passed through, there seemed to be people coming away from a fayre. We soon discovered the road we needed was closed due to the festivities. There were police controlling the traffic and an officer removed the barrier and waved us through. Just as we were wondering how on earth we were supposed to squeeze the van between an ambulance and a car parked opposite, another officer approached and told us we needed to back up. We duly obeyed until the first officer came and started to argue with the second! Feeling like a yoyo we ended up driving forward again and passing the ambulance at snails pace with just a few inches to spare. We had a few seconds of relief before we needed to mount the pavement in order to pass a car parked on the T junction. The police officer leading us through did get out of their vehicle to photograph the offender before turning to us, shrugging their shoulders and gesturing for us to 'go wide' before nipping off in their little car!
The large port town of Taranto was a much less stressful experience. We were welcomed to its streets by juggling unicyclists in fancy dress who entertained traffic waiting at the lights. We love the power of surprise that comes with travel. Even if you've read up on a place beforehand, you can never know what is going to be round the next corner!
There were many street stalls selling mussels or sea urchins but as we drove alongside the harbour, we saw a short, white haired weatherbeaten man standing at the entrance to his fish shop, next to a table displaying sticks of mussels still attached to the lines of net they grew on. He caught our eye and played the fisherman with us, luring us in! He turned out to be a real character, we bought some mussels and small fish before we asked if it was alright to take a photo of the impressive display of fish. At this request he ushered a bemused Vicky behind the counter, and demonstrated the pose he thought would look best. He then enthusiastically guided Will to the position he thought the photo should be taken from and urged him to snap away! What could we do?!
Taking our fish and dodging the crazy helmet-free scooter riders, we made our way along the harbourside, past nets of oysters like Christmas chocolate coins in the water and a stall where men scrubbed mussels clean. We bought an interesting looking vegetable from one of a small cluster of stalls and asked the seller what it was called. When he realised we didn't know what it was, he told us it was called Puntarelle, broke off and washed a piece for us to try before telling us a couple of different ways it could be eaten. We've come across so many warm and helpful people on our Italian travels, it makes a great difference to the way we feel about the country.Read more