Saturday, November 19, 2016

Olive Harvest 2016

Puglia, Italy.

Another wet summer, another lost harvest. Because of the summer rains the olives had rotted and dropped, rather like 2014. Only those who harvested early got any reasonable crop but we understand that the acidity was poor and may have been too high to technically count as "extra virgin". Extra-virgin olive oil is required to have no more than 0.8% free acidity (Wikipedia).

Not a single olive to be harvested on our nine trees and we had three disappointed friends who came to help with the harvest.  Still not as bad as our friend Mino who has 150 trees and 11 friends over from the UK.

Nothing for it but to eat, drink and do the tourist thing. Over the week we went out for four excellent meals of very different styles:
  • Arrosteria del Vicoletto (Cisternino). A fornello pronto - basically a butcher where you choose your meat, they cook it in an wood oven and serve with baked potato and salad and wine by the jug. A mixture of chops, sausage and bombette - meat balls available in a variety of meats, flavours and seasonings.
  • Il Cortiletto (Speziale) - we visited this trattoria a couple of years ago with Nigel and he was keen to re-visit so we booked without telling him, as a surprise. The dining room is the size of someone's living room, there cannot be more that 20 covers. They have a chalk board menu of the day and it is freshly cooked and changing every day. A real gem.
  • Osteria Sant'Anna (Cisternino) - the best restaurant in Cisternino and an obvious choice to celebrate our friends Tony and Terri's 39th anniversary. The food is excellent and the ambience is stylish without being too formal with lovely stone-vaulted ceilings. 
  • Osteria del Porto (Savelletri) - on our way back to the airport we stopped in Savelletri and ate in this harbour-side restaurant. We had eaten there before so knew it was good and, despite it being 2:30, they were still able to serve us.
Pomodoro al filo

These air dried tomatoes on a string are an essential ingredient for a really authentic orecchiette con cime di rapa [recipe]. Seeing them in the local supermarket I snapped up a bunch and made the dish for supper the following day. Very tasty.

During the daytime we did visits to several of the lovely towns in the area.

Martina Franca. A beautiful city with lots of baroque architecture.

Ceglia Messapica. Our first visit to this town and it was a pleasant surprise. The area has a reputation for poverty and crime especially if you live out in the countryside where the risk of burglary is not inconsiderable. However there is a fair amount on money being invested in the area including public work in the town to improve facilities. Word is that it is up and coming.

Ceglia Messapica - The castle

Ceglia Messapica - The castle courtyard

Ceglia Massapica - Streets

What impressed me was the "suburbs". A typical arrangment for towns in the area is a historic centre on a hill top, full of characterful, winding, narrow lanes, surrounded by a ring of ugly, modern, concrete apartment blocks on the slopes. Here the streets surrounding the old city walls are, themselves, old and full of chararacter making for a more charming aspect.

Egnazia excavations and museum - over the years we have revisited this fascinating site many times. New areas are being uncovered including a very impressive set of public baths. The signage has improved as well with lots of explanatory boards, The museum has also been been given a makeover and now is less text heavy and more visual displays covering the evolution of the site.

Egnazia - forum

Alberobello - no pictures as we've been there so many times. It is a must see for first-timers to the area.

Polignano a Mare - a pretty port often featured in brochures for the area. Even in the dark it was worth breaking our journey to the aiport for an evening stroll.

Trullo Azzurro logoTrullo Azzurro: beautifully restored trullo in delightful, secluded valley near Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Available to rent on a per week basis, sleeps 8-10. For more information visit

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