Friday, August 31, 2018

Aperitivo Classico 2018 - August

Bar Fod, Cisternino, Puglia.

The season continues...

Wednesday 01-August-2018.

A bonus, mid-week Aperitivo Classico to celebrate 20 years of this excellent tradition. A tribute to Edith Piaf with songs and stories of her life. The maestro who produces the series is the leftmost man seated next to the singer.

The acoompanying nibbles just had to be birthday cake!

Sunday 05-August-2018.

No concert because it was the town's patron Saints' day: Cisternino Celebrates San Quirico 2018.

Sunday 12-August-2018.

Clarinet and Pianoforte by M Goffredo and A Palasciano.

The nibbles were Capocollo from Martina Franca in a rosetto roll - "a traditional capocollo of Apulia. It is smoked with laurel leaves, thyme, almonds, Mediterranean herbs and pieces of bark of Macedonian Oak" [Wikipedia].

The recommended wine was a rose. Mine had a hint of cork taint but Mary's was fine however they were from different bottles.

Sunday 19-August-2018.

Song and Pianoporte by G Palma and L Tanzarella.

Nibbles: Hummus with crudités and prosecco.

Sunday 26-August-2018.

Guitar solo by G Calo. This guy was good. Not that the others weren't good but this man was a virtuoso.

Bar Fod kindly posted this picture in which you can see, on the back left table, Mary and I with our friends Chris and John, Michael and Gail, and Trudi and Steve with family. In the left front row other regulars, the German couple (Alex and Barbara) and the Italian couple (whose names escape me).

Nibbles: Aubergine dip which Fabio described as a "savoury cappuccino" with cream cheese, mango sorbet and a small croissant. The recommendation drink was a vodka-based cocktail which was delicious!

The last session of August is the occasion for the "team photo" with all the regulars, Mary and I right in the centre.

Update: Sunday 26-August-2018.

A supernumerary Sunday concert after all the Italian tourists have gone home. A triple bill with piano accordion ...

... clarinet and pianoforte ...

... and singer with pianoforte.

Nibbles: a re-presentation of insalate caprese with rocket (rucola) purée, mozzarella and tomato with mini friselle.

A wonderful memento of a great Cisternino tradition.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wandle Trail GPX and KMZ for Walking

Wandle Trail (version 1.0). Wednesday 29-August-2018.

I have created a GPX file of the Wandle Trail [new window] for walkers to use with hand held GPS. There are versions out there but they are either for cyclists or behind a paywall or chargeable. Mine is free (hey, I'm retired I need a hobby). Feel free to use.

If you find any errors please let me know at:
Suggestions for improvement welcome.


I started with the Google map (above) which I exported as a Google Map KMZ version then converted to GPX using GPS Visualizer, tweaked and converted back again.

There are several versions of the Wandle Trail out there so I have used the route from the Wandle Trail Map on the Wandle Valley Park site.

At several points the Wandle Valley Park map shows alternatives, I picked the one that best suits my recollections of walking the trail.

Links [mostly not in new window]:

Wandle Trail v01 Google map



More about the Wandle Trail [Wikipedia]

Bike trail versions from The Guardian [New window]

You're welcome!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Notte Verde: Acqua e Sale 2018

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Saturday / Sunday 18 / 19-August-2018.

Another festival. As it says on the poster: Music, Culture, Gastronomy. Two nights to wander the streets of Cisternino and soak up the atmosphere.

Our street, Corso Umberto I, was dedicated to craft stalls. From Piazza Marconi up Via Manzoni it was the turn of the food stalls including a demonstration of passata making and local organic produce of all kinds.

As Via Manzoni segues into Via San Quirico we came across a local artisanal beer stall by Birrificio Birranova so we had to try their range. The Myra was my favourite, dark and sweet, brewing using mosta di primitivo (leftover must from wine making).

We took our beer up to the Ponte - the raised section of via San Quirico - found some plastic chairs from the earlier cultural talk and sat to oversee the scene and listen to the music.

The live music was Arheref Chargui Trio, a French-Italian-Tunisian group comprising drums, bass and oud. You could tell the drummer was the Italian - he was wearing a scarf, presumeably to protect his neck from draughts. A very North African sound, you could almost be in the Mahgreb. We bought their first CD rather than the second because I think first albums always have something fresh and special and avoid the Second Album Syndrome.

The next night it was a case of "rinse and repeat" with an intervening lunchtime Aperitivo Classico, lunch and siesta.

We strolled around with artisanal beer in hand then went to Chirico Bistrot for a cocktail whilst listening to the DJ set.

And so to bed after the witching hour.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Piano Lab 2018

Matina Franca, Puglia, Italy. Sunday 12-August-2018.

A lovely evening of piano music in Martina Franca at 15 locations around the town in piazzas, parks and churches and with a schedule of different players. Called Piano Lab, it is a two-day event where you can wander around the town and hear an array of piano music from classical to jazz. And it's all free!

In the Piazza Plebiscito in front of the Basilica di San Martino:

Chiesa San Domenico:

The lovely Piazza Maria Immacolata:

Piazza XX Septembre:

Each stage has a packed list of performers. You can listen to as much or as little as you wish and wander on at will. When you return to the same stage there will be someone different.

We ended up eating late, at about quarter to midnight. None of this typical English rubbish of "It's 10 o'clock, the chef's gone home"; restaurants are serving while there are customers to be fed.

Definitely on our list to repeat next year.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Cisternino Celebrates San Quirico 2018

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Saturday/Sunday/Monday 04/05/06-August-2018.

Three day of music and festivities to celebrate Cisternino's Patron Saints Quirico e Giulitta.

Saturday 04-August-2018.

The day started at 10am with a marching band passing literally beneath our feet - down Via La Fiera through the arch that passes under our kitchen / dining room ...

... and out next to our front door and off down Corso Umberto.

The evening concert in the town square was a rousing brass band editions of Turandot and The Barber of Seville from the Gran Concerto Bandistico Città Di Conversano.

Sunday 05-August-2018.

Instead of the usual Aperitivo Classico we were treated to more brass band (they seem to be a big thing round here). Cinderella from the Gran Concerto Bandistico Città Di Bracigliano.

The evening was the main religious part of the celebrations which means a procession of the statues of Quirico e Giulitta from the eponymous church around the town along with marching band, the town dignitaries and a following of the townspeople. The procession passes under our window.

It was more music wherever you looked. I went for leisurely circuit of the town at 11pm. First sax and guitar at the end of our street doing an excellent version of "Summertime".

Through the arch of the Porta Piccolo into the old town - a group who don't seem to be on the official poster busking outside Micro vegan restaurant.

In the main square it was back to classical with a selection of Wagner on the bandstand.

On the other side of town out through the Porta Grande just up from our rented apartment the Junior Band giving it some welly on trombone and sax.

The illuminations on Via San Quirico looking lovely.

Monday 06-August-2018.

All three days had craft stalls along Corso Umberto and food trucks at the end in Piazza Marconi. The headline act for the Monday: Luisa Corna and the Dolphins Jazz Orchestra in Largo Amati. We stopped off for a digestivo at Chirico Bistrot (formerly Bar Palazzo Amati) and people watched to the sound of the band.

A quick stroll up the the church of San Quiroco to have a peer inside. The statues were back in place.

Cinderella-like we were tucked up in bed by midnight and so only heard the spectacular firework display at 00:30. Congratulations to the Comune (town council) for another fine festival.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Rinaldo by Handel at the Palazzo Ducale

Martina Franca, Puglia, Italy. Thursday 02-August-2018

Part of the 44th Festival of the Valle D'Itria which includes a series of operas. I know little about opera so this performance was always going to be a bit of a shot in the dark but seeing as how it's by Handel and he's written a few good tunes it was worth a go.

When we arrived the first shock was how long it was scheduled to last - starting at 9 pm with 3 hours 20 minutes of opera and two short intervals of 15 minutes each. That's nearly four hours so you get your money's worth! The venue is the atmospheric setting of the courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale.

The setting and music may be traditional but the costumes were very twentieth century:
  • Golfedo, the leader of the crusade, is Elton John in an Austin Powers style costume
  • Rinaldo, the nobleman, is Freddie Mercury
  • Eustazio, brother to Goffredo, is David Bowie
  • Argante: Saracen king of Jerusalem, is Gene Simmons from KISS
For the women we were not able to identify any specific artistes.

Photo credit: Fabrizio Sansoni

I did wonder about the absence of Marc Bolan but need not have worried. At the start of Act II the beautiful siren in a boat is wearing glitter makeup and riding a white swan - a clear nod to Marc.

Photo credit: Fabrizio Sansoni

The music involved a lot of what I now know is "melisma" - the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession. According to my classical music correspondent "melisma has an expressive, word-painting function, so it’s seldom on words like The and And, more likely on Amore/Infedelta etc. Also a wonderful way for a singer to show off a lovely smooth line". Personally I found it's frequent use a little off-putting but then I am a relative opera newbie and I guess it is an acquired taste.

Some of the parts were written in a high voice range for contralto castrati - not available these days! Instead a number of the lead male roles were sung by women which was fine although the 'tache on "Freddie Mercury" looked a tad comedic.

After the applause and curtain calls we finally exited the building at 1:30am having enjoyed a unique musical experience.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Locus Festival 2018

Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Sunday 29-July-2018

h 21 – Piazza Moro | Free entry
+ T-Riot

After last year's very enjoyable Locus Festival 2017 we were interested in this concert but were not sure if we'd make a Sunday evening performance after a midday Aperitivo Classio followed by lunch with friends which is usually fairly boozy.

Our friend Kathy who used to live here said "You must" and "If I were there I'd drag you along", she being a fan of GoGo Penguin. In the end I *was* restrained so I could drive Mary and I over to Locorotondo that evening armed with two folding picnic chairs. And very glad we were that we went; it was an excellent concert and all free!

The support act, T-Riot, are a local trio playing mellow jazz. A well thought out compare-and-contrast choice to support the main act. Jazz Convention describe their music as, variously, "rhythmic exoticism", "docile and sensual" or "nostalgic and filmic.
Full review (in Italian)...

GoGo Penguin are an English trio from Manchester. A little more avant-garde jazz than T-Riot but easily this side of listenable; very accomplished musicians. "The band's music features break-beats, minimalist piano melodies, powerful basslines, drums inspired from electronica and anthemic riffs. They compose and perform as a unit. Their music incorporates elements of electronica, trip-hop, jazz, rock and classical music. [Wikipedia].

Headed over to the merchandising booth and bought two CD's, one from each group which have been listened to multiple times since with great pleasure.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Scarred for life

Cisternino Italy.

One thing about scar tissue is that it doesn’t tan like undamaged flesh. Spending time out in Italy has enabled me to see more clearly some of the injuries that life has inflicted. They have developed like a piece of chemical film. Looking down at my leg recently I was reminded of my mystery scar as indicated by the dotted line.

The other scars I know about. My right, index finger scar is the result of over enthusiastic cleaning of a beaker in the chemistry lab at school. The scar on my middle finger on the left hand is a result of using a slippery Stanley knife (box cutter) while doing some tiling in the bathroom. The hernia operation scar hasn’t seen much sunlight, it is true, and so is still not very visible in all senses.

But this scar I have absolutely no idea where it came from. About 15 years ago I was having a aromatherapy massage from a guy who previously specialised in sports injuries. He asked me about the scar tissue in my left leg. "Scar tissue!" I said "What scar tissue?"

And he was right there is a scar about 5 inches long topped off by a rounded, damaged patch. I have no idea what injury caused this. Thinking it might be the result of some childhood accident that, like a carving on a tree had a grown with me, I asked my mother. She too denies any knowledge of such an injury!

So, although it must have been painful at the time, at what age it occurred and what caused it I shall never know.