Friday, September 30, 2022

Mary’s 100th parkrun

Salento, Puglia, Italy. Saturday 24-September-2022.

After the disappointment of Mary not being able to do her 50th parkrun at Salento because of Covid it became obvious that her 100th parkrun would fall in September while we were in Italy. Then Saverio, the run director, pointed out that their 150th event would be on September 24. Calendar counting revealed that if Mary volunteered for two weeks instead of walking she could have her 100th on their 150th.

It was also the first Saturday following my 70th birthday and hence my initial event in the category VM70-74. Two other participants were celebrating their 50th parkrun: Estienne and Guiseppe: a major celebration we knew there would be cake!

In addition we had friends visiting who are keen parkrunners and would be able to join us. As they are members of Eden runners I made sure to pack my Eden runners vest so that we would all be colour coordinated.

There was a fair turnout for their 150th event compared to recent numbers.

I was first in my new age group VM70-74 beating Gianfranco into second place. 

Mary's result: Risultati di Salento parkrun per l'evento n.150. Il tuo tempo รจ stato 00:46:17. 

See full results.

The obligatory victory photo.

In case you were wondering why Mary has fours sets of fingers, Luana is lurking behind Mary holding the frame so Mary could hold the 100 sign! In addition there were two 50th parkruns.

There was cake, savouries and bubbly!

An excellent event followed by a wet wipe down, quick change and into Lecce for lunch and a bit of normal tourism.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Albea Tasting

Alberobello, Puglia, Italy. Thursday 29-September-2022.

Albea are in Alberobello, relatively local to us. We had tasted their wines round at friends and, while on an Italian language course in Alberobello, Mary had spotted a sign for the Cantina and Museum. Our friends from Penrith were keen to do a wine tasting so we booked for the six of us plus our friends who lived locally and their visitors, ten in total.

Our hostess and guide was Valentina who did an excellent job conducting the tour in English. We started with an introduction to the company, the grapes that they buy in from their regular farmers and whereabouts in Puglia they are sourced.

Next she introduced us to their barrels, a mixture of American and French oak which they use for three years and then sell on to companies that use them for maturing whisky, etc.

We then had a quick tour of the museum upstairs with more background to the region and the grapes. There was a lot to take in and worthy of a longer, more leisurely visit. There is barrel from the year the cantina was founded. Unusually made from cherry wood staves and olive wood end pieces. Around the walls were ancient farming implements and other memorabilia apparently all donated by the residents of Alberobello.

An old style wine press being inspected by David.

Finally it was into the tasting room where we had the option of either three or five wines to taste. Needless to say we went for the flight of five wines.

Petrarosa (2021): Rose, Puglia Rosato IGP, Primitivo di Gioia, ABV 12.5%. The notes said strawberry on the nose but to me it was more like melon. Either way on the palate it was very light in flavour and too acidic for me.

Lei (2019): White, Vino bianco d’Italia, Uva di Troia 40%, Viognier 30%, Maresco 30%, ABV 13.5%. The Uva di Troia is fermented in US oak and then blended with the other two varieties which have been fermented separately. Rich gold colour and strong vanilla on the nose. Too oaky for Mary but the others liked it.

Petranera (2019): Red, Puglia Rosso IGP, Primitivo, ABV 13.5%. Matured for six months in French oak. On the nose there were notes of chocolate, cherry and coffee. Taste was excellent. The favourite of the assembled company.

Sol (2018): Red, Puglia Rosso IGP, Primitivo, ABV 15%. Matured for 15 months in American oak. More tannins than the Petranera. Interesting to compare the two 100% primitivo and the Petranera won.

Lui (2018): Red, Puglia Rosso IGP, Uva di Troia, ABV 14%. Malolactic fermentation, Matured for 10 months in American oak (1/3 new oak, 1/3 year old oak, 1/3 in two year old oak), intense colour. Good but not as good as the Petranera.

An excellent tour and tasting.

Friday, September 23, 2022

parkrun Resources

A collection of parkrun links:

Scroll down for more info and screenshots.
Please let me know of errors and omissions at

UK parkruns by shape
Credit: Andrew Chilcraft.

Does what it says on the tin. My personal preference is two-lappers.

Driving distances from UK mainland parkrun
Credit: Stuart Bruce.

Select a parkrun and get distance from that location.

Alphabet challenge three nearest letters
Credit: Stuart Lowe.

Select a parkrun and get straight line distance for the nearest three parkrun for each letter of the alphabet.

parkruns with regions
Credit: Roderick Hoffman.

Showing parkrun regions and including former parkruns and restricted access parkruns. Updated weekly.

Running Challenge Chrome extension / Firefox Add-on.
Credit: Andrew Taylor.

Adds challenge progress information to your parkrun athlete results page.

Challenger Chaser map.
Credit: unknown.

Show which parkruns you need for various challenges e.g. Pirates, Compass club, Staying Alive, etc.

parkrun Events Map hack.
Credit: Ian Shepherd.

Show which parkruns you have visited using the UK parkrun tourists yellow and black cow icon.

Virtual barcode.
Credit: Robert Sargant.

A tool that lets you add your parkrun barcode to the Apple Wallet on your iPhone or Apple Watch. Can also be used with Android.

What Shoes Wednesday crowdsourced spreadsheet.
Credit: Graham Holland

A spreadsheet with recommendations for Road or Trails shoes for UK parkrun tourists.

5K App
Credit: Michael Clayton.

My go-to app. Track progress towards the various challenges (e.g. Alphabet, Cowell club, Pirates, Position Bingo) plus find a parkrun, track your friends, etc. and display your barcode.

Apple -

Android -

parkrunner App

Similar functionality to 5K App.

Apple -

Android -
Note: This has a different icon to the iOS version so it may not be the same app.

Running achievements (Smadges) App
Credit: Ford Hollett.

Similar to the above apps but aesthetically not my favourite.

Apple -

Android -

Volunteer App (official)

Two essential functions for a volunteer: Timer and Scanner

Apple -

Android -

parkrun App (official)

Compares poorly with 5K, etc. Apparently it has not been updated since 2016 - avoid.

Apple -


For a visual representation of regions, counties etc.


prApp is intended as a fun way for parkrunners to visualise their progress.

Events and Airport Planner
Credit: Dave Thornton.

Matching airports to parkruns across Europe.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Fiera della Bomminella

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Thursday 08-September-2022

Once a year we get a bonus market on the 8th of September in addition to the usual Monday market. I can do no better than quote the Commune's own website as translated by Mr Google.


The “Fiera della Bomminella” (“The Fair of the Madonna Child”) is a historical and social event that still retains some gastronomic characteristics of no small importance.

It is one of the oldest fairs in Southern Italy, historically it seems to have been established in the 13th century, during the Reign of the Normans to implement the economy of the Kingdom with the aim of attracting a large number of foreigners in order to encourage trade. but, above all, the aim was to create opportunities for exchange and dissemination of new industrial and artisanal techniques and tools.

At the Fiera di Cisternino everything from cereals, legumes and wheat in general, to livestock was sold; you could find ladders, iron and bronze objects that were used for agriculture and other tools of the trade, for women it was the triumph of canvases, cloths, fabrics, leather, etc.

The fair, however, was not only an opportunity for the interested merchants to meet, but also a lively and frenetic moment for people to meet, enlivened by games and more than a "prize".

To testify the importance of the Fair, on the masonry of the city walls there is a plaque celebrating the prestige of the Fair in the 18th century. In summary it is said that the minister of Naples, Carlo De Marco, authorised by the king, granted that the Cisternino Fair lasted eight days in September, entrusting the jurisdiction to "a master of the fair" elected by the University. This took place on August 18, 1770. The fair masters had the right to use weapons and to guarantee public peace during the event.

Now the Fair takes place on 8 September and lasts the whole day.

It is customary to prepare the special menu which, over the centuries, has been handed down from generation to generation. An excellent opportunity to taste delicacies and, in particular, the Cupptedd 'Cistranese (boiled meat with vegetables), sheep in broth, tripe rolls, chops, bread balls and roasts which, with classic first courses of the peasant tradition, represent an authentic delicacy for palates who love to taste the authentic flavours of the past, an "original" way to truly spend a different day and with the opportunity, from the early morning to at dusk, to be able to taste dishes that are certainly not common. (Semeraro, R. (2005), Cisternino, Fasano (BR), Schena Editore, 1 ed.)

Tradizione Cistranese Fiera Bomminella (original Italian version)

<end quote>

This is the street directly below our apartment.

Most of the market is the usual clothing, shoes, handbags, etc. but down at the market square is where you will find all the tools and hardware.

The crowds were out in force as were people dancing in the streets to the traditional rhythms of the Pizzica at the end of our alley. 

Video courtesy of Julie Ferguson

The alleyway that literally runs under and behind our apartment is called Via La Fiera (our kitchen is built over the archway entrance to the centro storico). We have been told that this was the original site of the fair until houses were built along Corso Umberto I. I believe this to be true as on the wall in the alley you find the plaque mentioned in the article.

We went out with friends to a local grill and pizzeria who were offering the traditional Bomminella dishes so we had to give them a try.

Ristobrace Pizzeria Camelot by Zizzi Vito 

On occasion of the "BOMM'NELLA" 

  • Platter of cold cuts 
  • Cheese platter 
  • Orecchiette with meat sauce with chop
  • Orecchiette with tomato 
  • Tripe rolls 
  • Mutton in pignata 
  • Veal in broth 
  • Donkey chops and meatballs 
  • Mixed roast

A pignata is an earthenware jug used for cooking. The mutton, vegetables and stock are sealed in and cooked for several hours. 

We shared a starter of local speciality fave e cicoria (fava bean puree with chicory). Patsy and I gave the mutton a try but it was clearly cheap cuts of meat and lots of bone so despite the long, slow cook which tenderised it there was more wastage than I would have liked. Our friend Les tried the Cupp'Tedd which was a mixture of tripe, mutton and veal in broth which he enjoyed. Mary had the donkey which looked to be the best choice. All washed down with a couple of litres of local red wine.

The restaurant owner, Vito, and his mates serenaded us a burst of pizzica music. They were one of the troupes who had been playing round town and now appeared to be literally singing for their supper.

It doesn't get much more traditional than this!

Thursday, September 08, 2022

I Pastini Tasting

Martina Franca, Puglia, Italy. Tuesday 08-August-2022.

We signed ourselves up for a week's Italian course in Alberobello and, as schools are wont to do, they organise excursions for the benefit of the students. Unfortunately, having lived here for 18 years, we have visited all these lovely towns many, many times. So we decided not to avail ourselves of the team bonding opportunities and rather slip off home at lunchtime. However we did make an exception for this wine tasting.

I Pastini are wine makers we know well having consumed their products on numerous occasions and even visited the vineyard to buy wine but have never done the tour. We were greeted by the owner who welcomed us then handed over to our guide who took us on a tour of the vineyard, cellars and the tasting room, all conducted in English and partly in Italian.

They attribute the characteristics of their wines to three factors of the terroir: the soil which is calcarious and gives minerality to the grapes, the altitude of 350m above sea level which gives warm days for sugar and cool nights for acidity and the constant wind which helps blow away flies and other pests.

Their approach is "tradition in the vineyard and technology in the cellar": they only use local grape varieties and harvest by hand but then ferment in stainless steel vats. They don't use pesticides or fertilisers (the leftover skins and stalks serve the latter purpose) but when required they use the traditional "Bordeaux mixture" which still allows for biological certification.

They grow three indigenous white varietals: Verdeca, Bianco D'Alessandro and Minutolo. The latter was in danger of dying out so they sent cuttings to a research establishment in Locorotondo for cloning and subsequent replanting back in the vineyard.


Of the indigenous red grapes, they grow Susumaniello (used for rose and red) and Primitivo however there was no mention of the other important local variety, Negroamaro.


Having had a tour of the facilities where they bottle 100,000 bottles per annum (forgot to take photos, sorry) we went into their custom-built tasting room which is a repurposed farm building. We got to taste five of their wines. Looking at their wine list we noted that about half their range is already sold out at the cantina.

The tasting was accompanied by classic Pugliese nibbles: friselle with tomatoes, taralli, olives and fried fava beans.

1759: Sparkling, Valle d'Itria I.G.P. Spumante Classico. Made by the classic champagne method from 100% Verdeca. Alcohol 12% ABV. Very pleasant with quite a yeasty palate. We have tasted this before and liked it however Mary found this one a bit too yeasty on the nose (possibly due to vintage variation). 

They also do a Spumante made by the Charmat method (fermenting in pressurised steel vats), same grape, same ABV; it was sold out and we did not get to taste it. 

Antico: Still white, Locorotondo D.O.P., from a blend of Verdeca 60% for acidity / freshness, Bianco D'Alessandro 35% for minerality, Minutolo 5% for aroma. They do not blend in the cellar, that is the mixture as grown in the vineyards and is harvested and processed all together. Very dry and minerally with refreshing acidity. Only 12% hence good for lunchtime or aperitif.

Rampone: Still white, Valle d'Itria I.G.P. Minutolo 100%, 12.5% ABV. More character than the Antico: quite fruity on the nose the but different on the taste.  Mary liked this one so we bought a six-bottle case. 

Arpago: Red, Puglia I.G.P. Primitivo 100%. Grown on a parcel of land they own down on the coast. Fruity, sweet, alcoholic (14% ABV). More to my taste than Mary's.

VersoSud. Red, Puglia I.G.P. Susumaniello 100%, 14% ABV. Fermented in steel, matured in French oak for six months. Grown on a parcel of land further south, hence the name (translation: Towards the South). We have also drunk this one many times before and we both like it so we bought six of these as well.

Fortunately we don't need to pay shipping charges: just pop the cases in the boot and take them home. Good to have some bottles ready for the expected influx of visitors later this month. Our friends are a thirsty lot!

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Giardino Storico "Masseria Ferragnano"

Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Monday 29-August-2022.

A wonderful tour of a historic garden practically on our doorstep. The only Italianate garden south of Rome with a fascinating history. Ancient cedars, a collection of bonsai and formal gardens with statues of the months and seasons. Finishing up with a tasting of local wines.

We knew nothing of the existence of this amazing place but for the fact that our friends spotted a listing for a Passeggiata nel Giardino Storico con...calice di vino. We were met by our host Annalisa and the guided tour was given by Mimo. It was good practice for my Italian listening skills and fortunately Mimo spoke clearly and not too fast so I could follow most of what he said.

The gardens owe their existence to the fact that the one of the owners, Francesco Caramia, actually lived on the farm estate rather than in a palazzo in town like most landowners. This prompted him to beautify his estate, expanding the buildings and constructing the garden.

The garden has a rectangular plan with the sides having a ratio of 2:1, divided into eight flower beds sections with a gate on each side and fountain in the middle. 

Stairs and balcony at the back of the Masseria overlooking the garden.

View from the balcony.

The garden had twelve statues for each of the months of the year and four for each of the seasons.

There are no rivers in Puglia and water is a challenge; formal gardens require a lot of watering. Here Mimo was explaining part of the irrigation system: water from the roof was channeled across an archway and into a cisterna (water tank), one of many in the garden.

The forecourt between the Masseria and the Garden also had a sophisticated irrigation system that flowed twice round the flower beds and then out through channels under the paths.

The water is then fed to a large well under the central fountain.

Out through a side gate we visited the bonsai collection, not original to the garden but providing a home for the Valle d’Itria Bonsai Cultural Association.

One of my favourite bonsai.

And another.

At the opposite end of the garden is a hexagonal tea room and belvedere from which the owners could admire their garden or turn round and survey their lands.

View from the belvedere showing a number of the statues.

A panorama of the garden including one to the two ancient cedars.

The front of the Masseria. It looked familiar because we came to a concert here back in 2015 as part of the Locus Festival: George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.

I was skeptical that the tour would take the two hours advertised but there was so much to learn. Finally the wine tasting from a local producer. The white was a blend of chardonnay and aglianico, the rose was negroamaro. Both very pleasant and quite low in alcohol - only 12.5 ABV, unlike a number of more potent wines from this far south.

The full history can be found on their FaceBook page

The origins of the Ferragnano masseria date back to 1500, following the liquidation by the Court Regia of the territory of Selva Monopolitana, of which Locorotondo was part of. His appearance was very different from now on. We can imagine her surrounded by trulli and cummerse. Two centuries later, the masseria became the property of Vitantonio Montanaro, doctor of law, born in 1694 and elected governor of Martina Franca in 1728. Having no kids the Dr. Montanaro left the masseria to the third and last wife, Maria Maddalena Pinto, who in her second marriage had Francesco Caramia from Giuseppe Caramia of Martina Franca. Francesco Caramia renovated the residential complex of the masseria, building in 1811, under the direction of the locorotondose architect Giuseppe Campanella, the master "mess" with the present monumental staircase, the church of 1812 and the "pit garden Torresco”, at the bottom of which he built, in 1833, a Belvedere pavilion from which he can admire the surrounding countryside and the Bell tower of St George’s Church, covered with shiny blue and white bricks

In 1847 Francesco Caramia named his universal heir Giovanni Basile, son of Martino Basile and Carmela Calella, on a pact that little Giovanni would go and live with Carmela Giovine, wife of Francesco Caramian. Giovanni Basile Caramia continued like his predecessor to beautify the garden, engraving in the stone verses insulting to the beauty and the badness of life.

Upon his death, the Ferragnano masseria passed to Opera Pia Basile-Caramia, having been buried by his grandson Giovannino Basile, to whom he had inherited all his belongings. With the money from the work pia the agricultural school was built, to educate the children of the poor farmers in the Municipality of Locorotondo.

The garden of Masseria Ferragnano is a monumental Italian garden, rectangular plant, surrounded on one side by a high fence wall, with two side entrances. There are eight flower beds, perfectly symmetrical, surrounded by wood hedges, in the center of which there is a fountain. Along the avenues, the garden is adorned with benches, columns, a couple of wells and 34 baroque tombstone busts that symbolize the months of the year, the seasons, virtues and some nymphs and goddesses. The verses engraved on stones and marbles make the garden even more precious. At the end of the garden, crowning a path reserved in the green, there is a terrace with balusters and towers, designed as a belvedere to spread over the surrounding countryside.

Since 1995 the Historical Garden and some premises on the ground floor of the masseria have been entrusted to the Valle d’Itria Bonsai Cultural Association which has made it their headquarters and provides continuous maintenance to make it fruitful for both exhibitions and little shows for celebrating weddings with rite civ.