Being location-independent now means that I can do something like wake up at 3:30am on a Saturday morning to drive down to Puglia so I could work from there for the week. Unfortunately, even leaving at 4am from Milan we encountered massive problems. Around 6:30am at the “nodo” knot of Italian highways that meet at Bologna, it took us about 90 minutes to go a few kilometers and I heard it only got worse later in the morning. If I could tell you how many Swiss license plates I saw going to Rimini…and they got up much earlier than we did.
But 10 hours later, and in time for lunch, we made it to lovely Puglia. We spent a few hours on the beach on Saturday afternoon, and then decided the day to enjoy the beach in full would be Sunday. And we wouldn’t be fooling around. We woke up early, or late compared to the day before, depending on your viewpoint.
Perhaps a bit too early. The lifeguards weren’t even on duty yet, and the beach was blissfully empty. We went for a swim in the already-warm water while we waited to find out if we would get an ombrellone, big umbrella, on the beach.
More after the jump…
I enjoyed the peace and quiet.
And good thing we did get there early. When the lifeguards arrived at 8am, we got the very last ombrellone of the day. At 8am. This is what the beach looked like later in the day.
Since Sunday, I haven’t gone far from my temporary office, though you won’t hear me complaining. In the morning I walk down to the best cornetteria and pick up a still-warm-to-the-touch cornetto, Italian croissant, filled with marmellata, [apricot] jam, (which I categorically hate except for these, so you know they are good) to have with my beloved marocchino coffee, or espressino as it’s called here. I have lunch and dinner in one of the best mensa, company cafeteria, a working girl could ask for: her Pugliese mother-in-law’s.
Here’s a bit of a sample:
Grilled fish – pesce alla griglia
Orecchiette, little ear pasta Puglia is known for, with creamy zucchini and gamberi, shrimp. The risotto ai frutti di mare didn’t make it into this post, nor did the eggplant parmigiana my MIL makes every time we come for a visit, otherwise this post would have about 30 pictures of just primi, pasta.
Perhaps my favorite pizza in all of Italy: crispy, crunchy pomodoro fresco fresh-tomato Pugliese pizza (of course I also love pizza bianca and pizza napoletana). The MIL didn’t make this, we brought it home from a favorite pizza place that is so popular and known, he has absolutely no signage anywhere outside the tiny take-away-only pizzeria indicating that it’s a pizzeria or a business, and it’s standing-room only.
These polpette, meatballs, are not meatballs in the traditional sense – they are not made with meat, but with eggs and bread, and then fried, and served in a meat-based sauce.
And the special peperoncino, hot pepper, that just sits on the table at every meal, waiting for you to dip your spoon or knife in to spice up the plate in front of you. Nonna, grandma, still selects the peppers, dries them and grinds them up for the whole family. At home I alternate between the dried peperoncino and the spicy chili oil I make with the peppers.
Of course, even in the summer Nutella is around. And in big quantities! 5 kilos for 30 euros. 5 kilos. That’s a lot of hazelnut chocolate to eat in the summer. Best stuff it into a cornetto as advertised – only 1 euro!
I was able to escape for an occasional passeggiata, stroll, in the evening through the city and do a little people-watching of people….watching.
And fit in an aperitivo on the evenings we hoped not to ruin dinner. Just a few finger foods to nibble on in case we were hungry.
I tried not to watch all the people walking around with their beach coverups on, and concentrated on palm trees and fountains surrounded by whitewashed and marbled walls…
…and a sunset or two among the cactus before back to finishing up work in the evening.
Yes, I definitely feel lucky. I’ll be in the US for the whole month of August and moving my temporary office from SF to SD and Alaska, too – hopefully I’ll run into a few of you :)
Posting will continue of course, but if you’re hungry for more Italy news, make sure you listen to all 14 of the Eye on Italy podcast episodes we’ve done so far and let us know what you think!