Un Sabato Italiano ( An Italian Saturday )

Things come in threes they always say and first I had the flat battery, then the leaking radiator and last night the puncture. We were off to a favourite butchers shop where you pick the meat in the shop and while they cook it you sit in a side-room that is the restaurant eating nibbles and drinking wine. The meat is then served with salad . So we never got there. Instead after whacking a ruddy great pothole we were at the side of the road changing the wheel. The only funny part of it was the arrival of the Carabinieri . Now these guys are immaculately dressed policemen indeed resplendent in their uniforms and they looked down from their beautifully polished Range Rover at the Englishman up to his neck in grease and dirt busy changing the wheel. A very hesitant  ‘you don’t need help do you’ as clearly thoughts of the end of the shift and how dirty would they get if this guy said yes raced through their heads. I put them out of their misery and they hurled off into the night with lots of cheery good lucks. I learnt today I should have photographed the hole and taken it to the council and claimed compensation.  It takes 5 years here to get a tax refund so imagine my age when a compensation cheque would arrive.

I thought a little jazz for Saturday from Sergio Caputo who now lives in L.A. this song is An Italian Saturday

Now I don’t know about you but I know very little about the  WWII allied campaign here in the South. I had always thought that from Sicily they fought their way up the west side of Italy and then leap frogged ahead by landing at Anzio. I had heard about some amphibious landings near Brindisi but that was all. However as I walk I wonder sometimes if troops fought in this area.  In fact it seems the British 8th Army raced up through here and then the U.S. 15th Air Force made a huge base near Foggia and Bari became the most important port for supplying the whole Allied push up the boot of Italy. Then I came across this while waiting for my bent wheel to be repaired.

What is the secret of the ship the John Harvey well I can tell you. Roosevelt was sure that when their backs were to the wall Hitler would use chemical weapons and he therefore told Churchill that the Allies should be ready with their own to retaliate. Into Bari harbour sailed the John Harvey from the U.S.A. loaded to the gunnels with mustard gas bombs. Because of the secrecy the ship was given no priority in unloading and waited with over 100 others. To speed things up the British decided to turn on the port lights at night and continue to work. The Germans couldn’t believe their luck when 105 of their bombers arrived on the evening of December 2nd.  Whilst not hit directly the John Harvey was set on fire by flares and blew up with a massive explosion. 1,000 people were known to have died but Churchill reluctant to give Hitler a great P.R. coup decided to keep the cargo secret. Doctors were in the dark about what they were treating and 68 more people died. The real tragedy was the civilian population fled the city and nobody knows how many Italians died from poisoning because doctors in other areas would have had no idea  what the symptoms were or how to treat them. A huge tragedy right here in Puglia and I wonder how many people know about it.

I am still dipping in and out of my The Etymologicon book by and came across this . Where does the word Cappuccino that describes the foamy coffee  come from ? Well in 1520 Matteo Da Bascio formed a breakaway order of Franciscan monks and they wore little hoods on their habits. Little hood in Italian is cappuccios . The monks quickly became known as the Capuchin Order and their habit is a creamy brown colour.  Enter the inventor of the foamy coffee drink who looked at his creation and its colour and of course named it cappuccino .Hurrah ! So lets get back to Sergio Caputo for another tune. Brioche and Cappuccino

Have a great weekend where ever you may be.

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About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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