At lunch yesterday we met an Australian who has a trullo and has house guests with her. She was asking what kind of excursions her guests might do during their stay. They are interested in things Puglian especially enjoying the food and the way local stuff is used in the cooking. I was a bit stumped as apart from some cookery schools I really couldn’t think of anything that they might do to get a good feel for Puglian food.
So sitting today in one of my local bars having a coffee while Geraldine pounded around the supermarket ( I am banned from supermarkets ) I saw an headline in the local rag that said Masseria Sotto Le Stelle. Farms under the stars. Details were sparse but it sounded a nice idea and was taking place this weekend and was the third year it had happened. What you ask, shhh, now whisper ” it is run by Tourism Puglia we don’t want too many people to know about it”
It is actually a great idea and should be shouted from the hilltops. 60 farms ( masserie) are classed as Educational Farms it seems and, of course, receive tourism and EU grants . These farms specialise in , yes you got it in one, food production but especially the growing of Puglian specialities like olives, tomatoes, cheese, flour and the likes. This weekend they will all open their doors at the same time and run a series of demonstrations, tastings and dancing under the stars. You book on the phone head along and enjoy yourself. What a blockbuster tourism idea so they have put up internet sites in English etc, Well no but they have again invited three journalists from North America so that is good isn’t it. Viral marketing, social networks etc have passed Puglia by as yet and the old tried and trusted ways continue. What a real shame I looked at a masseria near us and on Saturday night you arrive at 6.30 pm and for an 90 mins you learn how to make mozzarella and which flour makes what foodstuffs. Then for two hours you taste the products as well as sample meats roasted on open wood fires. At 10pm local folk dancers entertain and after that you dance under the stars. The other masseria nearby you learn the history of tomato growing in Puglia and how to grow and then hang the fruit ( tomato is a fruit I think) .Then loads of tastings followed by lessons in how to dance the pizzica before you are let loose on the dance floor. It is what many tourists dream about though of course everything will be in Italian and finding the farms will be a nightmare if trying to follow directions to a vineyard here is anything to go by. But both are easy to fix and I understand these grant ladened food farms are open more than just this one weekend so I will find out more and report back to you.
If the airport Director is paid €500,000 a year I wonder what the head of Puglian tourism is paid but let’s hope for him to receive his bonus this year the Winnepeg Sun and the Bismark Tribune amongst others stir up interest and get his message out there.
There are so many of these events in Puglia that one stumbles over and it is a crying shame that given the state of the economy and especially the huge youth unemployment that Puglia naively focusses on local tourism and Italian tourism instead of the fat cats with wallets bulging with dollars and German euros. The house guests I mentioned at the start are big hitters both of them and this would be right up their street but they speak not a word of Italian and why should they, so they declined to do this. It is time the EU insisted that for EU grants out of country tourism is catered for and that all these places have internet sites in at least three languages as well as facebook etc links plus decent maps showing their location and opening times. Many of the so called Agritourism places around us are merely ways of already rich Italians doing up and living in palatial summer holiday farmhouses at the taxpayers expense. There I have had my whinge and as my new Australian friend would say oh no another whinging pom !!
Sorry about the sudden end to the tune, I guess a Pom got to the cable and cut it.