Booze Glorious Booze

I said yesterday that we do a beer run to Brindisi every few weeks to stock up in bulk.  Peroni in the 660cl bottles is €0.75 down there and you can buy it in 15 bottle cases which we store in a cool shed. However almost all alcohol is cheap down here.

My 24 year old son when he comes to visit wanders down the booze aisles of the Brindisi Auchan muttering expletives he claims to have learnt from the lips of his mother whilst being driven on the school run during his formative years. He can never believe the prices not only of the wine but the spirits too. Yesterday I bought a bottle of Gordons Gin for the equivalent of £7.70 a litre and a bottle of J&B whiskey for £9.00 a litre . I don’t think you can buy it at that price in any duty free ( now there’s a misnomer ) in the world anymore.

I am not actually much of a spirit drinker preferring beer and I therefore suffer from the perennial problem that all beer drinkers have of drinking spirits as if it is beer so within a very short time I am on the floor. However it is very much one of the reasons we live here. It is knowing you can that is important. It is like friends in London who say “oh we live here because of the theatre” they don’t actually go to the theatre ” fantastically expensive and and they put everything to music now” but it is knowing you can. I have cupboards full of bottles I have bought at these bargain prices because well because I can.

Talking of why one moves here I am reading A A Gill’s travel book Here and Now at the moment. I always enjoyed his restaurant reviews and he is very good with travel destinations as well. He came to Puglia a couple of years back and wrote what many of the ex-pats saw as a scathing attack on the place. Here is a sample

“Since the unification of Italy Puglia has been run by communists, plundered by army recruiters, patronised by politicians and plagued with a particularly efficient and vicious version of the mafia. It gets money from Brussels, money from Rome and communist mayors who order up spaghetti factories, cheap public housing, business parks, access roads and electricity pylons, then the mafia arranges to build them, or at least start building them.
So Puglia is a rubble of ground plans, boarded factories, empty warehouses. there are dirty roads that lead to pointless roundabouts and lots of stained grotty high rise flats in clusters in a landscape of dumped rubbish, discarded white goods and collapsed cars. It looks poor, it is poor.
All the money, the socialism, the crime and Catholicism have conspired to keep it the way it’s always been.
All this the English can ignore. They can see round it, over it. They have remarkable selective vision that simply washes away the ugly and the callous. They can see round corners into beautiful olive groves and fruit orchards. They sigh over Greek ruins in the middle of 1970’s cut price civic hideousness. The magazines have carefully cropped photographs of sun loungers and pools and sky with bits of beach.”

So in the main he didn’t like it !! Though to be fair what his article was really about was the false image we Brits both ex-pats and visitors tend to build when we think of Italy viz:

There is another Italy, an Italy native Italians never see. It exists in parallel with the country they tread, separated by a gossamer curtain of artful romance, public-school poetry and Merchant Ivory moments. A place of fine-art postcards, plonk sipped under inky cypresses to the sound of cicadas and a distant bell. It is a nation elegantly arranged around cobbled streets and boys on Lambrettas, designed by Ruskin and Fellini. A place of sentiment and hot pathos, starry with wishful thinking. Italians know it’s there: they can hear the carousing. They often get asked for directions to it in loud, slow English voices with added Os on the nouns. Think it is all vineyards, olive groves and checked tablecloths . Welcome to Puglia the gritty sunbaked heel of the boot …..”

so he had a point to make and he therefore launched into his “attack” . To be honest he is right there are enough Stalinesque high rise flats here to reduce Prince Charles to tears and throughout the  70’s Puglia and concrete mixers were synonymous . If you come to Puglia for stunning scenery you are maybe in the wrong place. However he did love Lecce but never ventured into the hills to see the small towns like Martina or Ceglie and the rolling green countryside that surrounds them

We see it in the faces of friends who visit. Their somewhat confused frowns ( oh my god what have we come to ) on the drive from Brindisi or Bari lifts a little when we stop for coffee and then  after their first meal either out at a restaurant or in an Italian family’s home they quickly get what  Puglia is really all about- people. Plus the booze is very cheap or have I mentioned that ?


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.
This entry was posted in Driving in Italy, Expat Italy, Ferries From Bari, Puglia, Puglia Beaches, Puglia Food, Puglia Guide, Puglia Lifestyle and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Booze Glorious Booze

  1. Roberta says:

    Not being a huge drinker myself – 2 glasses of wine is about my limit and that requires a fair amount of food to stop me from making a fool of myself! – then the attraction of Puglia is most definitely not the booze but agree is most certainly the people! Living in Portugal before deciding on the move to Puglia was an eye-opener and very good preparation as there are some similarities in that both have high employment with some areas so poor that suicide is often the only option to end the despair of abject poverty; where there are many state of the art roads that often only lead to tiny hamlets and where cars are a rarity and whilst there are some amazing and historic towns these are usually scared by being fringed by the most awful high-rises where the majority of people have to live, not by choice but through necessity. So although there are some stunning landscapes, for me it is very much the people who make me want to call Puglia home and help me in accepting the other more difficult aspects of life. Nowhere is perfect but friendships that are genuine is something worth searching for and holding on to. Thank you yet again for your amazing insights – I so look forward to them!

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