Is a town that lies down the hill from Villa Castelli and slightly up the same hill from Taranto. As a town it is nothing to write home about, there is no centro storico ( old town) nor does it boast any form of architecture of merit indeed East German chic springs to mind. It does however have two things almost going for it. One is it is supposedly the centre of the ceramic industry of Puglia and therefore attracts it share of tour buses and independent tourists. Now I know nothing about pottery other than the important fact for me that I can buy Italian floor and wall tiles here for a quarter of the price they are in the UK or North America. However it seems they do not come from Grottaglie. Indeed no actual pottery is made there. The ” industry” consists of bringing in pottery made elsewhere and painting it. Teams of people are trained to do this fairly simple job. “Aurelia you are dots today as the plate comes past you put them on it like this one in front of you, Giovanni you are swirls today”, well you get the picture. So really the tourists would be as well hitting the nearest supermarket and buying “Pugliese” pottery at half the price they cost in Grottaglie.
The other thing going for Grottaglie is a huge runway and I do know a little about airlines, airports and the like.
The runway at Grottaglie will happily take a 747 and used to on a regular basis until it was replaced with a Boeing 777 cargo aircraft. There is a large Boeing aircraft plant alongside the airport that makes part of the wing and a part of the fuselage of the Boeing Dreamliner. Boeing seemed to finally wake up to the idea that Airbus their big rivals whilst not, as they suspected, getting huge government handouts were rather using grants offered by competing European regions ( EU money of course) to subsidise their building costs. Boeing now do the same with the Dreamliner . Loads of regions make the bits which are flown to the USA for assembly into an whole aeroplane. I know the Boeing Standards Inspector based in Naples who looks after the plant. He says the work done there is exemplary especially as the entire workforce had to be trained from scratch. So chalk one up to Boeing and the working boys of Grottaglie. However two flights a week to and from the U.S. of A. hardly justifies an airport, a terminal and everything that goes with it, like air traffic control, firefighters, management and the rest. So, of course, they have developed it into a commercial airport the way they grew their ceramic industry. Exactly, nada, niente, rien, nichts, nothing.
Sixteen years they have talked about it but at last from the 28th of July until the 18th of August that is to change. A new daily service starts flying Malta/ Grottaglie/ Corfu/ Grottaglie/ Malta. The Airport Director despite the ribbing in the press about 16 years of jaw jaw is delighted. From little acorns do you think ? I wonder ? The market they are after seems to be Maltese and Corfuites coming to sample the delights of this area and so they have appointed the inbound specialist Appia Viaggia. I challenge you playmates to try and book a seat on the service. I have tried and can find no reference other than the Airport Director’s press releases.
The service is operated by a 50 seater Dash 8 turboprop from a Maltese air charter company. It is a great little work horse but will be lost on such an huge runway . This Dash 8 is fitted with NVS. Hooray you cry would’t go on it without it. What is it?
Noise and Vibration system. It is quite clever. Turboprops are noisy inside the cabin and passengers therefore don’t like them. Do away with the noise and passengers will love them right? Well that means taking the engines off. So the boffins came up with another better idea, passengers get a little panicky when the engines are taken off. The human brain cancels out constant same pitch noise. A turboprop engine oscillates ( the noise goes up and down, yes I looked it up too) so to the brain it is bloody noisy . Put microphones in the cabin that when the sound goes down mimic the up sound so the noise is constant and the brain says peace and quiet so passengers love the plane. At least that is the theory. And the vibration? well they have the same effect on that too. Anything that shakes when the noisy bit is going now keeps shaking because the microphone again mimics the loud noise and keeps the object rattling but our brain again thinks peace and quiet even though it is actually more noisy all the time. So now you know.