I awoke this morning to the sound of thunder and by 8 a.m. the rain was coming down. The local weather station was saying that the weather pattern was ” unusual” for this time of year with low pressure over the Balkans affecting just the south of Italy while the rest of Europe basked under hot summer temperatures. Oh dear I thought or words to that effect another crummy day. Think of the poor tourists up here. This year by all accounts is the year for Puglia; full flights, full ferries and plenty of road traffic all with one focus and that is coming to Puglia the great unspoiled undiscovered part of Italy. Those same tourists would be waking up to this and after the chilly nights unable to face the pool either.
Local newspapers and radio have however been heaping praise on the weather gods. Wondrous summer they proclaim, cool nights, no days over 30C ( 86F) no hot African air, rain on occasions to add cooling air . How fortunate we are.
I spilled my coffee as I read this. Puglia needs tourism don’t these people realise tourists want hot days and warm nights under the stars. They won’t come back especially when their two weeks are spent seeing on their iPads that the UK is 5-10 degrees warmer. “Puglia yeah went there once, rained most of the time and we froze our whatsits off every night in some kind of stone hobbit house.”
But then I stirred my new cup of coffee and thought maybe these Pugliese aren’t so silly. 95% of them live in concrete buildings 75% of those concrete building are East German style high rise apartment blocks. The one thing with concrete is it is like living in a fridge in winter and a cauldren in the summer. Now living in a fridge is easy, if you are cold you put on more clothes. In Puglia most people wear coats inside their houses and flats in winter. However living in an oven is more problematical. For the majority air con is not the answer. Electricity prices here are the third highest in Europe ( and therefore the world which the EU fail to highlight) to run air con you will need 6kw to be delivered by Enel and that will cost you double the price. So cool nights in say Taranto or Brindisi in summer when if 35C outside,inside your apartment it is probably 50C is something to be thankful for and the newspapers reflect this as do the news readers.
Apart from some local part time work very few of the population have anything to do with tourism and nor is it yet anything like of a size to have a big effect on their everyday lives. It’s a kind of what has tourism ever done for me situation
Then as I finished my coffee I started to think about tourism. Mass tourism that is. In 2011 after trying to cross the Thai/Cambodia border without success ( they were having a mini war) we decided to cut our losses and head back to Malaysia via Bangkok airport. However we ended up stopping in Pattaya for 2 days while we sorted flights and hotels out.
Pattaya used to be a seaside resort for Bangkok residents with some nice hotels but with some rather sad old Brits and German men with terribly young thai girls on their arms. Now it has re-invented itself as a mass tourism destination. It is packed to the gunnels with Russians, Chinese, Indians, and almost every other nation’s tourists. It heaves both day and night, Where there were little “girlie” bars there are now Russian restaurants, where little open air bars, Bling jewelry shops. There are so many people who want to Paraglide that they have converted a super tanker in the bay and people by the thousand are carried out to it to queue for hours to go once around the bay dangling from a chute. Other boats take other thousands out to jet ski from another converted boat. Huge restaurants also float off shore to cater for the evening demand for food of all types. There are no stalls anymore just KFC, McDonald and Burger King restaurants. It is truly awful, it is a nightmare. If that is the future of tourism then count me out.
So when I re-read my paper praising the terrible weather I started to quietly cheer. Then on page 2 I saw that the dear Pugliese had decided to close the entire huge Taranto Museum of Antiquities a museum on a scale with the one near Pompeii for the whole of the summer for repairs and a bit of dusting I punched the air. I love these people. Tourism ” not for us thanks”.
Oh good I think it is starting to rain again I must go to the bar and celebrate.