I answer questions on a couple of travel forums when there are queries about Puglia and especially around Martina Franca. Some want to know train details or bus connections and others recommendations for hotels and places to visit. Probably 99% of the people that reply don’t live here but visit on a regular basis and have an enormous knowledge of the area. It quite puts me to shame but then I remember that when I lived in London I never went to the Tower. In Washington it took me till my last 2 days there after a 3 year posting to go to the Smithsonian Museum and so on. It also amazes me how little the original enquirer often seems to pay to the real in depth advice they receive. 5 days touring around the Martina Franca where to stay what to see? A flood of information on hotels, restaurants, sights etc and then a final reply from them. We are off to Sicily but thanks for the info !
So I was looking at Fodor’s forum the other day and saw a query about a Trabucco. A what I thought? Now I’m sure loads of you out there reading this are going gee whiz what a thicko but I had no idea what the enquirer was on about and then someone else bounced on saying they hoped there was one near Ostuni. Hang on I thought that’s near me I better do a quick Google
That’s a trabucco and it is a machine for lowering fishing nets into the sea and then with a system of ropes and pulleys raising it out full of shimmering silver fish, you hope. They are now only found on the Gargano Peninsular in the north of Puglia but are rare and are protected like the Colosseum .What the enquirer actually wanted to know was about restaurants. I guess if you are hauling in fish all day it makes sense to cook some of them and if you are doing that why not charge for it. So these contraptions have open air restaurants alongside them where you go to eat. I know, like me, you are thinking trap and tourist and certainly the reviews seem to be all foreign other than the odd startled Milanese complaining about the prices ( Now these guys from the north think €4 is cheap for a coffee so when they complain it means the prices would brings tears to my eyes). However to be fair it is an experience and I think exceptions need to made to enjoy something that is so rare ( just don’t tell my wife or my kids please).
When my daughter was born she slept all day and was awake all night which meant some long nights. Nothing would get her to sleep until one night as I did a two stint of carrying her around happily gurgling I put on a Bing Crosby song , his croning voice got through a few verses and she was sound asleep. It was like magic. We were in Portugal then and everyone joked that we should live in Australia to fit her pattern. Just after she started sleeping at night British Airways posted me to Australia and we started again!
It appears however that eager to cash in on the rarity unscrupulous scoundrels have built replicas of these machines and opened restaurants alongside them so to be authentic and not just ripped off you need to tell one from the other. Don’t ask me I had never even heard of them till yesterday.
My search however revealed that these machines are Mediterranean based and were back in the eons of time dotted all around the coast lines. They are thought to have come from the Phoenicians in BC a long time ago.
Hang on I thought I’ve seen these contraptions before. In 1988 I was in Bangalore in India and that morning going by early plane to Cochin to make a speech to 200 travel agents that evening. I was with our man in South India, Sham and Indian Airlines the only act in town then cancelled the flight. We’ll drive said I being managerial. Don’t be silly said Sham ( no one really appreciated my managerial skills). How far is it I asked. 500 kilometres he said but the roads are awful it will take 11 hours. Now like all the best managers I listened to sound feedback from the team then ignored it. We’ll do it I said get a car. So at 7 a.m. off we set in a non air-conditioned Ambassador