The province of Brindisi which borders our own province of Taranto disclosed their initial report on tourism for this summer though they didn’t give any definitive numbers to go with the generalisations. It was as they saw it good news so they were keen to rush it to the newspapers I guess. So what did they say about this season?
Well they saw an increase in the number of Germans coming to their province especially to Ostuni and Ceglie Messapica. It was the same for the French but way out in first place were the Belgians who have taken to this area over the last two years. Interestingly a friend who looks after about 20 odd villas down here said almost all hers this year had been rented by Belgians. The party poopers this year were the Brits who were giving the province of Brindisi a miss. This is odd as the flights both to Bari and Brindisi have been full most of the summer but it looks like they all went elsewhere. I wonder why ?
A clue might be in early results from surveys they have done at airports asking visitors leaving what they liked and disliked about the province. The report makes no mention yet as to what they liked but almost to a man, women and boy they complained about the amount of rubbish they saw on the beaches but more importantly in the countryside and towns. The tourism boys who of course can point the finger at anybody used this to take a swipe at the new rubbish collection being used in many if not all of the Province of Brindisi towns and country areas namely the segregation of waste into various coloured boxes for collection. I certainly know from our local forum Puglia Posse that this has caused much confusion and that many country areas in fact just lost collection completely as the rubbish collectors weren’t prepared to pick up little boxes from the top of every driveway.
Thankfully Martina Franca still operates the tried and tested bidone system
but I can imagine if instead the guys had to collect small bins from each driveway things could go downhill fast. What we did see this summer was an huge increase in the amount of stuff in all of the bidone in this area and loads I think were from people smuggling it over the border and dumping it in our bins. I guess whilst many did this, others might well have just dumped their various bags a few kms away from their own place on any likely roadside area.
The Province went on in their report to say that Italians also came in similar numbers to last year but stayed longer than last year. This is contrary to the opinion polls conducted up north in April and May which when asked about the crisis and their vacation plans 72% said they were staying at home and the rest said they would take shorter holidays.
I have always wondered about these opinion polls anyway. Italians seem by nature to be quite guarded about handing out information and seem very unwilling if not paranoid about people they don’t know asking questions of them especially in any semi official capacity . This is especially true down here where putting your head above the parapet is positively discouraged. Keep a low profile and stay away from anything that might ask for information.
Maybe it is different in the north but looking at forums up there a regular question is how to meet Italians as they seem very insular and self contained. So I guess not.
It is a vexed question as obviously ( or one hopes it is) people coming here to live and/or work come because they want to relish being part of an Italian community and want indeed are desperate to meet as many Italians as they can. The northern forums all cite that Italians have friends they made in childhood and are extra close to family and relatives so it is almost impossible to break in. It is true down here and probably more so in fact. The advice offered on the forums is to go to the local coffee bar and hang out there on a regular basis and eventually curiosity will get the better of a few locals and away you go. That is certainly what happened to us though rather than coffee I was sitting having evening beers and so it was no hardship to have to wait for a bite on the hook which took about a month of very regular visits. Well nightly actually but hey I was very keen ! They also make the point that you need some basic Italian otherwise you still have no idea what anyone is saying once the ice is broken. For those of us without a linguistic background or ability that is hard but the beauty is that every local I have ever met has been nothing less than wildly encouraging and has tried really hard to understand what I am trying to say.
Tomorrow I am really going to get down to those verbs, really I am. Honestly.