The weather is a little inclement to say the least today. The wind is gusting at 75 km an hour with showers and tons of cloud. It is not a day to be out and about but rather sitting in with the fire blazing and reading the local newspaper.
Last year it was reported that trials were taking place to fly seaplanes from Brindisi to Corfu . The trials didn’t go well as the head of the port authority a university professor wit no port experience appointed to the job as a sinecure decided that the port should be closed to all other traffic for an hour before and an hour after each seaplane landing or take off. Ludicrous I think I wrote at the time and so I was delighted to see that our new leader Wheel of Fortune Renzi has got port authorities firmly in his sights as part of his government cost cutting exercise.
He has rightly concluded that Italy has far too many ports and therefore too many Port Authorities which are run mainly by political appointees and reek of graft. He plans to pick a few super ports and dump the rest. For Puglia he says Bari is the chosen port and Brindisi and Taranto are therefore toast.
It certainly makes sense as neither have covered themselves in glory over the last few years. Brindisi seems to have lost most of it’s ferry operators and Taranto never seemed to have any though they always talked, like the Taranto Airport, about future happenings. Both need to really concentrate on the massive pollution problems both places have and let Bari do the port business.
Brindisi I’m sure will see it as another kick in the face after Bari Airport has also received so much investment at the expense of Brindisi airport but like ports airports need large population catchment areas and that ain’t Puglia.
Still there were a couple of good news stories for this region. Olive oil exports from Puglia were up 40% year on year in the last quarter to record levels.
Now I missed out on my olive picking last November being away, but luckily still have the 5 litre bottle topped up whenever I need more. The guy I help harvest is a traditionalist and we still use sticks to beat the trees and then collect the olives in nets that surround the trees. It is hard work and there is nothing romantic about it really other than you spend a lot of time either stretched upwards wielding your stick or on your hands and knees in the soil. Still the finished article is superb, especially when you picked them yourself and took them to the crusher. It takes 1,000 olives or 6 kilos worth to make just a litre of oil and you get about 30 kilos of olives off a tree. So you can see there is a great deal of work for little gain.
Of course the big boys use a load more machinery and spray etc to increase yields. Ours is organic and we think tastes much better.
My other love is wine and again last year I missed out on making my own as we went away on my old age pensioner gap year. However 120 wine producers from Puglia are at this years Vinitaly wine exhibition in Verona which takes place from April 6-9th and that is way more than have ever been before. Puglia wine is coming on in leaps and bounds. The couple of acres of land I have here used to be all vines. Martini Rossi used to buy all the wine in this area of Martina Franca and mix what they needed then send the rest to France for blending into other wines. Puglia produced tons of rubbish. That has really changed .
I shall be making wine this year and who knows maybe in a few years I will be at Vinitaly and I guess pigs might fly too.