I’m feeling a little smug this morning as I look out of the window here in Puglia. The rain is coming down like cats and dogs,the thunder is booming, the lightening crackling, the wind is blowing at about 40KPH and the mercury hovers around 7C but with the cold northerly wind the temperature feels like 1C. It is April 17th and tomorrow is Good Friday with Easter falling so late this year.
Many thinking about an holiday over the Easter period this year would have thought of Southern Italy. Indeed at the same time last year we were sitting in 25C temperatures and walking along the beach. However last year wasn’t normal and for some reason Easter is a time of bad weather every year in Puglia. Some tell me it is because Easter is always around the full moon and we especially in Spring always get storms around the full moons.
But why so smug. Well several months ago I was sitting in the Malaysian Airlines Executive Lounge in Saigon ( see how easy I drop that into the blog !) . I had little to do while sipping my wine but Malaysian had laid on free internet so I was looking at an American travel forum just for fun. There was a question about Puglia and Easter. A guy wanted to know if he had made the right decision in not renting a trull with a swimming pool near Cisternino and had rather gone for a cheaper non pooled option. There were already a variety of replies but most seemed to say he should have pooled up for his kids sake and would regret not being able to sit by it at sunset with his cocktail and luxuriate in his decision making prowess. Several mention the glorious April of 2013 and how they had even ventured into the sea ( must be mad).
I was the contrarian and said what a wise owl he was . Puglia at Easter time was no place to start thinking about swimming indeed the family would be wet enough just running from the car to the restaurant most days. This would be especially true up here in the high hills around Cisternino and Martina Franca. I ventured that even May was too early to start worrying about swimming pools up here. I hope he stuck to his guns and whilst sightseeing in this extreme weather and no doubt freezing his extremities off at least is pleased no one is going to fall into the pool he didn’t book and die of hypothermia.
There must be several thousand tourists here this weekend wondering what they were thinking of booking a holiday here in Puglia as the forecast is bad tomorrow and Saturday as well poor things. Hang on I must raise the thermostat on the gas central heating and throw another log on the fire.
Where was I yesterday, well I was here but the internet had gone walk about. Nor is it any better today. I’m typing this in Word and will hope to get a slight signal after dark with which to transfer it to WordPress and send it but I shan’t be holding my breath unless that is I venture outside.
So it was with some sceptisism that I read in the morning paper that the Economy minister in Rome has given €62 million to develop fibre optic cable broadband in Puglia. He is concerned it seems about something most of us down here have already noticed . There is what he calls a divide between internet in the rest of Italy and internet down in the south , in other words there is hardly any here. He says private companies are unwilling to invest in the south where they see low demand and therefore low returns. So he has thrown down his Roman gauntlet or is that more Arthurian do you think. To get the money companies must stump up 30% of the total cost which with my simple maths means the dear minister thinks the total cost of bringing fibre optic cable to the south is just €90 million. Methinks this is just another of those “ announcements” that politicians love to make knowing full well they are not risking a centissimo of the €62 million promised and I will still be sitting down here in Puglia cursing the lack of internet progress.
I see the French have just passed a law banning superiors at companies from contacting employees by e mail after working hours and to be fair to the non investing private companies in Italy I think most if not all Puglise work people would whole heartily agree with the French. There seems little interest in the internet here and TV still very much is seen as the way you receive information at night and spend leisure time in front of .
Last night we were out at friends and yes before you ask the TV was on though both 20 somethings were on Facebook all evening. It was bloody cold out but inside a fire roared. This was reduced to hot embers and chicken pieces and sausages were cooked right there in the room. The smell was glorious and they tasted superb.
A Pugliese speciality cardoncini accompanied the meats. The main ingredient is a thistle like green that is found wild in hedgerows around here. It is not grown commercially so you can’t buy it in the market. You must go out and find it. Minced meat and cheese are added and it is a very filling dish.
We accompanied it with plenty of red wine and by the end as I walked to the car I was reminded of the saying by the Persian mystic Baba Taher “ shab tar eek o rah e baareek o man mast “ Clever chap Taher wasn’t he ? Though clearly they had more fun in Persia/Iran before the Ayatollahs grabbed power didn’t they.
Well if your reading this blog the internet did appear for a little. Good Friday is not an holiday here in Italy and I have a dentist appointment, though if it is as miserable as today in Martina Franca I will cancel and leave the place to the brave tourists.
Okay what did dear Taher say
” the night was dark the path was narrow and I was ever so intoxicated !”