Who Carried the Poison

It reads like a murder mystery novel, a real who dunnit. The Chief Prosecutor of Lecce down in Salento today opened her enquiry into how the Xylella disease was introduced to Puglia and further whether the cutting down of the diseased trees was so haphazard that many innocent and healthy trees were felled in the eagerness of the chain saw men to attack them .

Elisa Valeria Mignone has called the enquiry at the request of three environmental groups and some of the farmers whose trees were cut down in the initial cull.

The enquiry is focusing it’s attention  on an Agricultural conference held in Bari in 2010. It was one of those symposiums where the great and the good of the scientific world come  to share information and “network” . All such conferences are held in pleasant cities normally during the pleasant summer months  and the universities and scientific research companies stump up the money for the attendees to come.

The bars do stirling work during them as do local restaurants and the sponsors spend vast amounts of money making sure the delegates have a good time organising tours to other areas around the city of choice and generally ensure that everyone is well feed and well rehydrated on a regular basis. .

this was the pleasant venue for the conference


and this was the type of room available at the Palace Hotel in Bari where the delegates stayed

Palace Hotel Bari

So a tough life.

Anyway at this conference one of the delegates gave a presentation on the deadly disease that infects vines and olive trees called yes you got it Xylella and to illustrate his point he brought with him an infected plant.

Move over Hercule Poirot, Elisa Valeria is on the trail. She wants to know who touched the plant and where did they then travel. Could it be that an unsuspecting Delegate carried the spores of the disease with him or her down to Salento when visiting Lecce on one of the tours. Did he/she stop on the way and go and  have his photo taken standing by one of the old olive trees the way tourists do every day down in Salento . Did he touch the tree and therefore start the spread of the disease that has led to so many trees being cut down.

While she tries to find this out she is also investigating whether such drastic treatment is necessary at all but more to the point she has been charged with uncovering whether chain saw fever took hold and a wholesale chainsaw massacre took place a few months ago in Salento as it did in Texas.

As a lover of a good who dunnit, I will be following this story with interested.

Meanwhile the autumnal storm ( renamed a summer storm) is wreaking havoc across lots of Puglia. Yesterday around Bari the rain was so heavy that water in the streets of towns reached 5 feet and engulfed cars and ground floors of houses. Residents fled to their roofs for safety and sat out the storm there, watching the chaos below.

Crops have been flattened but far worse the vines have been beaten to death with hail and rain. In poor old Salento the flowers were thrown from the grape vines ruining this years crop as were the barely fledgling olive buds.

Many roads have been engulfed in mud as the hills slide down on to them and no sooner has one storm passed than another arrives.

Weirdly we have escaped most of it but can see the storms off to the South and West all the time. The Scirocco is now blowing like crazy and on the weather map of Sat24 I can see the clouds stretching back from Puglia down over Sicily, over the Mediterranean to Malta, over Tunisia, Algeria , Mali and on into Mauritania where the Scirocco normally starts. No wonder we get so much sand in the house when it really starts to blow.

It has now started to rain and blow like the devil. “Oh great Drinking Weather” as Kiwi Symonds an old family friend always used to say when he pulled back the curtains on holiday and saw it was raining. How right he was.

Yes and this is the middle of June in the southern Mediterranean folks.

I’m off to the pub.



About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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