Well after a few journies back to the house to get things I had forgotten or to unplug things I had forgotten to unplug we have made it to the Hotel Residence Nemo just yards from the port. let the adventure begin once we have found a bar and then tried the in-house pizza joint.
Phillip says some very nice things in the comments bit of the blog. I actually started writing this blog to record the changes that would surely take place in Puglia and to describe the lifestyle of the people down here.
I was inspired by the book A Small Place in Italy by Eric Newby who wrote about buying a house in Tuscany in the late 1960s and the the changes that came about as Italy and therefore the Italians became more prosperous. The Italy he knew and loved in the 1960s and 1970s slowly disappeared and he sold his place in the late 1980s . the advent of television he felt stopped the are of conversation and the influx of rich Italians from the large industrial cities of the north meant labour rates went through the roof and lifestyles changed.
I thought it important to record what I saw over a period of time so that should my future grandchildren inherit the small house we have they could read something about how it was and why we lived here.
I am not sure I have done enough as yet on the people who live around us . However on my walk this morning I meet an old boy that I hadn’t seen this year . I had rather feared that the the grim reaper might have claimed him in what seems to be a February cull of old people down here. He is 84 years old and normally is to be found all summer working on his 2 acre small holding where he grows almost everything he needs. He is always dressed in what I would call British Army desert rats shorts, those huge thing you see the troops wearing in war movies, plus a singlet and bare feet. He spends most of the day in the field and then certainly last year would walk back to his daughter’s house some 5 kms away.
This year he has aged suddenly and he said he was not doing as much work as before nor walking so far.
We walked up the rough track that is part of my walk and I asked him if the house we were passing was abandoned as it had clearly been built with care and the fitments looked expensive yet i have never seen anyone there.
Well that stopped him in his tracks and he started to chat. I followed the bits in Italian and got lost on the bits in dialect but the gist was that “things ain’t wot they used to be”. The land and the house he said was built by a man who left here in 1970 to find work in the factories in the North. He had returned in 1990 to buy land and build a house not for himself but for his eldest son. he was, it seems, not alone . Loads of people came down, as Italy entered a period of low interest rates, and did the same thing. The old fellow had indeed sold off lots of bits of land including the one we were standing by. Like many others the son had never ever been to visit the house nor had he any interest in coming to Puglia.
I don’t know the word for spoilt in Italian but my old fellow clearly felt that the youngsters today in Italy were given too much by their parents. They didn’t need to find work nor did they understand hardship. he was he said 13 when the Allies arrived in 1943 and life was tough . If he wanted clothes the family went without some food , if he needed school books the family went without food. That is how it was.
He clearly didn’t like the new Italy though to be fair he had a new small motorbike parked at the top of the track which I admired.
Puglia resists change. The people here are hugely conservative and hate anything different than the way they have always done things. But change it will as Italy realises it cannot go on the way it has done. Renzi our leader no longer threatens an election to try and get his reforms through. Now he threatens the Troika from the IMF and the EU and that scares everyone.
I think we are seeing the last of the old ways and am pleased to have experienced it.
Now I shall go and have a look at Greece .