Apulia, Italy, September 2016

Oct 12th, 2016, 02:00 PM
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Apulia, Italy, September 2016

Two weeks in southern Apulia, Italy, September 2016
Trip Report, September 9 - September 23, 2016

If you look at Italy as a boot, the Apulia region is the heel. "Apulia" is its English name, but in Italian it’s called "Puglia", and that’s what I call it in the balance of this report. We visited the southern portion, south of the city of Bari.

The travelers were Larry (74) and Margie (72), who both post on the Fodor’s Forum as "justretired" (despite our Fodor's name, Larry actually retired way back in 2003). This initial report was written by Larry (who makes restaurant reservations as "Lorenzo" in Italy), a retired electrical engineer with an interest in linguistics. In addition to his native English, Larry speaks French, Spanish, and Italian (some better than others), and even remembers a bit of his college German.

Margie is an ex social worker, who is now an artist. She works primarily in watercolor, but she has also worked in mixed media, including paper maché (which, you will see, is relevant to the area of Italy we visited).

On this trip, we spent six days in each of two agriturismi (agricultural tourism resorts). We had a rental car for the entire time, and used the agriturismi as bases from which to take short day trips to nearby points of interest. Between these two longer stays, we spent one full day (two nights) in the city of Matera, which is not in Puglia, but rather in the region Basilicata.

In this report

In this report, I’ve underlined section headings, boldfaced the first mention of places and restaurants we visited, and put Italian words other than place names and restaurant names in italics. I start with a general discussion of:

La pausa
Restaurants
ExpressoWiFi
Our rental car
The Mobile Passport app

These will be followed by a day-by-day account of the trip, and then by some final thoughts.

La pausa

As we planned this trip, we became aware of problems that might be posed by what Italians call la pausa, meaning "the pause". This is a custom found in many southern areas of Europe – we’ve seen it in Spain and in southern France as well: work stops for lunch and a siesta during what is, in summer, the heat of the day. In Puglia, it’s quite common for stores and attractions to close down at noon, 12:30, 1:00, or 1:30, and not re-open until around 4:00 or 5:00pm. For tourism and shopping, this eliminates some activities for up to four hours in the middle of the day. Most restaurants, of course, stay open until around 3:00pm.

For tourists like us, on short day trips, this is a problem. Italians eat their main meal of the day during la pausa, and then have some time to relax a bit before going back to work. Children often come home from school, and then return after la pausa to finish their school day. But tourists like us are nowhere near home when la pausa starts. We’re out and about, and suddenly our options are restricted. As you’ll see if you read my day-by-day report, this often limited us.

Obviously, given la pausa, it would be a good idea to get started very early each day. But breakfast in our hotels was not generally served until 8:00am, so it was hard to get on the road before around 8:30 or 9:00. If our destination for the day was a 45 minute drive, and if parking and walking from our parking spot to our actual destination took another 15 minutes, our day couldn’t start until around 9:30. That left only two and a half hours before things started to close. In practice, we generally got going even later than that, sometimes considerably later, for reasons I’ll now discuss.

Certainly, lunch is an activity for la pausa, but it seldom took us more than an hour and a half. While we always found other things to do during la pausa, at our age, we tended to run out of steam by 4:00pm, when attractions and stores start to reopen. Thus, we generally didn’t make any use of that late afternoon / evening period – we generally headed home.

And then, dinner was not served until 8:00pm, and we usually didn’t finish dinner until 9:30 or 10:00. It’s not possible for either Margie or me to go to bed right after dinner – we need to leave at least an hour or two. Thus it became impossible to get to bed before 11:30 or midnight, completing the cycle by making it impossible to wake up really early. For us, la pausa was a problem – it substantially limited the number of things we could do.

Restaurants

We ate well on this trip, probably better than on previous trips to Italy. Perhaps we would have needed to spend more in Tuscany and Umbria, and particularly in major cities like Rome and Florence, to get the same quality meals we found routinely in Puglia. There were local vegetables galore in the antipasti, which were extremely varied and imaginative. Fresh mozzarella and burrata cheese were plentiful and good. The pasta was generally fresh.

Being on the coast, there was lots of fresh seafood, although Margie has a shellfish allergy, so she couldn’t take advantage of all of it. Much less seafood seemed to be available in Matera, in the province of Basilicata, apparently because it wasn’t on the coast. That seemed a bit odd to me, because it is only a couple of hours from the coast by truck. Maybe Italians really only want their seafood if it’s right off the boat.

On past trips, we found we didn't always eat well if we just walked into a randomly chosen restaurant. So this time, Margie did extensive research before we left, much of it on the Fodor's Forum, and prepared a file on sights and restaurants which we carried everywhere, both on our phones, and in paper form. Margie intends to add comments on the restaurants we ate in on this trip to that file, and we'll eventually make it available to Fodorites. But while we like to eat well, we don't generally plan a day's excursion based upon visiting a particular restaurant, and we tend to choose restaurants that are moderately priced.

When I mentioned restaurants in a trip report a number of years ago, someone suggested that I should also give the price of each meal, so readers would have an idea of the price range of each of the restaurants we tried. I’ve done that in my trip reports ever since. On this trip, the Euro was worth around $1.12. Since there's always a lot of interest in restaurants among the Fodor’s readership, I go into quite a bit of detail as to what we ate.

ExpressoWiFi

When we travel, we like to stay connected to our family back home, and we use the Internet fairly often to research restaurants and tourist attractions. Margie in particular wanted to stay up on the news, with the ongoing fascinating developments in U.S. politics. We also used Google Maps to navigate on the road.

To keep us connected, we rented an ExpressoWiFi device for this trip, and we liked it. We found it most useful on the road, where we used Google Maps for navigation. Google Maps did much better than my Garmin GPS, which was hampered by out-of-date maps (Puglia seems to have added a lot of new traffic circles). After using the Garmin GPS to drive from the Bari airport to our first hotel, we never used it again.

When we use a GPS or Google Maps, Margie often follows along on a conventional paper map. That way, if we get into trouble, she still has a good idea where we are. We used the Touring Editore 1:200,000 map of Puglia for an overview. It’s printed on rip-proof and waterproof plastic. It also has another very useful feature: it tells you which syllable is stressed in place names. Thus, for instance, the name of Otranto, a city we visited, is written on the map as Ótranto. That accent mark is NOT part of the city’s name as it is normally written. It only serves to tell you that the name is stressed on the first syllable – it’s OH-tran-toe, not oh-TRAN-toe as you might otherwise expect. On the other hand, Margie noticed that some of the route numbers on the map did not correspond to the route numbers used by Google Maps. Perhaps there’s been some sort of re-numbering since the map was issued.

We prepaid for the ExpressoWiFi device on their web site ( https://www.expressowifi.com/ ). We paid a per-day charge of 5€, and a 16€ delivery/pickup fee. There were no additional charges beyond that. The device was waiting for us at our first hotel upon our arrival, in a sealed envelope, and we left it at our last hotel for pickup, in another sealed envelope that had been provided, with a prepaid and pre-addressed label. Some sort of courier service was used for the drop-off and pickup.

The carrier used by the device was TIM. A WiFi device like this is sometimes called a "hotspot", and in rural Puglia, that name was quite apt - the device was often hot to the touch. I imagine that it was working hard to connect to rather weak 4G signals in the area. On our one day in Matera, in Basilicata, it ran much cooler. We kept it powered when in the car, so we had no problem with battery life even in fringe areas.

The ExpressoWiFi device provided WiFi to our two phones and Margie's tablet, wherever we were, for 5€ a day. Data plans with an adequate data allowance from our US carrier, Verizon, would have cost almost twice that, and for only one phone. Our old Samsung Galaxy S III phones are CDMA at home, but while they have GSM capability (and SIM cards), they are locked to Verizon, and we've never gone through the trouble of getting them unlocked. Hey, at least they don't catch on fire.

Our first hotel only had WiFi in two public areas, so we used the device in our room (and were able to look up the web sites of places we were planning to visit on Margie's WiFi-only tablet, giving us a larger screen). It was less important in our second two hotels, where we had a high-speed WiFi connection in our rooms, but we still used it daily for navigation on the road.

Since ExpressoWiFi had no drop-off point at the Bari airport, we left the device at our last hotel for pickup. We then turned on Mobile Data on our phones for the last day only, and used Google Maps to navigate back to the airport (which would have been pretty simple even without Maps). That was easily within the 100 Mbyte limit of our inexpensive Verizon International Plan, which also gave us essentially unlimited calling and text messages.

We were quite happy with the ExpressoWiFi service

Our rental car

Towards the end of June, we selected a car rental package on the Economy Car Rentals web site. Their provider was Keddy Car Rental, which seems to be a subsidiary of EuropCar. The web page provided us with a voucher to print and present at the EuropCar desk in the Bari airport.

The car was a Fiat 500L diesel, with room in the back hatch for all our luggage. It handled well, and we were mostly happy with it. I had two minor complaints about it. First, it had awful visibility out the back – it really needed a backup camera. Second, when swung to the side, the visor came nowhere near far enough back to block any sun coming in the driver’s side window. When driving south in the morning or north in the evening, both frequent occurrences, I was dazzled by the sun low in the sky. I took to wearing my hat inside the car, and pulling the wide brim down on my left side to shield my eyes.

We drove 1264 km in 14 days, on 93€ of diesel fuel. The credit card slips don’t give the number of liters purchased, but at a price of about 1€30 per liter, we must have used about 72 liters.

The final bill from Europcar lists the amount of carbon dioxide our 1264 km of driving released into the atmosphere. At 110g/km for the Fiat 500L, it amounted to 139 kg of CO2. Of course, this is a drop in the bucket compared with the round trip flight for the two of us, which produced around 5 tons of CO2 emissions (using a rough average of about 2.5 tons of CO2 per person for a transatlantic flight). That’s about 4,500 kg of CO2, over 30 times as much as we spent tootling around Puglia in the car.

The Mobile Passport app

Prior to the trip, I had loaded the Mobile Passport app (Android version) onto my phone, and filled it with our basic information (passport numbers, photos, etc.). On our return flight, I filled it out with the information that is normally submitted on the blue Customs Declaration form that is always handed to you on the plane. Since this was my first experience with the app, I actually also filled out the paper version of the form, in case the app didn’t work.

But in fact, it worked spectacularly well. In theory, using the app just provides a slightly faster way of transferring your Customs Declaration information to the examiners. The information is transferred electronically, instead of by presenting a paper form. But using the app at Boston's Logan Airport, it did much more than that. It took us out of the regular lines, and moved us into the Global Entry path at every step, and we zipped right through as fast as those who had Global Entry. In fact, the Global Entry users were having problems with the machines (particularly with the printing), while our app "receipt" barcodes were read perfectly.

Margie and I have paid $100 each to apply for Global Entry, but our interviews are not scheduled until April, 2017. But it was not clear what Global Entry would have gotten us that use of the Mobile Passport app did not.

I'll continue tomorrow with a day-by-day account of our trip.
justretired is offline  
Oct 12th, 2016, 02:10 PM
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Love the organization of your report--very easy to read. I wish I were as organized as you and your wife.

I have been debating Puglia for many, many years; it keeps moving up and down the list (so many places to see in this world!). Looking forward to your itinerary and impressions.
Leely2 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2016, 03:12 PM
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Very interesting!
Saraho is offline  
Oct 12th, 2016, 04:49 PM
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Margie here- Leely2, I am organized in the planning stage, gathering information and making files of sights, restaurants, and so forth. Then, it stops. Larry takes over on the trip, writing daily trip entries, and coming home to write the trip report.

I have, for the most part, stopped taking many photos while traveling, because I found that I was spending too much time behind the view finder and missing the experience. Since I am a painter, I mostly take photos of something I want to paint upon our return. This year, I concentrated on olive trees, which I'm sure Larry will talk about later in the report.

Enjoy.
justretired is offline  
Oct 12th, 2016, 06:52 PM
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We loved Puglia.
Eager to hear more.
We used free offline google maps, worked fine.
We loved the food in Puglia too, great meals.
We dealt with the pausa by having our main meal during that time and then spending time outside, but our trip was not so much about sights.
We ate little in the evening, usually just a snack unless dinner was served in our masseria at 7:30.
jubilada is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 07:12 AM
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Our first week:

Day by day

I wrote down our activities at the end of each day, using my smart phone as a computer, with a Bluetooth keyboard for easier typing. This results in a rather wordy report – feel free to skim or skip. After our return, I added comments on each of our stays on the day of checkout.

Friday 9/9 - Saturday 9/10:

We had a good flight from Boston to Bari via Zurich on Swiss Air. After picking up our rental car from EuropCar, we drove to Villa Conca Marco, a bit southeast of Lecce, and checked in. We arrived in time for a late lunch, explored the grounds a bit, took a 2 hour nap, and then had the first of their plentiful buffet dinners. At the end of the dinner, we were offered a couple of Amari, an after-dinner liquor. These became an after-dinner habit at the Conca Marco.

Sunday 9/11:

We drove into Lecce after breakfast. After driving around a bit, we finally found parking, a bit outside the center. We phoned and made a reservation for lunch at 12:30 at Nonna Tetti, a restaurant we had found in our Lonely Planet "Southern Italy" guidebook (we tore out and carried only the pages on Puglia). We then explored the historic center of Lecce, near the Roman Amphitheater. We visited the Chiesa di Santa Chiara, and then walked to the Nonna Tetti for lunch (we had picked that restaurant partly because of the guidebook recommendation, and partly because it was on the route from the historic center back to our car).

At the Nonna Tetti , we started with an antipasto casa, which had five dishes: peppers and olives, sliced cold zucchini salad, hot mushrooms, an eggplant dish, and fresh mozzarella. Margie then had ciciri e tria, a tradition local pasta dish made with chick peas. I had a cartoccio pesce, a frutti di mare dish steamed in an aluminum foil wrap, containing a white fish, a large prawn, and assorted mussels and clams. With a Coke Zero and acqua naturale, 40€50.

As we were eating, the skies opened, and it poured, with accompanying lightning and thunder. The street turned into a raging river. It seemed to be good for the restaurant’s business, as some of the people ducking in from the rain came in for lunch.

Leaving the restaurant, we waited for a bit of a lull in the heavy rain (although the rain had not completely stopped), and headed toward the car. Under the Porta San Biaggio, we happened upon a street vendor selling large umbrellas, so I bought one for 10€. When I balked at buying two, he sold me a second for an addition 5€. That got us back to the car reasonably dry. But the umbrellas were far too large to pack up for the return trip, and too bulky to carry on board – we left them at our final hotel (which had a stand full of umbrellas near the front door for guests to use).

We drove back to the Conca Marco, but then went out again to visit their affiliated beach, where we chatted with the man in charge. The Conca Marco offers a free 30-minute sailboat excursion as part of their package, and I inquired about that. But the sailing instructor was not there that day, due to the rainy weather. Being from New England, I have ample opportunity to sail, and I wasn’t all that interested in using the time that would be needed to take them up on that offer.

We then visited a local mini market in Vanze, only about a kilometer from the hotel. I bought demineralized water for my CPAP machine (the smallest container available had more than twice as much as I needed to last the rest of the trip), some bottles of drinking water to carry with us on our day trips, and a bottle of shampoo, which the Conca Marco did not supply (although our room did have a hair dryer and a safe). We then drove back to the hotel for dinner.

Monday 9/12:

The weather was still a bit iffy, but we decided to drive south along the coast, taking our new umbrellas. We had slept late, so we got a late start. We drove to Otranto, and by the time we got parked, it was already 11:30. We toured the cathedral, which then closed at noon. But the castello was open all day, even during the pausa, so we went through it. Included was a marvelous show by the American photographer Steve McCurry, containing a substantial collection of his large-format portraits.

We had lunch at L'Altro Baffo, near the castle. Margie had an eggplant parmigiana antipasto with swordfish, very good. I had a spaghetti dish with mixed shellfish. Both of these dishes were small, but we finished with a rather large cheese plate. With Margie's usual Coke Zero and a bottle of water, 53€.

We then drove south toward Santa Cesaria Terme, but were shortly stymied by a road closure on the coastal road, which we later found to have been caused by a rock slide due to the recent days and days of heavy rain. A sign shunted us inland, on a detour that was not further indicated, so it took us a while to figure out how to go around the problem (the solution was Google Maps). The detour, unfortunately, was rather long – there was really no short way around the problem area.

We arrived in Santa Cesaria Terme to find a festival day finishing up, with the various booths lining the procession route closing up. If you're not in Santa Cesaria Terme for the terme (spas), there isn't actually that much to see. We had a couple of gelati, visited the local church, and headed back, following a route recommended by the local tourist office, which had only just opened up at 4:00pm, after the pausa. Google Maps also agreed with the route, and helped us find our way to Vanze, from where we knew the short route back to the hotel.

Another buffet dinner at the hotel, after which we chatted with a couple from Switzerland in a marvelous mix of languages (Italian, English, French, and German, of which I remembered a surprising amount). We also chatted with our daughter Sara on Facebook Messenger.

Tuesday 9/13:

We drove into Lecce, planning to park on the same street we had found on Sunday. It was fully parked up, but we found a spot around the corner on a side street, and paid the parchometro for about four hours. We then spent the morning hunting for studios producing cartapesta (paper maché). With some difficulty, we located two, the studio of Marco Epicochi, and that of Claudio Riso, the latter in the Piazza Duomo. To arrive at the Piazza Duomo, I didn't think to go through the Cathedral to enter the piazza from the back, so we ended up walking all around the periphery, quite a long trip.

Margie enjoyed the visit to the cartapesta studios. Although the pieces were well painted and decorated, she was surprised to see how many felt mass produced. Appendages and faces were often made with molds, filled with either clay or paper pulp. The originality came from layers of paper maché applied as clothing, and in the final painting.

Since this is an old process, most of the figures had either a religious theme, or represented local village life. Since Margie works differently when she does paper maché, she decided not to take a course in Lecce, but these are available for those interested, at the studio of Claudio Riso and others.

We decided to go back to Nonna Tetti for lunch, where the waitress remembered us from our visit two days before. We shared an appetizer with mixed fried arancini-like balls of various types. Margie then had small lamb chops, and I had a mixed grill. In all, 38€.

On to the Museo Archeologico Provinciale Sigismondo Castromediano, which being a provincial museum is free, and which is also open during la pausa. It has an enormous collection of artifacts, many Grecian and Roman, found in the Salento peninsula (the southern tip of Puglia). It gives you a good idea of the early settlement of the region, back to the Bronze Age.

Back to the hotel to relax a bit, and another dinner.

Wednesday, 9/14:

Our last day at the Conca Marco. After breakfast, we drove about an hour down to Gallipoli, a city we very much enjoyed, although it was crowded with tourists. We got there by setting our GPS to "Gallipoli Porto", which took us to a large public parking lot in the old port, where you can park free of charge. After checking at the tourist office and at the castle, we determined that the castle would be open all day, so we postponed our castle visit until after lunch, during the pausa, to allow us to visit the cathedral and perhaps other churches, before they closed at noon.

The cathedrale has an enormous number of gigantic paintings lining the walls. We came across a guide describing one, in English, to a large group of tourists. It was a particularly gruesome image of the martyrdom of Saint Agatha, I think, showing her having her breast cut off, and held over her head to drip her own blood upon her.

We had lunch at Le Mura (literally, "The Walls), where we shared a prosciutto e melone antipasto. I then had a traditional local dish, large prawns crusted in coarse salt, and served swimming in olive oil. Margie had veal scallopini. Total 47€.

We walked down the hill, stopping to look in a few stores, looking for a dress for our granddaughter Darwin (three and a half years old). At the store in the entrance to the castle, we purchased a rather large collection of genuine sea sponges, including a bunch of smaller ones for Margie to give to her art class students (these are used by artists for various purposes, particularly in watercolor).

We stopped at the bar Martinucci for a gelato. I had three scoops (6€), and Margie had a spumoni (4€), rather costly but both very large and very good (this was with table service, which always costs a bit more than just ordering at the counter). They were very nicely presented, with a small glass of water for each. I took a picture and posted it on Facebook, with the caption, "What’s so great about these geloti? They’re in Italy!"

We then toured the castle, which had a lot of modern art scattered among the ancient rooms. Margie skipped one portion, which descended a couple of stories to a large vaulted room. It was quite interesting, but Margie was having some back problems, and didn't want to get into any trouble by indulging in excessive stair climbing just prior to our upcoming guided tour of the caves in Matera, which we knew would be up and down over rough terrain.

After I came back up and rejoined Margie, couple of Italian men tried to urge us, in halting English, to descend for that portion of the visit. I finally explained in detail, in Italian, that I had already seen it, and that Margie was having back problems and had decided for that reason to skip it. As the two men walked on, I was delighted to hear one say to the other, in Italian, "He speaks Italian really well!" I said, "Grazie".

We walked back to our car, and drove back to the hotel, where we packed our suitcases for the next day's departure, and had our last dinner at the Conca Marco.

Thoughts on the Villa Conca Marco

The week we were there, the Villa Conca Marco was an Italian family resort. Most of the other guests were Italian, quite a few with children. There were a few guests from other countries, but no Americans. Some families were only there for a long weekend. Many spent their days at the associated beach. Since Margie and I are from the Boston, Massachusetts area, where we have a lot of nice beaches, we were not interested in that. The beaches we saw along the coast are not great by US standards. They are fairly narrow strips of sand, pretty well covered by chaises and beach umbrellas.

The Conca Marco seemed to be oriented towards the needs and desires of its Italian family guests. It has a very large pool, which includes a big shallow area for children. A TV in the dining room was on all the time, playing assorted Italian MTV-like shows at fairly high volume. One morning at breakfast, when there were only a few people in the room, I grabbed the remote and briefly muted it (the other two couples in the room at the time didn’t seem to object). Wi-Fi in the Conca Marco was available in the dining room and at the office, but not in the guest rooms. The property is pretty spread out, and I suspect that providing Wi-Fi everywhere would be quite expensive.

Our room was quite large and comfortable. It had a patio-like area in front, under cover, where you could sit outdoors even in rainy weather. A drying rack was provided, presumably for swimsuits and towels.

The breakfasts were "Continental" breakfasts, with lots of bread and cake and preserves, but no protein except for yogurt – no meat, cheese, or eggs (and Margie doesn’t like yogurt). I think most American guests would prefer more substantial breakfasts, and a Swiss couple we spoke with made a similar comment. But there were two women mostly dedicated to preparing coffee. After trying lots of possibilities, Margie and I settled on two Cappuccini each morning – one decaf, and one "normale".

The dinners were served buffet style, and included a large variety of dishes. There were always pizze of various types, and assorted other traditional Italian pasta dishes. There was always at least one meat dish, and some evenings fish and shellfish. The desserts were rather limited, although it turned out that you could often order an additional dessert (at additional cost), something we didn't discover right away. Wine was not included in the base price of the dinner, but was available either in carafes or by the bottle, at reasonable prices. We bought a bottle one evening, didn’t finish it, and it was brought back to us the next evening. And as I noted above, a couple of Amari, an after-dinner liquor, became an after-dinner habit.

Although this is just a rather vague feeling of mine, that I’m having trouble pinning down, I felt a linguistic atmosphere I hadn’t quite experienced before: yes, I spoke Italian, but of course! We were in Italy, the language was Italian, that’s what everyone spoke, that’s what was expected. It must be the way visitors to the US feel – yes, of course you speak English, doesn’t everybody? In other trips to Italy, to areas where the local people I encounter are used to dealing with foreign tourists, I’ve gotten a lot of credit for speaking Italian, especially when people find out that I don’t come from an Italian family. Not so much among the guests at the Conca Marco. Sure, I spoke Italian – doesn’t everybody?

Not that you NEED to speak Italian to stay at the Conca Marco. The owner, Nico, speaks English well, and there are always people in the office and in the dining area who speak English. Margie had no trouble making any of her needs known, and we were well cared for.

I'll follow up in the next few days with the rest of our visit.
justretired is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 08:43 AM
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Great report. Looking forward to more.

I'm surprised at your response to beaches, we loved several, especially those near Santa Caesarea.
They reminded me of Carribean beaches, which I love and miss.

We lucked out on the weather arriving two days later!
jubilada is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 08:46 AM
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thanks for coming back and reporting in, sound like fun so far
bilboburgler is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 09:03 AM
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Wow, such a detailed report. Love it!

As a matter of fact, we were in Puglia at the same time (7 - 24 Sep).

As to driving, we took our portable GPS fom home which worked fine, and used the detailed Michelin map Local 363. Excellent map and totally accurate.

I’ve never heard about having to pay a fee for the release of carbon dioxide in the air! Did they tell you beforehand? BTW, we drove 2.090 kms in total but we covered all of Puglia (and 2 nights in Matera), including the Gargano in the very north.

During our first week, we used the pausa for long lunches because of the bad weather. We have always eaten well but much of the same. We were really glad the menus were different in Matera and in Vieste.

Awaiting your next installment ...
MyriamC is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 12:59 PM
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Hi justretired(s) and all! Tagging along this great report.
marigross is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 06:24 PM
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Keep it coming!
Leely2 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 07:52 PM
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enjoyed... this brought it all back! you really got around!
kawh is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 07:56 PM
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Thanks for all the nice comments.

jubilada, since we never spent a day at the beach, we didn't do any research on the available beaches, and I'm reporting just on the few that we did see, which were quite densely populated. There may be some wonderful beaches along the coast - that was not our focus. In the second week (report to come) we saw some less heavily populated beaches, places where people just parked along the road and brought in their own gear.

Margie did suggest that a day at the beach might have been a good occasion for conversation in Italian, even if a day on the sand is not something I usually seek out. But we never tried it.

My idea of a nice beach is something like Cape Hatteras - white sand extending 200 meters back from the shore, running in both directions as far as the eye can see, with the nearest other person barely visible in the distance. But closer to home here in Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Cape Ann will do in a pinch.

The weather we encountered was unusually rainy for September, to the point of causing problems like the rock slide we had to avoid on the way to Santa Cesarea Terme. But for the most part, we just worked around the episodes of heavy rain, which didn't slow us down much. As far as Margie is concerned, it was a lot better than if it had been extremely hot.

MyriamC, there was no charge for the CO2 emissions released by our driving. The amount was just noted on the final invoice, which I received via snail-mail after our return. Our credit card had already been billed the Monday after our return, and the invoice was just to give a final accounting.

I guess the theory is that if people are informed how much CO2 their driving is producing, they may be inclined to rent more environmentally-friendly vehicles. The invoice included both the amount per kilometer released by the particular car, listed as "FIAT LYS 500 L. (110g/km CO2)", and the total emitted in 1264 km of driving, "139.04kg CO2".

More tomorrow.
justretired is offline  
Oct 13th, 2016, 11:57 PM
  #14  
 
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Thanks for the explanation on the CO² justretired. It does not appear on my invoice from Sicily By Car.
MyriamC is offline  
Oct 14th, 2016, 12:48 AM
  #15  
 
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Paris agreement requires significant CO2 reduction, individuals can only change their attitudes if they can see what the figures are. Makes complete sense to me.

Internal European airlines have had this info for years.
bilboburgler is offline  
Oct 14th, 2016, 05:52 AM
  #16  
 
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Justretired, we love swimming , particularly in the ocean, so the beach was a priority for us. We went to one of the lidos with sun beds and really enjoyed being amongst Italian families having fun. It was one place where we had the most conversation with local people , so that was fun too.


At all the lidos seemed also to have free public beaches where people just brought their stuff, which we would have done if we had chairs etc.

Interesting to learn about the awareness about CO2. I'll have to go back and look at our invoice.
jubilada is offline  
Oct 14th, 2016, 07:31 AM
  #17  
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MyriamC, the CO2 numbers weren't very prominent on the invoice - they were appended to the lines giving the car registration and the total distance driven, in the form I quoted above. I assumed that this information is required by Italian law, but if it was not on your invoice, perhaps that's not the case.

jubilada, it sounds as if I should have taken Margie's advice - a day at the beach would have been a good opportunity for Italian conversation for me, and a good rest day for both of us.

The entrance charge at the beach was included in our stay at the Villa Conca Marco. At our second Agriturismo, we would have gotten a reduction for a day at the beach, but it wasn't completely covered.

Our granddaughter Darwin is with us this morning - she's playing with Margie at the moment. I'll try to post the rest of the report later in the day.
justretired is offline  
Oct 14th, 2016, 08:25 AM
  #18  
 
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justretired,
We went to a different beach than was included with our agriturismo because we preferred it, but it was not much money.

I have barely any Italian but my wife always wanted to practice hers ( Puglia was excellent for this!) and I got by in French.

Next year when we go to Le Marches we're doing some language school at the beginning of the trip so maybe I'll be able to join in.
jubilada is offline  
Oct 14th, 2016, 08:41 AM
  #19  
 
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justretired,
Vieste had those nice longish and wide beaches. In Vieste the fee for two sunbeds and an umbrella was also included in the price of the room.
We also visited other lido's between Gallipoli and Leuca. Prices were 10 euros for 2 sunbeds and an umbrella. Those are off-season prices.
All had the same uncomfy sunbeds.
MyriamC is offline  
Oct 14th, 2016, 02:53 PM
  #20  
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jubilada, if you speak French, you won't find Italian difficult. And it doesn't take that much to be a tourist. When I'm in Italy, I effectively speak Italian, but if I read an Italian magazine article, I usually have to look up about 25 words on each page. Tourists don't need to discuss philosophy, they deal with simple stuff, mostly in the present tense.

We've heard good things about Le Marche, and may visit there at some point. But our next trip will probably be to France.
justretired is offline  

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