The wholly unplanned day turned out to be a success. After a swim and then breakfast the four adults (even though Emily and Laura + blokes are older than I was when C and I got married, they will always be children in my eyes) went for a long(ish) walk through the local olive groves, which other than, well, nothing, seem to constitute industry and agriculture round here. The trees are all old and gnarled, but the ground beneath them perfectly flat and clear of any obstruction including grass. The aim, we believe, is to leave an uncluttered floor for when the olives fall or are shaken from the trees. It provides a wonderful sense of order in an otherwise haphazard and scruffy area of the world.
We drove to the local Lidl to forage for some stuff for a picnic on Sunday and met up with Simon and Rosemary (bride’s parents) for lunch in the main square of Francavilla Fontana, another local town. It’s difficult to describe these places. There’s a magical sense of forgotteness about the buildings with peeling plaster, chipped corners, faded frescos but all forged from substantial Romanesque architecture – big sandstone blocks and semi-circular arches. C finds the whole place enchanting; she loves the shabbiness, and I’m inclined to agree with her. It was brill to be able to catch up with Simon and Rosemary before the big day, and as with the previous night, the food was plentiful and cheap.
We bade our farewells and whilst the sun skipped in and out from behind the clouds and the wind whistled round our ankles, I fired up Gazza (bought with us to have his own holiday), and the four of us pointed a finger at a town on the Med and of we jolly-welled.
The Med was understated on this part of the arch under the boot of Italy. It’s all low-rise ‘of the local architecture’ holiday homes, simple seaside resorts, the odd falling into the sea sandstone fortress and rocky beaches. But, for us, it was an opportunity to swim in salt water, which has always been a real draw for me. Richard and I, rather tentatively on the rocky floor, gingerly made our way in, paddled about for a bit, and then gingerly came out again. We’d have been no good in the Army. But it was a delightful intermission; so how lucky are we?
We headed back north and stopped to look at one if scores of Trullis, dry stone round storehouses which can only be found down here. Some of them, indeed the one we stopped to gawp at, have been renovated, but seem to remain unused. So I’m not sure what’s going on there? Anyhow they brighten an otherwise fairly dull landscape. The photos below are where we stopped, but the one I really want has a tiled, pointy roof which looks v Lord of the Rings. I’ve seen one just north of here, so I will try and get a photo and stick it in before we leave.
We gathered together back at the hotel and drove back into Francavilla F for supper (Richard and Caroline, Rob and Laura and us). We had another v inexpensive spread in a less rustic restaurant than last night, but just as tasty. A hot topic was press freedom, the young taking one stand point and the elder taking the same stand point, but seemingly describing it differently. I think our future is in fairly safe hands. I managed to drive back without the need of local assistance, but driving a left hand drive car on the wrong side of the road does require a special effort – it is not a natural activity I find.
The BFIW today. Simon tells us at the reception we have to stay in our seats for the first four courses; after, for the remaining five, it’s a buffet and we can wander about. Is that an ‘hurrah’ statement?