ITALIA Day 6: Olive Trees and Ocean Air

Why, yes, I did just take yesterday’s post title and transfer it to this one. Casual.

But hey, I think it describes today PERFECTLY, even moreso than yesterday, as you’ll see below.

How can I even describe today? Seriously, it’s getting to the point where words don’t even do it justice. After a beautifully presented and delicious breakfast, we had our “route rap” (a brief discussion of our biking day to come) down in the lobby and set course. We once again found ourselves amidst the lush farmlands and rolling hills of Puglia.

…Of course, what would “rolling hills” be with a big, enormous one at the very beginning (3 km to be exact??!) This would be the perfect time for a picture of the beast, but I was too busy defeating it. EXCELSIOR!

At noon, we found ourselves in Polignano di Mare, a beautiful seaside town, for a brief lunch at a small restaurant (I’ll get back to you with the name, but do go here if you visit Puglia!). LOOK AT THE COLOR OF THIS WATER!!!!!!!

What color is this? Cerulean? Cobalt? AWESOME?!
What color is this? Cerulean? Cobalt? AWESOME?!

As you can see from the remaining photos, the rest of the day was none too bad, either – even when it started to rain!

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After stopping to pick and eat cherry trees on the side of the road
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Center of Polignano di Mare

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We rode about 33 miles today. WOOHOO!!! By the grace of god, the last 5 km were downhill, almost like a gift saying “Your thighs have earned this. Now let’s go back and eat some pasta.”

At 7:00 (sorry – 19:00), we rejoined for a wine tasting and I think we met our new favorite person next to Stasa and Caterina: Mimmo! Mimmo is our sommelier and will also be with us for another cultural adventure on Day 7 (Day 3 for Backroads). We tried 5 wines from the Puglia region as well as some SCRUMPTIOUS cheese (my personal favorite part!!) It was fun to learn about wine, as I know literally nothing about it. I had no idea there was such a flavor as “peppery” or “unbalanced”, so I was impressed with everyone around me, who could distinctly identify the differences between the wines!

The man of the hour: Mimmo! (not Nemo)
The man of the hour: Mimmo! (not Nemo)

The four wines we tried were: Il Falcone, Antelo, Di Voto, Kriko, and Aleatico. The last two are dessert wines. I think Aleatico is the unique one of the group; my mom described it as having a “cognac-y” flavor (I’ll go with that – I don’t even know what cognac is).

The cheeses? Now THERE’S where I know my stuff ๐Ÿ˜‰ Haha. Not really, but I certainly love almost all cheese. We tried three different kinds: a “drunk” cheese aged in primitivo wine of the Puglia region, smoked cheese, and, the best one of all…pecorino aged in ash! I have to say that pecorino, while somewhat strong, is probably one of the best cheeses ever. It’s made of sheep’s milk, too, which has a distinctly better, fattier taste than cow’s milk. All the cheeses were topped with local chutneys, which you spice lovin’ folk would have died over. I can’t be in the same vicinity as mild salsa and not have my tongue tingle, so I avoided them…but I heard all wonderful things!

We went straight from wine tasting to dinner at the hotel. You’ll notice that I haven’t actually reviewed our last few restaurants, other than giving their names. Why? Because EVERYTHING has been perfect. Seriously. Going on these trips, it’s not even a fair comparison to compare our artfully prepared, perfectly serviced little banquets to your average restaurant visit. Backroads (the company we’re going with) sets everything up to everyone’s tastes and does everything in their power to make the experience wonderful. On these types of trips, la vitaย รจ bella indeed!

I’ve also gotten used to eating late, and might even prefer it. Italy protip: Italians eat late, obviously ๐Ÿ™‚ In the North, dinner typically starts at 7:30-8:00, and it gets progressively later in the South. Here in Puglia, we’ve eaten no later than 8:30 the last couple of nights

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Pugliese cuisine is heavy in vegetables, beans, and seafood. Also look for taralle, which are like little fat breadsticks formed into a circle!
Pugliese cuisine is heavy in vegetables, beans, and seafood. Also look for taralle, which are like little fat breadsticks formed into a circle!

I am once again writing this in the morning of my Day 7, and today we will be leaving Il Melograno ๐Ÿ™ I’ll be sad if I write more, so let me go get my coffee!

Thought of the day: The mood you’re in affects the mood of people around you. If you’re not happy with the demeanor of your surroundings, smile! It’s contagious.

-H

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