Because we arrived in the dark, it wasn’t until this morning that I discovered the unique beauty of the countryside that surrounds us in Ceglie, Puglia. Located in Italy’s middle-Puglia, it is hillier than the south, with clumps of pine forest. My friends, with whom we will stay, have renovated an old farmhouse. The farmhouses in Puglia are known as masseria and they literally fill the countryside. Many are fortified with impressive stone walls.
When we arrived their three dogs gave us a royal greeting. Today, Neil is working in the garden, which is bearing fruit already. I grew up in Maine, where the growing season is incredibly short, and we were lucky to have strawberries by my birthday, on July 6th. This morning, in early May, strawberries are ripe for the picking.
Trulli are a unique form of hut that have cone-shaped roofs. They have existed for at least 2,000 years in this region and their origin is ancient Greece. The most popular place to see trulli is the town of Alberobello, which I write about here . The town has more than 1,500 of the peculiar huts. Right now, the countryside around me is filled with trulli. Some have been left to fall into disrepair but many are being renovated. In this area, trulli are also commonly renovated. This morning I met an English couple who have spent the winter restoring a trullo. After a lunch on homemade bread, we took the dogs for a walk and explored some of the abandoned trulli for signs of life.
For tonight’s dinner, my girlfriend Kristin is making homemade pasta. Recreating popular regional dishes is one our favorite challenges. Whether it’s an incredible eggplant Parmesan made with un-breaded eggplant, or a Bolognese sauce made using a secret family recipe, we like to test our taste buds and see if we can recreate it. We are very comfortable cooking Puglia’s food. Many different types of pasta are traditional in Puglia, the most famous of which is orecchiette, which means little ears. Today’s dish is regular linguini however, only it is made with semolina, the flour used to make orecchiette. It is eggless. We’ll eat it simply, with a healthy amount of sautéed garlic in Pugliese extra-virgin olive oil and a bottle of Cantele winery’s Aglianico.
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com