Groups Tour Consultant Jenny Humphries recently returned from the Puglia & Southern Italy tour. A self-described food buff, she couldn’t get enough of the locally grown produce and amazingly fresh cheese, pasta and fish. Here, she shares some of her favorite moments from her trip.
The Puglia region of Italy is filled with rolling landscapes and terrific views of the sea. Entering the quaint villages such as Benevento and Barletta was like stepping back through time. Everyone was out and about, strolling at dusk. It was lovely to see so many young families, grandparents and children walking about, just taking in the gorgeous night air. It was such departure from visiting the larger cities like Rome or Florence.
What I enjoyed most was taking in the people and seeing Italian families in their element—everybody seemed like family! You would walk by and people would be saying “Ciao!” and stopping in the middle of the street to strike up a conversation.
Everything in southern Italy runs a bit slower. A meal would mean a few hours for everyone to enjoy their time together. The food was fantastic, but what made it memorable was sitting at the table family-style and eating, drinking and talking with everyone on tour. I was also able to get to know the other travelers, which enhanced the tour so much.
I was happy to eat my way through Southern Italy. The food was delicious: fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil, everything freshly grown and brought right to the table. I was happy to gain a few pounds by the end of this tour, the food was worth it!
A highlight of the tour was learning about the history specific to the Puglia region. I had never heard, seen or even read about the famous trulli villages before this tour. A trullo is a cone-shaped dwelling where a large peasant family would typically live, keeping their animals inside with them for warmth. In Alberobello, we learned that the trullo were designed with a keystone at the top, and when a tax collector came by the family would remove the keystone and collapse their house in order to avoid the ‘room tax.’ Once the tax collector passed by the family would be able to rebuild the house within an hour.
This was such a unique part of the tour; I could have spent hours wandering in and out of the shops that now occupy the trulli. To cap of the time spent in Alberobello, I participated on the Grotte Di Castellana and Dinner excursion where dinner was hosted at a beautiful trulli farm, with original trullo still standing. The food was fantastic!