Wednesday, May 16, 2018

And We're Off Through Trulli Land

Small in numbers but strong in spirit, our little group headed out Tuesday afternoon for a test spin in the Puglian countryside, making a couple of stops on the way out of Polignano. 

The first was to stop and pose in front of the statue of Domenico Modugno, Polignano's most famous native son, the grandfather of Italian singers who popularized the song, "Volare."

The second was the port of San Vito, from which Bob and I had embarked on our boat tour of the caves of Poligano. Here, we took the lead photo, above. While we didn't dare walk across the beach in our cycling shoes, we nevertheless symbolically dipped our wheels in the water of the Adriatic, and we will finish our tour with another photo of us doing the same in the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea on the coast of Calabria.

San Vito, who apparently appreciated colorful dress, much as many cyclists do.

Here, too, we paused in front of a statue of Saint Vito (Vitus) to seek his blessings, protector as he is from (among other things) dog bites and bee stings--vital (no pun intended) for a cyclist setting off into the countryside. 

The weather was cool and overcast Tuesday afternoon and threatened rain. In the end, however, all we got were a few sprinkles. Thank you, San Vito. Totals for that short ride were 17 miles and 1007 vertical feet.

This picture was taken Tuesday evening from the terrace of our hotel.
We were having a meeting to go over the entire tour, and when I
looked up at one point, I saw the incredible light of the setting sun
on the buildings across the cove. This is a heavily filtered photograph,
but it captures the magic of that moment.

On Wednesday morning, we set off on the first full day of the tour. The sky was blue and the temperature was a little on the chilly side, but very comfortable. Our day's destination, Alberobello, wasn't all that far as the crow flies from Polignano, but by the end of the day we would ride 44.5 miles and climb 3750 feet -- not that there were any big ascents, but there were lots of ups and downs.

A pastoral scene we passed yesterday morning. Saint Vitus came through again shortly after this photo was taken as a dog came running out in hot pursuit after the couple on the tandem in front of me, oblivious to my presence just behind. We escaped unharmed.

A view out over the coastal plains of Puglia to the Adriatic with two trulli in the foreground. These conical-shaped structures are found throughout this region of Puglia, and the ones in this and the following photo were some of the first we encountered.

One of the fun things about these tours is the occasional encounter with locals. When we stopped to refill our water bottles at one point, we encountered Giovanni, pictured below, who entered into an intense, rambling discussion with Dana, one of our guides about his life as a widower, going to dances several nights a week and the trials and tribulations he experienced while trying to find a woman at this point in his life.

After lunch, we headed into the Itria Valley and passed some lovely vineyards and fields of poppies. Then it was on to Alberello, where we sampled yet more gelato, a guide told us the story of the trulli, and we attended a tasting of several local wines.

Wild poppies with the cones of three trulli peaking over the grass in the distance.

Listening to our guide tell us about trulli.

Alberello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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