The first day in Puglia we were given the freedom to wander about the country, at least the country surrounding our hotel.
Starting the next day our hosts from VBT, Deborah and Juliano (native Puglians) had us awakened at TCOD (the crack of dawn) as opposed to my usual TCON (the crack of noon).
We had a breakfast of yogurt, fruit, homemade lemon pastries, and prosciutto accompanied by the very best cappuccino ever.
After installing my GPS on the handlebars, we were on our bikes by 8:30am (yes, as in morning!) Each day’s tour follows a different route through the area. Some days we ride up to 30 miles and other days the route is only 29 miles.
Today’s ride was along the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
The name may seem familiar to you because Rocky’s wife Adrianne was named after this beautiful body of water and ever since the movie the area touched by the waters of the Adriatic has been a huge tourist attraction.
Debora (pronounced the Italian way) told us this morning to just keep the water on your right side and you will not get lost. I proved her wrong but she was able to find me amongst the fishing boats at the pier.
The morning route took us through fields of cabbage (you could recognize the crop from the familiar odor) and fennel and celery. We cycled past vineyards planted with Primitivo grapes and orchards of olives and almonds.
As we passed through a particularly beautiful olive orchard, Debora stopped with me and pointed out that there are 14 types of olives grown in Puglia. I was fascinated, and told her that my favorite were the martini olives.
She gave me a quizzical look, then a smile, then rolled her eyes and continued down the road.
Just before we left the orchard she stopped again to show me how the farmers had strung plastic mesh under the trees to catch falling olives.
A few trees were left without the mesh and these olives were left to just fall onto the ground. Debora turned and looked me in the eye and said, “These olives are for ‘dirty’ martinis”.
I could hear her laughing as she road away.
Giuliano and Debora recommended a local taverna in Monopoli for a “typical” lunch of fresh seafood and salad. We passed onto a narrow cobbled street that looked like every picture of an Italian village that you have ever seen in a movie.
The lane was so narrow that only bicycles should have been allowed, but no, Italian cars were zooming past as we strolled.
After arriving back at the Masseria we did what the Italians do and enjoyed a nice nap before our wine and olive oil tastings.