This is the continuation of the blog about our trip to Puglia, Italy, for a friend’s wedding.
We wake up late (13 hours of sleep to get back on track after our sleepless American Airlines flight in coach) and take a walk around Monopoli before lunch:
As the slightest breeze carries my new hat flying — which an Italian hat shop salesman somehow convinced me the day before to spend way too much money to buy — that it really does not fit. We try to find the hat shop. We cannot find the hat shop. We keep getting lost. And are starting to get hangry.
Still, we take lots of pics along the way:
(SIGN: No dogs peeing on the plants)
We give up on hat shop and try to get wifi at coffee shop to clear Olivier’s debit cards for travel. We can’t get connected. Olivier’s credit card doesn’t work, and I’m down to my last Euros. We wait at the coffee shop until 1 pm, when the sandwich shop next door, Panini y Vino, opens:
We order a panini with spec and cheese, and bruschetta on soft, chewy bread with tomatoes, mint and strong ricotta cheese (that tastes more like blue cheese):
I bite my lip (the third time in a week) and bleed everywhere. Olivier remarks repeatedly how adorable the little town is and everyone seems to know each other; notes that everyone looks like Roberto Benigni. We agree later, this might be the best meal of our trip.
We get ready to settle up and find out it’s cash only. Wander around town for half an hour, and can’t find an ATM to pay.
But we do finally find the hat shop. It’s closed (it’s Sunday).
Olivier finally stumbles on ATM, the only in the old town, on a back alley. (Reminder: We are not in NYC anymore.)
We pack our bags. And can’t find car keys. Search for 10 minutes. Decide AirBNB host Rosa has snuck into the apartment while we were gone, taken keys, and stolen our car. We probably deserve it for leaving keys in the apartment in the first place.
We find our keys under my bag.
Head off to Ostuni — an English tourist in Monopoli tells us is known as the “White City” (“Città Bianca”). On the drive we talk about living wills and euthanasia. Cheery!
The area has been inhabited since the Stone Age, and the city itself, like most others in the region, was built in Medieval times, starting as a castle on a hill. Everything is built out of limestone, the local rock, hence the “white” name:
We arrive in late afternoon; it’s beautiful and sunny. The old town is filled with impressive baroque-style architecture:
We stop to have a cafe, and finally connect to the Internet:
Olivier calls his bank. We find out that the card is actually not on hold; the lady at restaurant the night before who said it didn’t work probably just didn’t want us to use our card.
I stop for a chocolate gelato. It is decadent.
We walk around the middle of the old town, a walled city a couple of miles from the ocean. Notice all Italian women wear heels, even in this hilly town. Try to find the main city cathedral. Get lost. We realize: There are lots of cathedrals in Italy.
We finally stumble onto it, at the top of a steep hill. It’s huge, built in limestone and marble. I can’t decide if the seats lining sides of altar are for clergy or rich people. Olivier remarks for our own upcoming wedding (in December) that he would want to get married in a church if it looked like this. We are getting married on the beach, no priest.
We walk to our apartment to meet our AirBNB host Umberto, a 10 minute walk from the old city:
The apartment is small and smells a bit of sewer, but it’s cute. Umberto is a sommelier, who has worked at the hotel where we’ll end our trip for our friend’s wedding. He says it’s the hotel in Puglia. We don’t doubt it.
After a nap, walk around town more:
We stop to have drink at tourist restaurant La Belle Vista. A 10-year-old boy in line for bathroom is playing with squishy ball that looks exactly like a woman’s breast. Nipple and all.
We talk about Olivier’s dad, who’s probably not coming to our wedding. Decide he’s jealous. And maybe a jerk? Also discuss whether Olivier is cheap. Decide maybe he is.
Walk to restaurant, a Neapolitan pizza recommendation from Umberto. I get lost (I’m always the one finding our way). Olivier finds the way. Rubs it in.
The pizza is delicious. Olivier agrees, better than our favorite NYC pizza place, Keste. And the bread is better than French baguettes. This is huge.
Once again, we arrived at the restaurant at 8pm and it’s empty; when we leave at 10pm it’s packed. It’s Sunday.
On our way back, there’s an arts festival in the street. We stop to watch street performers play with fire. Drum players beating their drums while a woman dances barefoot. Another woman who’s doing a modern dance with a (very realistic, life-sized) old lady puppet.
We have drinks on a terrace before returning to the apartment. Decide clowns and actors are narcissists. Maybe writers too.