Friday, December 19, 2014

Time for some tourism

This is a continuing saga of our research trip to Southern Italy in search of ancestral data.  The next two posts will cover our weekend in Palo Del Colle, a small commune in the Puglia region, near the city of Bari on the Adriatic side of Italy.  This is the 7th post.  

Our Alarm Clock (Doesn't every farm have one of these?)
After travelling across Italy, we were exhausted and we collapsed in our farm room and settled into a deep sleep;  that is, until about 5:00 AM the next morning.  That's the time when the donkey began braying.  It was so loud, we thought the donkey was in our room.  The donkey actually woke up the rooster and got him going.  Soon, the geese joined in on the cacophony.  I'm afraid there will be no sleeping in today.

Well, we decided that sleep was overrated anyway.  This was our day to do some sightseeing, so, after listening to the animal symphony for a few minutes, we dragged ourselves out of bed to begin the day.

We found a message on our computer from one of our Palo del Colle Facebook friends, Vito Tricarico.  He told us that today, there  was a festa in the town.  He wanted to know if we would like to attend.  Other than Facebook, we don't really know Vito, but we said yes anyway.  However, we weren't at all sure how this was going to happen.

We decided to freshen up with a shower and then go to breakfast and decide where we were going to go and what we were going to do.  Ladies before gentlemen, and, after showering, Gay was about to blow dry her hair when I went to get into the shower.  This didn't go so well.

And not a drop of water on the floor
You see, Italian showers are notoriously small.  This was not news to me, and I have adapted to the limited arm room, but this shower posed a special problem.  It seems the door did not open all the way, and the width of the shower entrance was unusually tiny.  On my first attempt, I simply got stuck in the doorway.  I was not getting in this shower without destroying the door.

Where there's a will, there's a way.  I'm an ex engineer and I put my skills to use.  First, I soaped up the edges of the door.  Next I enlisted Gay to push.  Together, pushing and squeezing, we managed to get my substantial frame into the shower.  Getting out was also a challenge, but I was ready for breakfast, and nothing stops me when I'm hungry.

Off to breakfast.  There was Marie Vero, our hostess, waiting for us.  She asked what we would like.  After nearly a week of continental breakfasts, we decided that scrambled eggs would be really nice for a change.  Marie went out to the chicken coop and brought back some eggs.  She served them with croissants and some specially made coffee (Italian coffee with copious hot water added).  The breakfast was wonderful.

We sat there and started to prepare an agenda for the day.  The next thing we know we have a visitor.  There, in the dining room, stood Vito Tricarico.
Signor Vito Tricarico - Author, Poet, and amazing human being

Vito saw our computer message and had come all the way to the farm to take us to the local festa.  Little did we know that we had just put ourselves into the hands of a very fine person.  Vito speaks no English, but we managed to introduce each other.  He seemed excited to meet us and had a full day planned for our pleasure.  The first item of business was to get into his car as he whisked us out of the country and into the central part of the town.  

Piazza in Palo Del Colle

Vito drove through some very narrow and crowded streets.  I could sense Gay, in the back seat, holding her breath as we drove "Italian Style".  We were so happy that he was driving.  Eventually, he parked the car in what seemed like the only open parking space in town.  It happened to be in front of his house.  We went inside and there, we met his lovely wife, Maria and daughter, Anna.

We only stayed long enough to use the bagno, and then Vito whisked us, on foot, up the street to a large Piazza.  There was a religious festa today, and it included a parade out to the country.  The featured float in this parade was a large cross.  The parade was forming in the Piazza and we got to see some of the action. 

While we were there in the old part of the town, Vito took the trouble to provide some of the history of Palo Del Colle.  It seems Vito has done a lot research and has even written a book about the history of the area.  He took us through several narrow streets and we visited several churches.  Before long, we met up with Vito's son, Domenico.  Domenico also is very knowledgeable about the history of Palo Del Colle and he could also speak a little English.  Vito went back to his house and left us in the hands of Domenico.

After seeing a little more of the town, we returned to the house for a moment before we got into Vito's car with Maria and Anna and drove to the festa.  There, we attended the religious service which took place in the middle of a carnival complete with booths for games and food.  We sampled a little of the food and mixed with all the people.

At the "Festa Della Croce"

We then went back to Vito's house for an afternoon meal.  Maria and her daughters served cheeses and salami, pasta, salad, sausages and fruit.  There was also that omni present grape juice and we even had a little lemoncello.  We concocted a plan to drive to Bari.  Vito wanted us to see the city.  We would do some sightseeing and visit a church for our weekend mass obligation. 

Before we were to leave for Bari, Vito took us to the Palo Del Colle cemetery and then took us to some of Gay's ancestral streets, and then, to a number of other sights.  We walked and walked and got history lessons galore.  It was very clear that we were immersed in history.  There is nothing in our own country that is as old as the things Vito was showing us.

We came to an ancestral church and noticed that people were arriving for the Saturday evening mass.  We decided to attend.  Vito went home to get his wife and the four of us celebrated the mass together.

Another Magnificent Italian Church

We walked back to the house and prepared to return to the farm, but we managed to convince Vito and Maria to come there with us for dinner.  With a little arm twisting, they accepted.  A little later, Domenico showed up.  We sat and chatted for a long time.  Vito told us that he was going to contact a friend who was a real cousin to Gay.  Domenico asked if, tomorrow, we would like him to show us the commune of Bitonto and the city of Bari.  We talked late into the night with the help of the translation efforts of Domenico and Marie Vero.

Ceniamo a Masseria Vero

This was a very busy day for us.  We had seen many things in Palo del Colle.  We had encountered enormous hospitality.  We have made life long friends and we are very tired.  Buonanotte.

Next Post
Bitonto, Bari,  our first
 look at the Adriatic Sea, and
a surprise visit from a relative
Five Tricaricos and one Barbella

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