In the Heel

We are in the heel of Italy, in Puglia.
I always thought of the Italian south as dirt poor and desolate, and when we drove out of Bari and set out towards our first hotel near Locorotondo, the scenery seemed to confirm that.
But when we drove off the highway inland, everything changed.
This part of the boot is designer.
Itria Valley, the home of trulli, is verdant and lush. There are vineyards, olive, almond, and fig trees, palazzos and mansions all around. Trulli, the conical stone structures more suitable for smurfs or hobbits than for humans, pop out of the fields here and there, mostly in clusters of 3, 4, 5, or 7. The clusters usually comprise coneheads of different sizes: a mom, a dad, and several kids.
Our b&b, proudly called Leonardo Trulli RESORT (even though there are only 4 rooms here), is one such cluster, and our unit is a mom and a kid: mom, being the bedroom, and the kid is a bathroom.
(The dad and other kids are someone else’s rooms and bathrooms).
This conehead family resides in a garden, and there is a pool for humans nearby. It’s a cool place to live!
This morning, we went to the capital of the trulli country, Alberobello. Here, the coneheads of different sizes occupy an entire huge hill – the same shapes, same stone “hats”, which, instead of pompoms, sport all kinds of symbols: some christian, some pagan. The whole place is out of a fairytale, that’s for sure!
For the change of scenery, we went to a totally different town, Polignano a Mare. Polignano is a seaside town, as you can deduce from its name. The centro storico is quite charming, but the reason it deserves a visit is the view of the shoreline from the town, which sits on top of an enormous rock that drops steeply down to the sea – curvy, ragged, with an undulating line of grottos hugging the bottom.
Both towns are yet to be discovered by tourists. No Americans crossed our path anywhere today. Some Brits and Germans did, but mostly, it’s the locals or Italian tourists. Good for us!

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