Today our plan is to do some olive oil tasting, sip some wine and have a gourmet lunch fillled with local products. Hah!
”The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy! ”
Perhaps a bit heavy, Robert Burns. Plans often go awry but can be replaced by something new and exciting!
This morning we start out with olive oil and wine tasting at Azienda Zacheo.
We are greeted warmly and there is a barrage of Italian which even our best Italian speakers (not me!) are having trouble with. I am immediately flustered and forget to take any pictures. (Thank you internet for the pictures!) We must have said something correctly because the server pulls out a big plate and some stale bread which she proceeds to inundate with olive oil, a lot of olive oil. She also pours three glasses of wine – red, rose, and white. We are not too taken with the wine but the oilive oil is superb. We decide that we can somehow nestle the olive oil into our suitcases along with the meloncello that we bought in Pompeii.
This whole transaction took maybe 20 minutes so now we are way ahead of the schedule that I have in mind for today’s activities. We move on to the wine tasting part of the program which is back towards Lecce. This is suppose to occur after lunch and now it is 10:30 AM. We decide to follow one of the brown signs which mean something to see of significance historically. We stop in a town, Martano, in order to see the Cappella dell’ Immacolata and waste some time. This is a bust as the church doesn’t have anything of particular interest to us.
Italy Traveling Tip: If you need to use a restroom while sightseeing drop into a caffe and order a cafe (espresso). It will cost about 1 Euro. Mostly this is drunk while standing at the coffee bar but there are usually tables as well. Now you have entry to the bathroom facilities. If you are lucky the toilet will be full American but sometimes it is just a bowl and no seat. I think you are supposed to stand over this and pee. We tend to clean them off carefully and perch on the edge. If you are really unlucky it will be a hole in a porcelain surround that you stand over. We have not run into any of these this trip.
So we stop in at Caffe Ficile and use the restroom which has a seat! Yay!
Off we go to our wine tasting stop. John wrote to them on Friday that we were coming on Monday so we are looking for the proverbial red carpet. Before going in we stop for a picture.
We go inside and encounter no one. While waiting for the welcoming committee we take some more pictures.
Finally someone shows up and says “chiuso” closed. What? We explain as best we can in Italian that we have written to say that we are coming. But he shrugs and says chiuso. Well, okay, but can we at least buy some wine? Si.
We have had the Apollonio Chardonnay and know we like it and John wants a bottle of red so we buy two bottles and are on our way. It is now noon. We have completed our day’s activities in about two hours. It is still too early for lunch.
We are about an hour away from the bottom of Italy’s heel so we decide to travel down and look at the sea and have lunch. It is a pleasant ride with the Italian fields on either side newly planted and fruits trees blossoming. We reach the very bottom of the heel and take some pictures before finding a place for lunch.
We opt for the Hotel Rizieri for lunch since John and I have eaten there on a prior trip. Once again I choose badly. Swordfish and eggplant? Why did I think that would be good?! John and Sarah decline my leftovers.
On the way in we have seen signs for the Devil’s Grotto. We decide to go and take a look. It is at the southernmost point on the heel (punta ristola). The path to the point is rather rocky so John and Sarah go ahead and I stay on the sturdier land behind.
Later back at the hotel John finds a store and buys some chips and instead of going out to dinner we have a wine and chips picnic in our room.
Instead of grief and pain that our plans went awry we made our own joy!