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Locked down but not out in Italy

Singing from the balconies! One nice thing about this crisis ... solidarity! “Guess you’re not living like a tourist anymore,” was the funny, truthful and somewhat gut-wrenching message of a friend the day the lockdown in Italy began. Today is day 6. My beloved Italia has been hit hard with the COVID19 epidemic. With the second largest elderly population in the world, the epidemic has meant a disproportionate amount of deaths in the country. So though I haven’t been worried about contracting it myself, this isn’t about me or someone like me who, if contracted it would probably have a sucky couple of weeks and then recover. It is about if someone like me contracted it and then spread it to a person with a complicated health history or an elderly person with a weakened immune system. Eerily orderly: Lines for the grocery store, each person one meter apart In a country with no concept (and no physical room really) for personal space, and in a city with reproachable hygie

Calming the Waters: A weekend in Puglia

Awhile ago now, I raved about Puglia. I talked about how it reminded me of a different Italy, of a different time in my life, and probably of a different time in the world altogether- pre-smart phone, pre-reality TV, pre-911, pre- even FACEBOOK.

Maybe because I was younger, or maybe because technology wasn’t quite as speedy, life was a bit slower then. Cell phones were still common in Italy, as was texting, but alerts from BBM, What’s app, Skype, Facebook and email didn't come through every minute of every day. It was just a cell phone.

Point is that despite my desire and my attempts to slow down my own pace,  (like walking to work, sitting outside at least once during work, eating my food carefully), the days fly by so quickly usually as a series of to-do lists, that the last month, nay year has gone by like lightning. I still feel my head spinning. How is it June? It has been almost two months since I went to Puglia, but remembering the peace I felt there reminds me that I need to seek that more often.

I grant that it is easy to say these things about a vacation. As matter of definition, vacation is a time for relaxing, slowing down, tuning and turning off. It isn’t always that way though. Sometimes (as you have even seen in this blog), I make lists packed full of things I HAVE to see, do, try, eat, go… Vacations can sometimes just be a different list.

Somehow Puglia stripped the list-maker out of me. The further we drove south, the happier I was to just be. The sun and wind were enough to entertain me. The white of the buildings and the blue of the water were enough to fill my senses. The wine, bread and food were enough to fill the days. 

Not to say that we just sat still on a beach. No, we went to eight cities (Altispada, Lecce, Ostuni, Santa Maria di Leuca, Gallipoli, Otranto, Manduria and Alberobello) in 4 days - hardly a “calm” vacation. But my mind was still. I was in every place we went. I experienced every hour in every city. I didn’t have lists, or messages or calls or other distractions racing around my brain every hour. Peace. It was irreplaceable. 

I can’t give all the credit to Puglia. It was a wondrous combination of everything- one of those weekends where it feels like, if the stars do destine our moods or actions in any way, that the celestial bodies were in the right place for this weekend: the company, the weather, the people we met, the restaurants we visited, the hotel and its manager- everything seemed to run effortlessly- destined to be pleasant, to be enjoyable. There wasn't a single spoke in the wheels.

There is definitely something about Puglia that allows for that though: fewer tourists, warmer weather, calmer people who don’t deal regularly with mega-city life. 

I will always be grateful to Puglia for being an alcove for the seeker of calm. Really, who wouldn't be soothed by these surroundings?



Santa Maria di Leuca



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