Early Friday morning we left our hotel for the airport. So long Edinburgh Native hotel…
Who knows. Who knows? Was yesterday’s post two days ago? Is today the fourth day we went to the beach or the seventeenth day we looked at a church? Was it 36.5 degrees yesterday or was that the day before, and how much hotter is 45 in France to 36 in Puglia? In Memento the story goes forward and backward, both at the same time, and that is sort of like the long, sunny, very hot days here in the heel of Italy. Oh, spoiler alert, in Memento the story goes forwards and backwards, both at the same time. (Colour backward; B&W forward.) The biggest buzz around here, if you will, is the destruction of the remains of the Genoa bridge. So something happened, somewhere.
I guess yesterday we ended up at a beach south of Gallipoli. It’s a three km stretch of white sand known as the “pearl of the Ionian sea” and it was busy; not Pescaluse crazy tourist busy, but busy. Thursday busy. Not like a “crazy” Monday.
Then in late afternoon we took a spin into Gallipoli proper, a fort town with a castle where the old centre is an island on the Ionian connected to the mainland by a bridge. It’s a tourist hot spot; brightly appealing, tidier and infinitely more accommodating for the out-of-towners (than Nardo; which is a little more authentic, a functioning local town, has the feeling of an Italian Southern Gulf Islands community).
In the evening we walked 25 meters to a local place set, Rome style, into the narrow corridor between two shops, for a simple and tasty dinner of meat, vegetables and stuffed zucchini flowers. Afterwards we strolled the piazza and had gelato. One more day like this and I’ll be a delusional in Cuckoo’s Nest.
Oh and then another day came; the swallows woke us up, the sun beat down, a dog barked. So I guess it was more Groundhog Day than Cuckoo’s Nest. Today we absolved ourselves of culture entirely. Today we went further south to the craggy beaches of Punta della Suina which are the far end of the Bay of Gallipoli.
We landed on my favorite beach to date: You park in a conservation area, hike in on a trail through a coastal pine forest, and the beach resorts abut the ocean between rocky coves. G Beach, the beach club where we spent the day, is mostly platforms set into the landscape; although the swimming is sandy, the approach is rocky, so there are platforms to walk into the sea. It hit 35 today, but the breeze kept us temperate; I felt for the French as I bobbed in ample surf and deconstructed the Wimbledon draw. I tried a local specialty which is called a Café Lechese, and which is recommended as a pick-me-up on a hot morning. I was told it would be a double espresso and almond milk on ice. No. No that it is not. It is a refreshing double espresso on ice, yes, but with Amaretto. That, my friends, is a cocktail.
If you walked to the rocky promontory you could see more beach clubs going south.
But I think we picked the pick of the litter.
One great thing about these beach days is that the locals all leave their umbrella loungers for lunch; proper two, 2.5 hour south of Italy lunch, at the beach café. That means there is this huge chunk of serenity midday. Followed by of course the older set collapsing exhausted and the younger couples, quite frisky, pushing their deck chairs together or canoodling in the sea in an explicit fashion even Lola Heatherton on SCTV couldn’t repeat.
And that was the day. I think. I’ve sort of lost track. How did artists retire to the Mediterranean and ever get anything done? Forster called traveling here “fruitful” but I would call it languorous at best and the antithesis to Tony Robbins. PS: There is a lot of deep snoring at night.
Back at the apartment we decided to take advantage of the amenities. Correction, Stephen took advantage of the amenities. We are 10 meters from a salumeria, where you can get fresh cheese, meat, wine and so forth (three days and he knows me by name which, unfortunately, is signor Glan); SS put together a pasta with burrata, capers, fresh basil and tomatoes, and we ate that alongside an arugula and pepper salad.