Tis Returns to Italy! Day 60: Moving to the Smurf Village
Today, after a week of embedding myself in the life of Strada San Sebastiano, it was time to head into the heart of the Puglia region. First stop, Alberobello!
Onward Into the Land of Cone Homes!
Alberobello is the home of the Trulli, which are little stone huts with cone-shaped roofs. The Trulli are a Unesco World Heritage site. Because they look the same, I equate them to Smurf homes! I could not wait to stay in the one I rented.
I took the train from Bari, arriving in Alberobello’s unremarkable station. It looked like it belonged in an old west ghost town. All the doors were locked up tight and there was only a ticket machine outside. I wondered what I was getting myself into.
Too late to turn back now! The next train out of here might be two weeks from now and involve a horse and buggy. So I pressed on, following google maps toward my Smurf house. I was encouraged that Google maps knew of Alberobello. That was something.
It did not take long to arrive in the center. I was cautiously optimistic by what I found. Instead of a vast wasteland of snack bars with old men hanging outside all day, which I fully support, there were a few decent-looking caffès around what appeared to be the tourist center. This was all located at the foot of a hill where most of the Trulli are concentrated.
Settling into Smurf House Life
Of course, my Trullo was not in the high-rent village. Instead, it was a little further out on a side street that dead-ends at an unremarkable apartment building. However, I did have a few Smurf neighbors, including one woman who came out to greet me as soon as I arrived. I was excited that she might be the owner of my new mushroom home and could let me in, but she was just a nosy neighbor. After I answered all of her questions satisfactorily in Italian, she went back inside her cone.
I sat on my Smurf House step in the back alley and waited. My host finally arrived and gave me a tour of the place that to my surprise, took quite some time. She kept telling me to follow her over to another corner so she could show me everything. I almost pointed out that I could stand anywhere and see the whole place but I thought that might not set the right tone for my visit.
After she left, I had to jump on some work zooms. Let’s just say the wifi in the Smurf Village is not conducive to running a successful business.
Exploring the Smurf Village
After I finished my work, I showered and changed for dinner. I headed away from the tourist center and up the hill to see what I could find. Keep in mind, it is the end of October, and tourist season is winding down.
I was very pleasantly surprised! It was a bit of a ghost town but in a delightful, wax museum kind of way. It reminded me of a perfect little town in Middle America, but with Italians. The few restaurants were opening for the evening so I chose one and was welcomed in. I was the only patron. I assumed others would come as I tend to eat earlier than most. They did not. It was a very bizarre feeling to be all alone in the rather large dining room with three men ready to take care of all my needs.
The menu was full of seafood so I assumed it was a specialty of the house. Hooray! I love seafood! At this point, my arteries needed a break from all the red meat. I don’t know how Italians eat so much red meat and don’t have the cardiac wards constantly full. As I like my heart, I happily ordered it pasta with clams and sundried tomatoes. I do love a sundried tomato. If sundried tomatoes were a person I might consider marriage.
When my dinner arrived I was excited to dive in. Wow. It is a good thing I love sundried tomatoes. I resisted the urge to tell the proud staff that if you are going to try and pass off frozen seafood as fresh, at least thaw it out completely.
Escape to My Mushroom Home
Ignoring the clams, I focused on my pasta and sundried tomatoes. I just wanted to go back to my Smurf home and crawl into my Smurf bed. After paying my check and thanking the many staff members, I thought of taking a stroll through the high-rent part of the village on my way home.
Wow. Sunny Southern Italy had gotten COLD. As I was to be in the sunny south of Italy toward the end of my trip, I had underestimated how cold it could get inland. As I only had a long sweater while others were wrapped in down coats, I felt like I had walked into the land of igloos instead of the land of Smurf Houses.
There was no stroll through the high-rent village that night. Instead, I headed directly to my back-alley Smurf home and shut myself in, cranking up the heat. I washed my face and crawled into bed under my little cone roof.
Despite the random challenges, I was happy to have this unique experience.
Ciao for now!