I made it to Puglia! After two long weeks of preparations and goodbyes, the day finally came for me to get on the plane that would whisk me off to my new Southern life. I have to admit, when that moment came, I was frightened. I sat in Girona airport with that bottomless feeling of flying the nest once again, but when we landed in Brindisi, I was cheered by the dark blue sea. The things I hate about Ryanair (details here) were softened by the infectious jubilation of the young Italian travellers around me, who were enthusiastic and polite versions of the UK ‘Lad’ with longer eyelashes.
My travels took me from France to Spain to Italy, in cars, a plane, a bus and trains. My journey north from Brindisi was pleasant because I inadvertently booked myself on to the fast train (woop, leg-room and slidey-seats) and had the sea on my left and olive trees on my right.
My first evening in Molfetta was a blur of boats, supermarkets and white stone buildings. I was met with kindness and hospitality, which made me feel Lucky and kept homesickness at bay. I saw the most enormous onions ever and bought a double pack of Italian ground coffee. I also ate Italian pizza with Italian people, who were very friendly and taught me swear words.
Today I went to Bari and my Italian pals showed me la Fiera, a huge fair/exhibition/flea market that runs in the city for one week each September. There were crowds and endless businesses, sofas and tractors, silk scarves and sangria. My favourite part was the ‘Artigianato internazionale’, which was made of up stalls selling crafts from countries around the world. This man made little clay pots on the spot and handed them to people : they were done in about three seconds and dried in ten minutes. I loved the Tunisian plates and the Indian rugs.
I also liked sampling the honey and apple juice in the agriculture section and going round Eataly. Imagine the food section of Harvey Nicholls, quadrupled in size and exclusively Italian products. We saw all the classy chocolate spreads and espresso machines that looked like computers, but ended up roughing it with a good ol’ hot dog after fighting crowds of hungry Italians shouting for a lunch ticket. Terrifying stuff, but I made it out alive.
So far I am happy. I am by the sea and wearing shorts again. Sunday is a chill day here but tomorrow my administrative tasks kick off and I get a tour of the school where I will soon be teaching. Wish me luck !