Some postcard sketches and their inspirations, beginning with the San Francisco airport, then Fiumicino, outside of Rome, followed by scenes from Otranto and the Salento countryside. Hover the cursor over the image, click on the "Play" button and enjoy the show!
Look what we found in the Yucatan in Mexico! If you are ever in the Yucatan beach town of Playa del Carmen and want to eat a good pizza or a plate of pasta, this is the place.
Things change. Every year that we return to Salento, we learn of something new. The news is not always good. Marinella Cacciatore, the sister of our co-author Luciana, passed away suddenly of a heart attack in the Spring of this year. Marinella was a teacher of Latin and Greek at a nearby high school. Her high school auditorium has been renamed and rededicated to honor her memory. We will remember her as smart, friendly and dedicated to her students and learning.
It's all about the book promotion these days....and that means communication with you, our readers. For those of you who have written back to us, we thank you for your interest and support. For those of you who have been to Salento recently, we would love to hear your comments about your trip experiences and whether you found our book helpful or not. As we all know, things change, so any updates regarding travel notes in our book would be gratefully appreciated.
We were in Otranto this year (2017) from the middle of June to the middle of July. The weather was good and our swims in the Otranto Bay were fantastic with clear and often calm (no wind) waters. We even joined some friends and hiked down a small cliff to a picturesque and isolated cove south of Otranto. It was a bit dicey getting back out onto the rocks, but we made it.
The little tourist shop on the corner outside our apartment was no longer. Gigi and Rosaria have retired. Our two favorite eating places, Il Ghiottone and Il Castello are doing well. The best pasta and mussels in my opinion are at Il Ghiottone; add a seafood antipasta and a bottle of susumaniello wine and savor it all. Sergio thanked us for mentioning susumaniello wine in our book....he says that he knows which customers have read the book when they ask for it, since it has only recently become more popular with local Italians. Il Castello owners Roberto and Maria and family continue to welcome everyone with good local dishes and pizza. We've learned over the years that this is a good restaurant to start a conversation with a neighboring table, so don't be shy.
For the first time this year we noticed African refugees who appear to have chosen Otranto as their home base and not move on further north like so many others. They are more out and about in town, some at work in small stores. For the first time I saw African children swimming and playing in the water. Older teenagers played vigorous games of volleyball on a small section of the town's beach. Later in our trip we visited the towns of Riace and Badolato in Calabria, towns known for their acceptance and accommodation of numerous refugees from war torn areas of Africa and the Middle East.
Check in soon for more about our summer adventures in Salento.
Coming up in future blog posts::
*a rock concert for over 60"s....Lucio Dalla and 90's nostalgia
*a fabulous cooking school in Lecce in an old palazzo: The Awaiting Table
*a side trip to Calabria: it's closer than you think
Please join us at our upcoming book presentation
6:00pm, Wednesday, November 8
Book Passage bookstore in San Francisco
One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111
The one-hour presentation will feature a multimedia introduction to Salento, with slides, music, a video introduction to our three Salento authors, Carlo, Luciana and Lucia and brief readings from the book by our San Francisco authors, Audrey and David Fielding. Of course Audrey and David will be available to sign and dedicate your copy of SALENTO BY 5.
Out of the blue, the Facebook page for SALENTO BY 5 recently received a great message from two people we'd never met before--Steve and Marianne Silverio of Villanova, Pennsylvania. We'd like to share the exchange of messages with you below (from now on, I'm going to ask for un bicchiere di vino a'la Nubilo!).
Salve, Audrey & David! I have just finished your wonderful book and want to thank you for the time I spent reading... No attempting to absorb it, while thoroughly enjoying it! My wife Marianne and I will be traveling in the Salento in June, on our way to the Scuola Internationale di Mosca in Castel di Sangro. We have been in northern provinces and in Abruzzo, where my parents came from before emigrating to America, but never south as my father always said of the Calabrese, [le terrone] di teste dure! We are now very anxious to go and your book has made it so much more tangible and real. Molte grazie e un grande abbraccio, Steve & Marianne Silverio Villanova, PA
Ciao te Audrey & David, It was Marianne who, searching for more literature about Apulia and the Salento, found your book. It is quite a little treasure-trove of information as well as a personal view of a very unique part of Italy. Some of the stories reminded me of how my mother and father spoke of relatives in their little towns. Like the fact that my great, great grandfather, Nubilo, who collected farmer's grain in his donkey cart, had a healthy thirst for wine, eschewing any proffered glass not full to the brim. My dad used to say that if you walked into any taverna in Scherni and ordered un bicchiere di vino, a'lla Nubilo, you would always get a glass full to the brim! We would have really enjoyed nothing better than to spend a little time with you but we must travel to Castel di Sangro to be there by the 25th. for the Italian Fly Fishing Festival. I hope that someday we can meet as I can tell you that, unlike any travel book I have ever read, yours touched me in a special way. I nostri saluti più caldi per te entrambi, Steve & Marianne
Blog post by David
Congratulations . . .
to SALENTO BY 5 author, Carlo Longo, and his group BlueSalento on the release today of BlueSalento's new CD album, "Mare Tu Salentu," produced by the Pugliese label, Dodicilune.
The new album was the subject of a presentation ceremony on the evening of April 7 in the town of Taviano in the heart of Salento. The atmosphere and the characters of each sound track of the album create a tangle of emotions and memories in the foreground while reflecting scenes of the Salento countryside and its seas. The album's music and lyrics express the joys and suffering of Salento: a Syrian woman with riveting eyes in flight from war; a Albanian girl desperate to return home; a father who lost his fisherman son to the sea; a shooting star that holds together two distant lovers; the wind that carries messages to the beloved; the inevitable Salento displaying typical Salentino irony.
The sounds of "Mare Tu Salentu" are sophisticated and refined, with strong contributions from classical instrumentalists. The language of the lyrics is Salento's universal lingua franca common throughout the region, with minimal regional dialect, and with markedly Spanish-Latin influence. Words in the songs' lyrics are based primarily on their euphonic, rhythmic and expressive effects. Yet, the result is that the Salento language is preserved, evolves and lives in the songs. Salento's lingua franca is not only not disappearing, it is being reborne in the choruses of BlueSalento's fantastic new album!
BlueSalento, the group, is composed of:
Carlo Longo: Composition, lyrics, vocal and folk guitar.
Carlo is also "The Music Maker—Author" of SALENTO BY 5
Luigi Liotta: Arrangement, editing, classical and folk guitar
Salvatore Amante: Keyboard and arrangement
Umberto Malagnino: Electric bass
Rosanna Schina: Tamburello, tammorra and harmonica
Sergio Lia: Tamburelli
Massimo Liotta: Classic and electric guitars
Claudia Lannocca, Eleonora Rizzo, Carmen Maruccio: Vocals
Edoardo D'Ambrosio: Drums and percussion
Dario Cota: Accordion
Blog post by David
After visiting Salento this year, Audrey and I plan to drive to Calabria to see that region for the first time. In preparation, I have been reading the book" 52 Things to See and Do in Calabria," by Michelle Fabio, available on Amazon. I have enjoyed the book and decided to write a formal review of it. So, here goes.
So you're planning a trip to Calabria at the toe of Italy's boot. Wouldn't it be great if you had a friend who lives there who you could invite for dinner and, over a glass of wine, leisurely ask her all your questions about places to visit and things to do?
Well, Michelle Fabio is just that friend. And her e-book, "52 Things to See and Do in Calabria," is indeed the voice of a good friend. She answers all your questions and chats enthusiastically about Calabria. She not only knows her subject, but is eager to share what she knows. Michelle is a transplant from Pennsylvania who has lived for the past 15 years in the Calabrian village of Badolato (superior), the home of her great, great grandfather. Drawing on her personal experience, Michelle has gathered practical information about the five provinces of Calabria, organized from north to south. In her book, she provides suggested itineraries for 1, 3 and 7 day trips. The pages are sprinkled with helpful photographs. And, since her book is an e-book, it is completely searchable by key word (town names, churches, parks, piazzas, foods, festivals, restaurants, beaches, etc.). So, although you might prefer a sociable dinner with your imaginary Calabrian friend, Michelle's warm and friendly advice, for its thoroughness, may be even more valuable. And perhaps best of all, it is portable—you can take it with you on your kindle or tablet and have all that information at your fingertips.
From "52 Things," you learn much about Calabria's history of conquest and settlement and where to visit towns that still evidence the invaders' heritage—Greeks, Romans, Normans, Aragonese, Spanish, Bourbon, French and others. You discover Michelle's favorite towns, including Reggio Calabria, Tropea, Pizzo, Le Castella and Serra San Bruno. She recommends a visit to an 11,000-plus-year-old Stone Age petroglyph of a bull (photograph included) found in a cave above the town of Papasidero in the province of Cosenza. And you are urged to see the famous "Riace Bronzes," in the Museo Nazionale della Magna Graecia in Reggio Calabria; statues described by Michelle as, "two nude male warriors whose bronze figures lay deep in the Ionian Sea for more than 2,000 years" until discovered in 1972 by an amateur diver off the coast of Riace. In your "friendly conversation" with Michelle, you also learn about how best to visit Calabria's national parks and other geographical wonders, including one of the region's "greatest natural treasures," the Raganello Gorges. And, if you are like me, an avid swimmer and fan of Southern Italy's famously clean coastal waters, you will be pleased to find a section of Michelle's book specially devoted to Calabria's beaches with a long list of those most highly rated by a local environmental group in its Guida Blu, "Blue Guide."
My wife and I have returned annually for a number of years to an apartment in the Salento region at the heel of the boot—opposite Calabria's toe. We plan on taking our first trip to Calabria this year and are thrilled to have "52 Things" to take along. I should add that Michelle also gives her readers her email address and invites them to contact her for a current recommendation about where to stay if they intend to visit her own town of Badolato. We do and we will.
Finally, I have discovered that Michelle regularly contributes to a blog, "Bleeding Espresso.com" which is both an extension of "52 Things" and a more in-depth description of her life in a small Calabrian village.
It is impossible to overstate the value and user-friendliness of "52 Things." I am pleased to have discovered it and wholeheartedly recommend it.
One of the questions people ask us is how do we get to Otranto?
After all these years of travel back and forth we pretty much have a routine. Often we make our plans early so that we can take advantage of our United miles. Our flight is typically from San Francisco to Frankfurt, Germany and then from Frankfurt to Rome. Once we arrive in Rome we take a local taxi to the nearby town of Fiumicino (10 minutes away) where we stay in one of the 5 modest upstairs rooms of the Ristorante La Perla (Via della Torre Clementina). The room in the front faces the street and the canal where fishing boats are docked. At night you can hear the waves slapping against the rocking boats and early in the morning, before light, the boats chug out to sea. It's a great place to walk along the canal and the pier that juts out into the sea, breathing the fresh air after so many hours cooped up in an airplane. Italians from Rome visit Fiumicino for fish dinners; there is often a holiday feel to the place.
The next day we take a taxi back to the airport and take a one hour local flight to Brindisi, just south of Bari, on the Adriatic Sea. At the small and friendly Brindisi Airport we walk outside to the rental car agency and pick up our previously reserved car. In past years, we have taken the train from the airport into Rome and then taken the train from Rome to Lecce, a six hour ride. Car rental agencies are located just outside the city.
Once we have our car, we drive to Otranto, about an hour and a half. It helps to have good directions; Google Maps works great so make sure you have a working phone (this is something you can take care of at the airport or in the town of Fiumicino.) Of course, the best part is arriving to Otranto and having that first glance of the sea. It still takes my breath away. Yes, Otranto is far away and it takes some time to get there, which is why you want to make sure you stay longer than a week so you can rest up from the travel, explore and enjoy!
If you have any questions about all this...feel free to comment below and we will do our best to answer.