It was now past 8:30 and we had reservations at Gli Ulivi, a country restaurant just outside the city of Tricase. A few more stops and false turns, some instruction from Google Maps and we arrived in the dark after navigating two (or were there more?) dirt roads lined by ancient stone walls. One is never late for dinner on a summer night in Salento. It was after 9 pm but we were only the second party to arrive. Our table, one of many, was set in a well-lit clearing surrounded by olive trees.
Red wine, white wine, sparkling water. Traditional Salentinian appetisers, maybe ten in all. We skipped the pasta and the meat and settled for dessert, espresso and a digestivo for Carlo. Luciana, ever the raconteur (see, SALENTO BY 5), at the head of the table and our host for the evening regaled us with stories about her teaching, Salentine history, and Xylella, the bacteria that has done so much damage to Salento's olive trees. Carlo and Lucia talked about family. David and I did our best to follow the conversation in Italian and yet were periodically relieved when our friends spoke English. At 1 AM, we were among the last to leave after a perfect summer evening.
Gil Ulivi is open only for dinners during the summer. In September and October they are open for lunch as well. We recommend it...especially for lunch if you want to avoid the adventure of finding the place in the dark....although with google maps and signs, it can be done!