The Dolce Vita Bloggers link-up theme this month is ‘a perfect day in Italy’. What a topic! There are so many possibilities. I have written about many wonderfully perfect days, in Roma, Matera, Alberobello, the Val d’Orcia, Polignano a Mare…. How do I narrow down what to write about? With too much material to choose from, I decided to write about a typical day ‘at home’ in Orsara di Puglia, where most days are laid back, spontaneous and pretty darn perfetto!
My day usually starts out with a long, early morning passeggiata to la Montagna Spaccata. I call it ‘la Palestra di Madre Natura’ or ‘mother nature’s gym’, an uphill zig-zag walk up the mountain towards Campania with fresh aria di montagna, breathtaking views and encounters with fellow walkers. I usually walk to the border with Campania, when I reach the pale eoliche (PAH•leh Eh•oh•LEH•keh).
I have also walked all the way to Montaguto, in Campania 6 km away . I am not a ‘morning person’, but in the summer, the walk must be early, otherwise it gets too hot to walk on the way back. Long walks are necessary when you spend weeks eating lots yummy food and still want to fit into your clothes!
When I am back from my walk, cleaned up and changed, I often stop at the bar for an espressino, known as caffè marocchino in the rest of italia. I also sneak in a few minutes of wifi. Sometimes I walk to Piano Paradiso and have caffè with Peppe Zullo in the morning or afternoon. Then I usually do servizi-errands, including shopping for food. Refrigerators are small, and most people shop at least every other day for fresh local ingredients. Fresh bread and taralli are purchased at il forno. Generi Alimentari are delis and also carry general grocery items. My favourite items to purchase are fresh mozzarelle and the local specialty, cacioricotta. Once a week, mozzarelle di bufala arrive and I am first in line! Fruit and vegetables are from the fruttivendolo-unless the neighbours give you produce from their orto. There are also travelling fruttivendoli, selling out of small trucks.
I celebrate when fiori di zucca are available! Another local specialty is Tuccanese, vino made from a local native grape. As in most non-touristy towns in Italia, shops close at 1pm for la pausa pranzo and reopen at 5pm, until 8pm.
Giovedi mattina-Thursday morning is the mercato in Orsara. The street is lined with bancarelle selling everything from fresh formaggi to produce, linens, shoes and household stuff. A great spot to run into everyone in town, including visitors. Il postino likes giovedi, as he can hand everyone their mail on their way to the mercato.
The rest of the morning is usually spent helping to prepare pranzo, the main meal of the day, at 1pm. In the summer, my parents are also in Orsara, sometimes my sister and her family too, so there is lots of food preparation going on, using ultra fresh local ingredients.
There is no need for a watch. My casa is right near the main church and the campanile– bell tower. La campana rings every 15 minutes. On the hour, there is one ‘ding’ for each hour, and every 15 minutes there is a higher pitched ‘ding’. For example, at 12:45 la campana rings 12 times, followed by 3 higher pitched rings. Back in the day when no one had a watch, contadini working in the fields would know the time. You might think this would get annoying, but la campana was broken for a year, and it was really missed! Once the dishes are done, it is orario di riposo-quiet time, as it is too hot to do much else. Most people do not nap every afternoon, but they at least stay home and have a riposo, a rest. A short pisolino is quite civilized if you are up very early and plan to stay out late! The afternoon rest is not called a siesta in italiano- riposo or la pausa. I often read or do clean up stuff around the house, like hang laundry to dry. There are no dryers here as electricity is ridiculously expensive and sunlight is free. I may brave the mid afternoon sun to go out and take photos. The maze of steep, windy, cobblestone streets and alleys are empty and I am alone with the light and the incredible shadows. To quote myself…
’ la luce … la gloriosa e magnifica luce del sole di metà pomeriggio è incredibile. Vorrei dipingere quella luce! / the light….the glorious and magnificent light of the mid-afternoon sun is incredible. I want to paint that light!’ (Cristina, October 2017).
At 5pm shops and bars reopen and the streets come to life again. I visit friends and relatives, meet for gelato, shop, or find somewhere to sit with my sketchbook. I also love to walk to La Cupa, the olive grove that used to belong to my Nonno to pick plums, figs and pears. I usually need to stop at one of the bars to use wifi, although as I explained in Chiuso per Ferie in August, this can end up seeming quite antisocial.
Sundays, I sleep in, unless going on a daytrip. I love to have cappuccino and a cornetto crema di pistacchio before 11:00 Mass in the ancient Grotta di San Michele Arcangelo. At least one Sunday, I look forward to a barbecue at La Cupa with my extended family.
After 9pm, it is time for the evening passeggiata, walking up and down ‘il Corso’ and socializing. There are pizzerie and bars with outdoor seating along il Corso. On summer evenings, there are often concerts or special events.My favourite part of the passeggiata is walking all the way to the top of the Corso, past where the houses stop, then the streetlights stop. It is buio (BOO•yoh) -dark, you can hear grille (GREEL•leh)-crickets, and see the stars. On clear, windless nights, lucciole (looch•CHEEOH•leh)-fireflies make the night absolutely magical. There is usually a stop for a drink at an outdoor table before ending up back at home…never before midnight though! Buonanotte, Cristina.