Lazy Afternoons in Apulia / The Beauty of a Lazy Life
Apulia: an instinctive, ancient, thirsty land. A land of wheat fields caressed by the wind, of bitter almonds picked straight from the trees, of the scent of must and fleshy olives, and of tomatoes hung out to dry in the sun, the way we do with our grandmothers’ lace, handed down from generation to generation. Of woven straw chairs and long speeches interspersed with dashes of dialect. Of plastic tables in an isolated bar, where playing cards and uncorked beers have found their own stage. Apulia seduces with its gentle curves and unexpected edges. It has the power to capture every soul. It is a place where you grasp the rhythms of an overpowering nature, hidden in the framework of a dry stone wall, of a thorny fig tree, of a milky-white limestone alley. There is no hurry. In Puglia, you have time to reflect, to rest and to simply be.
“Meriggiare pallido e assorto, presso un rovente muro d’orto, ascoltare tra i pruni e gli sterpi, schiocchi di merli, frusci di serpi. Nelle crepe del suolo o su la veccia, spiar le file di rosse formiche, ch’ora si rompono ed ora s’intrecciano a sommo di minuscole biche. Osservare tra frondi il palpitare lontano di scaglie di mare, mentre si levano tremuli scricchi di cicale dai calvi picchi. E andando nel sole che abbaglia, sentire con triste meraviglia, com’è tutta la vita e il suo travaglio, in questo seguitare una muraglia che ha in cima cocci aguzzi di bottiglia”. – Meriggiare pallido e assorto (Eugenio Montale, 1925)
“Noonday slumber, pallid and rapt near a scorching wall round a garden patch, listening among the thorns and bristles to blackbirds chirp, to serpents rustle. In the riven soil or on the vine spying red ants all in rows as they now break and now intertwine on the crests of tiny knolls. Observing through the leaves the distant throb of scaly seas while of the cicadas tremulous clicks filter down from bald peaks. And walking in the blinding sun sensing with desolate wonder how life and its labours are the incessant passage along a stone fence topped with broken bottles and shards of glass.” –Noonday slumber pallid and rapt (Eugenio Montale, 1925)
Apulian Blues (Both the colors of the sea and the feeling of nostalgia upon departure)
From the wild north to the extreme south, the Apulian horizon has only one color: blue. The blue of the sea and all its nuanced hues, tints, and tones. Splashes of turquoise and aquamarine slip between the rugged cliffs of the Gargano coast, the gentle shores of Monopoli and the dizzying white walls of Polignano. The sea of Apulia lives on sails tossed in the wind, on little boats laden with sea urchins and stubborn octopuses. It lives off the visceral bond with its inhabitants: it’s a character in everyday life, acting as background and frame, protagonist and curtain. The Apulian sea is tradition and the slow feeling of abandoning the body to its cradling. That feeling remains inside, even when one returns home.
The Pearls Of a Necklace Called Puglia
In Puglia, life takes its time. The cities and villages blinded by the sun and its heat bend to dilated, slower rhythms. There is something sensual about waking up at dawn and heading into the unknown, accepting good things as they come without dwelling too much on the future. Monopoli is a place of sweet indolence: it allows you to get lost in its white and green while you look for a little shade between n’zerte of tomatoes–hanging in bunches–and pale, hot walls–their color enhanced by the cobalt sea in the background. Surrounded by olive groves and farms, Monopoli is a lively town where sharp shadows draw delicate lace designs on the paving stones. And then there’s vivid, lush Polignano with its vertiginous cliffs gnawed by sea foam. It’s nice to get lost in the winding streets, only to emerge on an overlook that offers breathtaking views. And finally, there’s the Itria Valley, a place to rest between the uninterrupted song of cicadas and the scent of centuries-old olive trees.