Wednesday, 28 September 2016

THE SAGA OF OUR PUGLIAN DIGS has proven a great website for me when searching for rental properties. In Arizona, Newfoundland, Switzerland and Italy, Jim and I have enjoyed some sensational properties. But how does that saying go? All good things must come to an end. For our Puglian villa, I got it wrong; I got it colossally wrong!

With much excitement about our trullo villa rental, we set out from Matera; we were scheduled to meet the property manager in Martina Franca who would then take us to our rental at 4:00pm. During lunch in Martina Franca Jim and I discovered that all stores, grocery included, were closed on Thursday afternoons. We had no food! So what! According to the ad, our villa was 'conveniently located in a rural setting'. We reasoned that we would be a short drive to dinner in town and then shopping the next day.......or so we thought! Remind me to check the dictionary for the definition of rural versus remote.

Out into the country, we followed the property manager, driving about 3 km on narrow roads. So far, so good! Oops! Then we hit the cow path; Jim quipped that to call this trail a cowpath is to malign all good cowpaths. Right turn, left turn, left turn, right turn, we twisted onto different road ruts, bouncing over rocks, dropping into mud-filled holes and scratching along bushes, continuing this tortuous, tedious, uncomfortable drive for over 4 km before we reached our villa. At the initial turn onto the rutted drive, our GPS gave up; it showed no roads, merely a mysterious cross country route into nothingness.  Seriously? How would we ever find our way back in the dark? So much for the undercarriage of our rental car, not to mention EuropCar's rental policy of no off-road driving. 

The property manager "speed showed" us around, quickly passing by the extremely inviting algae green-tinged pool, and then made his hasty escape. No kidding?

Are you enjoying our Puglian vacation so far?

In our travels, if we have learned anything, it is to be flexible. Unanimously we chimed, "No way"; I think Jim added a few additional choice four letter words. With limited cell phone service, he eventually contacted the Property Management office and told them to come collect the keys; we would not be staying! While Jim phoned, I immediately referred to Trip Advisor, input Locortondo and waited. Up popped the Leonardo Trulli Resort. Quick contact indicated that there was one room available. Consider it booked! In the dark, we followed the property manager out to the main road, input our new destination and found our way to the resort. Without knowing it that night, we had arrived in a Puglian paradise.

Imagine a winding road past ancient stone walls, vineyards, citrus groves and olive trees leading you to a cluster of cream-white buildings and trulli. This is what we awoke to our first morning, the timeless beauty of the lush Puglian countryside. Our hotel consists of two types of residences, villino rooms, where Jim and I are located,

 and trulli rooms. A stunning, solar-heated pool graces the gardens. 

No lunch is served, but the breakfast and dinner offered are exquisite. Dinner is an Puglian culinary delight with ingredients fresh from the surrounding farms. I sincerely hope that there is room for el Rotundo (my new name for myself) on our return flight. Commutes to Puglian destinations, Ostuni, Alberobello, etc., are at most and hour's drive away; we are ten minutes door to door from beautiful Locorontondo.

I cannot say enough about the beauty and grace of this Leonardo resort, but what has impressed Jim and I most is the loving care and attention afforded each and every guest by the staff of Rosalba (the owner), Giuseppe and Rafaela (Raffie), primarily.

Raffie and Rosalba:

For some bizarre reason, Rosalba, the owner, has taken a liking to Jim and I. Hey! I saw those questioning eyebrows rise! "She love you two", Raffi told us. We are continually greeted by hugs and the the double Italian cheek kisses. Rosalba insisted upon driving us to our wine tasting yesterday. When we were picked up after the session, she spent valuable time driving around the countryside for photographic views. We gifted Rosabla and her husband with wine from I Pastini. Arriving at dinner last night, the staff, including the chef, awaited us in the dining room. One of the bottles of wine was shared. Salutes all around. Jim and I were totally taken aback. When one of the trulli was vacant for one night, Rosalba insisted that we must spend a night in a trullo. So for one day, Jim and I held two rooms at the cost of one. Her kindness knows no bounds.

From nightmare villa to Puglian paradise. From blunder to redemption. The north has the Euros; the south, the soul, we have read. Jim and I believe it.

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