Friends and Family, Travel
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The weekend in Chiara-land

So, today is the Winter Solstice.

The time in Berlin is currently 16:50, which means it has been dark for nearly an entire hour.

It’s cold- but not cold enough to actually be the good kind of cold. Just the shitty rainy kind of cold.

The good news is the days get longer from here on out. The good news is that in 3 hours I’m getting on a plane to visit the UK (haii Ikumi). And the good news is that I still have some photos from The Incredible and Amazingly Long Summer of 2018 to throw at you.

Welcome to Chiaraland:

Way back in August, Fabio and I flew into the South of Italy, to visit our friends Chiara and Andrea. We were pretty friggin’ stoked about it…

Being Good and Wise hosts, Chi and Andrea organised a fairly packed long-weekend, which basically ensured we would maximise our time either at a beach, or engaging in some sort of food. I mean, we also saw some culture (like these little guys), but I would argue that it was not our primary goal.

So from the airport, we went immediately to Lecce, a historical city famous for it’s beautiful stone buildings that practically glow when they catch the afternoon light:

Also famous in the city, are these: Papier mache sculptures.

Which, when they begin to ‘unravel’, are more than a little creepy.

Let’s go back to the pretty stone shall we?  

.. and the pretty Chiara:       

The church above is apparently Saint Chiara’s church, which might explain the posing.

Less easy to explain is this:       

Apparently when couples get married in Italy you don’t just delicately toss petals, you actively and viciously throw sharp little grains of rice.

I have a vague memory of this being mentioned in a TV show (Men Behaving Badly), but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this actually be done in Australia.

Anyone?

In any case, rice was not the only edible on offer. We sat down to a classice Leccese ‘Rustico’, a flaky pastry snack filled with mozarella, bechamel and tomato:

… and also managed to hit up a custard filled pasticciotti, chased with almond-syrup coffee, another staple of the region.

And so the eating began!

And pretty much didn’t end.

We headed to Chiara’s house, met up with her parents, who very kindly let Fabs and I stay the long weekend, and then drove out to to get Panzerotti, which are basically small, deep fried Calzoni: 

Oh yeah, and then we chased it up with Icecream. Because everybody knows that it is a Rule of Italy that you must eat at least one icecream per day. 

Which is the end of day one.

The beginning of day two was cake. In plural form:

Due to predicted cloud cover near home, we spent a couple of hours in the morning travelling across the heel of the Italian boot to Polignano a Mare, a fairly famous beach town near Bari.

Here, there was sun, tourists, and almond coffee:

And also, a tiny beach, absolutely teeming with people.  

We found ourselves as patch of territory, claimed it as our own, and nestled in for a few hours of sunbathing with intermittent swimming and cookie eating.

At about 3pm we finally moved ourselves off the beach, and back into the town, just in time to get ourselves some lunch.

Then we strolled (approximately 10 m), drank some more coffee, ate some more cookies, and generally enjoyed these crazy things known as blue skies and sunshine:     

Chiara also found a tree that she was convinced was grafted, and that she had to be dragged away from so that we could all travel to see the Trulli.

Day Three began with tortoises (which apparently like to breed in Chiara’s front garden), and continued with a beach.

This time, one much closer to ‘home, and one with sand and sea that looked almost like it could be Perth.  

Naturally, we also ate food!   

After a day that was pretty much pure relaxing we headed back to Chiara’s house….proceeded to eat more seafood than I have ever seen in my life.

I’m ashamed that I didn’t take a proper photo, but perhaps you can at least understand the sheer size of the meal (for seven people!) based on the loaded bar cart. Not pictured is the appetizer of seafood pasta, the fruit course, the icecream, and the after-dinner drinks!

It was insane, and insanely good! Thanks a million to Chiara’s parents (especially her dad, who did all the cooking), for one of the best meals I’ve had in years.

And then, Fabs and I had to head back to German Reality. 

Thanks for the amazing hospitality South Italians!

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