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Report 104: Navigating with Bob & Ed in Southern Italy--Two Weeks in Sicily and Puglia

By Bob the Navigator from FL, Spring 2000

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Page 4 of 5: Trip Highlights (Cont.)

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The Heel of the Boot - The Salentine Peninsula

It was a seven hour drive from Taormina across the straits and on to the heel of Italy--Puglia. The actual heel part is known as Salento and appears more like the Mani area of southern Greece than the rest of Italy. It is a barren land dotted with an apparent shower of rocks.

We knew we were in a different part of the world and headed directly to the coast and the quaint fishing village of Porto Cersareo. We arrived late on a Friday afternoon and quickly found the best hotel in town, the Lo Scoglio. It was perched on a small island just off the main harbor connected by a short causeway. We were pleasantly surprised by the warm reception and the quoted rate of $50 for the best double in the hotel. We may have been the only guests that nite. Everyone in Puglia assumed we were Germans since they seldom see Americans and we both have our share of Teutonic ancestors.

We strolled the harbor and watched the local fishermen repairing their nets before sitting down to a lovely dinner of " fritto misto di pesce" and " linguine vongole" [fried fish and pasta with clams]. What else in this village? We washed it down with a Peroni and a carafe of the local rose vino.

The next day was the Saturday market in the charming village of Gallipoli about twenty miles south. You talk about watching some local culture. It was one of those times you wanted to be invisible and just observe. The open air fish stands ran for about a block on the wharf and most of the village was there to stock up for the week. It was a most satisfying experience well recorded by both my trusty Olympus [prints] and my Pentax [slides]. Ed and I looked at each other with an acknowledgment that we had apparently arrived---mission accomplished !

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