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Salento Diary

Easter Sunday. Having arrived in the rain yesterday evening, this morning instead I enjoyed a sunny walk on the beach accompanied by a stiff breeze. Nearly deserted now it is a bit hard to imagine this same beach in summer when it is packed with people, lounge chairs, and umbrellas. Aside from renewing an old friendship and seeing a beautiful corner of the world – that should be enough really – the purpose of this trip is vague and exploratory. I want to learn something about the olive oil situation here and the recent (and ongoing) xylella scare; about the local organic farming movement; and about tourism in the Salento. This should be a good place for all three. Over a decade ago Yvonne left a career in environmental protection and monitoring, moved to the masseria, and turned the more or less abandoned property into an agriturismo and organic farm. Antonio, her husband, instead joined a few years later. He is from nearby Brindisi and trained as a furniture restorer. As I understand it, Yvonne has dedicated herself primarily to the agricultural side of the project while Antonio has also undertaken the heroic effort of restoring and expanding the property’s structures, structures that include a medieval tower now fully repointed, a job which included the replacement of several large sections, no mean feat as of course the whole mass might have come tumbling down if the work had not been done carefully.

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