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Salento Diary (festivo)

So Sunday I guess can be a day for straight tourism, though as I have learned these past couple of years, tourism too can be an object of scholarship. Anyway, because of shoulder problems I have had to abandon my plan to tour the region on a bicycle and I’ve rented a car instead. Yesterday I did a loop around the southern tip of the peninsula. I took short hike and enjoyed an aperitivo at Punto San Gregorio (at a bar that reminded me a bit of one from another coastal drive I took a few years ago, namely in San Clemente, CA) on the Ionian side; San Gregorio is a Messapic port of which a stairway still survives. The Messapians inhabited this part of the world, speaking and writing their own language until absorbed/conquered, as many others, by the Romans.

[I] continued on to Leuca, the finis terrae or end of the earth as they like to advertise (in Latin naturally), a beautiful spot that on this day enjoyed a bank of fog rolling in that reminded me of San Francisco in the summer.

[I] drove back up the Adriatic side whose rocky cliffs are strikingly beautiful. Among other things, I came upon a coastal demonstration in favor of an April 17 referendum to ban off-shore drilling for petroleum (the sort of grassroots movement rightfully applauded in Naomi Klein’s excellent This Changes Everything). A young crowd with a rock soundtrack and a painted bus, I felt a bit as though transported back to the 1970s. The scene was completely in the fog and on two levels so poorly represented here (though with the inevitable medieval tower) Between organic agriculture and political activism, I’d say that Puglia is providing something of an antidote to the rapid aging of the Italian population.

Today I added Maglie (the home town of Aldo Moro, DC leader killed by the Red Brigades in 1978, in some sense Italy’s JFK) which has a charming baroque center and Otranto, a beautiful port city with Cathedral and castle and obviously too many tourists in the summer. On a food note I did visit a pasta manufacturer in Maglie and Torre Sant’Emiliano, a cheese manufacture on the Adriatic coast. I may even have seen the sheep who contributed milk to the cheese I got there.

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