Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day 7 Olives, Liberty, and Fish for all!

Ok, I need to get a bit caught up before I head out on my own tomorrow for the Bay of Naples.

Day two of the Post Salon event set up by our hosts saw Marianne leaving early, on the first train for Brindisi, where she has a series of flights and connections planned to get her back to LA to finish up the school year, after which she heads back over to London, where I will meet her in a week and a half. I do NOT envy her day!

Baroque interior of the church at Galatone, where Caterina Manisco grew up.

Again those that remained got on a bus to head en masse first to the town of Galatone, about 45 minutes southwest from here, which is where Caterina Manisco, our amazing hostess, grew up. When we got there, we quickly checked out the church, with some very nice Baroque decoration, before being ushered in to a museum across the street. Inside, we saw the preserved remains of a very large olive oil production plant that goes back to around the 9th century, with large carved niches in the stone walls that once held presses for the olives, and the characteristic ocher Lecce stone vaults that are built above the space.
Room filled with machines designed by Leonardo da Vinci, all constructed by Caterina's father.  The niches in the stone walls once held olive presses for making oil. 

Then we entered the room that held the real reason we had gone there: a museum dedicated to the machines of Leonardo da Vinci, built from da Vinci's drawings by Caterina's father, who is a retired (ha!) engineer with an obvious fascination for things mechanical and an obsession (can I relate to that?) for figuring things out himself! The large space is filled with the various contraptions that da Vinci dreamed up, but rarely actually had constructed. Pulleys, screws, levers, mortars, guns, catapults, and all kinds of other bits fill the large hall, each of them hand made using tools of the period, including a lot of hand forged iron work and wood cut with hand tools. Very cool stuff, and all of it narrated by her father, who is an obvious dynamo, but friendly too!

Signore Manisco telling the story of his museum and of da Vinci's inventions. 

After a somewhat interminable speech by the local magistrate, we went outside the museum where a group of 20 or so school kids had assembled to do a little dance for us, much to Stefano's chagrin, as it was not planned and he felt it was more to give the politician some face time one week before local elections take place. But you couldn't help smiling as these 6 year old boys and girls went through their routine with gusto, lots of waving arms and dancing feet. It was very cute, and not in a bad way!

A lot of movement- not very much control, but it was totally charming to watch!

Once more on the bus we made it out to the other coast, past the olive trees that are fighting a desperate battle with a recent bacterial infection that is devastating the area, a very tough struggle for the growers of the region. We also passed by a series of very nice Stile Liberty (Italian Art Nouveau) houses on the outskirts of Galatone. As Stefano explained, Liberty in the south takes a lot of influence from Moorish design, as seen in the photo below. These would be built in the early 1900s.

Stile Liberty house outside of Galatone shows the regional influence of Moroccan architecture. Love to see the interior of this!
Our final destination that day was Gallipoli, a quiet seaside town with a slow moving harbor, mostly fishing boats and a few small freighters. We went to another restaurant for lunch here, and I really should have taken pics of the food, because it was incredible! Started off with about 7 or 8 seafood appetizers- and I could easily have called that lunch! But no, that was followed by pasta (with seafood), risotto (with seafood), followed by the main course of (drum roll please!) seafood! It was definitely excessive, but definitely delicious too!
Hoping our fish did not come from the docks right here! I'd probably be glow-in-the-dark!

After several hours of eating and chatting, we walked over to see the town, and some of us went down to jump in the water in the small bay in front of town, which felt as if it were very unchanged from antique times. No signs, just a few umbrellas and an ice cream cart, and the water was clear and refreshing- about the same temperature as it is in Los Angeles. Beautiful clouds escorted us back to the hotel, and we ate dinner (eating again!?) at a local pizzeria that had a very nice garden in back where we could be silly and loud without bothering anyone. Very nice day. Again!

I found a ready made faux kit on the beach with brush, feather, and sponge. Let's marbleize something!

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