Just back from a gorgeous, bright and sunny Spring week in stunning Puglia, Ciclismo Classico guides Paolo Nicolosi and Massimo Marenco share some of their most favorite, memorable--and delicious--stories about La Bella Puglia.
Are those two of the best smiles you've ever seen?
above photo: Paolo Nicolosi & Massimo Marenco
Long-time Ciclismo tour guide (in his 21st season!) Paolo Nicolosi reflects on our recent trip in Puglia:
"The most beautiful moments of the week include the keen attention and interest of our lovely guests as I spoke about the incredible flora and vegetation unqiue to Puglia: olive, carob and cherry trees, wild fennel and wild cicoria. Fava beans with chicory and the unforgettable dinner prepared for us by Francesca in Matera was a highlight of the week. Of course in Puglia, chicory (foraged wild and cultivated since ancient times) is referred to as la verdura (THE green vegetable).
Since we had gluten-free guest and a lactose intollerant guide (me) on the trip, Francesca prepared a very special meal with a lot of vegetarian plates and amongst the huge selection of amazing local cheeses---including some of the most fresh burrata and mozzarella I ever tasted-- they were also lactose-free. Exceptional! This was a divine moment for me since I had not tasted cheese in such a long while."
Paolo's favorite Pugliese dishes?
- Orecchiette with Cime di Rapa (little ear-shaped pasta with fresh broccoli rabe)
- Panzarotti alla barese (deep fried pockets of dough stuffed with tomato or prosciutto and ricotta)
- Friselle con pomodorini (wheat dry bread with tomatoes, oregano and olive oil)
"The guests were curious to understand why it is that the soil has such a beautiful red-orange color. I explained to them that when limestone weathers, the clay contained in the rocks is left behind, along with any other non-soluble rock material. Under oxidizing conditions, when the soils are above the water table iron oxide (rust) forms in the clay. This gives it a characteristic red or orange color. Terra rossa is typically found in Puglia.
Lastly, one very special and joyful moment for me was the happiness and delight on the face of one of our guests when I told him I found his battery charger that he had mistakenly left behind at the first trip hotel."
Two thousand-year old olive trees!