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La Bella Puglia: Guide Reflections

Posted by Carol Sicbaldi

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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 cicoriaFava 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). 

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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."

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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)Pugliafood-168863-edited.jpg

Paolo adds:

"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."

 

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Tour guide Massimo Marenco shares his favorite moments of the trip:
 
"It's those little things! What is Ciclismo Classico all about? A trip that creates incredible memories!
 
Day 1: During our 'light' lunch we decided as a group to try and remember all the funny moments of the tour. This was such a great idea but after a few days we realized it was really hard to keep track of all of them. So, at the end of each day, we decided to write everything on the special cycling cap - or cappellino  -- and give it to that very special person for a special happening or event that took place during the day.
Ciclismo trips are full of great moments that our guest bring home.
 
Day 2:  Tenuta Moreno and a discussion about slight seat adjustments and how they can make a huge difference. 
 
 
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A quasi-religious moment with Ciclismo Classico: I took a selfie with the Bishop of Lecce--who we met along the route. One of the guests said to me: 'I thought he was might be the Pope'. That was really wonderful...
 
In Alberobello (city of trulli houses), there was an unscheduled surprise:  We saw a falconiere (eagle trainer) with his eagle. This moment was super impressive and everybody was very excited to watch and learn about the the powerful flight patterns of this amazing animal.
 
 
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Day 3: We arrived at the hotel and one of our guests wanted to bike a little longer. So I went with him to Polignano and then on to the town of Modugno. This was magic for me! As guides we typically work 24/7, but sometimes riding and connecting with guests as new friends, real friends
is beautiful. It was all about us, our bikes, great weather, the sea and most importantly the freedom we shared.
 
These were some of my favorite moments on this last trip. Thanks Ciclismo Classico for providing this opportunity to discover, change and to meet such great new people!"
 

 

PugliaOlivetree-465463-edited-515837-edited.jpgCarol Sicbaldi

Two thousand-year old olive trees!

LA BELLA PUGLIA

 

Written by Carol Sicbaldi

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