May 3


This is a trullo house.



The little town of Alberobello has more than a thousand of them, quaint and cute as can be. This morning we drove from the crummy unlevel campground just up the hill on the outskirts of town to a large, level motorhome parking lot practically in the middle of town. Who knew?

    The unique architecture of its trulli makes Alberobello yet another another complete tourist town. It is set on several small hills with the houses on stepped or steep streets on either side. The north side has hundreds of trulli houses still inhabited, while nearly all of those on the south side have been turned into shops selling little trulli houses, trulli dish towels, trulli paintings, trulli manger scenes, trulli-you-name-it. You can even rent one for a holiday. But the houses themselves are adorable: each one about 10 feet square inside and often connected to another with open arches to provide additional space. One might expect to see little trulli gnomes walking about. This was worth the drive across Italy to see.

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    Unlike other cities that we’ve found dirty and full of litter, Alberobello was sparkling clean and full of flowers. After we spent a couple of hours walking around the town, we looked for an internet connection since we hadn’t had one since Pompei. We finally tried a computer store (down steep trulli steps to a tiny space made with  three arched roofs--probably three trulli) and talked the owner into selling us an hour of good wireless access. But he was closing in an hour for lunch, so we hurried back to Rover--only a block away--to get the computer and reconnect with the world. (We have been able to pick up BBC World News at 10 p.m. the last few nights, and that helps a lot, even though--or maybe because--it devotes only 2 minutes or so to U.S. news. “Oil spill” . . . “Car bomb discovered” . . .”Twins lose”. . .)

    After lunch in Rover (a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Susan, as a break from the never-ending ham and cheese), we left Trulli-land, charmed, and drove north to Bari, where we are writing this in the worst spot we’ve had in three years--far worse than behind the tire store in Wörgl, which had had the additional advantage of being in the middle of a vibrant little town. This place is a motorhome storage lot. There must be a hundred of them here: it’s like an RV graveyard.


Overnight parking is allowed--we even have electricity (this time using the old-fashioned “Italian” three-prong plug)--and it’s guarded 24 hours a day. But we are too far from anywhere to do anything. We had really wanted to visit the Basilica and  St. Nicholas's vault. (Yes, Virginia, Father Christmas is dead and buried in Italy.) Instead we took a walk and were glad to find a tiny grocery. We are surrounded by a military installation with high walls and barbed wire fencing, like a prison. But for tonight it is home. “Well, shoot. . . .”

    Readers may wonder why we don’t simply move on. First, we cannot just keep going unless we know where we are headed, especially in a crowded city: choices of camping spots around here were very limited. Many campgrounds do not open until mid-May. Second, the traffic doesn’t allow for any indecision: it can take time to find a place to safely pull over and reassess our choices (and drivers in this part of the world will let you know very quickly if they think your indecision is wasting a couple seconds of their time). And in fact we didn’t have any other choices. 

    So we are where we are. We took a walk and found a grocery store. And later another motorhome joined us in this popular place. (But its license plate has strange lettering: “CL.” Where could they be from? The Czech Republic is “CZ.” “ChiCom Labrador”? “Colder Latvia”? Clearly, we won’t sleep tonight.)