Car Hire in Italy…
The dreadful Nonna Isa had one last sting in the tail for us. The owner Giorgio assured us that he had arranged for the car hire company, Sixt ,to pick us up, but when, thirty minutes after the agreed time, there was no sign it was fairly obvious that this wasn’t going to happen so resigned to our fate we wheel-bumped our luggage down the uneven cobbled streets and made our way to the bus stop in the main square, the Piazza della Libertà
There was a thirty minute wait so I took the opportunity to have an early Peroni and then the bus was late so there would have been enough time to have two! Eventually it arrived and took us to the railway station where I abandoned Kim and the luggage and went looking for the car hire office. Looking at the map it was quite close by but that was as the crow flies and it was a much longer walk than I had at first anticipated and it took me thirty minutes or so to find it hidden away in the middle of an unattractive industrial estate.
As this was Italy I was hoping for an old car with a few battle scars but I was allocated a brand new silver Renault Clio with relatively little damage and after a few brief instructions I was behind the wheel and tentatively nudging my way through the Italian traffic and after being reunited with Kim I predictably took the wrong road and drove for a few kilometres before having to do the sensible thing and turn around.
Once out of Ostuni we were on the open road and I thought I must have gone wrong again because the road surface was appalling with pot holes and bumps, no white lines and a fifty kilometre speed limit but after a short while it became clear that this was indeed the main road. I stuck to the speed limit but this just had the effect of irritating everyone behind me because to the Italians this seems to be advisory rather than compulsory and most of them were driving at least twice as fast than the limit, usually in animated conversation on their mobile phones and forever overtaking at any precarious opportunity and after only a few kilometres I was beginning to regret the car hire decision.
La Città Bianca, Locorotondo…
After only a short time I was ready for a break so it was lucky that we came across another of La Città Bianca, the charming little town of Locorotondo where we found a huge car park where I was delighted to pull in, leave the car for a while and then walk into the centre.
There was nothing especially remarkable or memorable about Locorotondo but it was peaceful and quiet and the narrow white streets were rather like Ostuni but flatter and without the touristy elements. We visited the Cathedral and then immediately forgot about it and criss-crossed the old town through its network of lanes and then found a park and a viewing area with views over the agricultural valley decorated with the trulli houses that are a feature of this region.
I will tell you about the Trulli houses later because our next destination was the town of Alberobello where we would be staying in a Trulli house of our own.
We stopped for a drink and a sandwich in a little café in the centre of the town but eventually there was no putting off the remainder of the drive so we returned to the car and pointed it in the direction of Alberobello where we arrived in just a few minutes and, unusually for us, easily found the hotel reception office with the accuracy of a guided missile.
A Trulli in Alberobello…
After a long introduction and plenty of unnecessary advice the receptionist, Francesco, took us to our Trulli about five hundred metres away. Based on the Nonna Isa experience in Ostuni this was a dry throat, white knuckle moment for me because I don’t think I would have got away with two bad hotels in succession but I needn’t have worried because it was delightful and everything that we had expected as we were introduced to our traditional Trulli with its immaculate whitewashed walls and grey stone bonnet roof. Kim declared it to be an instant hit and relieved by that I instantly relaxed and opened my suitcase and took the cap off of a bottle of Peroni!
On account of the fact that we were due to stay in Alberobello for four nights we didn’t rush off into the town but stayed around the Trulli and enjoyed the sunshine and then later went walking and looking for somewhere to eat and to cap off a good day Kim once again demonstrated her uncanny knack of finding a good restaurant and on the edge of town her instinct led us to a small trattoria with a short menu where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and even before we had finished agreed that we would return again tomorrow.
Things were definitely beginning to improve and it was so good to be here that it didn’t even matter that as we ate it started to spit with rain!