We had started the day meeting the little kids in Carpignano Serrano, Scuela de Infancia – Castriniano. With all their lives ahead of them, they were so sweet, all lined up in a row, waving their National Flag proudly as they sang Nursery Rhymes. I felt very privileged to be thought of as an ambassador.
The day had continued to the Olive Groves, where we had experienced the heritage and manufacturing process of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and were shown around “La Furca” a beautiful Farmhouse B&B in Pozzello. (This was a new venture for the owners and so sadly there are no website listings for it as yet.) And then, to experience the Martyrs of Otranto in its Cathedral, it occured to me that the flavours of the region’s wines reflected extremes of life and death. Gazing up at the piles of bones and skulls presented behind glass either side of the alter was chilling and certainly food for thought. It was 1480 July 28th, when a fleet of ships carrying Ottoman troops, attacked the citizens of Otranto who were seeking shelter in its castle. The castle was sadly lacking weapons and the people were soon over run. 12,000 Catholics were beheaded, refusing to give up their beliefs.
After touring the lovely city, we found ourselves back where we started, at the school, which had been transformed into a lecture theatre and dining room for us. I made a visit to the kitchens to see Lyn Bertramelli and her friends prepare our meal. Lyn’s English was very good because she is married to an Englishman and she explained how they were prepping the dishes. There was the obligatory pasta, platters of local cheese with walnuts and Pezetti di Cavallo (chunks of horse), a peasant meat stew with various things floating around in it including what appeared to be fatty, jelly stuff. Once again Chicoria, Zorin’s favourite, made an appearance. I stuck to the cheese!
Our hosts, Viaggiando Con Le Pro Loco and some local dignatories from The Association of Serrano and Agenzia Ulisse, greeted us with a welcome speech. Vita, our Guide, asked me to speak on behalf of all of us. I’m not a great public speaker but it was easy to say positive things: we had had such a brilliant time. Glass after glass of wine flowed, whilst we tasted the different flavours. From the freshness of a local sparkling Rosé full of life, to the intensity of the Primitivo and Negroamaro (dark and bitter), our tongues were set to tingle.