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The Kindness of Strangers - Monopoli, Puglia Oct 2020

Just a quick report to highlight an incredible short trip to Monopoli that was a gift from a forum regular. We recently moved from Calgary, Alberta to Abruzzo, Italy. And by recently, I mean we arrived at our new home three weeks ago. As we were meandering our way to our new home from Paris via Switzerland, I received a private message from Peter, a fellow Canadian who has been a forum participant about as long as I have (2010?) but with whom I’ve never directly interacted. He said he had a non-refundable 4 nights reserved at an apartment in Monopoli, on the coast of Puglia. He’d cancelled his trip due to Covid and wondered if I could use the reservation at no cost to me, just so someone could enjoy it.

I was gobsmacked at his kindness. Rather than complain about the unfairness of life during a pandemic, he made an effort to reach out and make a stranger happy. So, I said YES! And after only a week in our long-awaited home, we dropped everything, packed our bags again, and headed off to explore someplace new to us.

Monopoli (the old town) is a breathtakingly beautiful town full of honey-coloured stone and whitewashed buildings. The apartment Peter had booked (Garibaldi Exclusive Apartments) sits directly on the old harbour and the town’s main piazza. It is very nicely kept, with 1 BR/1 bath, living room, kitchen, and a small outdoor terrace. But the best part is an entire multi-level rooftop terrace, shared with the one other apartment in the building, with sun loungers, couches and tables/chairs, running water and electricity. The owner met us outside the town walls, helped carry our luggage up, then hopped in the car with me to find a free parking space nearby. (She also got right back to me the next day when I’d forgotten how to find it.) She was so nice to us the entire visit. This place is highly recommended.

But wait, it gets better. The town decided to throw a harbour festival that weekend just for us! I’m kidding, but it sure felt like it was for us, as we could watch the whole thing from the rooftop terrace and did so for most of the day. Live music, fishing dory races, craft exhibits such as net repairs, people coming and going all day.

We spent most of the 4 days (3 full and 2 half days) roaming around Monopoli on foot. As I’m a long-time rower, I especially enjoyed walking past the rowing club there. They have a beautiful stone club with four huge boat bays. The club has a pizza restaurant on top for those post-rowing aperitivi! Funny, my club in Calgary never had that. But to launch the rowing shells, they have to cross a very busy street while carrying the long skinny shells, then row out into a busy harbour.

We spent a half day visiting Alberobello and its white cone-roofed trulli. That was interesting and fun, probably more than usual since the tour buses weren’t lined up ten deep. It’s hard to be happy about the absence of tourists this year for many reasons, but I admit it is easier to get around.

As many of you know, Italy is re-tightening its restrictions around Covid prevention to avoid having to go back into full lockdown. While we were in Monopoli, a new decree came into effect requiring masks outside as well as inside. Bar and restaurant opening hours have been reduced. We also had to register with the Puglia health service upon arrival. We found compliance with the rules was very good, with one exception. The restaurant our host recommended the first night (Il Brigante) had no outside seating. It was more cramped than I felt comfortable with and everyone took their masks off as soon as they sat down. We ate quickly and were out within an hour. How very un-Italian. We didn’t eat inside again.

We had a wonderful time relaxing, as we’ve been pushing hard to get settled. The town is gorgeous, the accommodations were great. I strongly recommend visiting Monopoli. The visit was of course even sweeter due to Peter’s unexpected generosity. Thank you Peter!

Posted by
876 posts

How marvelous! Peter definitely has some good karma headed his way.

Posted by
2541 posts

What a lovely, selfless gift from Peter. confirms the rumors that Canadians are just that nice.

Posted by
2051 posts

What a wonderful gift to you from Peter. I know you enjoyed your unexpected treat and will pay it forward. And Peter, I know wonderful things are headed your way. I do love hearing how generous, kind and thoughtful people are so thank you for sharing this wonderful and thoughtful gift with the rest of us..

Posted by
5149 posts

What a great story! We all need this kind of heartwarming, uplifting tale.

Thank you Nelly, and thanks to Peter, as well.

Posted by
8842 posts

Oh great, another instance of Canadians being "nice'. Does it ever end? :-)

Posted by
1858 posts

hey hey nelly
what an uplifting story today, i needed this. nice pass it forward, peter couldn't use it so found you and your husband and i'm sure owner was glad to have you. glad you guys had a fabulous time, did you drive or take the train and did you take your dog? does she understand italian" LOL
good things come to good people and karma pays. this probably put some umphh in your step getting settled in and you are "dancing in the streets" worth all you've been through moving, researching, good bad and ugly. enjoy thanks peter for your generosity and kindness.

Posted by
472 posts

Aw shucks you guys...stop it!

What a great trip report Nelly. Thanks for sharing it. Im so happy you were able to take advantage of this. It's a win-win all around as I see it; you got to briefly explore another part of Italy, the apartment owner gained a little business and got a great review of her property, and I'm thinking of it as you being the advance party, scoping out Monopoli for us before we actually get there some day!

Oh, and nobody got Covid, so there's that too.

PS You wouldn't believe what it took to arrange that Festa for you below your balcony!

Posted by
8399 posts

Thank you Nelly for such a cheerful, happy and informative post. Really enjoyed reading it and picturing it all.
And wow, how very, very nice of Peter!!

Posted by
931 posts

I love the cheerful vibe of the responses too! Yes, we drove from Abruzzo to Monopoli. It's an easy 3-hour trip, mostly on good toll roads. Even the smaller roads were in good condition, with one notable gap traveling through Bari (no ring roads here.) The autostrada follows the coast all the way so we had Adriatic glimpses all along the drive. It was interesting to note how the landscape changed completely the minute we entered the Puglia region. It went from hilly and green to flat and dry, with olive trees covering every bit of it. The towns are unique and interesting, but the interior landscape - bar the olive trees - is remarkably Kansan. (I'm Kansas-born, I'm allowed to say that!) We regretfully passed by the Gargano peninsula with a promise for another day. We did get in a good snack break at an Autogrill.

Yes, our whole pack went on this trip, adult daughter and French bulldog included. Adding our daughter to the 2-person reservation cost only €10/night. Pets are welcome and free, as long as you're responsible. I'm not sure our pup loved the apartment as much as we did, as it had 20 slippery marble steps up to get into it and another 20 marble steps to get to the roof terrace. She refused the steps a few times and had to be carried. But outside, there was much good stuff to sniff and we have a great picture of her on the ancient fortifications, alertly staring out to sea looking for pirates.

Now back to my Amazon Prime Day shopping to replace all the things I just got rid of, this time with the correct voltage and plug. Vacuum cleaner...paper shredder...instant pot...trying to decide if I really need all that stuff again!

P.S. @ Peter - there is no limit to the lengths you will go to make others happy, is there?! It was one heckuva party all right! And we were lazing up above it all with good Italian snacks and Pugliese rosé, serenaded with a 3-piece band and Italian singer.

Posted by
8504 posts

One of the best threads of 2020. Thank you Nelly for sharing your experience, and Peter for allowing it to happen.

Posted by
436 posts

Very heartwarming story and trip report.
So thoughtful of Peter.

Posted by
1888 posts

"Oh great, another instance of Canadians being "nice'. Does it ever end? :-) "

Nope, it never does.
We are genetically programmed.

What a lovely thing to do for someone, Peter.
And nice trip report too, Nelly!

Posted by
1782 posts

I enjoyed this very much!

A story about the Canadian niceness: A few years ago I was at a conference and a colleague from Israel approached me and told me about some funding they were going to have to bring Canadians to their university for give a series of talks. I listened and then told her. "But I am not Canadian." Her reply was "But you are so nice!"

Now I was hanging out with a Canadian colleague so she may have just assumed....

Posted by
3457 posts

I can echo all the positive sentiments of this inspiring story! Appreciated hearing about Peter's generosity and to Nelly for sharing an area that is on our radar for future travel. You both made my week! Looking forward to more reports as you settle in to wonderful Italy. Grazie!

Posted by
1549 posts

Nelly, glad you are enjoying Italy. Barley is happy your dog made it with you. I have some vouchers we won’t use that I may do the same! You will love how dog friendly Italy is.

Posted by
653 posts

Thank you, Nelly, for the uplifting post. How kind of Peter to offer you his reservation and how thoughtful of you to share the story.

Posted by
501 posts

What a great story! Peter, your thoughtfulness is inspiring, and thank you, Nelly, for writing such a lovely trip report!

Posted by
7698 posts

Wow ! Peter, that was an incredibly generous thing to do — and Nelly accepted gracefully and wrote up their experience beautifully for us all to enjoy.

And now any of us who go to Monopoli know who to call to arrange for a harbor festival during our visit !

Loved reading this tonight. What a feel-good story.

Posted by
1159 posts

Such a heartwarming story!
Thanks to Peter for your gift, and to you, Nelly, for sharing it.

Posted by
3936 posts

I've gone so far as to pass on my transit passes when leaving a city - a few times it was cheaper to get a weekly one even if we were only somewhere for 4-5 days - so twice in Boston and last year in Vienna I did that. I tried to find someone on the couchsurfing site to go with me on a Naked Prague tour last year after my husband got sick and there were no refunds (I went without him, of course). Didn't find anyone in my short window of time.

It's great people reach out - Canadians watching each others back! I will say I've seen other instances of folks on here trying to pass along a ticket to a site that they couldn't use (I think I recall someone trying to give away tickets for the Eiffel Tower). A great group of people here. Keep up the acts of kindness!

Bravo Peter and glad you had a blast Nelly!