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!