For our first full day, we hit the ground running with an excursion to Bari, a vineyard visit, and – what else – pizza!!
The group had a LITTLE bit of a break this morning to catch some extra shut-eye, but everyone was eager to get going as we hopped in the vans and traveled a short trip north back to Bari. This time we bypassed the industrial area around the airport and cut through the modern part of town to enter the Old City. We rounded the corner of the Basilica San Nicola and were treated to the arrival of a wedding party!! (Little did we know that this would be the first of THREE we would see today!) The church was still open to the public, so we were able to witness an Italian wedding along with St. Nicolaus’ tomb.
The morning was free to explore the old town until we met for lunch – and what a lunch it was! The group may not have thought we could top last night’s dinner, but I think we proved them wrong! The usual barrage of amazing antipasti was followed by a very special pasta – a red wine Troccoli pasta in a sauce of pecorino cheese, topped with strings of fried onions. It might very well be a new favorite! It seemed that after a filling lunch on this warm day, a few people needed to cool off…so what better than stripping down and taking a dip in the Adriatic!!?
Our morning in the city quickly faded away as we left Bari and turned off the autostrada onto a one-lane paved road through wheat fields, which slowly gave way to rows of grape vines. Out of these vines finally emerges the old manor farm of the Polvanera winery. In production for just a little over 10 years, the Cassano family started out with the goal of increasing the reputation of ‘Primitivo’ and other native grapes of this region to produce quality wines. And they have done just that! Their cavernous wine cellar was dug straight into the limestone and was unlike anything we had ever seen. A tasting in their cantine their award-winning wines made a Primitivo lover out of us all!
Since we had such an amazing feast of a lunch, we kept things light tonight with pizza in Conversano. But this isn’t your regular pizza joint……it’s located inside a castle! Castello Conversano has been revitalized with bars, shops, galleries to make a hip spot filled with locals. And it does’t hurt that they have amazing pizza! Just another temptation to want to open our own pizza shop when we return to the U.S.! Our long day ended with some rousing rounds of Scopa as we watched the town stroll around us until well after midnight.