My policy is to administer a shy smirk, whenever students tell me how lucky I am, that my job is nothing more than cooking, eating and drinking wine.
It’s a compliment, of course, not because it’s true- it isn’t- but because once again I’ve managed to be able to make it look effortless, perhaps the biggest challenge to every small business: how do you put out all the small fires that come along with any small business, while keeping up the personal relationships with your clients, the reason that they chose you in the first place.
Take this summer, for instance. I’m in the process of taking 4 sites and turning them into one. While all my neighbors and friends are off at the stunning yellow-against-blue coasts (we have two, both the Ionian and the Adriatic), I’m reworking the sites, sitting in a lawn chair in the school’s wine cellar, an ancient turbine of a solid-state fan pointed at my… well, never mind. When I get bored I go out in the garden and water it, and then feed the cat again, but today he can only lay there, stunned from the overfeeding, the school’s garden going green to yellow from all the water from the almost molten garden hose.
As part of this new site, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures, hundreds a day some days.
What follows are the pictures from a new section aimed at illustrating the beauty of Puglia to our incoming students, who tend to robotically plan the rest of their trip in the most touristy parts of Italy, not really grasping that they are leaving some of the best, most intimate and genuine towns for some of the most densely-packed cruise ship ramps (hint to writers: you can’t both-, 1) write compelling guide books to little known parts of Italy that allow your readers in through the rear entrance, 2) sell 7 million copies).
Included in our new Student Service sections are also my suggestions of where to eat, stay and what to do in 10 cities in Puglia, including portraits of the people who will be looking after you. This is a service to our students, and is password protected, so that when you show up to these places, few will have beaten you to them.
We hope you can make it here next year, if not this autumn (we still have spaces at the castle, and in our new advanced course for returning students). Puglia and the Salento have never been more compelling, our little school never more influential in keeping our traditions alive. And we won’t even turn ’10’ until next year.
…Here kitty-kitty-kitty, care for an omelette while I rewater the cherry trees?
Polignano al mare. One of Italy’s prettiest cities. Oddly, it’s in Puglia too.