Casey's Travels Part 3 - Casey's Italian SojournPosted by Whole Earth | 01.08.2019
Casey is a Whole Earthling from Central Texas who has worked at Whole Earth for six years. She’s currently on a six month European adventure participating in a program called Workaway. She volunteers for two weeks, working with local families, and then travels and explores the area for two more weeks, giving her an in-depth experience of the place, not just as a tourist, but from a local’s point of view. In Part 3, Casey explores mainland Italy.
Part 3 - Casey's Italian Sojourn
Earlier this year I traveled from Sardinia to mainland Italy. Ferrying to the country’s west coast, I had a few days to explore Rome, Naples and the site of ancient Pompeii before checking into my next Workaway volunteer location. The beauty, history and scale of these places, being among the most notable, grand cities in the world, left me completely awe struck.
I headed across Italy to the southeastern region of Apulia which includes the heel of the Italian “boot” and borders on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Apulia is known for its millions, perhaps 55 million, old olive trees and amazing olive oil. There’s also fantastic handmade pasta, a beautiful Adriatic coastline and a rich archeological history.
I settled in with a British expat couple, Leonie and David, who have been living in Italy and hosting art holidays for over 20 years at Masseria Impisi, once a fortified farmhouse, now a tranquil holiday retreat. As part of the Workaway program, I was required to do four to five hours of work a day for five days a week in exchange for food and accommodation. My assignment was helping to maintain the beautiful garden at Masseria Impisi. Manicuring jasmine and lavender plants was an enjoyable workday, if I do say so myself.
My accommodation was a quaint eco-cabin surrounded by olive trees. Some were over 1500 years old! In the evenings I strung up my Kammock Hammock and enjoyed the view of ancient Olive branches. With afternoons and weekends off, I was able to explore! Ostuni, a bustling city with a medieval town-center is perched on the top of a hill. Built in Norman times, the buildings are painted so bright a white that they shine in the Sun.
Apulia is carpeted with olive trees. And where there are olives, there are olive presses and storage tanks. In Apulia, you may find them underground. Originally many of these sites were used for storing grain. But as olives replaced grains as the chief crop, presses and tanks were set up the former underground granaries to preserve the oil from excessive heat and light that could ruin it.
Alberobello is a World Heritage Site featuring Trulli houses that look as if they were the setting for a fairytale. But they’re really the folk architecture answer to 15th century taxes on structures built using mortar. To avoid the taxes, peasants built thick walled, dry stonework homes with self supporting domes of overlapping, unmortared stone. The limestone walls and conical roofs help keep the Trulli warm in winter and cool in summer.
My favorite destination in Apulia was the Nature Reserve of Torre Guaceto, a refreshingly natural and sandy beach. Beaches in Apulia are either in the midst of a rocky coastline or are Lido beaches, which are pay-to-use beach areas covered with umbrellas and lounge chairs. At Torre Gauceto you have access to hiking, bird and turtle watching, sunbathing and swimming in clear seawater; all without seeing many manmade structures. Lots of coastal areas in this region are covered with unattractive beach rentals, so Torre Guaceto is the perfect place for the nature lover to explore and get away from the crowds.
All in all, I had an exceptional experience visiting this beautiful part of Italy. Offering service in exchange for the ability to stay and explore different regions of the world is a unique benefit of the Workaway program. I’m becoming more and more certain it’s a means of travel that more people should discover and appreciate.
Ciao for now, I’m off to Montengro!