Impromptu Pleasures on an Autumn Evening
The autumn nights draw in early in Puglia, by 5pm it’s already dark which makes it all too easy to stay in by the cosy fire with a glass of red to warm the soul. But, no, Sunday evening I want to venture out! So, reviewing my options at this late stage of the day, I had a choice of; Latino dancing and aperitivo in Francavilla Fontana, an inguration of a new Spa with the girls near Brindisi, or ‘fare una passengiata’ (go for a stroll) in Ostuni. I decided to opt for the latter.
Car parked in the ‘centro’ car park, I made my way up towards Piazza della Libertà at the heart of Ostuni, where the status of Sant’Oronzo (the patron Saint of Ostuni) can be seen from a distance. The steps just below the main Piazza, were dormant, and there wasn’t a sole to be seen. This area is usually buzzing with people, laughter and cheer but, it was deserted. “Oh, no, it’s like a ghost town” a sighed as I climbed the wide arched staircase towards Sant’Oronzo. “Ah, wait a minute, I hear music, fantastic, the city is alive!” I rejoyced! But where is it coming from? I rushed to the top of the stairs and was amazed to see so many people menadering around. “Wow, check out the Christmas tree!”, this was the first sign that Christmas is on its way in Puglia. Not yet lit, the spherical white bauble Christmas tree looked very impressive. Moving towards where the music was coming from, I saw a beautiful, black shire horse and carriage, behind that, a small pen with a couple of donkeys. Unsure of the significance of these animals, I ventured forwards towards the sound of the folk music, which was being played underneath the clock tower in the ‘Municiple building’. What a stroke of luck, a small celebration in aid of the ‘vino novello’ new wine of the season! There were people dressed in old fashion, traditional attire, others demonstarting the art of weaving the traditional disc used to press the grapes, basket weaving, cheese making, and various artifacts made out of olive wood. Plus some traditional local street food, vino novello (of course!) and an assortment of after dinner liquors to taste. What more could you ask for on this mild autumn evening!?
The Candlelit Vigil
As soon as I had started tuckin in to my homemade pettole, the church bells began to ring and there was an annoucement for everyone to attend the candlelit vigil taking place in the Piazza in memory of those who sadly lost their lives in the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday 13th November. The statue of Sant’Oronzo was illuminated with the tricolour of the French flag and people formed a circle in the main Piazza. They stood in silence with their lighted candles, in a circle and paid hommage to those innocent civilians who lost their lives on that tragic day. After five minutes of silence, a man stepped forward and laid his candle in the centre of the circle and others followed suit.
After the moving vigil, it was time to lighten the mood and go in search of food and wine. With no particular place in mind, I let me senses guide me, as I headed up the hill into the historical centre of Ostuni. It wasn’t long before I heard the sound of music and saw a sign saying ‘Vino Novello e castagne!’ Fantastic, more wine and chestnuts (as I didn’t get the chance to sample them at the event earlier). On entering the bar, Evó, I thought what a charming little place this is. It had been carefully refurbished, with stone walls and a star valuted ceiling, totally in-keeping with the orignal style of the property. But the real gem was downstairs, as long as you didn’t mind a little bit of ‘ducking and diving’, as head height was restricted in places. Although, that didn’t cause a problem for me, being just a smidgen over 5ft 2inches!
Downstairs definately had that ‘wow’ factor! It was an old converted underground well, and the orginal stone walls had been completed cleaned up and given a new lease of life. The, once rocky bed, now had large glass tiles, creating a smooth surface to walk on, which admittedly was a little unnerving at first as my brain needed a moment to adjust to the false floor. Below ground, in this cave, were intriging little alcoves, with modern funiture here, classy furniture there and intimate places to relax with a nice glass of wine! By day it’s a tea room, come juice bar, serving delicious cakes, bagels and ‘panini’ (sandwiches). By night it’s a cool wine bar, serving ‘Aperitivo’ (an assortment of small savoury snacks) or panini, oh, and fantastic cocktails! It’s the place to catch-up with friends or a loved one, and chat about your day, over a Spritz or a glass of wine or even a freshly prepared juice if you’re feeling the urge to be super healthy!
So, if you’re looking for something a little different, I would certainly recommend, this chincy, quirky, modern and totally delicious bar; Evó, Sapori di Vite (Evolution, tastes of live), Ostuni.