It would be difficult to imagine a more colourful scene. Vibrant yellow canopies set against a cloudless blue sky shaded market stalls laden with the jewel hues of citrus, olives, exotic green cauliflowers, a dizzying choice of amber honey and a rainbow of garden plants. The basil, mozzarella and tomato stripes of a gigantic Italian flag hung from a pale stone balcony high above Monopoli’s old port. Tanned families in their Sunday best lined the harbour walls, shuffling to allow passage of marching drummers, clad jester-fashion with one white leg and one black leg apiece, just like their accomplices bringing up the rear with green and white flags flying from poles that could double as ships’ masts. Once arrived at the slipway, the quintet showed off their remarkable upper-body muscle-power in a display of flag-waving-meets-gymnastics-meets-caber-tossing and it was a relief that nobody had an eye out or a broken limb.
But my main focus wasn’t on land-based activities. At the end of a week of sea-themed music-making with Run By Singers, it was all about to kick off on the water. Each Sunday in October, this Puglian town celebrates with a festival known as Gozzovigliando, and today was the day for the palio, a regatta between the little blue fishing boats, the gozzi. For a bunch of holiday chums who’d spent many an hour indulging in life’s gastronomic pleasures, and even singing about exactly that in Gastoldi’s Il piacere, it seemed a happy coincidence that Gozzovigliando, although clearly stemming from the name of the vessel, translated as ‘guzzling’. Fair enough.Continue Reading