Italia Per Due: Week 8
Art and History Trip
This week was the start of our Art History class! It is taught by Professor Francine Vern Hertsen who is from Paris, France who is extremely knowledgeable about the culture here in Puglia.
On our third day of class, we took a fascinating little field trip, less than a five-minute drive from the castle, to a crypt in Ugento. The crypts were used during the reign of Pope Leo, who in the year of 726, forbade the people of Italy to worship any Christian images which were being used for trade. However, the Italian people needed to see an image that anchored their religious beliefs and they built these caves or crypts underground in order for them to still pray and worship.
The crypt we visited was built into the rock and had many painted saints including San Nicola, the saint of the children, paintings of flowers from the nearby sea, and drawings of mythical creatures of the ceiling. It was very interesting for me to learn this history that surrounds me every day while I am here, and I am eager to learn more in order to completely understand the culture of this region.
By Angela Piccinich
Saturday Morning Market
This past Saturday, a group of us woke up early and biked to the local market here in Ugento. When we got there, we immediately were amazed at the vast variety of fruits and vegetables, including cabbage, broccoli rabe, clementines, potatoes, puntarelle, and lettuces. Puntarelle is a bitter green in the chicory family that can be eaten raw if it is sliced very thinly and soaked in ice water for an hour, removing the bitterness. This can then be simply dressed with olive oil and vinegar for a light and delicious salad. The next stand at the market has almost every legume and dried spice that you could ever imagine. Some of these included borlotti beans, fava beans, split peas as well as red, yellow, and green lentils. The spices included wild fennel powder, bee pollen and pepperoncino powder.
My favorite stand at the market is the butcher where you can choose from a large variety of sausages, chicken, and beef. Along with all the raw products, they also have chickens cooking on a large rotisserie. As they go around the rotisserie, they start to drip juices on the other chickens, further amplifying the flavor. I ordered one of these delicious and golden brown chickens and as soon as I ordered it, they cut open the chicken and put a handful of fries in the cavity to soak up the chicken jus. When I got back from the market, I opened the chicken to find the super delicious, chicken-flavored fries along with a tender and juicy chicken.
It is great that the market and these products are available even in February because, in most of the U.S., this kind of market would only be available a couple months of the year!
By Adam Shoemaker