Wednesday, June 21
Before we came to Grottole, Christoph and I were worried whether there would be any shopping facilities in such a small village. Since we came to Grottole by plane or public transport, we didn’t have a car and we had to be able to walk to the shops.
After a few days in Grottole it was clear that there would be enough shopping opportunities for us and that we could easily shop without a car. But suddenly a completely different problem became noticeable: Apart from our dear hosts in the village, Michele and Silvio, almost nobody in the village spoke English and unfortunately we didn’t speak a word of Italian. So every purchase, whether at the bakery, butcher or at the deli counter in the supermarket, became a real adventure! At first I thought I could get by with my Spanish skills, but that plan did not work out. I decided to learn at least a few words and phrases in Italian which made all subsequent purchases much easier for everyone involved!
In the village there are a few small bakeries, a few butchers, two tiny supermarkets and Angelo who runs a small fruit and veggie shop. Since all of the shops mentioned are below the historic village center, we didn’t have to walk long, but the roads were very steep! On our little trips through the village to go grocery shopping or to have a coffee, one house always caught our eye. Every morning a small, improvised sales table was set up in front of the house. On that table were a few wooden boxes with various vegetables in them. A small yellow parasol was always stretched out next to it to protect the fresh vegetables from the southern Italian sun. But there was nothing to be seen from a seller. It was only after a few days in Grottole and after walking past the vegetable stand a few times that we were able to observe how everything worked here: If you wanted to buy something here at this small pop-up vegetable stand, you simply had to ring the bell at the house next door, where the owner and seller of the vegetables – an elderly woman named Rosalia – resides. Rosalia then came running out with a bag in her hand. You choose the vegetables you would like and Rosalia weighs the selection on the large silver scales in her hallway to determine the price. We particularly liked the fact that Rosalia only sells seasonal and regional vegetables. So during our time in Grottole it was zucchini, zucchini blossoms, onions and potatoes. Coming from Hamburg, where you can buy almost anything at any time and thus forget which fruits and vegetables are actually in season, the reduced selection of vegetables Rosalia offered felt really nice. We bought what must have been the tastiest zucchini and onions of our lives from Rosalia, and Rosalia herself is such a sweet nice lady!
In General we always noticed the high quality and freshness of the food in Grottole. It didn’t matter whether we bought from Rosalia, Angelo or the small supermarket in town: fruit and vegetables were always fresh, sold ripe and therefore tasted particularly intense!