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Sophia

Puglia

Wine Tasting in Puglia

Yes, there will always be wine… That is a comforting thought. We did a wine tasting here in Puglia in July. But more on that later.

We are back here now, at Casa Vita. And it has been so relaxing so far. The weather is perfect. I really prefer this time of year. The days are not too hot, and in the evenings you still don’t need a sweater. The days have been slow and easy.

September is perfect because all the fruit has ripened: grapes, gorbezolli, figs, pomegranate…All the yuccas are in bloom.

The first week I was accompanied by my sweet friend Habiba. We visited some towns, went to the Ionic coast. I will bring you in the atmosphere with some photos.


In July we were here with the family,e and visited I Pastini. It is located in the Valle d’Itria (the Valley of the trulli) here in Puglia.

A very knowledgeable guide walked with us through the grapevines and explained about all the types of grapes and the wines that are made out of it. They make wine out of native grape varieties such as Verdeca, Bianco d’Allessano and Minutolo (white grapes), Susumaniello and Primitivo (red grapes) to get a typical and authentic wine.

At the end of each row of vines, there is a rosebush growing. By the state of the roses, the farmers can check whether there are damaging insects getting into the vineyard.

About twenty farmers are trained in the art of harvesting. The grapes are harvested by hand in the early hours of the morning and then placed in small boxes, after the best bunches are carefully selected.

In the buildings we could see the high technology that is used in the whole process of making wine from grapes.

After the tour–the sublime moment of wine tasting. We were welcome to taste a big range of wines, with Pastini’s Spumante Brut as a finale. This sparkling wine grown and processed locally from Verdeca grapes was conceived to stun the nose and the palate!

Cheers to lovely Puglia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stories

About War

Hi there,

How are you?
You are brave, wanting to read my story after you have read the title.

In my childhood I was stalked by my father with stories about the Wars, one and two equally. He needed to watch all movies, series, documentaries. Not being able to watch something else on my own screen back then – I am that old 😉 – I developed an aversion to everything that had a connection with the war. So I missed big chunks of interesting history too.

Wars never stand in isolation.
It is almost as if they have roots
that grow invisibly underground,
before springing up somewhere else
to create a new conflict. We must not be blind
to the forces that set the machinery of destiny in motion
one hundred years ago.
To do so would rob us of the chance to discover
the patterns of the past that can help to teach us
the lessons we need for the present and the future.

By Erwin Mortier

Last year Belgium remembered the end of World War II. There were exhibitions, and old museums were renovated, among them ‘Flanders Fields‘ in Ypres. And that is where hubbie and I went to, last Saturday.

It was a rainy day, and I had been to Ypres once, but I couldn’t remember much of it. Ypres is a beautiful little town. And known for its history. We first had a coffee in the large cafeteria and then headed to the museum.

In the museum, you receive a poppy-bracelet which represents 4 identities of people who lived during WWI.

This poppy-bracelet can be used throughout the museum on a wide variety of interactive displays. Each display will show one of the aspects of living during the war of 1914-1918.

There are also testimonies, on videos, played by actors. But they looked real and were very touching. The movie of the Christmas night was the most moving, I thought, though I had heard the well-known story several times. In this testimony it was played by four soldiers, English, French, German and Belgian. How they, only for a short moment, ceased the war and sang together:

On a crisp, clear morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. In the hundred years since, the event has been seen as a kind of miracle, a rare moment of peace just a few months into a war that would eventually claim over 15 million lives. But what actually happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 — and did they really play soccer on the battlefield?
Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled.
The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on “no man’s land,” the ground between opposing trenches.
By Time

Facts, as to how many Belgians fled to other countries during the Great War, have their value in being remembered. There were over 600,000 Belgians that found a home abroad, about 8% of the population.


The museum is located in the Cloth Hall (Dutch: Lakenhal), one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages. It served as the main market and warehouse for the Flemish city’s prosperous cloth industry. The original structure, erected mainly in the 13th century and completed 1304, lay in ruins after artillery fire devastated Ypres in World War I. Between 1933 and 1967, the hall was meticulously reconstructed to its prewar condition.

We also climbed up the 70 meters high (230 feet) bell tower. Even if it was windy and grey, it gave us a beautiful wide view over the city and the surrounding hills.

And around Ypres you can not go anywhere without seeing the numerous graveyards of so many people of so many different nations. In their silence and in their death, these soldiers are left with only one mission: reminding us of the horrors of war, then and now.

In a country where war was fought, it lingers, even if that war is already a century behind us. For each of the more than 600,000 dead who fell here, for each of the more than 425,000 graves and names on memorials and for the hundreds of traces and relics in the front region, for each of the millions affected (physically or psychologically wounded, refugees and displaced persons) there is a story of suffering, pain and ordeal somewhere in the world.

And let this memory shake us awake, make us realize there are still so many wars going on, and still so many people trying to find a safer place elsewhere.

Take care,

Sophie

 

Puglia

Family time @ Casa Vita

Hello there,

Yes we are having quality time now. How wonderful it feels to be here all together.

Days are warm and slow. But we enjoy every bit of it.

Hubbie and I drove here, over Germany and Switzerland. We spent one day in Bologna. What a pretty university town! I loved all the galleries with their mixed stone floors (terrazzo before it became a hype).

And then from Bologna straight to Ostuni, another thousand kilometers. It was pretty hot back then, but the plants in the yard of Casa Vita were in great shape.

Wednesday we made a boat trip from Monopoli to Polignano a Mare. We went into some caves under the cliffs.

A walk through the streets of Monopoli.

Yesterday we went to the Ionic coast, on the other side of the heel in Puglia, south from Taranto.  You can find beautiful sandy beaches there. On this side, the Adriatic, we have a more rocky coastline, beautiful too. On our way up there, we stopped at Grottaglie, the city of the ceramics!


At the beach.

You know I always like to add little things to the house, to make it more cozy. This time we brought a rattan swing (no, that wasn’t a small thing). Hubbie hung it under the porch with some help from all of us 😉 It will surely become the most romantic spot of Casa Vita!

And do you want to know where I am writing right now? I am in my green corner in the living room–it was a bit rainy this afternoon–while I am getting a free refill of Gin Tonic by Daughter’s boyfriend (he is scoring!). Now it’s off to spread out the fresh pizza dough. Yes, pizza night! I will share the recipe again here.

Well, dolce far niente brings peace of mind, surely!

Ciao, Sophia

 

 

 

 

Puglia

Bloggers at Casa Vita

Hi there!

It has been a while… Still busy with many different things. Overall most of my time is being consumed by the refugee center in my hometown. But I love to work with people, and it is still exciting to see so many new faces and to get to know them.

But I am also totally ready for a Summer trip. And yes, we will go to Puglia again. It is the first time we will go with our whole family: Hubbie and I and the kids with their partners. Oldest and his girlfriend will leave for a trip around the world in August. So this is going to be quality time with our family.

Puglia is popular these days. And also Casa Vita has had some creative and well-known Belgian visitors in the past months.

First we had the pleasure to welcome Joke Peeters with her team. She is the woman behind Olá Lindeza: a Belgian label and globally inspired home decor and women’s clothing brand. Everything is handmade in limited edition by artisans from around the world. Each piece is authentic, natural and unique in its own design and color with little imperfections unlike mass produced alternatives.

In the picture above you see me in an Olá Lindeza dress, it is called the Pompei. It is a natural and very light fabric, perfect for those hot summer days.

At the end of May the famous Belgian bloggers, Bart Deroeck and Eva Goris, visited Casa Vita, with two of their three children. Amazing what they did in only four days time! You can check out all the photos on their blogpost: Roeckies World.

So in a week we are leaving for Puglia, and I will write my next post from there.

Stay tuned, ciao!

Sophie

 

 

Stories

Borders

Friday 

These weeks have been hectic. Not in an unpleasant way, but still, I had too little time to get everything done, to stand still, to write… And now I try to make time. If we only could – build more time – in our days, in our life? How much would you build? The bricks could be days, the windows would stand for rest, a stop in time. Would you build a big house, an open house with huge windows or a tower of mostly bricks?

Last week was my birthday, and I felt spoiled by so much attention, so many sweet words and original gifts. Hubbie surprised me with a positive vibes dinner. Daughter gave me a book : The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (She is an Indian-born Canadian poet, writer, illustrator, and performer, who immigrated to Canada as a child).

Let me share a poem – We are not enemies:

Borders
are man-made
they only divide us physically
don’t let them make us
turn on each other

In my volunteer work at the refugee center, I am facing borders the whole time. This morning, when I was teaching Dutch, I felt so limited in what I could do. The three students I had from Ghana, Rwanda and Tanzania all spoke English and were learning easily. Then a student from Palestine joined us.  He only spoke Arabic, and I felt frustrated not being able to communicate. The woman from Tanzania told me she was here with her son of four years old: “You know, it can get very lonely, being here without your family.” Oh yes, I can only imagine. She said it with a smile and promised me she would study well the coming week so she would improve fast.

It is not necessary, but people praise me sometimes for my volunteer work. I also receive good advice. “Well, it will never be enough.  You need to set your limits. It is better not become too close to them.” I thought by myself: they have crossed so many borders, do we actually need to set another one?

On Wednesday I went to the center for our 945-in-beeld-project. I saw two girls crossing the site with their bikes. Maryama was almost fifteen, her friend Nasim a little younger. They wanted to fill in the postcard. On the card is a list of questions: Your favorite book, your favorite artist, what is your motto in life etc… Very diverse answers have been written so far. So we sat at the plastic table outside of the little house where we teach and I helped the girls fill in the cards. Suddenly Maryama looked back at me and asked, “Can we please sit on the other side of the house?”  We were sitting close to the huge gate of the center, and on the other side of the gate is a walking path.  Usually not many people pass there, but now there was a running contest. A lot of people from our hometown were passing, looking at us and the other inhabitants of the center, behind the gate.  Maryama said: “I don’t want the kids from my school see me here.”

More kids came – I brought cake, and word spread around – they all wrote the cards and told me where they came from, how many languages they spoke, where their parents came from, what they wanted to achieve here. Some families are split up, just one parent coming with one child, or a kid coming with an adult sibling.

Sunday

Today I joined Daughter and Oldest’s girlfriend at the center. Time for children’s entertainment. They were all very ready for some distraction. Yasmina brought her baby brother, Yussuf who just turned one today. He was brave, sitting in his stroller, looking at the kids running and dancing, moving his little legs to the rhythm of the music.


Snack time

While standing aside, two young Palestinians came to me to talk.  One was a fisherman in Gaza.  He first showed me a picture of the big fish he caught (the biggest weighed 70 kilos) then a picture of his boat that was damaged because of the war. The other one came from Lebanon.  He was a Palestinian but had lived in camps in Lebanon since he was born. They asked me whether I had heard what happened this weekend in their homeland.

In the meantime Daughter’s boyfriend and friends took a bunch of people with them, for a walk in the woods. People talked about the wars in their home countries, showed him pictures of damaged towns and about life in the center. A few teenagers were bored in the center; there are activities for small children and for adults, but not for teenagers. So here’s another mission 😉

Let me end with another poem – Immigrant

they have no idea what it is like
to lose home at the risk of
never finding home again
to have your entire life
split between two lands and
become the bridge between two countries

So long, Sophia