Archive for September, 2015

EU funds sought for Appian Way tourism in Puglia

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015


Beyond its beaches and food, Puglia is a particular draw for those interested in studying the history of the world. The history of Puglia dates to antiquity and the region played an especially important role in the Roman Empire.

One day, while I was driving around the Brindisi area in Puglia, I turned onto another road and saw a sign ‒ Via Appia. It struck me that I was driving on a portion of the Appian Way, one of the oldest roads in the world.

The Encyclopædia Britannica describes the Appian Way as “one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic.” The Appian Way, begun in 312 BC, linked Rome to the ancient Adriatic Sea port of Brundisium (today’s Brindisi). Britannica continues, “The Appian Way was celebrated by Horace and Statius, who called it ‘longarum regina viarum,’ or ‘queen of long-distance roads,’ the main highway to the seaports of southeastern Italy, and thus to Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.”

Pugliapromozione, the Region of Puglia’s official tourism agency, reports that an “elegant Roman column, one of the most important symbols in the Salentinian city, dominates the port of Brindisi from its height of 19 meters, at the top of a long staircase. The column is one of the two Roman columns built during the 2nd century, used as lighthouse and probably to indicate the place in which the old Appian Way ended.” The second column toppled over in 1528 and was moved to Sant’Oronzo square in Lecce. The agency says, “According to the most likely hypothesis, this monument was built in 110 AC by the imperator Trajan, to indicate the detour of the Appian Way from Benevento to Canosa, Ruvo and Egnazia, ending in Brindisi.”

Now, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini says he hopes to be able to allocate funding from the European Union (EU) toward a project to boost tourism for hikers along the Appian Way.

“We are working on a big project for the Appian Way walk,” Franceschini said at a presentation about the project and reported by ANSA, the Italian news agency. “The Appian Way unites areas where foreign tourists don’t arrive, it revalues the South and recovers a unique archaeological heritage.”

Franceschini plans to meet on Oct. 14 with the presidents of the four regions the Appian Way passes through ‒ Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Puglia ‒ to coordinate the project, ANSA reported. “If we succeed in this,” he said, “we will also bring the EU resources.”

If the project succeeds, it can help Puglia, and Southern Italy as a whole, restore and preserve a priceless historical and archaeological resource, as well as provide new opportunities for tourism in less-traveled areas.

As travel writer and tour operator Rick Steves writes, “The wonder of its day, the Appian Way was called the ‘Queen of Roads.’ Twenty-nine such highways fanned out from Rome, but this one was the first and remains a legend. For a time-warp road trip that will take you back 2,000 years, hit the highway.”

Click here for more information about the Appian Way project.

Photo Copyright © Vito Arcomano/Fototeca ENIT

Puglia olive growers vs. EU

Monday, September 21st, 2015


The outbreak of the killer bacteria Xylella fastidiosa that has afflicted millions of olive trees in Puglia has been making news since early 2014. Now, a group of olive growers in the Province of Lecce plan to take legal action against the European Union (EU) over measures being tried to contain the outbreak ‒ measures the farmers contend are transforming their groves into “open-air cemeteries,” International Business Times reports.

At the heart of the threatened legal action is the contention by the growers association, La Voce dell’Ulivo (The Voice of the Olive Tree) that the measures being taken by the EU are not based on science. Rather, the growers claim, the measures are jeopardizing an ancient industry ‒ one that plays a significant role in Puglia’s tourism.

Given that its ancient olive groves are among Puglia’s most notable visitor attractions, it’s worrisome when one of the growers warns that “entire areas are at risk of turning into desert land.”

Read more about the issue here.

Photo courtesy of La Voce dell’Ulivo

“The Barese Ice Men”: Be a part of history

Saturday, September 19th, 2015


From the United Pugliese Federation of Greater New York:

We are proud to announce that the documentary film “The Barese Ice Men of New York,” which our association has helped to produce, will be presented on Nov. 14, 2015, at 7 P.M. at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center, 24 Depot Square, Tuckahoe, NY.

Carlo Magaletti, the director of the film, is working on the final stages of the post production and asks for help to complete the film in the best way possible (sound correction, color correction, payment of royalties for good music, and for some vintage footage).

Those who help the project will receive in return:

With a donation of at least $50 you can enter in the credits of the film your name/family and your own photo and get a gift copy of the DVD.

With $75, in addition to the above, you will receive the exclusive extra DVD “200 minutes BONUS material” (only 100 available)

With $100, in addition to the above, you will receive two tickets to the premiere on Nov. 14 (only 20 still available).

Those with a PayPal account can donate by going to the website: (where you will also find many photos and videos of the project)

Those who want to use a credit card (avoiding PayPal) can go to the fundraising site Indiegogo by clicking:

Thanks for your attention.

My best regards,
John Mustaro, President

Learn to make one of Puglia’s most famous snacks

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015


From The Westchester Italian Cultural Center:
Taralli are the go-to snack food for most of Southern Italy. Similar to a breadstick, these delicious rings are made in several regions of Italy and of course they can be made in several different ways: plain, with eggs, with wine, or spiced with fennel seeds or cracked black pepper.

Try different recipes with Chef Linda, and learn how easy it is to make this perfect snack, when the Westchester Italian Cultural Center in Tuckahoe, NY, presents “Cooking Class: Taralli” on Sept. 24 from 1 to 2:30 P.M.

Attendees must register in advance and pre-pay. Members $40, non-members $50. Kindly RSVP at least 48 hours in advance. To register, please call (914) 771-8700.

The Center is located at 24 Depot Square in Tuckahoe. For further information about the Center, its activities and travel directions, click here.

Photo courtesy of The Westchester Italian Cultural Center

All-Pugliese women’s final at U.S. Open

Friday, September 11th, 2015

In what The New York Times called “one of the biggest surprises in tennis history,” the unseeded Roberta Vinci, playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final, defeated No. 1-ranked Serena Williams, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, at the U.S. Open on Friday, setting up an all-Pugliese final match on Saturday.

Vinci, born in Taranto and now residing in Sicily, will face Flavia Pennetta, who was born and still lives in Brindisi, for the championship in New York City.

Pennetta, the No. 26 seed, reached the finals by upsetting the No. 2 seed, Simona Halep, in Friday’s first semi-final, 6-1, 6-3.

In the first comment he has posted on Facebook, according to La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, the new president of the Region of Puglia, Michele Emiliano, declared, “I just want to shout for joy, pride, happiness, for these two extraordinary athletes from Puglia, Italy, that are the symbol of the good people of Puglia who never give up and that through the sacrifice can achieve any result. Flavia and Roberta are an example for all of us!”

The Times also notes that the match is noteworthy in that it will feature the oldest players, in terms of combined ages, in a women’s major final. Pennetta is 33 and Vinci is 32.

ANSA, the Italian news service, noted that “Pennetta was the first Italian woman to reach the top 10, in August 2009, but neither she nor Vinci had previously reached the final of a grand slam.”

Read all about the history-making tournament here, here and here.

19 mayors invite Pope Francis to visit Puglia

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

In a letter to Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Pope Francis’ personal secretary, the mayors of 19 municipalities in Puglia have invited the Pope to visit the Region of Puglia, in particular Latiano, a city in the Province of Brindisi, on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the beatification of blessed Bartolo Longo, founder of the Basilica at Pompeii. Longo was born in Latiano.

In addition to Latiano, the municipalities represented are Bari, Brindisi, Carovigno, Ceglie Messapica, Cisternino, Erchie, Fasano, Francavilla Fontana, Galatone, Mesagne, Oria, Ostuni, San Michele Salentino, San Pancrazio Salentino, San Vito dei Normanni, Torre Santa Susanna, Taranto and Villa Castelli.

Learn more about the invitation here.

Puglia represented in U.S. Open women’s semis

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015



Flavia Pennetta (top photo), born and still residing in Brindisi, joined Roberta Vinci (lower photo), born in Taranto (now living in Palermo, Sicily) in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open Wednesday, the first time Italy has had two players in the semis at Flushing Meadows, NY, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Vinci faces top-ranked Serena Williams and Pennetta will play second-ranked Simona Halep.

Click here for complete, up-to-the-minute results from the U.S. Open’s official website.

Tauck’s new Puglia program a winner for 2015

Sunday, September 6th, 2015


A year ago, I posted two blog items (here and here) reporting on the high-end U.S. tour operator Tauck’s 2015 entry into Puglia with a new week-long itinerary.

At that time I wrote, “When an international travel company of the stature of Tauck enters a new destination, it is good news for several reasons. First, it is an endorsement of Puglia’s tourism product by a company that caters to upscale international travelers, based on the company’s selection of hotels, attractions and visitor experiences. Second, it helps to rank Puglia on par with other high-level destinations. Third, it invites other travel companies to take a look at Puglia and invest their resources in the region. Fourth, it broadens Puglia’s appeal among travelers who will take the time and make the investment in learning about the region’s culture and heritage, thus helping to preserve and foster them. If this new program succeeds, everybody wins.”

A year later, it’s obvious that the new program is a success, and Puglia is all the more stronger for it. The originally scheduled 10 departures sold out, so the tour operator had to add eight more that also sold quickly.

In an email, Tom Armstrong, Corporate Communications Manager for Tauck, told me, “Yes, the new Puglia tour was very well received this year. We initially announced 10 dates about a year ago, but we’ll actually end up operating 18 dates and we’re basically sold out. Our guest satisfaction ratings for the tour were exceptional overall, so based upon this year’s success and the high guest satisfaction levels we enjoyed, we’re not planning any significant changes to the itinerary for next year.”

Puglia is certainly making news and gaining popularity in international markets in 2015 (read here about the latest visit to Puglia by Richard Gere and a couple of friends) and Tauck’s success with its new Puglia itinerary is just one more endorsement of the region as a world-class destination.

Austrian Airlines to debut Vienna-Bari flights for 2016 peak tourist season

Saturday, September 5th, 2015


Austrian Airlines is expanding its network of tourist destinations in Italy by introducing high-season, once-per-week flights to Bari in May 2016, the carrier announced in a press release, representing another boost to Puglia’s ever-strengthening tourism industry.

The Thursday departures from Vienna to Bari, with a stopover in the Calabrian city of Lamezia Terme, begin on May 26, 2016. Bari, the capital of the Region of Puglia, will be offered for the first time in single-seat sales. This means the flights can now also be directly booked on the Austrian Airlines website for the first time.

Austrian Airlines will operate the Bari flights on Thursdays deploying a Fokker 100 aircraft from May 26 to Sept. 22, 2016. Airfares start at 149 euros one way, including taxes and charges. The flights can be booked now at, by calling 0820 320 321 in Austria or +43 5 176 676 700 from abroad or by a travel agency.

Photo Copyright © Austrian Airlines

The “Barese Icemen” are coming!

Friday, September 4th, 2015


After years in production, the documentary “The Barese Icemen of New York” has been completed and will be shown for the first time on Nov. 14, 2015, at 7 P.M. at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center in Tuckahoe, NY.

Director Carlo Magaletti discusses the documentary on his website:

“ ‘The Barese Icemen of New York’ follows the story of the Apulia (Italy) emigrants who landed in the United States with nothing, and yet from the 1920s to the 1960’s, these people dominated the ice business in the state of New York. A business that, until the popularization of refrigerators, was very stable and booming.

“How could these Apulian people (in the greater New York area generally referred to as ‘Barese’) accomplish this feat without any financial means, without even knowing the language? And why were the ‘Barese,’ specifically, the ones that dominated this market?”

Click here to learn the the answers to those questions and for more information about the documentary.