“Everyone goes through a period of Traviamento - when we take, say, a different turn in life, the other via. Dante himself did. Some recover, some pretend to recover, some never come back, some chicken out before even starting, and some, for fear of taking any turns, find themselves leading the wrong life all life long.”
When I think of Italy, I think of endless summer days, beautiful, soft, golden light, starting with un caffè at the bar, devouring simple, yet delicious food outside in the cool shadows, taking a dip in the pool at the end of a warm afternoon. I think of ancient olive groves and white villages that almost hurt your eyes while strolling through its narrow streets. Yes, without a doubt, Italy is one of my favorite countries to visit. I'm considering myself lucky, since it's only a short flight from Amsterdam. Perhaps I'm even luckier than most, as I've been able to go there for work a few times in the last years.
The quote above comes from the book Call Me by Your Name. I admit, I didn't read it. I watched the movie. A beautiful story, that teleported me to the Italian countryside in a heartbeat. It came to mind last weekend, when I traveled to Ostuni. But more on that at the end of this post.
I was invited by Giorgia Eugenia Goggi, chef at Masseria Moroseta. This beautiful modern country house has been a dream destination of mine for a long time, so you can imagine my happiness when I received her request to photograph one of their summer dinners.
Nowadays, it's easy to find luxurious retreats around the world, but often they are just beautiful on the outside. Masseria Moroseta isn't just a stunning piece of architecture, it's also a house with a soul, where you'll feel at home within seconds. Owner Carlo Lanzini makes sure of that. The design - in the hands of Andrew Trotter - perfectly blends in with the Pugliese countryside, yet at the same time stands out. There's warmth and simplicity at Masseria Moroseta. The living room is a place to destress, in the morning you'll find breakfast prepared by Giorgia in the kitchen, and the swimming pool is so nice that it might refrain you from going to the beach. Because why would you ever leave this place?
However, if you do feel like going out - la città Bianca Ostuni is just around the corner. You can even go by bike! On Friday, I flew from Athens (where I was for another assignment) to Bari, to arrive late in the evening at Moroseta. The next morning, Giorgia, her friend and chef Alice from Milan and myself headed to farmer's market. A real Italian affair. We bought ingredients for the dinner and headed 'home'. While Giorgia and Alice started prepping, I wandered around. A feast for the eyes. I took so many photos, of every corner, at every hour of the day (or so it felt like).
On Sunday evening 40 guests arrived. The theme of this dinner was BBQ. We started with a cucumber and melon salad, on a bed of ricotta, with preserved lemon and crumbled black olives sprinkled on top. Next was a cold roasted aubergine soup, with sesame, sour cream, and green tomatoes. The main course consisted of slow cooked lamb, accompanied by a romesco sauce and a radish and herb salad. We finished the dinner with a delicious apricot and olive oil cake, topped with a spoon of kernel ice cream. The flavors of the dinner perfectly captured the summer vibe in Puglia. I love how grilling ingredients deepens the flavor of otherwise quite simple products. Later that evening we said goodbye, or rather a see you soon.
I've been traveling a lot this year. After a quick count, I realized my trip to Italy was my 11th visit abroad. When I woke up Monday morning, on my birthday, I felt a bit conflicted. I always feel homesick when I'm away, yet at the same time, how could I get by knowing I'd miss out on all these amazing experiences if I'd give in to my fears and tears.. And it's not even about the beautiful hotels, landscapes, masserias, or the fact that I've accumulated a lot of nice photos over the years. No. I'd be sad to miss out on meeting the people I've encountered on these trips. So I keep going. Even though it's not exactly the dream job everyone always thinks it is. Because it still beats every other alternative. "Sometimes the traviamento turns out to be the right way. Or as good a way as any." - Andre Aciman, Call Me by Your Name.