It’s a funny old world: Aggie MacKenzie
‘It was as if we were camping in a stone tent or stone igloo, devoid of comfort’
My attitude to holiday accommodation has always been that the cleanliness and level of comfort of the place should be at least as good as – if not superior to – at home (my camping and caravanning days are firmly in the past). After all, a holiday is meant to be an indulgence – something out of the ordinary, sprinkled with treats I don’t normally give myself.
Last month, I visited Puglia in southern Italy with my friend Alison. My son Rory and his girlfriend Katie were holidaying there at the same time. They had booked his dad’s
(my ex-husband’s) holiday house for a couple of weeks and had also invited various chef colleagues and old school pals during their stay.
Rory and Katie invited Alison and me to stay from the Sunday until
Wednesday. It was the first time I’d been to the house, which is stunning, comfortable and very well equipped, complete with an outdoor kitchen, pool and extensive terraced grounds.
Wednesday arrived, and Alison and I gave our rooms over to the young newcomers. Excited, we drove to the nearby trullo we’d booked for the rest of the week. A trullo is a drystone, conical-roofed building typical of Puglia. First built in the 1400s as agricultural buildings, they are used mainly as holiday homes, with one room under each conical roof and sleeping areas in arched alcoves. They look absolutely charming – at least, from the outside…
As we drove up, there was no mistaking that this was way inferior to the glamour we’d just left. Sadly, there was no sign of any limestone sun terrace – here was a patch of parched scrubland with a few aged, plastic chairs dotted around. Despite the outside temperature being in the 30s, the interior felt chilly.
There was a central room, off which were two ‘bedrooms’. In the central space sat a bare, old wicker sofa. There was no rug on the stone
floor. My single bed was made up with thin, bobbly, polycotton sheets and a single pillow. The threadbare towels looked like charity-shop rejects. Alison, bless her, declared it ‘quite charming’. But, for me, it was as if we were camping in a stone tent or a stone igloo, devoid of comfort – although perhaps others would have loved it.
The young couple who ran the place were delightful, and it wasn’t as if it had been misrepresented. It’s just that those young things down the road were living in luxury, with their top-of-the-range beds, soft, thick towels and swanky furniture, not to mention panoramic views!
They must have heard my endless complaints coming over the tops of the hills. We arranged to meet at the Saturday market, where they bought
meat, fish, salamis, breads and
vegetables, and invited us to dinner.
We were treated to a five-course feast, which I’ll remember for a very long time to come.
Italy is forgiven, but I don’t think I’ll ever be booking a trullo again!