Thursday, November 4, 2010

Where is Nonno? Cisternino, Puglia, Italy

By Guest Blogger - Nonno (Ben's grandfather)
Nonno currently lives in Italy and will be sharing information with all of us! 

We are back home in Courmayeur in the Italian Alps, and I want to catch up for you students about other places we visited on our trip to Puglia.

On our visit to Puglia on the boot of Italy, we visited the village of Cisternino (Pronounced Chisternino in Italian) Cisternino was selected as on of the most beautiful small towns in Italy.

The village is on a hill with pretty views of the valley, called the Itria Valley. (in Italian: Valle d'Itria).

From the city park, you can see many Trulli at the bottom of the valley. Cisternino is only 12 kilomteres from Alberobello, the village of the Trulli we blogged about earlier.

In Italy, they measure distances in kilometers (km) and not in miles. This is called the metric system. How far is one kilometer?

All of the buildings in the village are painted white and can be seen from great distances.

 Cisternino has a pretty main square called a piazza with a clock tower.

People live on small alleys with steep steps to their houses.


In the summer, they decorate the houses and steps with many plants.

Cisternino is known for its "fornelli pronti" (butcher's shops with barbecue grills) serving up such dishes as "bombette" (roasted pork meatballs), sausages, steaks and some of them even serve donkey meat.

We ate in one butcher shop with some friends that live in the village.
We went to the counter, pointed out what we wanted; the butcher weighs the meat you want, then cooks it and brings it to the table.


You can only get meat, potatoes and salad. No dessert. :(

But when you finish your dinner you walk down the street for some Gelato!

People in Puglia love pasta. Orecchiete is a favorite pasta. It has its name because it looks like an ear. Some people make Orecchiete the old fashioned way by hand while sitting outside their houses.

In Cisternino, many things are done the old fashioned way like making shoes and repairing them.

Or getting water from a pump!

Can you imagine taking a bath if you had to carry the water up those steep stairs?

What part of Cisternino did you like the best? 

How is Cisternino like your community? 

How is it different?


  1. Dear Nonno,

    Thank you so much for another beautiful post about Italy. We have been talking a lot about regions in social studies and I see that Puglia is one. Our social studies book defines a region as: an area that shares one or more features. Is it the architecture that makes it a region, or is there something else that ties it together?

    One of my favorite photos is the one with the palm tree shadows on the white buildings. Molto bello!

    You also mentioned that there is a square called the piazza in the village. What do the citizen of Cisternino do at the plaza? Are there ever any events there?

    What is your favorite gelato flavor?

    Your blogging buddy,
    Mrs. Y♥llis

  2. Dear Nonno,

    Thank you for another amazing post about Italy. I remember being in Italy five years ago. We visited the town that borders with Nice,France. It is called Allassio. Have you been there? I also remember seeing the beautiful blue sea.

    Im★n and Parisa(Iman's mom)

  3. Dear Nonno,
    That was an excellent post. I liked the photo of the Piazza best. It looked really pretty. I also thought it was interesting that people can buy raw meat and the shop owner cooks it for you. In the United states, when you buy food from the store you have to cook it yourself. :(

    You also mentioned that everything is measured in kilometers instead of miles. I run 5 kilometers and always have to convert it into miles for my friends who don't run.

    When will you go on another trip?

    I can't wait to read more about the cities in Italy.


  4. Dear Mrs. Yollis's class,
    I am Ben, Miriams cousin, and it seems like Cisternino is a really cool place. The views of the city look absolutely amazing, as does the food. I still can't believe that people still make shoes and get water "the old fashioned way". Living in Cisternino, even for a short while, must have been such a drastic change from California. What was the very first thing you noticed about Cisternino, that you could never see in California?

  5. Hi! I'm a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange's EDM310 class. I would like to thank you for this amazing post! I've never been to Italy but I would really like to vistit sometime. I really like how the city is measured in kilometers instead of miles. That means cars might not be too popular there. Cisternino is so different from here! The town is much smaller and their way of living doesn't seem as advanced as ours. Their are some things that are a little alike though. People in Puglia loves pasta and I know i LOVE me some pasta too! Thanks for the post though, I really enjoyed it!

  6. Dear Nonno,

    I loved looking at the beautiful pictures of Cisternino. The houses look so inviting with their wonderful views. They look so fresh, all painted white with the plants.

    I look forward to reading your future posts.

    Mrs. Madnick, the librarian

  7. Dear Mrs Yollis, and class,

    WOW this is a wonderful post that you published onto your blog!

    I have one question for you...
    Have you been to all of those states?

    Jazmin, (in 2KJ)!

  8. Dear Mrs Yollis's class,

    I am Ron, Miriam's cousin.
    I remember traveling to Italy a while ago, and seeing wonderful sights, though I didn't speak a lot of Italian, some of the most impressive sights were the beaches of Paleokastritsa. I remember the water to be warm and pleasant as well as kayaking there. Cisternino seems like a wonderful place to visit, the clock tower was an especially beautiful picture. Though the food also seems quite appealing. Have you ever been to any other Italian cities, or places that remind you of this one?

  9. Dear Mrs Yollis's class,
    I was on a trip to Italy with Ben and Ron this past summer. In your photos, you show all white houses. When I first looked at the blog I thought it was photos of houses in Santorini, Greece. In Santorini most of the buildings are white with blue shutters. The colors where so bright that it stayed in my mind if even when I returned back home to the United States. Did you eperience the same feeling? Have you visited any other countries besides Italy?

    Luba (Miriam's cousin)

  10. Hi Nonno,
    I like Cisternino and the buildings. It doesn't look like where we live. The streets are narrow and the building are all white. I like the gelato photo. My favorite flavor is stracetelli. We look forward to seeing you here soon. My classmates can't wait to meet you!

  11. What a wonderful post! I've never been to Italy but the white houses remind me of the white bricks that form the city of Jerusalem. Do you know if the houses in Greece are constructed of the same materials as the houses in Jerusalem? I love gelato too...what's the difference between gelato and regular ice cream?


    Elana (Miriam's Auntie)

  12. @Elana,
    When I was in Italy, it was hard to pass by a gelato stand without getting a scoop. Your question about how gelato differ from regular ice cream sparked my curiosity to look up the answer. I had always thought that gelato tasted better simply because it was being eaten amidst the background of the beautiful art and architecture of Italy as compared to eating regular ice cream sitting at home around the kitchen table. However, I learned that indeed there is a difference in how the two "ice creams" are made. Firstly, regular ice cream has a minimum of 10 percent fat, while gelato is made with a greater proportion of whole milk to cream, and therefore is less fatty containing approximately five to seven percent fat. In addition, since gelato has a lower fat content, it doesn't coat the mouth in the same way allowing for more intense flavors.

    Secondly, gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream, so it's denser because not as much air is whipped into the mixture. Gelato contains about 25 to 30 percent air, while ice cream can contain as much as 50 percent air.

    Finally, gelato is typically stored and served at a warmer temperature while ice cream is typically served frozen.

    The combination of great taste and less fat is a great reason to indulge on gelato while enjoying Italy.

    Victoria (Miriam's mom)

  13. Dear Nonno,
    This is Olga, Miriam’s great-aunt. My family and I were in Italy 29 years ago, when we emigrated from Ukraine. We stayed in Rome for about a month before we permanently settled in Los Angeles. I remember how fascinated we were with this beautiful city, which is similar in beauty to that of Cisterninio. In the pictures of Cisternino, I did not see a single car. Considering that the alleys and streets are so narrow, what type of transportation do the people of this village use?


  14. @Olga,

    That was a great comment! I can't believe you went to Rome 29 years ago! That is a long time ago. I wonder if things changed a lot since you have been there. Some day I would like to go to Rome too. Did you like staying in Rome? Would you like to go back for a visit?


  15. @ Nonno,

    Thank you for the wonderful post about Italy!
    Traveling to Italy seems like lots of fun. I wish I could travel in Italy too. In fact, my mom is from Italy also. What is your favorite gelato flavor? Also I know what a piazza is, because I have been in one at Spain.


  16. Dear Nonno,
    This is Robert, one of Miriam’s many cousins. Thank you for taking me on a virtual tour of Italy from the comforts of my living room. Having never been in Cisternino (or Italy for that matter), I was mesmerized by the amazing architecture and scenery that defines this village. Is the climate in this part of Italy similar to the one that we experience in Southern California?


  17. Dear Hanna

    I enjoyed my visit with your class. All of you have very good questions. The cuccu certainly is nice and I think they have been making them longer than you might think, long before 1950. Hopefully I will be back in the United States in the spring, after ski season.


    Dear Kristen
    I thought the cuccu whistle was a perfect thing to bring your class when I saw them being made in Matera. I like all of Italy and all the special places with so much history.


    Dear Tucker
    I go back tgo Italy in December, just next month. I have visited about 15 different countries.

    A Presto

  18. Dear Ava - Adia's Mamma

    Yes Italy is special. I had a similar experience with the pizza in Rome on my first trip abroad in 1967, eggs in the middle. That was in a little pizzeria near Largo di Torre Argentina. An interesting square in Rome, that hosts four Republican Roman temples, and the remains of Pompey's Theater. Also a cat sanctuary.

    I was a history major in college so all of Italy is my favorite, it also helps that my mother made me take Latin in high school. I also enjoyed Tuscany, Liguria, Umbria and le Marche on several trips there. Also the Dolomites (pronounced Dolowmeetees). Emilia–Romagna , home to Bologna, Parma, Modena Ferrara and of course Ferrari, Laborghini and Maserati. I have visited the coast area of the province for a night or two while enroute elsewhere.

    I will return to Italy in mid December, I actually live in Italy most of the year but will return to the USA in spring, after ski season.


  19. Dear Mrs. Yollis

    A belated response to your comment on Cisternino. I sent a copy of the blog to my friend from Cisternino so we will see what he has to say, if anything.
    The building you like is a church. In the piazza you someimes see a group of Nonno's having coffee and sitting in the sunshine. In the piazza they have celebrations for holidays with a band and sometimes parades. I like Stracciatella gelato, also Pistachio.

    And of course thanks again for inviting me to meet the class.


  20. Dear Iman
    I have not been to Allassio but I have a friend where I live that was born in Savona. He is a mountain guide and has climbed Mt. Everest.


  21. Dear Miriam

    I am glad you know the metric measures. Know you have seen half a meter of candy. I go back to Italy soon and will travel some this winter.


  22. Dear Nicolas

    I realy like Stracciatella gelato, also Pistachio. I think a Piazza is a great place to meet up with friends. What do you think?


  23. Dear Ben

    It was great to meet your class this week. You and I like the same Gelato.

  24. Dear Mrs. Yollis,

    Here is a separate answer to your comment as reqards the question of Regions.

    In Italy when they talk about a region it means a political/geographical area. In Italy there are twenty regions. Much like a state in the United States.
    In Italy, a province (in Italian: provincia) is an administrative division of intermediate level between municipality (comune) and region (regione). There are 109 regione in Italy.

    a Presto


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