Four Officers and a Gentleman~ That time we ruined Richard Gere's vacation... TWICE.

I'm not sure what fairy-hobbits eat, but here's what it would be served

"We'll have to postpone the tour, we're waiting on Richard Gere."

"Richard Gere?  That's a random excuse for running late...  Holy crap guys, that dude *does* look like Richard Gere.  Is that seriously him?"

The cap on each roof tells you who built the house.

The evening before....
Scott: So... what exactly are we doing this weekend?
Lindsey: I dunno.  Molly said to be there at 4 and it would be awesome.  I'm pretending we're going on a blind date with southern Italy!

Turns out what we were doing that weekend was putting Richard Gere's vacation planner to shame.  We spent the night in three of Alberobello's restored Trulli houses.  They are what you'd get if a really resourceful hobbit and a tax-evading fairy decided to build a home together.  In a word, fantastic. 

Each house has a design on the roof signifying something about the family that lives there.  The one on the left = broken heartsville

After breakfast Saturday morning, we walked around the town for a bit with the house-hotel's owner, Mimmo, who told us a bit about the town's history, and how he and his family had bought and restored these homes from several hundred years ago.  Scott asked our guide how long he'd lived in Alberobello.  He laughed and said, "always."  Amused by our quizzical expressions, he explained that his father's family had lived in the town for 500 years, and his mother's family came all the way from Monopoli (approximately a 2-hour jog) but moved a couple centuries ago.
An yet-to-be-restored Trullo
Mesmerized by Mimmo's detailed walking history of the city, we quickly lost track of time and found ourselves running to make it on time for the next item on our itinerary, a tour of the world-famous Caves of Castellana, promising that we would finish up the walking tour when we returned.
The fellowship posing outside the Trulli
The wishing well inside our house.  These houses were built with a cistern underneath that the inhabitants would use to service all of their watering needs.

Kylie & Avalon peering into a cistern in one of the unrestored Trulli

Upon arrival at the Grotte Di Castellana, the tour guide gave us the a quick background of the caves in rapid-fire Italian and English, while we awaited the arrival of the rest of this mysterious Richard Gere character.  Ultimately, the wait proved too long and they sent us out with a different guide who spoke only Italian and seemed genuinely annoyed at the pace of our kid-heavy party and our stupid English-only brains, but we were not to be denied our English-speaking tour!

So... this place exists
In a carefully orchestrated plot, Avalon had a superb meltdown, involving a story about a ballerina trapped in the rocks (really just an unfortunately shaped rock) and why nobody was saving her, and Lindsey leveraged that to fall behind in the dark caves to console her, and I presume to snap creepy paparazzi-style photos of a kindly silver-fox who looked not completely unlike Richard Gere, whose tour group was rapidly catching up to our own.

Ultimately, the English-speaking contingent was gracious enough to resorb us into their ranks, and we received yet another amazing tour of this particular slice of Southern Italia.  Many thanks to Mr. Gere and his official party for being friendly, understanding, and helping us wrangle up our party on the several mile walk through the caves, while we slowly ruined their private tour :).

Panoramic view Scott took inside the main cave: 

I call the big one, Slagathor
Scott & Patrick in the Grotto

The White Cave where we totally snuck out our camera and snapped a picture completely unbeknownst to our tour guide (probably)
Returning from the cave tour, we met back up with Mimmo to finish our walking tour of Alberobello ("just another 10 minutes or so") and were treated to another hour or so of wandering through all the sites of the town, with our tour guide getting stopped by local artists/police/old men on bikes asking if he'd heard that Mr. Lancelot was in town and would be walking around also.  As exciting as this was for all the locals, Mimmo in his professionalism gave us a first-rate experience, and didn't even cast us aside when we saw Mr. Zack Mayo-naise, the original naval aviator's group walking through town unaccompanied and having nowhere else to go! Thanks for being not Unfaithful, Mimmo!
Molly did well organizing this trip for us.

Unfortunately for Mimmo (and Mr. Dr. T), when we got back to the hotel, we found out that while we were walking, Mr. Gere had shown up looking for Mimmo to give him a private tour, probably not completely unlike Mr. Edward Lewis looking for his Vivian.  Of course, his phone was off and that's how we ruined Richard Gere's weekend for the second time in as many hours!

Take that, Richard Gere!
All in all, we had an incredible weekend, and if Richard Gere ever reads this, he'll now know the full extent of the weekend he *could* have had.  Many thanks to Molly & Alex for organizing such an awesome trip, the encyclopedic knowledge of our tour guides, and of course Warren for seducing the lady at the wine-tasting place with his eyes.  Next time, here's hoping Lou Gossett Jr. shows up too!

The girls found a gelato sign at the bottom of the stairs-- what a view!
Avalon crushing on Mr. Warren
Dusk In Alberobello

(Not Pictured, a shot of Richard Gere Lindsey creepily snapped from her purse)