The Gargano Peninsula

Vieste, Puglia

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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Brian got up at midnight to open the patio door to let in some fresh air. There were still people eating pizza in the alley below.  Brian put his earplugs in. I did not hear anyone. The bed was extra comfortable. Our breakfast was waiting for us outside our door. Brian made his coffee and a cup of tea for me, my first morning tea! Juice, yogourt, fruit, muffins, chocolate cake, chocolate tart: a standard Italian breakfast, at least what is usually offered to tourists.

What a difference walking in Trani this morning! Just the fishermen, a few people shopping for fresh fish and us.  The harbour was no longer for pedestrians only but there were not many vehicles and there were plenty of parking spaces.

When driving yesterday we passed olive groves and cherry orchards. Some of the cherries looked like our sweet white ones: Victors! I would love to have tried them although they were probably not quite ripe. I have not seen any for sale.

For the first half of our 130 kilometres today we started seeing cherries then peaches but we were soon on an isthmus along the Adriatic. To the west of the road were large salt pans. Any land on either side of the road was filled and planted with vegetables. The asparagus was finished. New carrots were up. Tomatoes and potatoes were blooming. The air was redolent with garlic being harvested, rows and rows of white mounds of garlic were being loaded into bushels and then into trucks. Red poppies and yellow sow thistle grabbed any ground they could.

Homes were much more humble, small concrete rectangular prisms, many in need of repair. There were also many, many abandoned houses, many of which were two storey, probably abandoned since the war. The area had seen more prosperous times.

The second half of our drive was going to the tip of the Gargano peninsula to the fishing village of Vieste. The Gargano is mostly national park with hiking trails, sandy beaches or rocky coves with grottoes. I would like to have done some kayaking but we are not yet “in season”. Today kayaking would have been a little difficult as there were waves. We have only seen very calm sea until today. 

To get to Vieste we travelled through four tunnels, on after the other, for five kilometres. The longest tunnel was 2.5 kilometres. When not in tunnels we were driving switchbacks up and down the mountain. We encountered a few transport trucks but no tour buses. We were glad that it was not yet “the season”.

People are getting ready for the season. As we walked up and down the streets of Vieste, people were busy repairing, painting, raking beaches, cleaning up litter, preparing campgrounds, setting out lounge chairs and beach umbrellas. We walked the long sand beach then I had a swim and Brian waded but even he said it was the warmest water yet.

The cathedral is richly decorated for the month of May, the feast of Mary. A number of evening concerts are planned. When we visited, video cameras were being set up and the organ was being tuned.

We will be looking for a fish dinner tonight with orecchiette pasta, a specialty of Puglia.

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Trani, Puglia

Trani, Puglia 

May 1, 2018

The roads are crazy busy on this “Labour Day” in Italy. We had breakfast at Sweet Passion, a different bar this morning. Our lodging manager met us there and we gave him back the keys to Trullo Panorama. We had our cappuccino but this time we picked the croissant and tarts we wanted and stopped with much less than yesterday. Healthier!

Be aware that if you wanted to stay in Trullo Panorama. The one we had was on Booking but the other is found on Google. They are both near Locorotondo but they are not the same. Although the trullo we had was beautiful and very comfortable, I would recommend it as a rental rather than a B and B. Driving five kilometres to town for breakfast is not the best use of time. Although the house is spacious with extra pullout couches, it is really only suitable for two people as there is only one bathroom and that is through the master bedroom. There are two other buildings on the property which probably have a bedroom and bathroom in each. This would make it more feasible for a bigger group. A barbecue and Internet were advertised but we had neither. 

We drove to Trani, on the Adriatic Coast, north of Bari. The port of Bari is a major entry point to Italy on the east coast, also a stop for cruise ships. We avoided it, skirting the edge on a six lane highway. You know it’s a city when it advertises IKEA, McDonald’s and outlet malls well ahead of city exits. Not for us.

Trani is plenty busy. I suspect it was once only a fishing port, but sail boats and other pleasure craft now outnumber the fishing boats. There is one expensive looking sailboat that probably measures one hundred feet long occupying a central position in the inner harbour. Would love to sail on that one! The mast is all lit up tonight vying for attention with the cathedral bell tower.

The very tall large San Nicolas Cathedral on the edge of the outer harbour has a rather plain interior from a carving/painting perspective but it has a dozen pair of massive stone columns on either side of the central nave. The lower floor houses a crypt with the bones of San Nicolas and another full church. There are two elephants carved in marble on either side of the ornately carved vaulted front doors. Above the elephants are lions and above them more carvings difficult to discern without binoculars.

Finding a parking space was akin to winning the lottery but eventually we won. We entered the nearby Europa Bar to buy parking tickets. We needed to buy three tickets on which we scratched the date and time periods that would get us to tomorrow morning. Not pricey at 4.5 euros. Although our room was five hundred metres away from the car, we walked two kilometres around the harbour, without our backpacks, as we knew we were early for check-in.

We took the short route back to the car to pick up our packs.

Trani is a beautiful pedestrian friendly harbour even when the pedestrians number in the thousands. We always seemed to be walking against the flow. I think we were out of sync with the round and back walking of the harbour. I only heard one couple speaking French. Everyone else spoke Italian. We were the only obvious foreigners. Our relaxed fit Kuhl pants do not match tight fitting ripped jeans or tight fitting large flowered patterned pants, only 155 euros if I wanted a pair! I do not because I would then need matching bright pink stiletto heels and large matching leather handbag. The adolescent crowd tend to be wearing high top canvas Converse or Keds sneakers. More practical than stilettos on cobblestone but not as comfortable as my Keene sandals or Solomon hiking shoes.

We dined al fresco in front of a small fish shop. We each had a seafood sandwich made

with huge fresh buns. I had a swordfish one and Brian shrimp but we each shared half of the other’s. Delicious.

Imagine: we stayed out past dark tonight! We thought there might be fireworks as part of the festivities. Nope! We sat like locals on the harbour wall people watching. Brian spotted a school of fish in the water and that got the couple next to us speaking to us in Italian. I carried on a lengthy conversation with them. They did not speak English. They were impressed with my Italian, as was I! They were from Andria, ten kilometres away, have been married twenty-five years, have three children in university, and quizzed me about Canada. We talked about one another’s travels. Lots of fun!

A piece of pizza later and we are back in our room at Al Vico. Isabella has two rooms on the second floor of a very old house on a side street half a block from the harbour. Once again we have very high ceilings, but instead of fields we look into the alley below where there is a pizzeria and outdoor tables. We hope people are starting to go home. The music and street noises are decreasing.

Adriatic Sea, Puglia

Adriatic Sea, Puglia

Monday, April 30, 2018

To the sandy beach! Yeah! It was less than twenty kilometres to drive to the beach at Capitolo. Free parking. You only pay for parking from June 1st to September 30th, 1 euro per hour to a 5 euro maximum for the day. A lesson for Sauble Beach? Because of the holiday, there were plenty of people at the beach and in the water although more were wading rather than swimming. I swam. Delightful! The warmest so far! Brian waded. We walked the length of the beach and back in the water. There were not many seashells but I picked up four little ones. The beach is sandy but there are rocky shelves in patches just below the surface. The Adriatic is varying shades of aqua, turquoise and blue. There were about forty individual change houses and a couple of washrooms along the beach but they were not yet open for the season, which apparently does not begin until June. I think when the air temperature is over 25C the season is now!

We drove passing above Fasano to the beach. Fasano is a city in a valley surrounded by olive trees. Most of the groves (orchards?) have been filled showing a red pebbly soil. Many of the orchards have been planted with vegetables: row upon row of tomatoes, beans, onions, artichokes. The cherry orchard beside our trullo has been filled but not yet planted. By the size of the green cherries I think they will be ready for picking in three weeks.

We drove back by a different route, less traffic but more twists and turns also through many olive groves, past many trullis. We passed near Alberobello where we stopped for gas. We have done about six hundred kilometres on three quarters of a tank of gas. It cost twenty one euros to fill the tank. The newer houses that are not trullis are flat roofed and rectangular often with arches on an open porch, usually painted white, parged over concrete blocks.

We had to drive to Locorotondo this morning for our breakfast that is included with our accommodation it is not served here. We had been given tickets to turn in at a bar/cafe/gelateria. We were almost there when we received a message from our manager to go to a different bar as the owner of the first decided he would close for the holiday. Fortunately Bar Guida was just around the corner. Our server delivered our cappuccino and filled

The table with a variety of pastries, yogourt and muesli. We liked the custard tarts with kiwi, strawberry or blueberries best. With our second cappuccino the server brought more pastries. We said we did not need any more but she insisted. We took them for a snack later.

The bar had internet; so, I posted yesterday’s blog.

Last night we prepared our own supper. We had bought a roasted chicken. We fried mushrooms and added tomato sauce (from Sicily) to our sausage stuffed pasta. We had a prepared salad that included three greens, tomatoes flakes of parmigiana and prosciutto. We finished with chocolate ice cream. We still have some leftovers for tonight to add to our beef/sausage kebabs. Brian splurged on a red wine from Puglia for 2.94 euros. He wanted one red pepper to fry with the mushrooms but they came as two huge ones in a package. Lots of vitamins! We used the remains of the chicken in sandwiches for today’s lunch.

Back to reading on the patio in the shade of the grape vine that already has tiny grapes.

The full moon the past two nights has been magnificent. In Matera it was a bright moonscape flooding our room from above. Last night it spilled in through our patio doors. We left the wooden shutters open.

Locorotondo, Puglia

Locorotondo, Puglia

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April 29, 2018

We really should have taken a photo of Brian beside one of the nuns, especially the last one this morning; she was not even at chest level. None of the others were much taller. We made an easy exit from Matera. 

Perhaps because it was Sunday and a holiday weekend, there were many cyclists and groups of motorcyclists on the road. Initially there was even a cycling margin. I would have wanted an electric bike for the uphills. Many of the motorcyclists drove the middle line, passing vehicles on curves and hills and narrowly missing buses, cars and trucks.

Brian is disappointed that he has only seen one Ferrari and no Lamborghinis. Upon

reflection he decided that no one drives expensive cars here because they would get scraped and dented.

There were huge yellow limestone quarries in the countryside near Matera. Then as the land became gently rolling to flat, there were large fields of various grains. I believe Puglia is known as the bread basket of Italy, known for its flour, bread and pasta. As we came closer to Alberobello (Beautiful Tree), the fields became orchards and vineyards. 

And the trullis appeared: round stone houses with thin stone tiles forming conical rooftops. We drove into the centre of Alberobello. From photos I had seen I was expecting a small town, but it is a large city. Trullis grow together between churches and surrounded by four storey apartment buildings. Plenty of tourists strolled the narrow streets. The first challenge was finding a parking spots. Drivers park in both directions regardless of the side of the street and some park diagonally in a parallel parking spot. Organized chaos.

After the cathedral and a stroll, we had a cappuccino and shared a chocolate croissant then left the city behind. The country side has plenty of trullis, some abandoned, some turned into useful dwellings, some remade into gorgeous dwellings, all more interesting than what we saw in Alberobello.

It was a short seven or eight kilometres to our Trullo Panorama in the country near Locorotondo. However when we arrived at the address given by Booking, there was no sign that said Trullo Panorama and no one around. It did not seem to match photos on the Internet. There was a large rectangular swimming pool but not a kidney shaped one. We drove down to the neighbouring farm. I asked about the address and he sent us farther to the corner then right then left. We saw many trullis in passing but only the first one had the corrrct address. We phoned the Booking number and after an Italian/English conversation the manager said he would meet us there in ten minutes. Half an hour later he showed up. The trullo is truly beautiful. There is a room for you, Eliane, and others too, but we only paid for the large bedroom and bathroom with tub! We have access to kitchen, dining room, living room and outdoor space. We must be the first renters of the season as the ma Ger had to get someone to come and add a propane tank and turn it on. Sadly the pool will not be ready for use until June. Very disappointed!

We think from the names at the gate that a pair of Englishmen own this place but it is managed by a local. He gave us tickets to go to a bar/cafe in town for our breakfasts. The internet is supposed to work but does not. He told us he has the phone company working on that.

We visited Locorotondo and liked the smaller town much more than Alberobello. We asked locals for directions to a supermarket and the best beach. The man and his mother were delightful and he happily showed us his cell phone cover: a Canadian flag.

We now have supplies for lunches and suppers and are reading on the patio. The only sounds are birds and bees. Ahhh!

We had a good meal last night in a restaurant filled with locals. Brian had the menu turistico: spaghetti with sausage, scallopini, French fries and water. Actually I drank his water and he drank beer and wine. I had a very thin slice of beefsteak with grilled eggplant and zucchini. All good with friendly service. We were amazed at how much food other customers put away. I could not eat a whole pizza by myself but many, even young kids, ordered that and ate other dishes as well. From who we have seen, Italians are not overweight. It must be the stairs. Margaret, Brian thinks he is ready to challenge you on stairs.

We attended mass before supper in the “plain” rock church of St. John the Baptist and witnessed the baptism of baby Alessandro Leon. We were not invited to the festivities that surely followed. 

Exploring Matera

Saturday April 28, 2018

We are getting into the Italian routine. Siesta time is much appreciated after four hours of walking up and down in the heat. Yes, it was only 6.6 kilometres so far but today is not over yet. We found a better closer district for restaurants; so, we will head that way later.

We hear that it can be 45 C here in the summer and that is when the crowds are bigger. I cannot imagine coming here in July and August. There are already enough school and adult groups being lead around by a flag. We had to wait five minutes to join ten others to squeeze into an old time Sassi home. To think that as many as eight people used to live in one of these caves with their mule, chickens, pig and goat and one chamber pot. It was typical for a couple to have six children although the infancy mortality rate was fifty percent due to poor sanitation.  

The system for collecting rain water looks like a terra cotta plant pot turned upside down and a channel made with terra cotta tiles to a cistern. There were no aquifer or springs in the limestone strata.

We walked the footpath that led us around the edge of the old centre. Many times we stood at the precipice above the Gravina River. We could see caves on the cliffs on the far side. There are footpaths that snake down to the river on both sides to a footbridge. We saw people on the paths and the bridge even though access to both have been blocked with two metre high barriers and signs warning that access has been cut off due to the risks of falling into the chasm.

Much of the quarried stone cut into large blocks for building is a yellow limestone. Yellow and pink Are the most common finishes used on “newer”  eighteenth century buildings. Cranes vie with church towers as restoration continues. The castle Tramontano is not open to the public. A construction fence surrounds its moat although no work appears to be underway. There is a sign referring to the important 2019 cultural year. 

We entered the Monastery of St Agostino and from there into the ancient rock church that was partially under it still bearing frescoes and pieces of statuary. 

We visited in a workshop with a wood sculptor who now does more ceramics but also makes bronze items and stone carvings. His workshop used to be a cave dwelling but he made it his workshop in 2010. He proudly showed us his wares and photos in a artisan book in which he is featured. 

We came back to the Conservatory of Music plaza where we found a supermarket that also served hot and cold dishes. We sat in the shade of an umbrella with an Italian family while we shared our breaded fried squid and an orzo salad loaded with olives.

This morning after cappuccino, breads, cookies, cheese and jam, Sister Tina, the head of this Sacred Heart community, gave us a tour of the school where we also chatted with the youngest nun who was cleaning the chapel. She was from the Philippines. There are no noviciates here. There are fourteen nuns. It is an international order with one hundred houses around the world. They teach forms one to five here and have kindergarten classes. They have a SMART board in each classroom, and as many as twenty-seven students in a class.

Tomorrow we will be heading into Puglia. We will be staying in a trullo between Alberobello and Locorotondo for two days. There is no internet.

Matera

Istituto del Sacro Cuore 

Friday, April 27, 2018

We made it into the centre of Matera, 200 kilometres from Cersuta. We hugged Eliane farewell at the train station where she will return to Naples then fly home to France in the morning. We are staying with the nuns at the Sacred Heart Institute, a convent with an elementary school in it. Students were just exiting for their four day weekend. May 1st is a national holiday. We were happy to discover that there was onsite parking as the historical centre of Matera is for pedestrians only. Apparently many locals do not know this; certainly it does not apply to delivery vans. Walkers, beware!

The nuns are a cheerful bunch,  very accommodating. Our room on the second floor is spacious with thousands of tiny hearts printed on the sheets and amply covered with the word love. Cute! And I have a pillow case embossed with roses. The framed print on the wall says, in Italian: “You are a gift from God.” The only thing we do not have is a view because we are on the top floor. A large window opens up. We will need the air flow tonight. 

It was thirty degrees Celsius today as we walked 8.5 kilometres in the cobbled streets of Matera. The cobbles are large, many are more than fifteen centimetres in diameter and they are shiny with wear thus slippery. Many appear to be a form of marble. Our gps tells us we did 350 metres of ascent and descent. Certainly there are many rock stairs.

Matera is a UNESCO world heritage site. It has also been declared the European Cultural Capital for 2019. It continues to undergo many restorations. We wandered the streets marvelling at the unusual formation of buildings upon buildings, palaces, churches ( yes, there are a few and no, we have not been in all of the them….yet), and statues. There are thousands of years of history here. In the 1950s Matera was “the shame” of Italy because of the abysmal living conditions of its citizens. The government turned its attention to the Sassi (caves) dwellers and now it is a tourist destination. There is still much architectural work in progress.

Our drive today took us from the boundary between Calabria and Basilicata to the boundary between Basilicata and Puglia; from forested mountains to bare hills and large fields where hay was being cut to the flat Ionian coastal plain of fruit orchards: peaches, oranges, vineyards to this amazing city.

We searched for a long time and waited for the seven o’clock opening to have pizza, but a very different pizza called Fantasia. No tomato sauce, covered in a variety of vegetables with bacon, pepperoni and buffalo mozzarella.

Porto E Fiumicello

Porto E Fiumicello 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

No, we did not take a wrong turn and go to Porto, Portugal much as we love that city. This morning  while Brian gave his knees a break, Eliane and I climbed the hill behind us as far as the road went. There were several houses up the steep incline, mostly holiday homes, one of which was specifically for tourists with a large swimming pool ready for use. There are huge cacti around here, the kind that you can buy at home in tiny pots at Home Depot. These reside in gardens and in the wild and can be a few metres tall and look like shrubbery four metres wide. There are also lemon trees, fig trees and olives in abundance.

I also took another stroll down to the walkway above the water. When I came back up I needed a shower. We then drove to Porto, the small pleasure craft and fishing port below Maratea. Eliane needed to use the bancomat. The closest one was there. We walked around admiring boats of all sizes, even a fleet of kayaks. The church doors were closed. Brian was relieved.

We drove back to Fiumicello with the hopes of picking up lunch before the two o’clock siesta. It was 1:45 PM. The restaurants and supermarket closed at 1:20 PM. Not fair! They are not following the rules! Fortunately we found the black pebble beach. We had not brought our bathing suits but underwear works. Eliane and I enjoyed a refreshing swim. It was a little cooler than yesterday probably because a mountain river rushes into this cove. Brian sat with his feet in the water as happy as he could be without his lunch.

We saw huge trees of bergmansia. The one we bring indoors each fall and cut back, then baby back into producing several large yellow trumpets bears no resemblance to these giants who live outdoors all year.

When we returned to our apartment we got out the bits and pieces that became lunch and still had leftovers when we were done: peanuts, chips, cheese, salami, half a bun, fruit, pastries, chocolate, tea, coffee, beer. I will leave it to you to guess who had what.

there was a beautiful sunset last night. We dined on seafood at Cesar’s, delicious and plentiful.

It’s rest time: reading, writing, snoozing.

Cersuta di Maratea

Cersuta di Maratea

Wednesday April 25, 2018

We are staying at La Calandrella B and B a few kilometres north to the port of Maratea, but probably closer to ten kilometres from the historical centre of Maratea which is high up on a hill, but not as high up as the statue of Christ the Redemptor, the second tallest statue in the world after the one in Rio di Janeiro. Last night Brian and I planned to drive into Maratea for supper then pick up Eliane from the train station shortly after 8 PM. After a few wrong turns and extra driving we found the railway station then went to Fiumicino to buy two pizzas and return to the station. The train was not at all on time. Eliane did not arrive until 9:40 PM . Much worse for her than us since she left home in France at 8 AM and had both plane and train delays. A long day! The pizza was good!

This morning, after our first egg breakfast in a week, with fresh croissants warm from the oven, we drove up to Maratea. We had to wait for one of the few parking spaces. Someone had to leave before we could park.  The centre is for pedestrians only. We walked up and down the old town. There were crowds of people in the streets, lots of children. One of the many churches was packed solid for mass. We stood in the doorway for a few minutes wondering why it was so busy. April 25th is a national holiday celebrating liberation marking the end of the Italian Civil War and liberation from the German forces in 1945. 

Our host filled us with the intricacies of the Italian legal and political system. In fewer words than he spoke: you need permits for everything and getting permits cost lots of money and time (years). Politicians and lawyers are evil. Our host used more colourful words.

this is also a property that has been in the family for centuries and was restored from a ruined state. There used to be many hectares below it to the sea and above to the mountain top, covered in vineyards, olive and lemon trees.  They lived off the land and from the sea. Now commercial fishing has put an end to fishing for family needs.

We returned to Cersuta where we ate pizza and sandwich leftovers from yesterday and had a rest. Brian slept on the sofa; I fell asleep in the sunny garden and Eliane wrote postcards in the shade.

Next up was a walk down to the water where Eliane and I had a glorious swim and Brian hung out on the rocks. Since it is a rocky shore we had to fall into the water. It was instantly deep. The surface water was very warm but just below the surface, a little chilly.  We swam with tiny fishes.

Brian checked our ascent from the shore on Gaia: 165 metres. Eliane and I walked along the path above the shore admiring the varying shades of aqua and taking photos. The sea sure has been calm.

Today we bought supplies at the grocery store for tomorrow’s supper: fresh pasta, Amitriciana tomato sauce, panicetta and parmigiana. Eliane bought salad, chocolate and pastry. We are all set. Tonight we will walk down to the family restaurant, Cesar’s, about five hundred metres away. Apparently they have great seafood dishes.

Sassano and the Valley of the Orchids

Sassano E La Valle Delle Orchidee 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A flowerful day! 

We would happily have stayed a few more days in Monte San Giacomo as our large modern room with remote controlled outdoor blinds, comfy bed and delicious food all very reasonably priced were great draws. However we had already booked our next three nights by the sea at Cersuta di Maratea and Eliane is to meet us here this evening. We highly recommend Affittacamere Rezzo for lodging and food and Cilento National Park and the Vallo di Diano for hikers, flower lovers, speleologists, archeologists, and small town lovers. Oh, and did I mention churches? They have those too! We followed three nuns into one of them. We did not have a day to visit the world heritage site of the Certosa di San Lorenzo in Padula, the largest monastery in Italy. This area has evidence of Neanderthal history from 45 000 years ago.

Our main purpose in coming to this area was to see orchids and walk the orchid trail and so we did. We drove to the Ponte del Peglio on the far side of Sassano and began walking uphill to get to the beginning of the trail. An older lady, sporting a black dress,  black sweater and apron, carrying an armload of weeds across the road from her farm stopped us. She asked why we were parking so far down the trail. She told us to drive three kilometres farther up the steep hill. We were dubious as our GPS did not even show the road we were walking on, but we decided to trust a local and we are glad we did. It was indeed three kilometres steeply up. We are glad our little Citroen made it.  There was a parking area for about seven cars. We were the only ones there and no others came while we were there. The other advice our new friend gave us was that it was cold up there, but then she smiled, pointed to the sun and said, maybe not today. Our shorts and tshirts were plenty.

We saw orchids as soon as we were out of the car. We walked two kilometres in two hours because we stopped to admire orchids, wildflowers, ferns, blooming trees and shrubs and mountain vistas. There was snow atop Monte Cervati (1898 metres, 1000 metres higher than us) but the only thing that snowed on us were apple and cherry blossoms. There are reportedly 184 different varieties of orchids here, two-thirds of all the wild orchids in Europe. We think we saw a dozen different ones although we saw hundreds of orchids.

The hillsides are covered in limestone. From a distance the many stones look like snow. The lime is obviously good for orchid growth. We walked back the two kilometres in twenty-five minutes. Curiously that part was all uphill. We had not noticed going downhill. We walked another four hundred metres past the car and discovered two different orchids. Simply beautiful. 

Our drive to Maratea was relatively relaxing. Fewer hairpins and a wider road than yesterday. Brian gave the brakes a workout as it was all downhill to the sea. In fact the coast here is all cliffs so we never actually arrived at sea level. Brian was surpassing the speed limit but traffic kept building behind him. He pulled over now and then to let vehicles pass but here drivers pass even on curves, hills and town streets.

We have a two bedroom apartment above a house with a good view of the sea, 70 metres above it. Brian and I found our way to the water’s edge, down a stone path and stairs covered in leaves and branches. The path has not been used much yet this year. The shore is rocky with caves but the water looks clean and sports varying aqua hues. We will get in for a swim. It is rather like the Amalfi Coast minus the people.

Our hosts are a couple with their adult son, very friendly. The men speak French as well as Italian; so, if my Italian fails we will still manage. This is not as modern a place as what we had last night but it is clean and comfortable. Birds are singing cheerfully since the higher clouds have disappeared and the sun is shining. We already did our laundry and hung our clothes on the deck. A train track runs between us and the sea but trains are short and not frequent.

we are no longer in Campania but the province of Basilicata.

Eliane will be arriving by train around 8 PM. We are looking forward to our annual reunion.

Monte San Giacomo

Monte San Giacomo

Monday, April 23, 2018

So peaceful! Far from the madding tourist crowd! We know we are away from tourists when we can stop at a roadside bar and buy two cappuccinos, a bag of chips and an apricot croissant for 3.80 euros, the price of one cappuccino in other places. 

We were happy to discover that we picked up our rental turquoise 4 door Citroen near the southern end of Salerno away from crazy traffic. We followed the coast road admiring the sea until forested campgrounds bid our view. We stopped at Paestum to view the amazing artefacts in their archaeological museum that date to the third century BC. Such beautiful red clay and black patterned vases, urns and bowls. We wandered around the large site that has three Greek temples as well as foundations of homes and those that are like apartment blocks as well as an amphitheatre and large forum. Pink flowering almonds and large white flowering trees added colour to the stone ruins.

We saw many flowers on our drive into the mountains of Cilento National Park: huge roses, purple and white irises, red tulips, yellow liburnum, white and purple wisteria. It seems that everything is blooming at once. Brian did not stop for me to take photos since there are not pull-offs to do so. 

Brian had lots of practice driving around hairpin turns that were signed by degrees. The first one was zero degrees which meant we did an about face. Less tight turns were two, five or eight degrees. Brian had no aspirations to be Mario Andretti. He took the turns cautiously and was glad there was very little traffic. We were always passed by others and were happy to be rid of followers.

Last night we headed out for dinner at seven o’clock to find the streets busy with families out for their Sunday evening passeggiata. We found a restaurant that an older lady sitting on a bench in the afternoon recommended to us. Two other couples were looking for the same restaurant, also recommended by locals, but it was closed. We ended up choosing Er Piu Trattoria which served Roman style food. Since we do not know Salerno from Roman style, it made no difference to us. We were the only clients and we were treated royally. We ate more than we intended but the owner, Galder, gave us many complimentary offerings. We were full after our tomato pork spaghetti and carbonara spaghetti. Brian had a half bottle of Romanella red wine and we were given an extra glass of it. Brian had a thick slice of panchetta under an arugula tomato salad. I had that salad with panchetta chopped into it. The salads were huge and everything was sublime.  Brian finished with grappa but I stuck with water. Galder has many tattoos; so, Brian showed him Brilynn’s Industry Ink website. He was delighted and took us to meet his chef and show him photos. The chef did not have tattoos but was interested in the photos. Galder has another restaurant in Rome; so, we may have time to try it out.

I am delighted to say that I have been able to have conversations in Italian. I usually understand what I am told although in that small bar today a local had me baffled. I think he had a different dialect. The server was easy to understand.

As in Atrani, in Salerno the lodging was in a building that belonged to the same family for hundreds of years. Paolo and his two brothers were each given a apartment as part of their inheritance. Paolo’s brother turned his into B and B rooms several years ago but after a few years decided to become a monk; so, Paolo took over running the B and B. As a regular job he works in an IT office down the street. We chatted with him over breakfast of large croissants, apricot pie, milk biscuits, yogourt, black currant juice, pineapple juice and cappuccinos.

On Mondays the Affitacamere Rezzo restaurant below which we are staying is closed but our host is going to make us a meal; so, we do not have to drive five kilometres to the next hillside town.