Italy is a soft drug peddled in predictable packages, such as hills in the sunset, olive groves, lemon trees, white wine, and raven-haired girls. Italia, on the other hand, is a maze. It’s alluring, but complicated. Beppe Severgnini, La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
We get this. We totally get this. Well, in truth, the ‘raven-haired girls’ bit is probably out of scope, but the rest is eminently get-able. The south of Italy in the olive-pickin’ winter, cold air oozing* with the aroma of olive oil and wood smoke has got its hooks in Pip and I. The primitivo to lubricate our afternoon strolls and send tingles of warmth through our scarves and back up to our to our cheeks as darkness falls is addictive. Endless winding streets of whitewashed houses and marble paths have us wanting more and more. The cheese and the artichokes, the mushrooms and the rapini, the fiche d’India (prickly pear) and the gelato. Presepi Vivante … Puglia lives high on our list of memorable times in Italy. So high does it live, in fact, that we’re heading back to the south again. Not Puglia this time, but a little more to the left and up – to a region called Campania, and close to the region called Basilicata, which is the region next to Puglia.
The dart we threw at the map landed on a little town called Calitri. Small but typically picturesque, with an historic section on the hill called the Antico Borgo, where we’ve found an apartment to rent from an amicable American couple for a couple of weeks.
Unusually for us, we will not stop in Roma – arriving in the afternoon and staying the night near the airport before firing up the Fiat Panda (or equivalent) and nosing onto the autostrada south. Calitri is about level with Sorrento and then inland to the mountains. Sorrento is on the southern end of the Bay of Naples (near Capri). It’s about three hours from Roma, but we’ll take longer because … Fiat Panda.
Our last sojourn to Puglia had us hold up in a trulli in the middle of an olive and cherry grove, some distance from the nearest villagio, and while we loved it, we did have to drive to get anywhere (read: anywhere that had a bar!). This time we’ve plumped for accommodation in a town, handy to those evening strolls the Italians are so fond of. We too are fond of them and will attempt to blend in with the locals (at least until we open our mouths!)
So, Boxing Day will see us take a deep breath (that’s for leaving number young son in charge of the apartment) and then exhale loudly as we squeeze into our cattle-class seats for a quick 23 hour jump to Roma.
Our habit of en-blogerising our travels will be continued, as we leave the oppressive heat of Brisbane at this time of the year to coast into the chill of southern Italy. Non possiamo aspettare!
*carefully chosen instead of redolent – more ‘street’