Really re-getting the hang of this Italian driving . Headed to Melfi first up today, in the neighbouring region of Basilicata – not sure why we chose to go that way, we just did. This was largely the result of reading a couple of brochures we found in our digs while we were internet deprived. Melfi is an attractive small town with an 11th century bell tower provided by a King Roger (Woger?). It’s also famous for a Norman castle and a baroque cathedral. Modern Melfi is home to a Fiat factory.
We took a stroll around the narrow streets and entirely out of character, stopped for a quick coffee before heading back on the road, aiming south and for Potenza, one of the largest towns in the area. The outside temperature reading on the dash was hovering around 1 – 2C as we headed toward snowy hills, and through through snowy hills to into actual snow. The roads were good – no ice. It took about an hour to reach Potenza which had been slugged with heavy snow overnight. Parked cars were caked in the stuff, but the roads were still good. Then, we took a wrong turn and Daniel (the voice of our GPS) sent up a tiny side street that was quite steep and that was OK till we nearly reached the top … and the ice. It took all the ice driving experience I had gained in years of driving in Brisbane to figure out how to halt the majestic backwards slide we had begun. Naturally, that wealth of experience meant we continued sliding backwards. Brakes not working that well and using the front wheels as a kind of rudder to avoid the deep ditch on one side of the road and the stone wall on the other – all this while cursing Daniel with the kind of language one would expect to heard streaming from a backwards sliding hire car. Managed to find a driveway to rudder into and change direction to downwards frontwards, which was entirely better.
Further into Potenza and the traffic thickened. The Police had cordoned off the area we were trying get to – the Centro Storico. Potenza is set on an incredibly steep hill and is also called the city of a thousand steps. We snaked our way around the centre and out the other side unable to find a place to park or a likely venue for lunch, until eagle-eyed Pip spotted a parking bay reserved for the restaurant it was next to. We agreed that the restaurant it was next to would provide our lunch. The good old Antico Osteria Marconi, complete with white table cloths and black & white waiters. They had a special working lunch (colazione di lavore) with a choice of 3 pastas, 3 mains and 3 desserts. Perfect. Lovely local food and wine to prepare us for a snowy dash home to Calitri. We did find out that Potenza was closed because the city had been chosen as the venue for the national broadcaster’s NYE celebrations and fireworks and there were preparations underway.
At home was the plumber and the satellite guys and our contact, Emma. We now have heat in the bedroom, internet in the home and several TV channels to watch.