Another large city offset by a village along the way sounded like a fine activity for a rainy day. Main target was Foggia, which is a large city in Puglia, not too far from where we camped last year – of course those who know me realize that ‘camped’ is merely a turn of phrase – canvas and me do not go together.
Searching for a route on Google Maps, we encountered Sant’Agata di Puglia, which seemed like a postcardy kind of place to break our journey. An hour out of Calitri, we spied it on the horizon – a little grey town perched on the top of a bump in the landscape. The bump turned out to be 813m high and was accessed by kilometers of zig-zagging roads. As you drive into the town you are surprised by a traffic light (very unusual in these tiny towns) and a road that forbids vehicles wider than 1.8m wide from entering. This is because the road snakes through the village and is one way dependent upon whether the light is green or red. There are no footpaths, so folk are likely to step out of their houses into the path of a car (or indeed the little bus that scrapes through as well). We had to go round and out and come back again to park near the traffic light and walk back up.
But what a delightfully beautiful place. Views from every break in the walls out over the plains below; terracotta tiled roofs in every direction; geraniums in planters; all the men of the village hanging in the square outside the social democrats party office; cute little shops … Like something out of a tourism brochure, except it was rainy and bitterly cold. I’d been keeping an eye out for a barber with a view to a shave and, as luck would have it, Pip spotted one in a dark shop that looked like it hadn’t had new stock since 1950. A single chair and a tiny old man with shaky hands and a penchant for painting the foam all over your face for what seemed far too long – seriously, he was daubing like Brett Whitely until my face was completely white with no breaks. He had shaky hands (did I mention that?) as he brought the cutthroat razor down and made that scratchy sound you hear in the westerns. Got a great shave and a poor beard trim in only half an hour and for the princely sum of 5 Euros.
Back on the road and up a couple of impossibly narrow tracks toward the Castello at the top and then back down and on to Foggia. The drive to Foggia was through forests of wind turbines of the kind our government is afraid of. This must be a terribly sick part of Italy.
Foggia is a bigger city than those we have visited this time and getting in a out and parking is always a challenge, except this day. We found a handy park and headed off in to the old part of the city after stopping for a three course lunch at a tiny place we found along the way. Had a great walk around the old city, all tiny alleys and closed churches, and weren’t particularly bothered by the light rain. Pip tracked down some street art and before too long, we needed to scoot back to Campania and home to Calitri, where it was still raining quite heavily.
We decided to head off to Sorrento for a couple of nights and so spent the evening searching for accommodation and figured out how to catch a ferry from Sorrento to Napoli on Friday. Pip cooked the lemon tagliatelle we bought in Avellino, with some speck, peas, artichokes and capers. We were happy.