Monday, September 15, 2008

Buon Viaggio To Me

Sandra and I are off to Italy for three weeks. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to Italy, something like 20-25 visits since 1962. Sandra and I have gone together about 8 times. Most of our trips have been to see our dear Italian friends who have a home in Sicily. This time we’ll end our trip with a week in Sicily, but before that we’ll travel to parts of southeastern Italy that are new to us.

I may post some blogs along the way, but then again I may not. So let’s call this a preview.

We’ll rent a car in Rome and head east into the Abruzzo area, stopping for three nights in L’Aquila. We like to locate ourselves in a centrally-located town and make day trips to the various spots we want to visit. Our motivation for the day trips is often to eat in a particular restaurant or drink a specific wine or see something beautiful or historic – whatever suits our fancy.

From Abruzzo we will continue east and south, heading for Lecce, an old baroque city in Puglia. We’ll stop in Trani for a night, a port city on the Adriatic, recommended by friends who stayed there. Fidele, who sells me meat when I shop at Mollie Stones, is from Molfetta, a small town not far from Trani. I thought it would be fun to at least drive through Molfetta.

We’ll be in Lecce for three nights and then head back north to Matera in Basilicata. Matera has received a lot of attention in recent years. It is very old and well preserved. Several films have used Matera to represent ancient Jerusalem. And the Sassi stone, into which people have dug homes for thousands of years, is a major tourist draw. My hope is that since Matera is still off the beaten track and since we’ll be there in late September, we’ll encounter less rather than more foreign intruders. We’ll be there for four nights.

From Matera we go down into Calabria, one night in Cosenza, and then two nights in a small town up in the hills called Gerace. I do a lot of research before these trips, trying to figure out the best places to go, the best routes, the best hotels, the best of everything. For our last stop before Sicily I wanted an offbeat place not too far from Villa San Giovanni, where we need to get a boat that will take us across the Straits of Messina. I found Gerace following various leads on the Internet. We’ll see how well I did.

Part of my research has to do with wine. I went to a little wine store not far from our home, which has only Italian wine. A very good selection from all over Italy. I told Ceri Smith, the owner, I was going to Abruzzo, Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria and I wanted to taste a variety of wines from each of these areas. I went away with a case and had several wines from each place. Drinking them was fun as well as good research. I’ve now got a firsthand idea of what to look for on our trip.

So as I said, Buon Viaggio to Me.


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