Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Where should we go this weekend?

That was the question that we wrestled with as Lori, Jeff and I were making plans. Jeff informed us that he has had aspirations to visit the hill country of southern Italy. Lori and I had no objections and rather fancied the idea.

Geographically speaking, the region of Italy where we are visiting with Lori’s brother Jeff is mostly flat, on the sea, and agriculturally rich. The town of Brindisi, where Jeff lives and works, is interesting on many levels. Most notably, historically, is that Brindisi is the port town which the Roman empire utilized in their travels and conquests. The Via Appia, or the Appian Road known as the Mother of all Roads, led from Rome to Brindisi. The other day we were sitting at the historical columns atop a grande set of monumental steps, which denote and honor the Appian Road and overlook the bay leading to the sea, Jeff astutely noted, "just think, when the Romans sacked Greece, everything traveled through here, en-route to Rome". It is difficult to much of western culture originates from Greece then Rome...and to speculate on the number of items ranging from art & sculpture, to wealth & the spoils of war, to philosophy and literature....all making their way from the boats coming into Brindisi, then by foot and cart Via Appia on to Rome.

The mountains of southern Italy along the "arch of the boot" in the region of Basilicata are unsuspecting and inspiring. We enjoyed our drive into the mountain region, in a haphazard way, winding around and stopping occasionally to enjoy the sights. Along the way, we stopped to look at a large man-made lake which we were informed is a water supply for Brindisi and Taranto. The lake was in a large valley, which was dammed and flooded. We walked along an old service road that had been washed out by excessive flooding. We could see the roofs of old stone buildings, nearly buried in her path, "bobbing" above the water line.

Our meanderings led us to the hill town of Terranova di Pollino, which sits at about 2, 750 feet above sea level. (Our travels from Brindisi began at sea level). We then happened or stumbled to the first B&B in town, the Picchio Nero Hotel, which was small and quaint. Our host was Giuseppe who preferred to be addressed as Pino. Pino was a short but medium framed man, about 5 feet 5 inches, mid-life in his late 40's or mid 50's with grey hair. He spoke English well and was quite hospitable. We settled in on Saturday afternoon / early evening, just in time to get our reservations in for dinner that night at the BB/Hotel. Pino noted that we needed to give him at least an hour notice because they need an hour to prepare and make the home-made pasta. YUMMMY! Our meal was delicious with many appetizers and the freshest ingredients.

The photo of me, Kent, was taken by Jeff at the summit of Mount Serra di Crispo, approximately 6,735 feet. We spent the afternoon hiking up and down the mountain. Upon the summit, we were rewarded with some amazing sights and a vista view of Mt. Pollino (7, 375 ft). Well worth the effort and time it took to ascend the mountain.

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