Can’t believe we have already finished 2 weeks! It all moving so fast, while the build up, at home, just crept by. That’s the nature of the adventure beast, I guess.
Gianni came by at 10:00 to check us out and return the deposit. We had gone out earlier to get the car (and coffee) and drive it to a spot right in front of the apartment building–easier to load the luggage. Off we went. We headed for Martina Franca for lunch but we never quite made it to the old town. Somehow we made a wrong turn and found ourselves in a maze of one way streets with very few street signs. We finally decided to just pull over and walk around, get a coffee and a sandwich for lunch. We were in a nice commercial area, able to stretch our legs and window shop. We ate our sandwiches sitting on a bench on the sidewalk, perfectly delicious prosciutto and cheese. Got back in the car and it took us, probably and extra half hour to find to right road from there to Matera. We bumped along through beautiful, peaceful farm country seeing lots of Trullis and rock walls and huge wind mills. It was all right out of a Puglia countryside guide book.Finally we reached Matera. Instructions from the hotel were to leave the car at a garage. I put the address into the phone and we got right there. No sweat. We loaded out luggage into another car and were driven to the hotel. Rounding the cornier I got my first view of the “Sassi”. And I will never forget the moments. The is a place different than anything I’ve ever seen before and it is stunningly, take-your-breath-away beautiful. I tried, all day to take pictures but they just don’t work.
We checked in Corte San Pietro. Everything is very cleverly designed–the rooms are inside the old caves but they are totally fresh and very well designed. Ours is a bit noisy because our door is right on the road and we’re not happy with that but they are full and we cannot change.
We had scheduled a guide for 3:30 so off we went. Antonio was full of informations. Taking it all in was hard. The most interesting thing I remember from his talks is: “Some people think that Matera is the oldest place where people have lived uninterrupted (meaning people have always lived here) in the world but it’s not. It’s actually 3rd after Jericho and Aleppo!” There is evidence here from any century you can imagine. We saw prehistoric burial grounds and a cave house where people lived until the early 1950’s–with 6 kids and a mule and chickens inside. We saw frescoes on the walls of an underground church which is now full of contemporary sculpture. We saw the gorgeous light changing on the sides of these “Sassi”, these rocky hills and on the facades of the 16th and 17th century churches.
We finished the tour and walked back to our hotel to catch our breath.
Dinner was reserved at 8:00 at Francesa, luckily very close to us. I think it was some of our best food so far. The apps were really special flavors including a plate of fave and cichioria which I love. Ken didn’t really care for his pasta dish. It was an olive pesto but it just didn’t work for him. I had a boneless pork steak, simply grilled and the star of my meal: cardoncelli mushrooms! They were sauteed and served with some crisply, salty breadcrumbs on top. They taste like a cross between shitake and porcini. I loved them! We drank a local, organic,red, Aglianico and it was delish. The service was a little weird, Our server spoke little English and spoke rapid fire Italian. The place was filled with Americans, but this IS a tourist town.