Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Day 1 Matera

Let's get started with more detailed trip descriptions...
I think I’ll just try to go with the most important stories. The first full day we went out to Matera (a UNESCO world heritage site). The town is looking nicer and more tourists are coming. The only thing holding it back is that there’s no good way to get there. Not a problem for us as it’s only about 1 and 30 minutes from my house. Before I go any further, I should mention that I’ll be using her photos most of the time. She borrowed a digital camera from a coworker that is much better than mine. It has a better zoom but more importantly “more glass”. You can have all the megapixels in the world but if you don’t have a decent size lens then the light can’t get in. Her camera could get good photos in the caves and churches.
We set out with the goal to hike all the way to the bottom of the gorge (the rain made the stream at the bottom a little too much to cross). I’ve been saying I was going to do this for a long time and she’s just the type of person that would go along with this idea. Our first problem was eating a few panini before starting down with curious cows all around. I’ve seen goats grazing in this area (the trails are goat paths) but never cows. They all had those big bells around their necks, which were making quite a racket. We felt like we were in the Alps and not southern Italy. I’ll put on the picture of the one cow that seemed to be curious as to what we were eating.
The trailhead for us was where they crucified Jesus Christ. I kid you not; well it was only in the movie of “The Passion of Christ”. From there we hit the trail but going down was rough because we couldn’t find “The” trail. I think she thought I was crazy until we stumbled on to it near the bottom. We used “The” trail to get up and naturally we found it much easier going. I thought there were many trails but really there is only one that goes up to the top. Next time I’ll take it down so I can spend more time going along the creek at the bottom instead of hitting dead ends. After this we jumped in the car and went over to the town side of the gorge.

From Matera we went on to a little town of Miglionico. I thought about not even mentioning it in my blog because it’s nice little town that I don’t want you to find! But I figure I don’t have that many readers so it’s probably safe to talk about. Basilicata is the poorest region of Italy but this little hilltop town was very clean and nice. It has a nice view of a lake and valley below and there’s a great castle (that was closed!). We met a really nice little old lady who has a lot of family that have moved to the Boston area. She was on her way to church and insisted we follow her. I could tell she enjoyed all the questions this was going to bring from her friends. It was a very sleepy quiet town that just seems so far away from everything. You could tell it's probably too quiet for the kids as there wasn't many young people around. This is a common problem in this area. I would like to go back and check out the lake and hopefully the castle if it's open.
We could have hung around longer but we had to get back to Brindisi because the best band in Brindisi, Mama Roots, was playing that night. We had to eat and get ready! This plan fizzled as we were tired from the long day so we didn’t stay long and…Oh yeah, I spilled beer on her pants (this will be common thread, as you’ll see), which didn’t help.
Next time Otranto and the road to end of the heel…
Inside one of the cave churches

Classic view of Matera from the opposing side of the gorge.

Our goal is close. Normally this is a babbling creek.

View of the lake from Miglionico. I've never seen Basilicata so green.

The castle of Miglionico. Not bad for such a small town.


Annika said...

Beautiful, but I'm more curious about HER! :D

Jeff Gromen said...

Yeah, I'm sorry Annika but I didn't really get permission to put her in the blog. Although I would think she would at least let me use the photo of her at the Trevi Fountain when we get to that part of the story.


Carlo Magni aka Luachan said...

Hi Jeff,
i found your post on Technorati following the tag matera.
Nice blog and nice words you wrote about Matera, my city.

Have a nice period in Italy