28.03.2014 - 05.04.2014
Our final week in Italy was spent in places that were a world away from everything we had already experienced. The toe and heal are full of surprises.
Our first stop for the week was Tropea, a beautiful seaside village with an amazing sandstone church that sits upon its own cliff. Once again the cool weather prevented us from doing everything you would expect from a coastal town, but it was nice to totally relax for a few days.
The next stop was Matera.
The village (Sassi) is one of a few towns that have remained continually civilised for the last 10,000 years. It is also a favourite of Hollywood. A number of films have been made here, including Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion of the Christ’. We were fortunate enough to find accommodation right in the middle of the “Sassi Caveoso” amongst the abandoned caves in which people lived in up until the 1950’s.
The poorest of people lived in these caves without running water or electricity and the living space was shared with their horses, pigs and chickens. Time had literally stood still.
Ostuni, in Puglia was our final stop for the week. Known as the ‘White City’, the village is approximately 8km’s from the coast and sits atop a hill.
Everything is painted white, reminiscent of a Greek village. A beautiful sight and very different from any other hilltop village we have seen. A short drive from Ostuni is Trulli, an ancient village of unusual round houses with dome like roofs, souvenir shops, bars and restaurants. Bizarre best describes this village!!!
Puglia is best known for its olive oil and driving through the region you can understand why. There are olive trees for as far as the eye can see; both young and some that have obviously been around for a few thousand years. The oil is sold everywhere and tasted amazing. Stocked up with enough oil to see us through the remainder of our travels we were ready to head back up north as the weather for the south was predicted to turn bad.
As we headed for Germany our first stop for the night was at Rimini and is best described as the Italian Surfers Paradise. Accommodation and restaurants lined the streets along with the tacky souvenir shops.
The owner of the restaurant where we had dinner, as always, asked where we were from (they don’t get many Australians in these parts, mostly Russians and Scandinavians). When we told him his face lit up, he had a son working in Bundaburg and another had worked in Sydney and Port Douglas. He even gave us a complimentary banana liquor to celebrate our connection. Just love Italian hospitality.
Our last day was spent driving to our final Italian destination Riva Del Garda, a picturesque town at the foot of the Alps on the river. This was probably one my favourite places in Italy and would love to have stayed longer than one night. I’m grateful however for that one night, it’s going to make planning my return trip to Italy a little easier.
Next stop Germany.