It was such a relief for Matt to have finished his work in Sicily. The next day was Palm Sunday, so we started the day by reading the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey. We talked about how confusing it must have been for the disciples. One moment Jesus told them that we would die and the next he was being hailed as king. We thought about the changeability of the crowds and of the hearts of people. Then it was time to move on.
Once again, we headed across the ferry to the mainland of Italy towards our next stop, Cosenza. It was a bit difficult to get to the ferry this time though. There was a road block. We are still not sure why. On the detour, I saw folks streaming into a church. It was wonderful to see worshippers on Palm Sunday. And they were carrying the woven items I had seen for sale two days before. They were Palm Sunday decorations! Woven palm leaves…of course!
We had hoped to have an extra day or two to explore the next area, but we would only have one evening. First we traveled along the coast on the western part of Italy. All the beach resorts looked like ghost towns. The agriturismo in Cosenza was a bit off the beaten path. As we approached, Matt said, “You sure can pick them, Hon!” But he wasn’t being sarcastic. No, he was having fun driving up into the mountains.
There were foot paths among the mountains and we decided to try to get to one. Such a mysterious atmosphere hung in the air. The clouds were settling right down on us as we listened to the tinkling sound of cow bells and sheep bells. We walked quite a way and it started pouring! I gulped the thin mountain air as we hiked quickly back up to our room. And we were absolutely soaked. I was thankful that I had brought a rain coat but wished I had another pair of shoes. How does one know how to pack for 5 weeks of adventure?!
After changing, we ventured among the buildings to find where dinner would be served. We found a lovely dining area with a warm fire. As we entered, people got out of the chairs by the warmth and insisted that we sit there. Matt delighted in conversing with the grandfather of the household. I sat back soaking in the luxurious heat and became sleepy as they endeavored to understand one another. At dinner, we spoke with the man of the house as his wife prepared the delicious food. He had been an archeologist in Volterra and had even collaborated in writing a book. We wondered how he had come to be running a B&B instead of his scholarly work. We decided that it must have always been a dream of his wife’s to have an agriturismo and he joined in.
But after only one night in the mountains, it was time to move on. Our schedule was very hurried since Matt had had to return to Sicily. So, we awoke early for the drive to Naples. Two years ago when we came to Italy for Matt to work, we stayed in a hotel right in Naples. The traffic! Oh my! No one stops at stop signs and traffic lights seemed only to be suggestions. So were lane designations. What a mix of cars, Vespas and pedestrians. At intersections, there was a dance of vehicles. It reminded me of synchronized swimming. It all would be fine as long as everyone just kept going. I shuddered to think of what would happen if anyone stopped when the rest thought he was going to proceed!
So, we decided we would not stay at that hotel, but would rather stay at an agriturismo just outside of the city. I pictured a little farm in the valley just apart from the mayhem. As we followed the GPS to the address, I became concerned. It seemed we were heading into the city anyway. Thankfully, Matt has learned very well how to drive in Naples. Someone once advised that he should never drive timidly in Italy and he has taken that advice to heart. He has mastered it! So even though we didn’t relish the thought of being in the city, it was okay. We looked for the agriturismo and arrived at a gate. I remembered that the photo on the agriturismo site showed a gate. I dug through my papers to find the photo. No. It was not the same gate. Don’t tell me we were lost again!
We stopped to ask a woman pushing a baby stroller. Did she happen to know where Il Corte & Charme was? She spoke no English and went on. Aw, a policeman! We rolled down the window and asked. He just waved us to keep driving. So, we checked the GPS. It had taken us to coordinates that were on the website for the agriturismo. Instead we looked for the address. It took us to a different gate. It seemed the whole town was streets winding through high walls with solid gates. It did not look anything like the picture on the website but we rang the bell anyway. A gentle woman answered and sure enough, we were in the correct place.
Siska showed us to our room and Matt left to drive off to go to work. I learned that this house, which included a large courtyard, was built in 1719 bySiska’s husband’s family. It was a beautiful oasis behind the massive gate.
Lemon trees and orange trees were heavy with fruit. Two dogs and a cat roamed the garden with me. One of the dogs kept jumping, trying to catch lizards. The inside of the main building was furnished with lovely antiques. Here is the dining area.
I finished wandering around and realized that I had 8 hours to fill while Matt worked. This was more difficult than I had anticipated. I was exhausted. I had never fully recovered from jet lag and too tired to write the blog. Internet access was limited to sitting in their living room. So, I strolled and took way too many photos. I found the gate in the garden that was pictured on the website. Then I sketched and painted in my art journal. I longed to take a nap but feared to because I needed to sleep through the night. Siska had suggested that I walk around in the street to the square.
This concerned me. I grew up in the country. Also, I had read that there was a lot of theft in the cities of Italy. I asked was it safe for me to walk alone and carrying a camera. She assured me that it was. So, I ventured out through the intimidating gate. This is the street we the house was on.
I found one of the two churches that she said might be open since it was Easter week. It was not. At the other end of the street there was another church. As I approached, I saw a large group of people exiting the church. Many were wiping their eyes and looking at a hearse parked out front. No matter where you travel, people have the same problems, including mourning a loved one.
Easter candy was being sold on the street.After wandering around a bit, I headed back to the oasis. This sort of vacation sounded so exotic and exciting. I thought I would love being a woman of leisure. But, I decided I’m not really cut out for it. I may have to ask to wash dishes at our next stop!
See the next part of our trip: Italy 4