Yesterday was really busy, so I didn't get time to post, again.
So we went to Podesa on Monday.
It’s a nice seaside town, let down a little by the railway line that runs directly behind the beach and separates the town, but that’s also a good thing, because it inhibits the place being developed into one of those obscene tourist cities with colossal hotels and destruction of all that’s natural for hectares around the beachfront.
Parking was free.
The beach isn’t overly impressive either, with a mix of smaller stones and some sand that becomes mud a little further out in the water. Large rocks have been set up as a barrier parallel to the beach, providing a safe bathing area, but with the result that the water changes less frequently & so the mud makes it a little murky. This isn’t the med with crystal-clear waters and interesting fish, but it wasn’t cold either, and was quite acceptable for a quick cooling dip.
Our time at the beach started with some tension, because Chris’s burns needed shade, meaning we had to hire a parasol & loungers to stay out of the sun. When we’ve done this in Turkey it was simply a case of buying food & drink at the café that owned the kit and it was yours to use. So we wandered down to the beach, chose a free set and simply popped up a brolly, sat on the loungers and waited for someone to turn up & ask what we’d like to drink.
After about 25min we realised it wasn’t going to happen, although there was a chap walking around putting up umbrellas and collecting money from people. In the UK we would simply call him over and ask what the deal was, but here that was impossible. In the end we worked out that he was operating from a café of the same name as on the kit we were sat on, so we wandered over and asked how much (12 euros for the day) paid and then finally relaxed.
And we idled the day away on the beach.
Before we left home I’d planned to download some kindle books to the Xiaomi phone while we were away if I needed reading material, but of course that didn’t work, and neither did the Kindle app on the Lumia. Of course there were other reading apps available too, so it was the work of moments to grab a couple, choose the first that worked (which was actually the second downloaded) and then download a book or 2 onto that.
Screen time from 65% to shutdown on the Lumia is about 3 hours. :-p
A brief divertimento – the Xiaomi has been sat here on flight mode since the day after we arrived. Even though I spent several hours reading stuff, it went from around 50% to 23% between Wednesday night and Sunday night. Also FWIW I installed a couple of translator apps on it a few weeks back and noticed it lost nearly a day of battery life afterwards. I’m impressed with the battery life once again, and quite appreciate why people want to root & flash their phones with an OS that lets you control whether applications can ‘phone home’ when not in use.
We swam a little, had lunch, read several hours, had another swim, sunbathed a bit, changed & had dinner, finally buying ice creams (Cornetto – meh) and sat by the sea as light levels dropped and the sky changed colour. Sounds pretty idyllic.
And around 50min later we were back here again.
One of our conversations stemmed from the pleasure of just being by a large body of water, with a warm clean-smelling breeze gently blowing around us, having eaten pleasant food and enjoying each others company. In contrast to the start of this part of the blog series, we love mountain holidays, we love beach holidays. When we got to the beach today, what I REALLY wanted to do was to find a river at the bottom of a gorge that ran over rocks and between wooded banks in little waterfalls. It took a while to refocus on the good things in front of me and enjoy them for what they were.
So to the ‘what if’ game, we’d now like a house between the mountains and the beach*, please. If that’s not being greedy.
*Technically we already have that, since it’s a couple of hours drive to the Derbyshire peak district, and a couple of hours drive to the coast from where we live, but that really is NOT what I mean.
And so we come to the final day.
An ascent into hell.
Well, strictly speaking, a walk up the Gola del Infernaccio, which is actually a beautiful riverside walk up through a steep gully between 2 mountains. The tourist people like to play up the overtones of necromancy & bad magic in their information. but there’s nothing to suggest that unless the Roman Catholic stuff part-way up is misunderstood. At the top is a hermitage built by a priest in the 1970s, but we didn’t get that far because it’s around 14 kilometers and 4 hours each way, requiring good hiking boots, food and drink and a level of fitness and determination that go beyond a normal holiday walk.
The terrain is fabulous, but seriously challenging, with steep ascents on loose stones and the odd stream to cross.
Winifred the Windows navigator took us (via some ‘interesting’ unmade roads) to within a kilometer of the trail start. We were lucky to get there before 9.30am and found a shady space in the small car park. From there we walked down the gravel trail.
At the start of the canyon the trail passes under an overhanging rock that pours water on the walkers below unless they hug the rockface closely – for those who know it, think of the weeping wall in the Rockies, but undercut with the road passing beneath. When we got to the bottom and crossed the bridge to the start of the trail we were a little damp and starting to get cold. Across from where the trail entered the small flat area at the start was a tunnel with very cold air pouring out of it and chilling the surroundings. Chris ended up feeling so cold that she walked the 1K back up to the car to get her cardigan and back again, only to take it off within minutes of starting up the proper trail.
So we ascended, we viewed, we took many many pictures and walked for a couple of hours before feeling it was time to turn around. I’d say that this and the fields of flowers at Castelluccio were probably the highlights of the trip for us, and if you’re ever in the area are ‘must see’ places. We are fairly well travelled (and grateful for it) and there are few things that wow us, but both these did.
And back we went, in around 90minutes to the car. Less pictures were taken, and we met many others going in the opposite direction. In places descending was quite a bit harder than going up, struggling to find secure footholds on the loose stones of the steepest sections. On the way back we photographed some tiny blue butterflies drinking at a watering hole and noted how the birdsong was unusually present in another section. The car park was now full, with cars parked some way up the road too: busy for a Tuesday morning.
By this time we were quite hungry, so off in search of lunch.
Driving down the mountainside we saw the very smart old town of Montefortino in the distance, but when we got there it was the Marie Celeste thing all over again – we even smelled cooking, but the only restaurant we found was being rebuilt. Amandola, that we previously visited, was only 4km away so off we went there.
Well that may be true, but it’s also the name of a pasta and pizza restaurant just inside the town. As we parked up the scent of food and woodsmoke reached our nostrils, and taking courage in one hand – phrase book in the other – we entered.
And needn’t have feared. They were friendly, had a tiny bit of English and some bi-lingual menus, though we did end up with 2 cokes instead of 1, and the lass serving though us ‘odd’ to only order from the pasta dishes and not from the usual mains or pizzas*, though she didn’t say anything. Italy is a little formal when it comes to eating out, and one is expected to go through starter, first course, second course, dessert. The experience was pleasant enough that we will probably eat there for our final meal out tonight.
So then it was back to the house for a post-prandial nap, put a wash on to ease pressure of time tomorrow, sit around reading and photographing the butterflies that were so hard at work on the lavender. There was a swallowtail there, for the first time that we’ve noticed.
So back to Bella Napoli for dinner. It was pleasant, though I can’t help get the feeling that we couldn’t order food quite right, and that Italians would order in a way that was ‘better’. But they were helpful, friendly, one of the waitresses spoke English, though we tried to use Italian where possible. It was a nice meal, and I ended up leaving about 1/4 of the 1litre of wine because we had to drive home.
So now Chris is adding stuff to the visitors book and I’m finishing this off, having scanned back through the pictures of butterflies etc from earlier today. I hope they look good on a proper screen instead of the back of the camera.
*Pizzas here have been mixed. running from edible through to nice but not ‘Wow!’. It may be that, like the risotto, a little foreign input was required to get the very best from an otherwise sound idea that needed further development.