South East Italy

From Maratea we headed to Matera. Yes, confusing I know.

We mentioned stary folk last time, well now it’s getting hot (for us) like low 20’s and we’re in shorts and t-shirts so the stares are definitely intensifying….a lady even held herself and shivered at us the other day. Weird!

A gorgeous gorge, Matera

Matera, actually turned out to be really cool. Formerly the embarrassment of Italy, a malaria ridden slum, according to our guidebook it’s been tidied up and now the ‘Sassis’ are a maze of little winding streets. After exploring these and grabbing a coffee we drove round to the other side of the gorge for some great panoramas of the the town and a look inside some ‘less developed’ caves.

Cave church thingy

After Matera we had a very quick detour to Ireland for a very important wedding before our last few days in Italy. Our mission was to get to the stiletto of the boot so off we headed towards Lecce via Alberolo which has some crazy pointy houses. These are randomly dotted all over the countryside in this part of Puglia, but in Alberolo there’s a whole town’s worth.

Pointy Houses, Alberolo

Alberolo

Roman Theatre Lecce

After reaching the end of the heel and grabbing a few photos we made our way back up to Gallipoli for our last tastes of gelato, coffee & pizza. Gallipoli turned out to be a little unexpected gem, with a cool old town set on a peninsula and a well looked after new town on the mainland. Of course we also had one more Italian sunset which didn’t disappoint!

The end of Italy!

A last Italian Sunset, Gallipoli

Now we’re off to Greece to start the final, long, last leg back to the UK. Time flies!

Abruzzo and the South West

ie. home of barky dogs and starey folk

After partaking in a tonne of Pizza, a load of gelato and a good measure of red wine with our guests we thought we should probably get back to nature for a bit and get some exercise.

Luckily, the Apennines and a couple national parks in the mountains aren’t far from Rome so we headed for a couple days hiking. First up was Pescaroli and a walk through a closed ski resort to the Rifugio di Lorio, after trudging through the snow and getting pretty soaked we finally made it and were rewarded with a great view.

Rifugio di Lorio

Apparently the area is home to the last bears and wolves in Italy, we didn’t see any. We were suitably gutted as you can imagine… everyone seemed to have a tonne of guard dogs to scare the wildlife away however so we had a few sleepless nights listening to them all howling at each other…

Further down the valley was Barrea, where we found a cafe with some awesome views and free wifi, a rarity in Italy. Hanging out for hours isn’t really the done thing but it’s given us an appreciation for Italian cafe culture which basically involves dropping in for a quick shot of caffeine and a bit of a gossip before heading on your way. We’re wondering if the road rage we’re coming across has something to do with all this caffeine…

Lago di Barrea

Not a bad office...

Which brings us nicely to Naples…via a quick stop at some (free) Roman ruins, a whole little town in fact, at Saepimum. We had the place to ourselves which was awesome and quite surreal at the same time. People still live, dry their clothes and feed their chickens amongst the ruined roman forum and amphitheatre.

Roman stuff

We’ve been to Naples before so for Paddy’s day we visited our favourite viewpoint above the city for a few beers before failing to find an open Irish pub (bad times) and having some of the best pizza yet, melt in the mouth (good times)!

1000 steps but probably worth it...

The Irish pub that wasn't

Paddy's day Pizza instead

To finish off in this part of the world we headed back to the beaches around Maratea. We actually managed to find some waves but mostly it was about stunning, untouristy landscapes, and crazy death roads… Rusticus held up admirably and now we’re headed east.

Sunset #1

Sunset #2... Maratea

Italian waves

Maratea