Ciao Italia!

It was eighteen months to the day since I left India and arrived in Italy.

It feels so good to be on the road again!


I landed in Naples, and after a night in Caserta, just north of the airport, I took a train across to Trani on the east coast.

Trani is a beautiful seaside town with an atmospheric port, a cathedral, and enough backstreet alleys to get totally lost! And gentle enough to recover from jet lag.

Sometimes seafood can seem a little too fresh!

There was a great inflatable in one of the squares as part of an illumination festival.

I now have a TIM SIM! Think I have (bit of a language barrier!) 100 GB of data, unlimited calling and texting in Italy for €15 ($22.50CDN) a month. As long as I have enough to run Google Maps when I’m good and lost, I’ll be happy.

The typical breakfast offering at the B&B’s has been expresso/cappuccino and a cornetto, which is less rich and flaky than a croissant, and usually has a belly of pudding.

Fruit and yogurt were a nice addition.

It’s also typical to get a voucher for the next door caffe shop. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I managed to get toast and cheese instead.

Lunch when it’s 30
Focaccia sold by weight at the bakery

I’m used to heat and jet lag doing strange things to my appetite. I’m usually hungry in the morning, but when your body doesn’t ‘feel morning’ it gets messed up. Then the heat makes food unappealing. So small snacks are good.

I bought fruit at the market

Then it was another train trip inland to Matera. I made a connection to another company in Bari, but everything was well signed. Three hours total.

Matera has a fascinating history of more than 7000 years. Original inhabitants lived in caves that were formed by erosion by the river Torrente Gravina.

You can still see the river in the bottom of the gorge beside the city.

Eventually houses were built on caves, and roofs became the foundation of a new home. There are two main main areas of these ‘sassi’ which are divided by a cathedral on a built up point. The centre also has many elaborate palaces and churches.

Chiesa di San Francisco d’Assisi

There are plenty of regular ornate churches, but the most interesting were carved out of the rock.

Santa Maria de Idris and San Giovanni churches in the outcrop

They have a museum preserving what the sassi cave homes looked like. Families with an average of six children, and their animals, lived in a small cave. You can see the end of light brown chest in the first two photos. No light or ventilation except for the front entry.

In the 1950’s the government was shamed into providing better homes, and the inhabitants were moved into the ‘new town’ between 1953 and 1968. Many caves have now been converted into expensive lodgings.

Always secure your load!
Many stairs up
Many stairs down

Matera was the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2019. As part of that, there is a Salvador Dali exhibit. Some larger pieces are placed around the city.

Space Elephant
Surrealist Piano

I had a great lunch today. I was craving vegetables, so ordered two antipasti. There are many courses but most people don’t order them all, and then they share.

They also checked for a green pass and have their menus on line instead of printed.

Complementary fried bread was warm, chewy and delicious!
Roasted eggplant with cherry tomatoes and scamotza cheese
Cialledda – a local specialty.
olives, roasted potato, egg and ‘peperoni cruschi’ (crunchy peppers). There was a base of bread but it was quite moist and I was too full to need it!

So tomorrow I’m off on the train again. Love the subterranean station here!

11 thoughts on “Ciao Italia!

  1. Leslie, I’m thrilled to learn you are back 9n the road again. As usual, these pictures, are beyond spectacular! You have an eye that captures the essence of the place, culture and food. It’s impossible for me to believe anyone not wanting to book immediately after seeing these. You absolutely made my day!!!!!! Can’t wait for the next one!!!! Take great care, be happy and healthy, and don’t let anything stop you! 😊🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s exciting to see our travelling gypsy Les back out in the world. The best part of travelling, by the looks of your lovely photographs, is it’s not too peopley. My kind of travel. The cuisine is making my tummy grumble. It all looks so delicious.

    Oh, you are getting lots of steps in. The prehistoric sassi cave homes are intriguing. I can’t imagine living in one. I need windows! There have been many movies shot in Matera.

    Do you need a vaccine passport to enter restaurants? How were your flights? We’re you able to vote in the federal election before your trip?

    I wish you safe and happy travels. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is lovely and unpeopley! A few more in Matera because it is on every tour agenda, but I got up early and went out again later.
      I know what you mean about needing windows! I didn’t mention the chickens lived under the bed.
      The new James Bond coming out was filmed here!
      Yes, need a green vaccine pass for restaurants, trains, museums etc.
      I had an excellent flight but it was a very long time to wear a mask!
      And voted in the early polls before I left.
      And always, besides a broken ankle on the very slippery limestone stairs, I’ll be safe!


      1. Poops and I mirrored your blog onto our family room tv today. We love traveling with you and enjoying your adventures virtually. You have beyond wonderful pics that bring out so much history. Love the prehistoric sassi caves, the stone streets and pathways. The food looks so very delicious and stellar presentation. Some questions… how many steps are you getting in every day? Do you have a ballpark daily budget? Really love reading something that is not about covid….A pleasant treat♥️ BTW, did you break your ankle?????


      2. Haha! My ankle is fine. Just saying it was the biggest danger I’ve experienced so far!

        Happy that my little phone phone photos are standing up on the big TV screen!

        Step wise, about 10,000-13,000 but in Matera I also had over 20 flights of stairs up and down. And the steps are slippery and uneven so I was careful.

        Budget? Less than $140 CDN a day so,far. Accommodation is the biggest expense at average $95 a night. A meal out has been $30 but could be much more. I’ve had a kitchenette in Matera and in Bari so cooking. Know eating out gets very old soon. At the shops a bottle of decent local wine is $7-8. Easy to find takeout focaccia, panini, arancini, panzarotti etc for $3-7. Fruit and vegetables at the market $2-3. First train ticket across to the east coast was $20 but rest have been less than $7.50.

        Hope you have a great day!


  3. Leslie, we are so happy to see you travelling again. The pictures are amazing and your stories as well. Love to travel to these lesser known places in Italy with you!
    Looking forward to the next stop.
    Stay safe
    George & Judy Price


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