30th June 2018 – 05th July 2018
We left Greece after a confusing border control. David drove the Motorhome through with Chloe, but I could not be in the Motorhome with him and was told by a strict Greek official that I had to go through Customs in an adjoining building. I had visions of David and Chloe sailing away without me ! The up side, there was Duty Free in the building, YES shops ! The sailing was a little rough and although we tried to sleep it was not as calm a sea as we had when we sailed into Greece. We arrived in Bari early morning and on the recommendation of a couple we met in Greece we headed for Matera. Our visit to Matera was made more special by the campsite owner Gian Franco who shuttled all the people at the campsite into the centre of Matera. He had such a passion for his city, a UNESCO World Heritage site and declared European Capital of Culture 2019. It is also known as the Subterranean City and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It looks like a film set, just stunning. The city has seen many film crews here, the making of Ancient Jerusalem, Ben-Hur, The Omen and Wonder Woman, to name just afew. It is filled with many churches and monasteries, the beauty though is just wandering the streets, immersing yourself in the culture, gloating in all the beautiful shop windows that display the most beautiful of foods, clothes and regional crafts. We ate the best Gelato and typical us, our eyes were bigger than our bellies and I couldn’t eat all of mine ! Each year in Matera the famous Festa Della Bruno takes place and it was only afew days away. Although the festival is in honour of the town’s sacred protector, the Madonna Della Bruna, it is far from being a purely religious event. Tens of thousands of local people flock onto the streets, with a week of celebrations with coloured light displays, market stalls, town bands and grand processions. The main drama takes place on the 2nd July with a procession in the evening, of the Madonna Della Bruna carried on a float or triumphal chariot which has been lovingly handmade in paper mache. A real work of art, decorated with ornaments and statues. Once it has reached it’s destination the Madonna Della Bruna is lifted off and escorted to the church and then the float is no longer seen as holy and then that’s when the fun starts. There is a massive free for all of all the spectators who pull the chariot apart to gain a piece as a trophy. Gain Franco, the owner of the Campsite took us to see the chariot that had been made for this year’s procession and it was amazing. The paintings that had been created were stunning. It was a shame we were not there see the whole festivities. It’s in the diary for next year to try and visit on the 2nd July.
After 3 days we head off to Pompeii. We stayed right outside the gates in a campsite which was the perfect location but very little shade. It’s all about the shade in the summer !. We also wanted to visited the Amalfi Coast whilst we were here. We have seen so many stunning pictures and TV programmes with this coastline that we too wanted to experience it’s splendour, in a little car. We knew that our Motorhome was a no go for this area, I think cars find it difficult in some places and so we walked into Pompeii centre to the train station and the Hertz Rental. We tell the young suave Italian, in the tightest trousers I have ever seen on a human, that we would like to hire a car for the day. He tries to rent us the flashiest convertible car (not in our budget !) and eventually when he finally realises we only want a small car he says €100 for the day. Too expensive we say, he shrugs his shoulders and walks off. By this time I am boiling, not just from the 35 degree heat, but for the Italian just trying to rip us off. We never got to see the Amalfi coast ! There is a train service that would take us there but we have Chloe and as we have said before, we worry about leaving her for too long, taking her out in the heat for too long and so we will save the Amalfi Coast for another trip.
We visited Pompeii in the late afternoon and we were blown away with the amazing city before our eyes. The city was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in AD79 and is quite rightly a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The preservation of the buildings, paintings, mosaics and structures gives you the feeling that you are walking in AD79. You could spend the whole day wandering the streets taking in the amazing sights from the ground surface which has small white square tiles called cat’s eyes, which the moon or candlelight illuminated so people could see where they were walking at night. The huge number of clay pots found intact, the track marks for the carriages for a smoother ride. The rich colours of the wall paintings and mosaic floors still intact. However, it is tinged with sadness as the whole city was destroyed. We both found it very humbling for over 1,900 years later to walk the same streets.