Having heard so much about the beauty of the Amalfi coast we wanted to at least drive round it however, I had a funny feeling that I had read something about not being able to drive motorhomes along the coastal road and luckily I checked as there is a 350 euro fine for driving between Positani and Vietri Sul Mare, which the campsite owners assured us that they are pretty hot on, even more so now the sun has come out and there is a huge amount of traffic on the roads. So, begrudgingly we left the Amalfi coast behind and headed inland to Cava de Tirreni for an over night stop, starting the journey across Italy (along the sole if you were wondering) towards the heal (Puglia).
The journey was horrendous, apart from it being a Sunday, it was also Mothers day and in true Italian style the traffic stacked up in every town and village where someone was selling roses by the side of the road or the fishmongers/butchers/bakery was open, the Italians don’t bother pulling over they just stop, dumping their car and leaving the traffic to try and find a way to get past….oddly when there is barely enough space for a car to pass, you can imagine the difficulty in getting a motorhome through, the Italians were very helpful though encouraging us on by the horns of the cars behind us …. or at least I think it was supposed to be encouragement 🙂 However, no matter how narrow the road, or the space to get passed a parked car, apparently it is always possible to squeeze a motorbike through. I think they must make motorbikes with a protective force-field around them as they seem to survive far longer than one would expect when you see how they drive. As the weather has been getting warmer we have seen an increasing number of motorcyclists without helmets including an amusing conversation between a motorcyclist and a policeman – eventually the policeman won and the motorcyclist begrudgingly put his helmet on … at least until he was out of view of the policeman 🙂
Anyway, we finally made it to Cava de Tirreni and after being directed down several streets that were far to narrow for Mika, we found a way we could actually drive to the Aire (Free), parked up and stretched our legs. In the morning, after a quick visit to the local fruit and veg shop and butchers we squeezed our way back through the towns narrow streets and travelled to Fattore Punzi which is just outside Picerno near Potenza. We haven’t been particularly lucky with our Fattore Amico choices in the last couple of weeks unfortunately, this farm was supposed to be a restaurant and also sell local cheese, wine and honey, however the restaurant was shut for refurbishment when we arrived and there was no sign of any other produce being sold. The setting was stunning however, right on top of a hill at just over 1000 meters looking down into the valleys around it – it was a tad windy, but a nice tranquil night and no-one came to check on us.
With the wind behind us we rolled back down the hill and across to Matera where we stopped in an Aire in Parco della Murgia (10 euros a night)…. What a lovely place. Matera and the national park is a UNESCO world heritage site housing a Neolithic Village dating back 7000 years along with numerous rock churches. The national park sits on one side of the ravine and Matera on the other, providing excellent views of the Neolithic Village from a far, but walking around Matera itself is also quite an interesting experience as they have managed to maintain a good balance between Neolithic, old and new enabling tourism to mix with the day to day life of a real town.
As the weather has been warm we decided to take advantage of the tranquil location and do some walking, one day across the ravine and up to Matera, another just to look at the views across the valley, and today trying to follow another path to see some of the rock churches but after the first couple we lost the signage and ended up doing a round trip across into Matera and back again … all rather pleasant though.