Ciao Tuscany, Hello Basilicata and Puglia!

Ciao Tuscany, Hello Basilicata and Puglia!

But first, a last few shots of some of our favourite people here:

Two of the amazing people working at our favourite restaurant in the world – Ristoro di Lamole – they have been working together for thirty years!
Gabby, Elizabet (Mamma) and Stefania and the amazing breakfast spread at Casale Le Masse

But, one last breakfast at our B&B and we were off again. Because our original flights from Florence to Bari had been cancelled, we had to choose the only other available option, which got us there at 6:30pm (theoretically) instead of 2:30. Not only did this mean that we would spend 5 hours sitting in Florence airport, because the car still had to be back by 10:30 am, but also that we had to drive to this remote location in the dark, as sunset now is at about 7:30.

Not to mention that the French airports were suffering from a one day (hopefully) job action, resulting in the cancellation of all flights to France and many other destinations due to the ripple effect. So it was chaos at the airport. Although I did get this one really great photo of myself. Looks like the pasta and limoncello diet is working!

We literally spent an 11 hour day to fly 2 hours and drive for 1. I did manage to save us a bunch of time at the rental car office though. Partly by hoofing it there quickly from our flight and party because I learned at the last rental that you have to take a numbered ticket and not count on your place in line. After I got ours, of course I shared this information with the others (sheepish smiley face emoji). Unfortunately, by the time we got to our car, it was almost 8 pm already and the reception to our little cave room closes at 8.

So I called her. No worries, she said, I will send you the pin code to your cave (!) and a video of how to get to the restaurant above from the a car park where you should put your car because street parking is impossible (it is). Famous last words.

I mean – thank God for Google maps, now that our gps has decided to take up permanent residence in Ireland (that must have been some trip you guys!), it has saved our bacon many times. But it has its limitations in prehistoric cave country apparently.

However, we do eventually find the car parkade. This is promising. Relieved, we get our suitcases out, determine that we pay when we leave, and head up to the square. Where there are about a hundred teens and preteens having a loud meet up sesh. Now – where do we go from here? I do have a map, but the map doesn’t show the name of the car park (and there are several) or the name of the square.

I took this photo after we had come through the mob (toting two suitcases and and satchel) to show my contact where we were (because we had no idea!). She had sent us a map, with tons of arrows, and pages of detailed instructions, but honestly, we were exhausted, and frazzled and no good with the lovely google map and dropped pins. Help! The one adult we saw spoke no English and apparently had never heard of the street we were supposed to be on. Have I mentioned that street signs here are a rarity? No actual signs. Names of streets may or may not be here and there on the side of a building on the corner. Maybe.

But bless her heart, the off duty receptionist helped us turn by turn as I sent her a photo of where we were and she sent it back with arrows guiding the way:

Then – ta da! – we see the sign of the restaurant that is over our room! And even though they closed at 9, she had asked the guys to stay and wait for us to help us find our cave. So down, down, down the stairs and onto the little outdoor landing, and this is what we saw:

Maters, Basilicata, Italy

We were stunned – it is so beautiful at night, I can’t wait to see it in the daylight. And here is our little cave away from home (with all the mod cons):

By this time, we were starving to death. Luckily, the Italians eat dinner much later than we do, so although our little bistro was closed, the guys assured us that we would find restaurants open nearby in the old town. So I dropped a pin of my own on google maps, hoping it would help us find our way back home, and we headed out. Not for away we saw a restaurant and gratefully got two lasagnas with tiny meatballs and a bottle of Primitivo – the local wine. Both were excellent and we tumbled back down the hill to our beds. Tomorrow we have booked a private walking tour of the caves and old town and even though we don’t usually do tours of anything, this one is going to be worth its weight in gold just to have someone know where we are going and how to get back. Oh, and know the amazing history of this place – that too. And our tour guide is named “Cosimo”! What could possibly go wrong? (Seinfeld reference there for anyone who may not have watched it back in the day.). I will leave you with a photo of the church next door, which thankfully does not ring bells at an ungodly hour.

3 responses to “Ciao Tuscany, Hello Basilicata and Puglia!”

  1. OMG! What an ordeal. Incredible the technology that puts arrows on your photos to show the way.
    Your cave room looks amazing. So glad you arrived safely!


  2. The really GREAT news after all of your trials and tribulations is that VIEW that greeted you and your COZY cave:) (not to mention a “next day” with guide to recuperate).

    These will be your better “stories” I imagine. No pain no gain as they say!


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