Tuesday, July 30, 2013

one day in Matera

arriving at Matera leaves you open mouthed. before this trip, i had seen some pictures and videos about the most ancient and famous part of the city, i Sassi di Matera {which means Matera's stones}but i didn't expect such a strong emotion. marco and i were completely in awe. 

we stayed in the Sassi less than 24 hours {we had to continue our southern italy road trip to Calabria}, and  spent most of the time wandering in the narrow streets, taking pictures, tasting the local cousine, drinking red Aglianico, smelling the soul of this incredible town.

there are some cities where getting lost is a must. for me, this has always been Venice's prerogative. now, i know it belongs to Matera's Sassi, too.
historically, the Sassi was a poor neighborhood. the houses are dug into the rock. some of them look like caverns, and the tiny roads zigzag between roofs, starways, courtyards.
at dawn and dusk, the sunlight gives to the town a golden aura, and it looks even more beautiful. 

until 1950, people lived here in a situation of extreme poverty and alarming hygienic condition, so the italian
government forcefully relocated the Sassi's population to a new and modern area of the city. the neighborhood was mostly abandoned until the end of 1980s, and lots of houses are still empty and unlivable.

the town got an unique atmosphere, as if it were out of time and space. actually, while we were walking down the streets, we joked about being in Jerusalem instead of Matera. we've never been to Jerusalem but in our imagination it's how it looks like. and we are not alone in thinking that, cause the Sassi became Jerusalem on screen in three movies {Pasolini, 1964 -Beresford, 1985 - Gibson, 2004}


what you should not miss in a day in Matera? while you're wandering around, pay attention to the many rupestrian churches, carved from the soft volcanic rock. the most important are the Cathedral of Santa Maria della Bruna {Madonna della Bruna, the city's patron saint, has been celebrated for over 600 years on July 2nd with a great festival}, followed by San Pietro Caveoso and San Pietro Barisano.

we loved our visit to the MUSMA, museum of contemporary sculpture. even if contemporary art is not your cup of tea, the building where the museum is housed is worth a visit. 
then, to take a look at the old water collection system is interesting. for Matera inhabitants, the main problem was the water supply. enormous cisterns and channels to collect rainwater are still visible and visitable, under Piazza Vittorio Veneto. 
 
i'm glad we came. i can still feel the fresh air of the night on my arms, and hear the voice of a street singer, velvety but heartbreaking, that was our romantic serenade. 




info & tips

we stayed at Basiliani Hotel and loved it.
great location, nice design and good breakfast. the owners are the kindest and gave us the map of the Sassi and many useful informations to know our way around.
Basiliani Hotel
Rione Casalnuovo 115  75100 Matera

for gelato lovers like me, do not miss a gelateria called i Vizi degli Angeli {the vices of the angels}
I Vizi degli Angeli
via Domenico Ridola, 36  75100 Matera

a glass of wine and a local meal, with a original twist at La Gatta Buia
La Gatta Buia
via Regina Margherita  75100 Matera

{nikon em/nikon f-801, fujicolor 200} 

Friday, July 26, 2013

postcards from southern Italy. July, 17-22nd

i've been away for a few days last week. Marco and i took a 10 hours long road trip across Italy. that kind of roadtrip where you have bare feet, a roadmap on your knees, empty the bottles all over the car, and a playlist to sing along.

we had the pleasure to be invited to a blog tour in a valley called Valle del Raganello, in Calabria, the region at the toe of the italian peninsula. we decided to leave a day early, to explore one of the most beautiful town in Italy, Matera, in Basilicata region. 

we spent a whole day driving and singing, and the funniest thing is that we realized that if we had driven for the same amount of kilometers but towards north, we'd reach Berlin or Paris! so, you can easily imagine the variety of scenery and lifestyles that we passed through. looking at my beautiful country sliding out of the car window, feeling every kilometer, was a good lesson of geography. 

we'd have loved to take this amazing journey by lambretta, but it would have required at least a 15 days long vacation.

i leave you with two postcards i brought home, a little preview of the stories from southern Italy i'll tell you next week. have a lovely week end! 

p.s. before my southern italy trip, i have opened i diari della lambretta's facebook page. it's going to be a place for blog updates and pictures. hope you like it


vintage image of Matera in a postcard

Civita and the Raganello Valley in a postcard



Thursday, July 11, 2013

meet the Rossos

during my weekend in the Langa Astigiana, i stayed at the agriturismo Cascina Rosso. it was such a special place that i want to share it and its story with you.
Cascina Rosso is an organic farm and bed&breakfast, owned and nurtured by Adriano and Judith Rosso.
it's located in Roccaverano, in the middle of 12 hectares of fields, trees, gardens. a narrow street between the hazel trees leads to the Cascina, and while you're passing through you can say goodbye to traffic, noises, cellphones (they don't work here!) and worries. 
it's a quiet natural balcony over hills and Alps, but what makes it special is the roaring personality (i swear, this is the perfect adjective!) of its owners.

Adriano in his organic garden
Adriano is a former airplane pilot. he was born in my beloved Veneto, but he has lived for a long time in Miami, with his wife Judith.
Judith is from Chicago. she worked in writing, producing and directing documentary television programs in North America. when she saw Italy for the first time in 1984 she knew that it was the place where she'd love to live. talking to her is to dive in her funny and delightful mix of english, italian, and italian dialects.

about 10 years ago, they decided to change their life: quit their jobs, moved to Italy, bought a farm.
now, he grows organic vegetables and fruits. she cooks delicious breakfasts to their guests (like frittata with robiola cheese!), and teaches english, reiki and EFT.
Judith making blueberry crepes for breakfast
i loved the atmosphere, the silence, the energy. when i woke up, (and barely awake) i went down to the garden and ate raspberries. before coffee (this is an important detail: i usually do nothing before coffe), picking the reddest from the plants, looking at the Alps. they tasted like sun. a sweet sweet sun.

info 
Reg. Caramello Piandonne, 26
Roccaverano (Asti)

where to eat near Cascina Rosso (with their organic products!)
Osteria del Bramante
piazza Barbero, 6
Roccaverano (Asti)

Ristorante della Posta
via Roma, 4
Olmo Gentile (Asti)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

trekking in the Langa Astigiana. June, 28-30th

if you come here often, you already know that, when i'm not riding a lambretta, i like to travel and go hiking. so i simply had to say yes when i was invited to a trekking weekend near Asti, Piemonte. 
this was my second time in Piemonte region, and i had never been to Asti or Asti province before.
i just knew it for being the land of origin of some very good wines. (another good reason to say yes, right?)

our trekking destination was Asti province's southern part, an hilly territory called Langa Astigiana. at first, when we arrived, i tought the scenery was similar to the one i'm so used to: high hills, the Alps in the background, rural architecture, small churches.
actually, i'm happy i had the chance to enjoy the journey on foot: when you walk, you see everything. there is the same difference, as between looking at the water and jumping in.
a tower in Olmo Gentile, the smallest village of Asti province


our route crossed several medieval villages. in the Langa Astigiana, villages are the tinies i've ever seen. i am a small town girl, i was born and raised in a town with 5000 inhabitants, i thought i knew something about tiny villlages! i did not. i was surprised to see municipalities with 150, 120, and even 40 inhabitants. and each one has its own symbols, local products, patron saint, secret stories. oh, how much i love Italy. 
five defensive towers, symbols of five villages, were our landmarks along the way. 
medieval towers of Roccaverano, Vengore, Monastero Bormida, San Giorgio Scarampi, Olmo Gentile
Roccaverano was our home base for the weekend, a village dotted with stone houses and farms. 
we tasted goats milk cheese and hazelnuts that are the best products of the local gastronomy. i liked the hazelnuts cake but i was addicted to the goats robiola, a delicious cheese that is Roccaverano's feather on the cap. 

in two days we walked for about 34 km: meeting the locals, constantly picking cherries from the trees, making long stops to see the frescoes in a church or to climb a tower.

frescoes in San Giovanni churc (XI sec.), Roccaverano
a couple picking cherries
stone houses in Mombaldone

Lucia, travelling companion
a robiola di Roccaverano stand
thanks Itineraria and Movimento Lento for inviting me!

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