Friday, March 30, 2007

Trulli Sassi Deeply

Today was to be the first of a couple of days with no accommodation booked ahead. Starting from our Etna/Catania base over the last few days, we were heading for Bari on the southeast coast of Italy, where we'd get the ferry to Dubrovnik on the 31st.

I tried to book a locanda in Castrovillari, but they wanted to impose a 15€ room-cleaning charge for Bondi, which would make it the highest I've encountered in any of the 3 continents, 16 countries and over 100 B&Bs, hotels, etc that he's stayed in. As one hotel owner put it to me in the USA - "if we're not cleaning our rooms well enough to remove the signs of a dog having slept there, then we're not cleaning properly." Every place we have been in Italy has a stone floor, so there's not much carpet to be cleaned.

First stop for the day was at Messina, where we had to catch a ferry over to Villa San Giorgio, crossing the straits fabled to be dominated by the monstrous Scylla and Charybdis. Now it's a dull short journey on a ferry with unfabulous food and monstrous toilets. Sea mists inhibited photo-taking, but neither shoreline seemed to offer much in scenery.

Back on the mainland, we just followed the A3 highway north on (potentially scenic) viaducts until it was time to exit east towards the Gulf of Taranto (inside the boot's instep). The scenery wasn't terribly inspiring here and I ploughed on to through the province of Basilicata to the UNESCO-listed city of Matera (pronounced maTEra).

Matera is known for its buildings cut out of stone, known as "Sassi". There are some hotels that offer accommodation in some of these, but they're afraid of rock-eating dogs so nothing for us there. I actually found that after walking around for less than an hour that the mold in the air was making me gag, so probably not a wise choice for me after all.

Around this time in our journey, the scenery became much greener, rolling hills that seemed rather evocative of a familiar scene that I can't quite place....

My last intended stopover was the town of Alberobello, in the province of Puglia (or Apulia), with the greatest concentration of trulli (singular: trullo), stone huts with conical roofs. Although accommodaton in trulli B&Bs is possible, I couldn't locate an agency when I reached town, and so after a couple of enquiries found an inexpensive hotel to stay for 2 nights. Bari is less than an hour's drive from here, and I didn't feel like going anywhere tomorrow after the long drive.

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