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  • Day217

    San Pietro's archway and Casacalenda

    January 29, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Today's travels took us from snow to sea and back again. Descending from Chieti on less than reassuring road surfaces we dropped down to the coast road and stopped for lunch on the sea front at one of the numerous resorts. The previous night had been sub zero but the skies had cleared, the sun felt warm and the temperature had risen to 11°C so we put on our coats and hats and took Poppy for a picnic on the pebble beach! The wind chill made it feel cool but the fresh air and light made it worth it. We weren't even the only ones, with a young family eating their lunch on a clump of rocks nearby. Albeit they were sensible and ate warm takeaway pizza in contrast to our salad, bread and slices of cold meat and cheese!

    Further down the coast we came across a few Trabbocchi; traditional fishing piers on stilts. Nets attached to a system of pulleys and wooden poles are suspended in the water then used to scoop up the fish. They looked very picturesque against the backdrop of the blue sea and sky and it was interesting to see traditional forms of fishing still thriving.

    Vicky had persuaded Will to visit Vasto, a town perched precariously on a clifftop. We parked by the sea and started slowly up the steep hillside path. It was a good climb that took us along a grassy track that ran between 20ft tall bamboo plants, olive and orange trees. At the top there were a couple of houses for sale. Their walls were cracked and their roofs caved in due to subsidence. After crossing a road we came to a set of steep steps that were also disused due to the fact they were slowly slipping down the hill. Finally reaching the old town, we made a beeline for the Arch of San Pietro, set in the remains of a church. In 1956 all but one wall of the church fell victim to a massive landslide caused by the sandy soil slipping down a layer of water that lay on the clay underneath. Looking through the ornately carved white stone arch, we could see sea and sky where the nave had once stood.

    Back at the van we'd set the sat nav for an inland stopover. Travelling over rounded hills we spied the first wind farm we'd seen in Italy. There had been a number of small solar farms and a very few panels on roofs but it was a far cry from the impressive generation capacity we'd whitnessed in Germany!

    Disappointingly the stopover we'd aimed for had closed, so we carried on to the remote town of Casacalenda, over 600m above sea level. We again found the road surface to be very poor quality and were tired when we arrived at the old train station car park. We shut the world out by closing all the curtains and blinds and put our feet up for the evening.

    We were in two minds about looking round Casacalenda before we left the following morning but there was a viewpoint at the top of the hill so we took the opportunity to stretch our legs and were very glad we did. Unlike yesterday's trip to the town viewpoint, which was all about the views at the destination, today's excursion was all about the journey through the streets. The place had a quiet feeling to it, life seemed simple, allotments terraced the slope either side of the stone steps we climbed and washing hung accross charming alleys lined with terracotta plant pots and patrolled assiduously by loose dogs. You got feeling it was a very close knit community. Although there were obvious difficulties such as a lack of money to maintain the roads and few available jobs, the place seemed far away from many worries of the modern world. It reminded us a great deal of being in Croatia, the other side of the Adriatic.

    There were a few little shops and we dropped in to the small supermarket for a few bits and bobs. The employees took great pride in their work, weighing out and bagging up the vegetables we wanted, halving the big ring of bread and slicing the Mortadella, a huge Italian pork luncheon meat we wanted to try. They were helpful, welcoming and very patient with our limited language skills.

    On the way back we just had to take a photo of the demolished speed hump with lumps of the cracked tarmac laying at the side of the road. It brought back memories of Will's responsibilities as a local councillor and it was a little strange driving away without doing anything to help.
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