We awoke in our dodgy car park in Salerno, walked along the foreshore and visited the same café as yesterday for breakfast — no healthier this time, I’m afraid; it was ricotta-filled pastries and chocolate croissants. Tasty goodness.
All fuelled up (Katherine: …and feeling a little queasy), we headed out to attempt a few items on our to-do list, then realised it was Sunday. Damn!
Desperately in need of some essential groceries, we wandered until we spotted a little deli, and stopped in to pick up a big hunk of provolone cheese and parmesan, some eggs, bread, and a couple of other bits and pieces. The friendly shopkeeper was kind enough to look impressed by my “questo pane” when I asked for some bread. We need to work on our Italian!
Then underneath the railway bridge with “Ti amo” written all over it, something we see everywhere (a very amorous people, the Italians), and a stroll along the foreshore to Nettle.
I’d previously identified an area attrezzata (I forget that term and have to look it up every time), an ‘agriturismo’ called Il Giardino in a little town 45 minutes north east of Salerno, Contursi Terme. I called ahead, then we set off down the motorway, gasping with delight as every turn in the road brought us spectacular new scenery. I was very impressed by the craggy mountains in the distance, wreathed in clouds and dusted with snow (Katherine shrugged – I suspect she may have been thinking wistfully of Mount Etna).
We left the motorway and picked our way carefully along a tiny little country track, bounded by delightful farmland and cottages. Then, we saw the place, pulled into the car park that would be home for the next couple of days, and I jumped out to make our presence known.
The manager/owner sorted us out, and while he was taking down our passport details, an English-speaking relative dropped by to say hello, with a curious twang to his accent — His name was Antonio, and he’d lived for five years in Melbourne — in fact, not so far from our old neighbourhood in Carlton. His accent was very inner Melbourne Italian; he was very friendly, loud and likeable, and gave us his phone number to call should we need anything.
We had ourselves an insanely satisfying lunch of the bread and cheese we’d bought earlier, with some olive oil and the dregs of our balsamic vinegar.
We spent the evening and the following couple of days quietly working on our projects in Nettle. We must seem very strange to outsiders, arriving in a beautiful new place then sitting inside our car all day. We don’t even open our awning and sit outside! Nettle’s just so cosy, and our projects so compelling.
The weather was cold and grey, and very rainy, some nights with wild thunderstorms, and we felt wonderful and cosy, and ecstatic to be in Italy. Unfortunately, after pining for 3G all the time we were in Tunisia, there was only quite poor EDGE reception available, so, no new TV shows for us. Very sad.
After a couple of days, we ventured out. We walked alongside and over a raging river, brown with silt, then up the mossy stairs amongst the pine trees to Contursi Terme, perched atop a hill.
We wandered along the backstreets of the town, and found a little deli to pick up some more supplies (read: cheese). The shopkeepers were delightful and asked us about where we were from and how we liked the place. While they were going through the groceries we’d chosen, they kept saying “You don’t pay for this”, giving us various items for free. They were lovely!
We ended up with quite a lot of groceries, but we’d brought the back-pack and we loaded me up for the rest of our walk through the pretty town.
We were thrilled with the charm of the little town, and kept repeating “Ahh! Italy!” to each other as we walked through the cute little alleys, up a few flights of stairs to the main street. We hadn’t managed to find onions at the last place, and when we found another little supermarket, and asked for ‘cipolle’ (which I’d just looked up on my iPhone), the woman working there actually left the store to bring us some, because they didn’t have any! And then she gave them to us for free. Italians are so lovely!
We walked back down through the main street and back down the hill to Nettle, for a lunch of wine, cheese, bread and olive oil.
We spent another couple of days working, then it was time to move on. Katherine made a new friend as we were working up to leaving, an adorable black kitten who was very friendly (of course, she’s Italian!). She nuzzled and purred and chewed on our fingers for a while as we sat in the middle of the car park and played with her.
After playfully toying with the idea of staying another day to play with the kitten, we decided it was time, said farewell to the Il Giardino folks, and headed off.