Installments of Italia: Day Three
Day three was action packed, excluding the minor detail that I slept till about noon. I guess I was still jet lagged. I showered and meandered into the kitchen just in time; my family was getting prepped to go!
The day before, my aunt and uncle had gotten a suggestion from Cameron [shudder: see end of Day Two] about checking out a hike and some flower fields in the town of
Norcia Castelluccio (thanks Kyra!). Castellluccio’s up in the mountains about one hour east of Spoleto, so we wanted to get a move on. I quickly shoved eggs, bread and water down my face and hopped in one of the rental cars.
The ride would have been uneventful, except it was up in the mountains. The road began wide, then got more and more steep, twisty and narrow. I was glad I wasn’t driving, because native Italians seem to have zero regard for life and limb when behind the wheel. There would be very sharp turns with a sheer vertical rock walls on your left and a sheer thousand foot drop on your right, with just some shitty looking guardrail protecting you from whatever Hell you go to when you die. Italians (who else could they have been?) would come whipping around these turns at breakneck speed. Trucks, motorcycles, whatever. It’s like they were tempting fate. I wanted to be like “Slow down guys, I can’t die yet. I got blogs to write.”
We made it up the side of the mountain range without falling off and passed through the town of Castelluccio, which was a small town at the top of the mountains up in the middle of nowhere. You could walk from one end of Castellucio to the other in maybe 10 minutes max. Driving, it took us one. On the other side of Castelluccio we drove down to a valley, and had to stop the car and get out and take pictures. We’d arrived at the flower fields.
It was mainly fields of stark red-orange poppies, but there were other blues and yellows in the distance. They were arranged in rows, and in patterns. The scope was huge; I have no idea how they’re maintained. There were other people deep in the fields; I got the impression that it was permitted to walk into the fields, so long as you walked along the well defined perimeters. I don’t think my uncle Peter got this same impression.
Within about five minutes an adorable little car stuffed with two crotchety old Italian men pulled up and motioned to us. We exited the fields and gathered ’round next to their car, in order to receive what I’m assuming was a berating about stepping on the beautiful poppies. The trouble was, none of us spoke Italian, and these guys definitely didn’t know English. It was loud talking, and when we put our hands up in the universal “I don’t understand your words” symbol, they just talked louder. Ohhhh, I understand Italian words and sentence structure now that you raised your voice, thanks! I’ll try that tactic when I’m ordering lunch from your son the waiter in your town later today!
After they drove away in Italian frustration, we re-entered the poppy fields and I took a few more pictures. Ladies, best to have your boyfriends leave the room now so we can be alone. Things ’bout to get sexy.
Haha, no shame no game!
Take one last look at Castelluccio at the top, we won’t be back there for another few hours.
Having fulfilled our need to crap all over Sting lyrics, we proceeded back into the cars and finally found the entrance to the trail about half a mile down the road next to a small horse pen. The flies were unbearable and there were tons of bees. I am allergic to bees, so I did my best to stay calm and took off down the trail while the rest of the family got directions. My logic was, the further away from the horses and sheep I got, the less bees and flies. I was essentially correct, but there was still a good amount of flies with us for the whole time.
After about a mile, it became obvious that this was less of a ‘hike’ and more of a ‘walk’. We walked along a dirt path in the valley; plains of grass and rolling mountains surrounded us on all sides. About 20 minutes in we passed an abandoned tent about 50 feet off the path. I ran in there to snag a quick pic:
Though I felt a little gypped (I’d been expecting a hike, not a walk) it was hard for me to not appreciate the scenery. Every so often there’d be another random field of flowers, or rows of trees alongside a mountain. I didn’t get any pictures of them, but there were hang gliders wisping around hundreds of feet above us in between the mountains. I didn’t see where they were launching from, but we ended up walking past their touchdown point.
If it wasn’t for the bugs and the heat I could have sat down and just relaxed, pondered about the meaning of life, and maybe come up with some new dick jokes. But, we soldiered on.
We’d gotten two and a half, maybe three miles in before we decided to turn back. Everyone was pretty hungry by this point and I wanted some shade too. We did an about-face and began the trek back to the cars and ultimately towards food, but then we noticed a structure on top of one of the nearby hilly-mountains. Lights flickered in male minds; chromosomes buzzed with a sense of purpose. My cousin Jesse voiced what we were all thinking: “Let’s see what that is.”
We ran up the side of the mountain with ease; five minutes of strong effort were well worth the view. Well, that’s what I thought when we began. “We’ll just run right up the side, it’s not even that high!” I was very wrong, I’m guessing it took closer to 20. But it WAS worth it! There was this stone structure that looked like the rubble of maybe an ancient tower, or a watch post. I have no idea what it was, I just hope it wasn’t anything to do with graves because we were all over it.
And just so you know, we WERE pretty high up. Here’s the view from the top.
Now that I think of it I really hope it wasn’t a gravesite, because one of us peed all over it. I won’t say who.
We made it down without breaking anything, finally piled into the cars all sweaty, and headed back to town for some eats. After much pickiness, we selected a restaurant and piled in. It was pretty cool; the seating area was literally across the street from the kitchen. The waiter needed to cross the street in order to take our orders back to the kitchen and bring us our food. Like everything in this region, this was also at the top of a small mountain. Here’s the view out the side as we ate:
I was very hungry and wolfed my food down; a little unfortunate because I got a truffle ravioli and I’m sure if I took the time to taste it I’d have appreciated it a lot more. While people were finishing up and settling the bill, I wandered outside and plopped down on a bench. I was careful not to have a beer with lunch because if I did, I’d have fallen asleep immediately. I was pooped.
I was (s)elected to drive home.
The Italians were just as reckless with their lives in the evening as they were earlier in the day, but I was able to get us all back to the villa alive. We stopped once for gelato, which helped.
Once home I adhered to the “one shower, one wine, and one beer” formula to heal up, and we all hopped in the pool. That’s when I snagged a picture of this horny bastard just hanging out by the pool, watching us:
I can’t remember what we did for dinner, but I assure you I ate well. I know I got a little sauced up at dinner, because the next day I found this on my camera:
I remember, hazily, that I thought it was very coincidental that I’d brought the book The Ruins on this trip, and today I was walking on ruins. Really thin, I know. Also I don’t know why I included Shogun. It’s an amazing, complex and life changing novel, but is completely irrelevant in this instance. BOOKS!
I read a bit then passedtheFout, blissfully unaware of the gigantic spider that I would find on my bare stomach upon waking up in a mere eight hours.