The hostelier apologized this morning for the weather. It is still unsettled. (That is a definite euphemism as the Adriatic is rearing her angrier side). We had breakfast at the Il Pinquino. Breakfast consisted of several cappuchino’s (noticing a pattern here?) and caffe Americano’s. We passed on the croissants on sweet rolls. (We will return for gelatos later).
We inched back to the hotel to download the previous days shooting and videos. We feel a bit naked without PhotoShop but we have so much raw material for our upcoming exhibit in LA with Peter Max and Kornel Schorle. We also have made many friends here that we hope to see again sometime soon. (Oh, Brian. No cannolli’s here either. Carla says the best cannolli’s are in Sicily).
OK. (By the way, “OK” is universal lingo. Everybody says OK. Another catch phrase used as much as OK is “allora.” It’s used everywhere and means, loosely translated “OK.” Go figure.) We headed for the Gran Sasso this morning having no clue what it looks like. Of course, it took 3 hours to drive 15 kilometers. Well, maybe not 15 but we seemed to be going in huge circles trying to find our way to a huge mountain staring us in the face.
We finally found a sign that pointed to Pietracamela and we took it (or more correctly…them) and ended up driving into the most incredible views you can imagine. (Have you noticed that hyperboles really seem to permeate my description(s) of Italy? This really is an incredible landscape. The Gran Sasso looks like the Matterhorn and is part of the Italian National Park System.
We drove (and drove) up switchbacks to a tiny village and were awestruck by the scenery and the little town that presented itself at the end of our journey. (I still have no idea what a Pietracamela is, but it looks suspiciously like a llama with horns. We didn’t see any, by the way).
This tiny town is, like most Italian towns, perched atop a mountain. (How did they get these towns up here?) Allora. The little town is a ski mecca for Italians and Germans. Of course, since they get very few Americans (make that two this spring…Diana and myself) they speak no…I mean NO English. Sign language comes in very handy. So, if you are of Italian extraction, that presents no problem. It’s genetic.
We photographed the town and I, of course, got waylaid by a local. (Do I look Italian?)
He began to explain to me the disaster that overcame the village in 1935.…huge avalanches and rocks destroying the town. I, of course, just kept nodding and saying “Io capito.”
Since his ristorante was the only one open for lunch (it was, after all, 2:00) we were invited in and had a wonderful lunch of lamb, veggies!, and the ever present cappuchino.
The local wine (rossa della casa) was thick as blood, fragrant and just perfect. It appears that the locals do not produce enough grapes to bottle the wine so the merchants buy the wines and serve them in their ristorantes. Bella!
We would definitely suggest trying out the local fare here presented by the Matucci(?) Brothers who own the restaurant. They are very picky. The one brother who waited on us spent much time inspecting the water and wine glasses, making sure the table cloths were just so and the chairs placed perfectly. The restaurant is a gem and must be tried. Allora.
We drove from there to L’Aquila. This is the town that was devastated in 2009 by a 5.8 earthquake and left hundreds dead and thousands homeless. It is still undergoing renovation and the after effects are still apparent. Buildings are being reconstructed, homes show huge cracks and holes yet the people seem very resilient. Diana wanted to stay here the night, but (wimp that I am) I opted for Pescina…a bit out of the earthquake zone. (Allora. We live in California, but earthquakes make me nervous).
Tonight we are in a hotel on the edge of Pescina. They are still recovering from the 2009 quake, but the hotel has soft beds, a beautiful little dining room, great food and clear view of the valley from our room. (The shower is, as usual, a typical, Italian [read tiny] stall. It is, I swear, 18” x 18”! I am hoping the casa in Antina has a nice shower considering it is owned by an English couple.
While on the subject, Alan (our casa host in Antina) called yesterday and e-mailed this a.m. giving us some helpful insights into the area in which we will be staying. That included; who speaks English, which restaurants to visit and various places not to miss. He has been a very helpful and courteous host so far. We look forward to the casa.
Allora. Somewhere between the hotel front desk and the room, I lost my reading glasses. We have scoured high and low for them to no avail. Tomorrow I will have to track down a new pair. We also lost our charger for the European cell phone.