Day 78 Matera to Bari

So today was our last full day in Italy, and we experienced unqualified friendliness and helpfulness that has been a hallmark of our stay here. We set the alarm early, since Oscar had an appointment with the VW garage in Matera for his first oil change. Our hotelier organised for Oscar to be dropped off from his overnight ‘lock-up’, and we set off for the garage. With the help of google-translate, we managed to communicate our needs to the VW guy, Roberto. He then organised his Dad to give us a lift back into the old town, so we could have breakfast, and check out of our ‘cave’. We then spend a pleasant final morning wandering around the ‘Sassi’ area of Matera.
Our hotelier told us of the excavation work going on in the rock cave by our room. Apparently they had found an old olive press, and then discovered a channel in the rocks, where they used to roll the olives down to the press from high above, centuries before. Indeed, ingenuity is something that the Materans seem to specialise in. Yesterday, we had paid a visit to the subterranean cave where they had set up a huge water storage system for the entire city – the engineering was extraordinary, and remarkable considering it had all been dug out by hand.
We have been truly impressed with the amount of activity going on in the city, in preparation for their year of culture in 2019. At every turn, there is restoration work and improvements being made. The city is spotless, and the locals clearly take great pride in their neighbourhood.
The other thing I will remember are the sounds of Matera. There is clearly a Music School in Matera, since as we walked to supper yesterday evening, and again first thing this morning, we heard the sounds of musicians practising their classical instruments. The notes drifted through the old city. Then, as we walked out of the ‘sassi’ to meet Roberto, our VW man, the clock struck midday, and all the bells throughout the old town rang out, from the cathedral, to the monastery, and many churches besides. I don’t know whether this was just because it is Easter Week and Maundy Thursday that all the bells were being rung, or whether it is a regular occurrence, but it sounded wonderful.
Having met up with Roberto, he then informed us he was driving us to a special viewpoint of Matera that we should see before we headed back to the VW garage. It was indeed a splendid vista, looking back across to the old town across the gorge, and showing us the huge extent of the cave dwellings in the valley. We were very touched that he took the time not only to pick us up, but to show us this gorgeous view of his city- completely outwith the usual remit of a routine oil change!
Having duly retrieved Oscar, we happily drove away from the garage, but were then alarmed at what we heard. Instead of the usual deep posh voice of Boris, we were suddenly listening to a very limp women’s voice, with the hint of a lisp. We had taken our van in for an oil change, not a sex change!
We contemplated re-naming it Doris, but after a couple of miles, turned her off in disgust. She spoke so quietly we could hardly hear her, in any case. Later, we shall set about trying to reverse this sorry turn of events.
We then set off for Bari on the Puglia coast, in preparation for catching a ferry tonight to Dubrovnik in Croatia. We have spent half the afternoon trying to organise van insurance to take Oscar into Montenegro, but I think the costs will be prohibitive. In any case, we will have an extra body on board. Edward, our youngest son, is joining us for a weeks road trip with the old folks. We’re not sure yet where we’re going to put him, but it should be interesting. Maybe a week spent playing ‘Sardines’, for those of you who remember that old party game!

4 thoughts on “Day 78 Matera to Bari

  1. Someone looking super relaxed, hope you are feeling better Heather. I did wonder who your first guest(s) would be, have fun with Edward – are you now officially open for bookings 😉

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