Mount Vulture to Mount Vesuvius


After a late night it was mid morning before we woke. By which time the fairground was half dismantled and ready to move to the next place. We slowly walked up in to the town and as we do so, it is evident that the history of earthquakes in the region has left its mark. Just east of the cathedral lies the former jewish quarter of the medieval city. It’s a maze of improbably narrow cobbled streets, where crumbling houses lean in so close they appear to touch, and elderly men play draughts under the shade of alleyways. Come in the middle of the day when the rest of the city is too hot for sightseeing, the temperature here is 5°C cooler than anywhere else.

We lose a couple of hours ambling the alleyways, emerging from time to time into small squares bathed in sunshine. Up to the castle and then back down to the cathedral. Getting lost really in Italy is part of the fun, scrutinise a map and you’ll miss the detail. The hidden courtyards brimming with pink and white flowers and the tiny churches.  Neighbours on wrought iron balconies, sharing local gossip while they hang their washing.

Vin the motorhome rolls north out of Melfi in the haze of afternoon sun. Grey banks of cloud and smoke shift across the craggy hills and fields where farmers tentatively set light to their fields. Fire is great for fields but at this time of year it is risky business with the ground so dry and arid. Fire fighters are dotted around and ready for the call. Neither the livestock nor the terrain at the edge of the Melfi would look out of place in the Tuscan Hills. Calm, peaceful and seemingly unremarkable, this place gives nothing away of the preternatural treasures hidden below the topsoil.

We leave the golden countryside for the autoroute (€5.50 for 55km) to Benevento. Our camper stop tonight is the sosta compound for €10 per night. Its nothing to look at but provides a good base for washing the motorhome and deep clean inside. Early night in readiness for tomorrow’s gander around the town.

Our Bumble sosta parking at Benevento GPS position: N041.131433, E014.789392

A bright start and a spring in our step we cycled in to the town with Mac n Tosh in the cycle bags. The town has a remote air about it, circled by hills and with a centre that was bombed to smithereens in the last war. Most of the town now seems only half rebuilt. It is stifling hot and humid, so seeking shade determines our route around the town.  We start at the Arch of Trajan before tooting to Teatro Romano and then winding willy nilly amongst the street back to the cathedral.

After lunch we turn on the ignition and head towards Naples. We need to find the Apple Store in the hope they will repair our phone before we leave for Sardinia in a few days time.  Setting out on the road to the west, the Italian enchantment begins to take hold. Anyone driving to the Naples must first negotiate the unpaved roads and volcanic ridges. From Mount Vulture to Mount Vesuvius its an awesome drive.  An abrupt mini rocky range that acts as a barrier between the twinkling lights of the bay of Naples and the untamed countryside. Soon overtaken by volcanic ridges and treeless mountaintops before the road emerges in to the sprawl of city life.

We find the Apple Store just north of Naples and after a few hours of waiting for an appointment with the genius bar we leave with a brand new phone. Craig also takes advantage of the Apple wifi connection and updates all the apps and software, which anyone travelling will appreciate the amount the data updates chew up. By the time we are finished it is pitch black. The good thing with a motorhome, you can you get up and go at any hour of the day or night. Go in search of a lake glimpsed through the window or stop to climb a hill spotted in the rear view mirror.  Our bed for the night is never somewhere distantly ahead, but always about two feet behind. Within half an hour we are parked up at the base of a hill in the shadows of castle ruins.

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