Across the Toes

Its almost as if we have passed through an invisible wall into another dimension. We are out of the brown endless cold mountains of Abruzzo and have entered green fertile spaces of Puglia. The landscape is different and even reminds us of the Cottswalds. Mile after mile of small dry stone fences border the paddocks and the roads. The climate is different and lacks the bitter cold. The sky is different, there is more of it here, its opened up again, the sun can move freely across its arc, not hindered by the unmoving bulk of the mountains.

The architecture is also different. Very different. Not just the more modern, colorful, coastal feel of the houses, but something else, “trulli” unusual. The “Trulli houses” of the Unesco World Heritage awarded, Alberobello.

Sprinkled around the district, but mostly clustered in this little town, are cute, circular, rendered houses with conical shaped hats on! Built of rocks without a spoonful of mortar, there is a theory this style of architecture, first seen in the 16th century I believe, was designed to avoid paying house duties taxes. On days the tax inspector would come to the area, the houses could be dismantled and rebuilt when he left.

We then headed on course to Sicily, tacking West and across the “toes”! We began a section of one of the 25 must do drives of Italy from a book I was given as a present (thankyou Evie). Driving south, between the Calabrian Hills and the bay, only a thin, short, concrete barrier sits between us and a very long drop off the narrow ribbon of asphalt that we traverse. Its mind boggling, how high we are and how far down is the condensed city of Scilla. Starting at the road and meeting the houses are terraced gardens of grape vines and vegetables. They could only be tended by Mountain Goat Men, such is the steepness of their position.

Unfortunately, our reverie is cut short, as we meander down to sea level we see a sign that, due to falling rocks, the next section of the road is closed. So its back again, up, past the cluster of a town and the terraces, we head to the calm AutoStrada (its Saturday afternoon and truck free), and make our way to the Port of Villa San Giovanni to board a ferry for Sicily.

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