Calabria: Southern Italy's Heartland

Day 20-6 - October 9, 2015 - Friday - Depart for Vietri sul Mare, Paestum Greek Outpost; Salerno

A crowing rooster was our wake up call at 6:30 this morning. The sun had not yet made it over the ridge to brighten our valley. We finished packing and then went out to see the banquet Marianna had prepared for us. She did not disappoint!

Jenny told us that Maurizio had changed the departure time to 8:00 so we had a brief cup of tea and then helped Marianna's husband take our bags to his car. We walked up to the piazza and talked to Maurizio who said the bus was on the way and departure time had not changed.

We met our driver, Salvatore and boarded our new 20-passenger minivan. Waving goodbye to Civita, we left right on schedule at 8:15. The Ionian Sea winked at us in the morning sun. It was our last glimpse as we headed out of Calabria and north to Italy's mainland.

Maurizio gave us the itinerary for today and then extended the information to cover the next day, our last on this adventure. As we drove to Vietri sul Mare, we passed more open land, pastures, fields of grain, and small farms. Up in the surrounding mountains were the traditional hilltop villages.

At 9:30 we had a brief break for restrooms at the Agip - Sala Consilina highway stop. After a cup of coffee or cappuccino, we were back on the Autostrada.

Our discovery of the morning was a delightful visit to a farm that produced domestic water buffalo mozzarella. Near Capaccio, a large agricultural city, we drove into the countryside to the Barlotti Mozzarella di Bufala Campana in Paestum.

Our guide Alesandro took us to the laboratory where we watched the final production of the mozzarella cheese. Next we saw the milking room where the water buffalo cows were milked twice a day, at 3:00 am and 3:00 pm.

We visited their 150 milking cows and then we saw where the calves are housed, after only seven days with their mothers. We even got to see a few of the four lucky bulls that ruled the harem.

After our tour of the farm we had lunch in their small café. Alesandro served us four different kinds of their cheese and a bruschetta with those fresh tomatoes. The pasta was gnocchi with a light tomato, and their farm fresh buffalo yogurt was dessert.

Just a few miles from the farm was Paestum, (the Greek city of Poseidonia) from the 7th-century BCE. Paestum, as were most Greek settlements, was captured by the Romans, and then deserted. There was some restoration in the 1800’s but it was now relatively abandoned - serene with silent, tumbled stones.

However, several of the Doric temples were in excellent condition, especially the Temple of Poseidon or Neptune. This was the only Greek temple with two levels. Other temples of Hera, and Ceres (or Athena) were also especially well preserved.

On the way to Vietri sul Mare (Vietri on the Sea), Maurizio stopped at a fruit market so we could buy a few pieces of fruit, as dinner was on our own tonight. Gennie bought two bananas, an apple, a tangerine, a pear, and a peach all for only 1.70 €, about $1.90.

It was raining by the time we reached our hotel on the Amalfi Coast road. Once we found our room, we tried the Wi-Fi, but were not able to connect.

Along with other in our group who were running iPad and Macs, the man at the desk had to show us how to bypass the Apple system to connect to an unknown network.

We went through the vivid photos from the day and then finished the journal. A few of our OAT friends were under the weather, several hopped a shuttle to Vietri sul Mare, but after our substantial lunch we elected to stay in, ate our fruit, and listened to the rain.

Accommodations: Raito Hotel - - - Meal: B, L

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Butterfly in Civita

Butterfly in Civita

Mozzarella Making

Mozzarella Making

Water Buffalo

Water Buffalo

Temple of Athena

Temple of Athena

Temple of Neptune

Temple of Neptune

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