09-29-2018 Day 5 Montepertusso, the Hole in the Mountain

Montepertusso, Italy, Clear and 22C 72F

After our very long day yesterday, Deanna and I thought that it would be great to have a nice quiet day at home We imagined a perfect “jammie day”.  We did realize that we would have to dress to walk to the nearby market in the local square to get more bottled drinking water.  I put on my most comfy shorts and top, a pair of sandals, bringing my walking stick and the phone. The short walk is still a bit rough, so the stick was a good choice.  Who knows about the phone, but I thought it might be nice to get a photo of the square and anything else that popped up.

The market is small,and quite charming, with a very good deli in the back, a small hidden area for household items, some fresh produce, and lots of yummy pasta and olive choices.  We chose a fat swirly pasta called Trecce to go with the homemade tomato sauce from Sara’s garden offered to us this morning.  At the register the kind woman was very helpful with figuring out our change and what we needed to pay.  Somehow the 16 EU charged on the register became 36 EU after she helped us with the currency.  First lesson learned.  Don’t be stupid and think that just because the sweet little lady in the market has served you several times and been really sweet that she won’t attempt to confuse you and cheat you.  The market is called Marrone New Shop Di Cuccaro F.  As I said a delightful little shop, but know your euros and count your change.

Leaving the market we counted our losses, laughed at ourselves a bit in frustration, and wandered off through the square toward the back of Il Ritrovo  This restaurant is highly recommended however we will not have time to try it out.  A beautiful colorful map posted by a nearby stairway showed us the route we had been wondering about: how to get to the famous Hole in the Mountain, Montepertuso il buco.

We looked at each other and said, “Why not?”  I had on sandals but I at least had my stick for hiking the stairs and my phone for taking photos.

The stairs looked quite familiar, but unlike the stairs down to Positano, the stair depth was more like real stairs.  One step per stair instead of 3 or 4.  Up up up we went with a group of young people sometimes in front of us and sometimes behind us, but never intrusive.  A few other folks my age were huffing and puffing and stopping now and then to catch their breath, so I didn’t feel too badly when I had to stop as well. We loved being slowed a bit by a young man sweeping the steps, taking care of all the debris from the previous night’s winds.

I also enjoyed stepping aside at several terraced gardens, rich with ripening squashes, grapes heavy on the vines, and tomatoes at the end of their cycle.  These terraces are the rich legacy of centuries of farming  and eons of rich volcanic soils.

On our return trip we encountered a farmer with his machinery going down the steps.  Can you imagine having to do this to get to your gardens every day?  Notice the tracks on the garden machine for climbing the stairs.

For me, however, the biggest problem was the dang vertigo that I have been fighting for some time now (like years).  It gets to me at the most inopportune times, like when climbing stuff.  Such a pain.  I have discovered that I can crawl up really steep weird things, and have also learned that with one stick, all I need to do is simply touch something with my other hand to make it ok.  Deanna’s shoulder was a very welcome addition to the hike, both up and down.

Not too far from the summit is a “park area”, and I was happy for a flat place to get my balance.  I guess you can see from my expression I was a bit unnerved.

The last portion of the hike is quite steep and a bit rough, with crazy steps and rocks, and I was very happy when we reached the top. The small group of young people were ahead of us, standing around in the magnificent arched opening in the mountain. 

One of them kindly took our photo and then Deanna decided to walk out on a very narrow rock ledge to a pinnacle overlooking the village below and the sea.  I wasn’t able to get a photo of her adventure since she had the phone with her, but the resulting photo is one of my favorites of our trip so far.

We waited a bit for the young folks to come down, but when it seemed they weren’t about to go anywhere we joined them in the arch.  They were very sweet, and I got a kick out of the fact that I wasn’t the only one wearing sandals.  Actually the sandals were a great idea, since they are the least slippy of any of my hiking shoes, have plenty of toe room, and I love hiking in them. 

After exchanges mostly in broken Italian, I asked, “Di Dove Sei?”, and it turned out they were Italians from a town just over the mountain near Sorrento.  The young men were in suits and the women in dresses, and they were carrying man purses, which seemed a little strange for a hike.  One young man finally spoke to me in English saying, “We are here to share the Bible knocking on doors of homes.  We are Jehovah Witness”.  Wow.  In Italy, where 99 percent of the population is Catholic. They were sweet kids, and with the language barrier, they at least declined from asking us if we wanted to learn about the Bible and Jesus. 

The hike down was a piece of cake, with the elevation difference of only 300 feet or so and Deanna’s shoulder in front of  me for balance, we made it in no time.  Returning through the square in the gorgeously brilliant sunshine, we ambled back to our home and spent the rest of the afternoon “doing nothing”. This meant we spent several hours processing photos from the previous days, and making sure we had all our spending tracked and recorded.

Supper was early by Italian standards, with the yummy pasta, a fresh zucchini stir fried as an addition to Sara’s tomato sauce, and a yummy salad with fresh greens, tomatoes, a truly fabulous balsamic from Valenti’s and some of Sara’s olive oil.  The zucchini wasn’t anything like ours at home, much more dense and flavorful, and less watery.  Fabulous.  The tomatoes are a treat in themselves and can only be found with flavor even close this at home in farmer’s markets.

Dessert was the last of our pistachio cannoli we had saved from our walk in Positano and a sip of the incredible limoncello we purchased the night before at Valenti’s. (See the post from Day 4 with more about this)

I fell into bed so looking forward to a night of good sleep.  As lovely as our little BnB has been, the beds are not the least bit lovely.  The bedding is fresh cotton, all ironed and embroidered, the coverlet is nice, the blanket is good, however the mattress feels a bit like cardboard with a plank of plywood beneath it.  I have only managed to figure out a bit of comfort by adjusting some of the 4 large pillows around my body here and there to try to get the pressure off the hips.  Not a surprise, as I do remember some hard beds from previous trips on this side of the pond.  Deanna and I are both really hoping that our bed in Florence is a bit better.  Firm is good, but hard isn’t so much.

With all the photos we took, with two cameras and two phones, we had a bit of trouble trying to keep track and attempted to process and upload often so as not to lose them.  We didn’t completely succeed, and some of the photos I took of the interior of our apartment are forever lost.  If you would like to check out the space, here is the link to the Airbnb website for La Selva Santa, our Home Away from Home.  The people in the photo sitting at the table are Enzo and Sara.

A link to the photos for this day that I did not manage to lose is here

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

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