After a nice hotel breakfast, we collected the car and began the drive to Campania. Basilicata seems very empty after the density of Puglia. Lots of rolling hills covered in grain or pastureland, rocks, mountaintop villages and market towns in the valleys. We passed one of the towns Carlo Levi was banished to in the 30’s. I’ve been reading Christ Stopped at Eboli, and it paints an evocative picture of the poverty, social malaise, and harsh physical and spiritual conditions of the area. The road to and from Potenza skirts the Dolomiti Lucani, an impressive mountain range.
We arrived at Santa Maria di Castellabate in the early afternoon. Santa Maria is a beach town that gets very lively with vacationing Italians, a few Germans,and as far as we can tell, two Americani. The village is cute, with a nice pedestrian area, a tangle of hilly streets above, and the sea at the bottom. Way up on the hillside you can glimpse the Castello of Castellabate and the village above.
We rented an apartment through Summer in Italy (great agency, BTW!), one of a bunch of apartments a short walk from the village. Our apartment is cute, simple, and has views to die for from the terrace and patio. And what seems to be the best parking spot in the complex, alone on a slope, not crammed in among other cars on the perilous hillside you inch down from the rapidly-closing gate at the top.
We wandered down to the beach bar and had a late lunch, then hit the village for essentials like bufala, vegetables, and wine.
Dinner on the terrace after a spectacular sunset. It was so clear, we could see the shape of Capri in the distance.
Monday was spent doing a bit more grocery shopping, and lazing on the beach. I love the Italian attitude toward beachwear and body shape–anything goes, with everyone from youngsters to grandmothers in bikinis or speedos. (except young children, who wear sunscreen and a smile). Italian beaches are set up with chairs and umbrellas very close to each other. Our favorite parts of the day are early morning, or after 4 pm.
We took a drive up to Castellabate. Made the mistake of taking the very steep way up, which the poor Panda did not appreciate. Lots of restaurants and hotels up there, with wonderful views down.
Santa Maria was quiet at lunchtime, we had a good lunch of mussels, pizza, and fantastic zucchini finished with mint and vinegar.
Back to the beach for the afternoon, watching the vacationing families try to keep the kids from smacking each other. Made bufala ricotta-stuffed fiori and fried eggplant for dinner, with a little salad.