Saturday, January 17, 2015

Across the Boot: Grassano to Tempa Bianca

Still unsure how we would get back to Naples in 5-6 days, we hopped onto the bike-friendly train and headed east to the other side of the boot, in the direction of Bari.  After much discussion with a young film maker on the train (with a fro better than Mark's), we ended up switching to a smaller train and getting off at a small stop near Grassano where we spent the night in a hotel/restaurant called Hotel 407 (run by a famous Italian body builder!). The next morning, we got our first early start.  Below is a map with our intended route.

Farm Country

The ride from Grassano to the farm we were staying at (Tempa Bianca) was calm and not too cold.  Lots of cropland littered with old Roman ruins.  Also lots of solar panels and giant wind turbines.

Leaf conducts the wind
Mark has learned to verify the GPS with his phone
Goat Herder

Leaf on a serious search for a good place to pee

At the farm - Tempa Bianca

The ride was about twenty miles.  The farm was called Tempa Bianca and they raised champion horses.  To make the reservation, we had to stay for two days, so the plan was to bike to Matura the next day, take some photos, and come back.  When we checked in, it was Sunday and they were hosting a feast for some wealthy Italian families.  "Would you like to feast?" asked the woman who ran the farm.  We were hungry after the ride so we said, "Sure, why not,"  but we later learned we maybe weren't hungry enough.  The feast lasted almost three hours.  Boy, do Italians know how to eat! Here are the courses we could remember:
  • Bread
  • Still or Sparkling water
  • Wine
  • Fried Bread Dough
  • Prosciutto and Turkey
  • Fried potato and cheese balls
  • Quiche
  • More bread
  • Artichokes and Olives
  • Stuffed Bell Peppers
  • Onion and Pepper towers
  • Sausage and Procuitto
  • More Fried Bread Dough
  • Stuffed Ravioli
  • Homemade pasta buttons with tomato sauce
  • Medium Rare sirloin with arugula and parmesan shavings
  • Lemon flan cake

Later, when we rolled the bikes into the storage area, Mark noticed his tire was flat again and he would have to spend time patching his patch with that crappy rubber cement ("Why didn't I find a bike shop in Salerno!").  Below are some pictures from the farm.

Beautiful Horses
Ceiling inside Tempa Bianca

Breakfast: lots of cake and lots of Nutella. . .

Attempt one and two at Matera

The next morning we got bundled up and tried to bike to Matera. It was windy and sleeting and sometimes snowing. After two miles, our hands and feet were freezing and Leaf was underdressed so we gave up and turned around.  Back at the farm, twiddling her thumbs for an hour, Monet decided she wanted to try again.  "Maybe it looks better outside?"  Also,  Monet badly wanted to do laundry.  So Mark and Monet got bundled up, packed their panniers with dirty clothes and decided they would attempt Matera one more time, only going to the modern part of town where there was a laundry facility.  Leaf would stay at the farm, playing video games with some other kids staying there (he didn't mind this deal at all).  Monet and Mark managed to bike the eleven miles to Matera, but when they got there it was repose and the laundry mat was closed.  They waited until 4:30 pm but it was getting dark and they had to ride back.  "Curse that repose!"

Monet's Mileage Count:

  • Train from Salerno to Grassano ~100 miles
  • Bike Grassano to Tempa Bianca 20 miles
  • Bike Tempa Bianca to Matera Attempt 1 (4 miles)
  • Attempt 2  (22 miles)

Travel Tip

Biking in the winter in Italy isn't too bad, but expect some brutal days.  An extra pair of gloves is essential.  We saw our first fellow bike tourists while on the farm.  They had panniers and yellow vests and were heading to Matera.   In the summer, there are apparently many more cyclists.

Next: a brutal hill and a restaurant in a cave. . .

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