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We rented a car.  They said that would have one available if I could drive a stick shift.  No duh!  5 on the floor…my favorite.

All well and good except that all of the interesting sites seem to be up winding narrow roads where Italians drive at breakneck speed and prefer my side of the road.

My head aches at night from clenching my teeth.

My foot is cramped from over-using the brake.

My white knuckles feel arthritic from clenching the steering wheel.

Papasidero

Re-creation of the remains discovered in the Cave of the Hermit

On the day I picked up the car we headed immediately for Papasidero and the Grotto del Romito with its paleolithic era history.  Interesting that Google Maps say that the cave is 23 minutes (23k, too) from the town.  Evidently their average kph is approximately 50…when we actually averaged 20kph.

Etching in Grotta del Romito

Etching in Grotta del Romito

Still, it was exciting to read the history of prehistoric man in Calabria.  The etching of the animal in this cave is so similar to the caves of France that it isn’t hard to believe that these people lived in the same era.

After the hair-raising ride to and from the cave, we rested up, cleaned up and, after a quick trip to visit Teresita*, we left for dinner and concert in Cirella.  I’ve already written about our non-ecological dinner, but I must talk about the concert venue.

After learning that the amphitheater is built near the ancient abandoned town on top of the mountain, I put the car in low gear and began to wind up the hill.  No need to elaborate more about winding roads.

Nannette’s really bad-but-the-only-one-we-have photo of the Roman ruins at night.

Sitting in this outdoor venue near the Roman ruins was a magical experience.  Far below lay the sea and the lights of the many coastal resorts and towns.  Behind us, further up the mountains twinkled the lights of the fortress towns which become mundane and common in the daytime but are like fairy-tale villages at night.

No matter that the concert wasn’t what we expected and that the ubiquitous comedy routines of local concerts are unintellible, we loved being there.

After navigating our way home I slept well and long.  And then came morning.  Did I actually agree to this? The drive to Maratea?

Maratea

Centro Storico in Maratea

Maratea is absolutely the most beautiful collection of villages that I have seen in this area.  The Centro Storico is old and beautifully maintained.  The additional quasi-modern housing fits well within the architecture of the original medieval village and still nestles into the beautiful mountain valley (is that an oxymoron?)

Cristo Redentore

Driving to the Christ-the-Redeemer statue which overlooks this village is the most frightening drive so far.  Once we had honked on curves, hugged the center line and prayed numerous times, we reached a parking lot from which we could see a strange construction that we thought might be some sort of velodrome or race track.  Wrong! It was the route of the shuttle bus on which we were seated.  I covered my eyes, causing the German woman seated next to me to chuckle.  “I felt like you do the first time,” she said.   She reassured me in English that it’s never as frightening after that.

“Pshaw,” said Nannette.  And so after a reverential look at the Cristo, the ancient greek ruins, the lovely church and the azure blue sea far below; we walked along the suspended road to the parking lot below.

Driving back to Scalea was a lesson in why I take the train.  The road isn’t as bad as the Amalfi coast, but it’s enough for me.

*another story