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We spent last week by the shore in a little city called Mattinata in Gargano. Gargano is a peninsula popular for its beautiful beaches and coastline (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gargano). It may seem strange but the region always makes me think of Jesus because I imagine that where he lived and traveled looked like this area. It’s an arid region with tons of olive trees. The climate is much different than Salerno. Salerno feels almost tropical and has lush, green vegetation. Gargano is known for the plain of olive trees leading to the sea.

We had also spent a few weeks in Mattinata last year. We had a barbeque for Russell’s birthday which he really enjoyed. When we asked him what type of party he wanted, he asked for the same as last year. Thank goodness he didn’t ask for a “friend” party like Duilio’s. All the kids have scattered to the four winds for the summer. I don’t think we could have delivered. The day of his party, the weather didn’t look promising so we moved the party to Luca’s folk’s house. He still thoroughly enjoyed it.

A side note to those non-Europeans out there… Italy is practically on vacation in August. Many people have the month off; many stores close and cities are much quieter. The flip side is that the beaches are insanely busy. For our vacation, we’ll escape to the mountains of Austria.

Mattinata is a cute little city. Not a whole lot to see but nice for an evening stroll and enough restaurants and stores to serve our needs. The photo below is what I call an Italian Drive Through.

This is the Saraceno pizzeria with tables set out on the street. The occasional car does drive by! The pizza is delicious by the way. A light, crispy crust. Mmmmmm… We only ate there three times that week.

The highlight of this year’s trip was visiting Monte Sant’Angelo. Monte Sant’Angelo is a 11th century city on Monte Gargano (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Sant%27Angelo). It has the oldest shrine dedicated to Archangel Michael who is reported to have appeared there four times. The sanctuary itself is in a grotto (cave). After our visit to the sanctuary, we had a nice stroll around the historic center.

Monte Sant’Angelo is also famous for its bread. As you can see, it can be about three times the size of your head!

A couple of kid pics

Duilio climbing an olive tree

Russell practicing his Olympic pool jumping

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This is the way to explore the coastline!

Salerno is well situated between two beautiful and totally different coasts.  Amalfi on one side; Cilento on the other.  Amalfi is peppered with famous, historic cities while Cilento is quieter and more tranquil.    Here’s a link to an interesting and accurate article about Cilento from Travel + Leisure magazine… http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/italys-cilento-coast/1.

View of Amalfi and Cilento Coasts

While we stayed in Cilento, we had the opportunity to explore the little towns and enjoy the beaches.   We had some white knuckle rides on the tiny roads hugging the hills high above the coastline.  The road was washed out in several places.  At least the landslides were cordoned off.  You do have to wonder when the next one will happen!  Yikes.    We saw so many warning signs for “Frana” that my Mom thought it was the name of a city.  In reality, it is the Italian word for landslide.  

The harbor at Palinuro

Beautiful coastline view

The next photo is of a town.  I have no idea which one.  I do believe it is the town in which the streets were so narrow I thought I was going to run over the toes of the old men who were sitting by the side of the streets.  Yes, always the old men sitting around.    Where are the old women?  Inside working, of course!

I have no idea what town this is!

My favorite town is Acciaroli.   It has a nice center, a harbor and beautiful , clean beaches within walking distances. 

Piazza in Acciaroli

Church in Acciaroli

Shady street in Acciaroli

Some of our favorite beaches are Ogliastro, Ascea and Lago (a frazione of Santa Maria di Castellabate). 

Beach at Ogliastro

 

Tower on beach at Ogliastro

Big hams!

Little surfer

Next stop – Bologna and Siena….