Mary: It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Well, maybe not the best or the worst but certainly in that spectrum. On Thursday morning we start off with a walking tour of Benevento. It is a lot like a lot of southern Italian cities we have been in. There’s definitely a better section and a grubbier section. So first we have to pick our way through sidewalks littered with trash and then we arrive at a Roman amphitheater! The juxtapostion of the old and new are always quite startling.
As interesting as the amphitheater is, the best thing that happens is that we run into a bunch of schoolkids. They are in their early teens. Of course they pick up right away that we speak English. John shouts out “tutti in foto” and they all come charging in to be a part of “Today’s Worry” history. We meet Girardo, the outgoing organizer, and Rocco, the big kid who knows more English than anyone else. They are excited when we say we are from California. I guess in their minds it must be all about movie stars. Anyway, much like our experience in Monreale, Sicily a few years ago, they make our day and we make theirs.
We continue our walk around Benevento and arrive at the Arch of Trajan built in 114.
As I mentioned before, I am always taken with how Italy is such a blend of old and new, traditional and modern. In the photo below you can see part of the arch, a vegetable stand to the left, a tourist, John, in the center, an old couple making their way across the square and a guy on a motorbike.
Walking up the street a ways, we next come across the Lombard church of Santa Sofia built in 760. The outer facade is plain with a 13th century bas relief over the door. Like many churches in this part of Italy, it has been rebuilt after being partly destroyed by earthquakes more than once.
Inside there are 8th and 9th century frescoes depicting the life of St. Zacharias.
What a great morning we have had. As we head toward our next stop in Canosa di Puglia, we reminisce about the fun we had meeting the shoolkids and the amazing architecture spanning so many centuries. And then the day starts its downhill slide.
Certainly the Cefalicchio Country House looks great from the outside.
And the staff goes out of their way to fix us lunch.
But there is no internet – a fatal flaw. We tell them we need to have internet access because of John’s business. I do not mention that I need to write my blogs. They promise to work on it. In addition there is no one to help with our luggage and we must schlep it up 28 stone steps ourselves. And there are mosquitoes in the room. Plus you can’t lock the doors and they don’t even shut without an inch gap (allowing for more mosquitoes to get in.) We eat dinner at the hotel restaurant. But staying here is looking bleak. We will have to make a decision in the morning.