24 October 2006


We have been on the road since October 9th visiting with family in various parts of Italy. We started with a week in Agropoli, which is about an hour south of Salerno, with two of Valerie’s cousins where we stayed in a house that we arranged through ‘Summer in Italy’ vacation rentals. This was a large house in the hills above town with a great view overlooking the Golfo di Salerno where we could watch the lights sparkle at night from Salerno around the Amalfi Coast. One day we visited with Luca Trotta, the owner of ‘Summer in Italy’, at a new property they have above Santa Maria di Castellabate and toured this sea-side fishing and beach town which has a quaint section along the shore. After our tour we had a wonderful pranzo with Luca’s family prepared by his mother while we discussed the great views and food that this part of Italy has to offer.

We visited the Province in Basilicata where the home-towns of Valerie’s great-grandparents are located at Anzi and Laurenzana. These two towns are in the mountains south of Potenza and sit on hill-sides on opposing each other across a fertile valley. Both towns are small, welcoming and clean where we were obviously some of the few outsiders that visit this area.

Agropoli on first view is not an attractive town but once you climb the hill above the newer section the centro storico provides many charming narrow streets and spectacular views of the town marina, Bay of Salerno and the surrounding hills. There are two churches in this section with beautiful bronze doors depicting scenes from Agropoli’s past. With the summer beach crowds gone we had these streets all to ourselves and wandered around visiting the small piazze and the castle that over looks the town.

The flat farmland area north of Agropoli is where mozzarella di buffalo is produced and we experienced this fresh cheese at every opportunity: in pasta dishes, with tomatoes and just plain. The roads are dotted with various producers offering their products and we visited one farm where the water buffalo were grazing and we could watch employees making mozzarella in large vats ready for sale in their on site store.

We had to leave Valerie’s cousins in Agropoli after a week and head back north via the A1 to Roma where her sister and uncle had arrived. We are spending two weeks with them visiting various areas and there will be more on this later…when we can catch our breath.

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