Sunday, July 31, 2011

Litoranea and Specchia

The Litoranea, a narrow and winding clifftop road on the coast bounded by stone walls that run for miles, took me down from Otranto through Porto Badisco, Castro, and on to San Maria de Leuca.  The sea was steely and the sky was grey, and much of the way it rained heavily as I slalomed through roadside sprays of pink and white oleander and lush green trees, listening to Bronx River Parkway and Chris Joss.  Cool.

In Leuca I tried to find a B&B recommended in my Lonely Planet, but was told by the waitress of the cafe which now occupies the building that it closed last year.  However, she happened to run a B&B herself five kilometres out of town in Morciano, to which she gave me directions.  Well, it was fifteen kilometres, not five, and the breeze-block town was depressing as hell, so I kept going until I hit a little town called Specchia.  In the last hour of light I saw a sign for B&B Vento Solare.  I rang the number and spent all my Italian enquiring if a room was available.  After I concluded that it was, the conversation descended into: “Pronto.”  “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”  “Che?  No capisco.”  “Um… parla inglese?”  “Dov’è lei?”  Well, I found my way and found myself talking to the proprietress’ mother, who spoke no English, while I waited for the proprietress’ son to arrive, who did.  She was very pleasant, but the conversation was stilted and agonisingly slow as I fumbled through my phrasebook, telling her that I’m here on holiday, that Salento is pretty, that her garden is pretty, that I am hungry.  There’s nothing like necessity for learning quickly.

The next day I got a bloody €39 parking ticket in San Cesárea Terme.  The municipal police in Salento prowl for tourists in the high season.  I parked briefly in a lot clearly marked for parking but not for the need to purchase a ticket from the one hidden ticket machine.  I was there for all of ten minutes while I was declined access to my money by a cash machine up the road.

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