So after five months of travelling we have finally returned to Italy. The Turkish flight touched down at 1.30 p.m. in pouring rain and parked on a busing stand so we drowned running from the plane to the bus. Welcome home !
The queues at immigration on departure at Istanbul were again enormous and it took another hour to get through. Like arrival the Turks only desks had more immigration staff and obviously far fewer customers. How these guys were going to have coped if they had won their Olympic Games bid god only knows.
Still the dear Italians had decided to do the same. Three guys maned the E.U desks and only one sat on the “Others” desk. Oh the joy. Only eight E.U. types on our flight and all the rest were Others so we never saw any of them again.
By 2.15 I was in the cafe just outside Arrivals downing my first cappuccino and boy did it taste great.
Horace the Roman poet said ” Caelum non animus mutant qui trans mare current” and I don’t think I could say it any better. I’m sure you all agree. He certainly had a way with words that lad didn’t he.
He is topical to this post as he was born in Venusia which was on the original Via Appia . We were to break our journey at Benevento not that far away from his birthplace which is where the third Appia Way began it’s new routing to Bari and then Brindisi rather then going via Taranto as the first two did.
Listen my Latin is appalling too, I managed 2% in my Common Entrance which my Latin master explained meant I even got my own name wrong !
What Horace said was ” They change their sky but not their soul , who run away across the sea “. Hence my longing for that coffee and for Italian food that night.
Benevento was a new place to stay for us and as always we spent 20 minutes driving around a place that bore no relation it seemed to the copy of Google maps that I had downloaded on the iPad. As divorce once again loomed I suddenly saw the Antiche Terme Hotel on a slight hill just off the road we had been drifting down in total silence. The hotel is named after the Roman baths it was built on and to save the marriage I hoped it had been updated since those Roman times, luckily it had and the room as well as the whole hotel was wondrously warm. My soul might be in Italy but too many of the Southern Italians that own hotels, bars and restaurants still pretend that winter is a figment of their customers imagination.
Okay so some history, who was the second greatest Roman Emperor ( I have no idea who the poll asked by the way). Yes you’re right Trajan. He was the one that expanded the Empire to its greatest ever area. He also was a keen builder of stuff and apart from the Forum in Rome he tried his hand at road building as well. So like us he spent sometime in Benevento. Indeed he was so delighted with his efforts he built an Arch at the start of his new route to Brindisi.
Yes, yes I went to see see with a camera but since it was finished in 117A.D. which is sometime ago now, the local commune have now decided to give it a facelift
so not the photo opportunity I was hoping for.
The town of course boasts a Centro Storico which is all very Baroque as is the Town Hall.
There are a shed load of bars in the area and the owners are well used to tourists . They can all overcharge whilst looking you cooly in the eye without the slightest hesitation. It is a town therefore to always refuse any peanuts or other snacks that are offered which allow them to move off the price list hanging above their heads.
The tourists are there throughout the summer to attend productions at the Roman Theatre in the centre of town. Built in the reign of Hadrian ( that’s right him of the wall between England and Scotland fame which might come back into use if the Scottish Independence vote is a yes) the theatre was enlarged by Caracalla who did the baths in Rome. I spent a very chilly and long night at his baths watching Aida years ago as the opera is of an amazing length. The only fun bit of it was watching the three guys dressed as centurions follow the live elephants around with very large bucket and spade each.
Anyway this Amphitheatre could hold 10,000 spectators. Today just half of it is there and following my disappointment at the Arch I popped down to see it.
No chance, it is well protected and an entrance fee is required . I took a shot from the road, sorry .
so sightseeing in Benevento is a bit of a dead loss and drinking in bars is not for the faint hearted who will be fleeced. However that night we went to Trattoria Nunzia and that was a star act. More about that tomorrow.