Saturday, October 12, 2013

Checking Out La Dolce Vida - Back Roads Style

Written by Karen.
Now that we're off the high-speed highways, our little guy, Hyundai i20, is starting to grow on us.  Sometimes you have to go down an unknown road for awhile before you can actually decide if you are going in the right direction.  

We unsuccessfully tried at the car rental company to exchange i20 for something else - anything else! - but to no avail. It was the i20, or nothing. 

But, now a few days into our relationship with the little guy, things are looking a bit more palatable.  Firstly, gasoline is running up to 1.99 euro/liter, or around $10.00 USD gallon, and our little gas-sipper is getting 44 miles per gallon.  Secondly, i20 is a little guy, which has become increasingly important on the narrow, winding off-the-beaten-track roads that we are driving on. We often drive with both side mirrors turned inward, just to give us some breathing room.  When a bus comes careening down the barely-wide-enough-for-one-car road, every inch truly matters.   

The western Italian landscape is surprisingly mountainous and green, a little rugged, and very undeveloped. The changing times haven't changed much in some of the villages that we've visited. You get the feeling that is exactly how the villagers want it.  
The small hillside village of Carrodano, Italy
Houses are built right next to the other and and can be arrived at by climbing a series of steps.  We didn't see any garages; the cars were parked together in a communal parking lot.  

The iron gates enticed me to try and see the secret garden beyond. 
We were walking around the quiet village of Carrodano, Italy around lunch time.  The aromas that were wafting out of these tiny, well-manicured homes were delicious.  We had to settle for a bottle of water and a bar of chocolate.  Also delicious.  But, wouldn't I have loved to have been able to invite myself to lunch?!
Views from Carrodano, Italy to another village below
The main square - and church - of Carrodano, Italy.
The winding, narrow streets of Carrodano, Italy

I had always wondered why vegetables that are planted on a steep hill just didn't roll down the hill.  As we were leaving the village of Carrodano, I learned the reason why.  You can see the sticks that are positioned in the dirt that cradle the melon, squash or pumpkin so that they stay exactly where they should be.  
The bottled water and chocolate - while delicious - was only a precursor to a real lunch.  We found a little restaurant along the road that served local food and produce to the local clientele.  It seemed that everyone knew everyone else and sat down to catch up on the news of the day.
Local charcuterie and homemade bread
Another view from another valley as we continued to drive slowly through the western Italian landscape.
It was bound to happen. This full-scale bus couldn't make the hairpin turn and sat - blocking traffic - until he could figure out how to make the turn.  We had maybe six cars behind us, with all of the drivers full of helpful suggestions regarding how to fix the situation.  The mood of the bus driver went from being stressed to downright irritated as the helpful suggestions continued to be shared one right after the other. 
A few pictures of the small towns that we rolled through 


Anonymous said...

"La Dolce Vita". Bravissimo !

Anonymous said...

great story and even better pix, just one is missing, that of your little i20 would love to see it...
Gus & Cam

Jennifer Chase said...

Fantastic photos - I can practically feel the countryside. Did you ever find that secret garden? :) Also, I would have loved to have seen the i20 too!

Observers of Life said...

Hi Gus, Cam, Jennifer, Anonymous -

Thanks for the comments! I'll do a post on the little guy - our i20 - shortly...