It was 9:00AM when we decided to begin our morning. As a B&B it should be obvious that breakfast is included, however, I don't really think what we were served technically counts as breakfast. There were two types of cereal- frosted flakes and some kind of half granola type. In addition, there were packets of "toast" which were basically just dehydrated bread…and some jelly. We ate as much as we could stomach, given that the jelly smelled like my feet after an afternoon trek through Paris, and were on our way. We had been told that we could leave our bags until we were ready to travel, so we did this and made our way toward the center of Rome.
I love Paris, really I do, but I have never in my life seen anything like Rome. You cannot walk two steps without running into an ancient bit of wall, or a fountain, or a monument. It is incredible. An archaeologists dream. A historians heaven. An explorers Holy Grail. We walked all around the Colosseum, ancient digs, and so forth for a few hours before it was time to leave for Naples (or as I am going to refer to it from this point on…take notes here, kids….Napoli). We arrive at the train station confused as all hell because we cannot figure out WHERE to buy our tickets or even who to or how to talk. We eventually find a mysterious kiosk where we purchase our tickets for 25 minutes from the current time and begin boarding. We were not given a seat number so we were very confused and just plopped down into the most convenient looking place. About 10 minutes later we were booted to a crowded hallway which apparently doubles as a 3rd class seating area. No biggie- except when the frickin' snack cart needed to come through. Not to worry, about two hours later I recognized the downtrodden, depressing, trash covered streets of Napoli that I had read about in Eat, Pray, Love and we had arrived.
Again, confused by language and all else, we found our way to an English speaking tourism desk where we were able to learn about the bus to Avellino and where to get tickets. We sprint to the bus and Jake asks the driver if 1) we are in the right place and 2) if we can stick out luggage in the back. The man is CLEARLY annoyed and says yes to us as though we had some kind of deficiency and we toss our bags up back and climb aboard our double decker chariot.
Anyways, we are on the bus to Avellino and once we leave Napoli it is beautiful. Sitting atop the double-decker bus it felt like we were flying through the mountains. Until, of course, we get to our stop. We make our way off the bus with the others, and head to the back of the bus for our luggage. As I go to see if maybe there is a button to open the hatch, the driver starts to close the doors! Instantly, obviously without thinking (or was I?) I leapt back onto the bus- half in, half out- and yell "Luggage!?" Everyone is staring at me and the driver opens the door I happen to be wedged into and yells something in Italian. I look at him and again yell "Luggage! Door! Baggage Hold! Luggage!" and someone tries to help me out and yells something to him. Still perplexed (having apparently forgotten our annoying presences merely 20 minutes before) he shrugs. Still hanging in the doorway I point emphatically to the back of the bus and yell "LUGGAGE!" and the whole bus goes "OHHH! BAGAGLIO!" and the door is opened. I yell "Grazie" to the bus driver and nod to the audience for their assistance repeating "grazie" over and over as I step of the bus. By the time I get down, Jake has our "bagaglio" and said two words, "good call."
Annoyed at the previous situation, and pondering what would have happened if a) he had driven away with our luggage or the less catastrophic b) what if he had driven away with MYSELF and the luggage we began searching for a convenient place to await Rosa's arrival. After much bickering we chose to wait at the bus stop and pray that the angry bus did not happen to come back by for a repeat encounter. About 30 minutes later, a little green car begins flashing its lights and honking at us. It is Rosa! She pulls into a small driveway near the stop and opens up the back doors to reveal a seat-less back seat where she places two small cushions. "it's ok?" she says, and we reassure her that yes, it is fine. Let me say now, you have not experienced reckless driving until you have been sitting on a cushion and unseatbelted in the back seat of a small Italian woman's car. It's not even that the driving here is reckless, it is just a lot of very windy roads that these people have been driving their whole lives. As we were tossed back and forth in the back seat of the small green Skoda, we were able to see the lights of each small village in the sides of the mountains as we passed.
We arrive at the farm and are greeted by a very large gate. I immediately think of the last words Jacob's mother told us, "If you see a big gate before you get the the farm- get out of the car and run." However, this was definitely not a gate to fear. We enter the property of Rosa and Massimo and are greeted by a Zoey-sized dog named Fritz who jumps around and plays until we go inside. We are shown our ENORMOUS room where we can open the doors to the porch at any time to not only see the property of these folks but also the gorgeous mountain range and scattered villages. Rosa announces that she will let us settle in and she will have dinner prepared in 20 minutes. Jake and I spend that next 20 minutes making our beds and chasing the bugs of our sheets. "They see the clean sheets and just love them!" Rosa says, "But no kill! They are harmless" as she scoops them into her hands and releases them on the porch.
Dinner is served and it is Rosa, her son, Jacob, myself, and Felipe- her other WWOOFer. We are having a basic dinner- pasta with peppers and onions cooked in wine, pane (pronounced pah-nay…this is bread in Italian), mozzarella like you have never tasted, slices of mortadella and proscuitto so salty and delicious that is impossible to replicate anywhere but here, and Rosa's homemade wine, which she says, "is quite strong- but very good so only a little is needed." We talk with Felipe over dinner and learn that he was born in Brazil, of Italian heritage, and has been going to "uni" or "university" in London. He is like us where travel is what he loves to do, and although this is his first farm he has already been here for a month.
Once dinner is over, we head to bed. We are to get up at 8am the next morning for our first day of chestnut picking, and must catch our rest after a long day of exploration.