Sunday, May 19, 2013
Mike taking a photo of Pescocostanza from the plateau
"Tourists don't know where they've been.
Travelers don't know where they're going."
~ Paul Theroux
"Let me finish this," Mike said waking me from my half-sleep this afternoon, "and we can leave." The idea didn't quite thrill me because I was tired and, as I said, half-asleep.
"Give me a minute to wake up," I sighed and went to splash cold water on my face. We got ready and went down to the car.
"Where do you want to go?" the explorer asked me.
Back to sleep, I thought. "I don't care. Where do you want to go?" Thus began the debate we always have — here or at home — of where to go, what to do, which restaurant to frequent, etc. You get my point and, I bet, do the same thing.
Once we were in the car, we had to make a decision. "Which way do I go?" Mike wanted to know.
"Left is Castelvecchio (where they filmed a lot of The American), and right is Roccaraso."
"What's there?" he wanted to know. Do I have to tell you that I really didn't know?
"I don't have any idea. It's a ski town in the mountains, and the snow forecast for today is zero."
Yes, you read that right. There is a daily snow forecast for Roccaraso because it is a ski resort and sits high in the Maijella Mountains. We headed there.
Hotels in Roccaraso
The road to Roccaraso climbs past Pettorano and goes through the beautiful Cinque Miglia Plateau before climbing again to Roccaraso. About 45 minutes after we left the flat, we were pulling into town. About five or six people — all dressed in heavy clothes and either coats or jackets — were sitting at a small bar. We drove past them to an overlook and stopped to take a few photos.
"I'm not too impressed," I said to Mike as I climbed out of the car to take the above photo. "And it's freezing here." We were in shorts.
"We're a lot higher up," he told me, "and we're wearing shorts." Duh.
Ski School in Roccaraso
We drove back to the main square, stopped and hiked up a few streets. There was really nothing of interest. Nada. Zero. Zilch. The big zippo. The whole town looked as though it had gone to sleep for the summer. If you look at the second photo above, you can see about 10% of the hotels/condos that are for skiers. They all looked deserted and boarded up for the off-season.
"It looks as though they took Swiss chalets and dropped them in the middle of Italy," I sort of whined.
As we walked back to the car, we passed a number of Roccarasani, all of whom were dressed in heavy clothing. For some reason they stared at us.
"Do you think they're saying, 'Stupid American tourists wearing shorts'?" Mike laughed.
Although we'd been to Pescocostanza a few years ago, we headed back there since it was on our way back to Sulmona. Pescocostanza is another ski resort, but it still has the Italian hilltown character. We walked through the chilly and almost-deserted town.
"You know," Mike said, "after a bit, all of these towns start to look alike." Amen, brother.
A point of history about Pescocostanza: During WWII, the Germans occupied the town (and many more in the area). They almost ritualistically bombed the ancient homes and buildings in Pescocostanza, stole or demolished artwork, and, more horrible than anything else, burned 20,000 volumes of books and manuscripts of a local professor. Many of the pieces detailed the history of the area, and some were from as early as the 15th century. Only two dozen survived the 1943 fire. To the credit of the residents, they restored and rebuilt the town, and it is beautiful today.
After we got back to the flat, I had to look up the history of Roccaraso because I was intrigued by its lack of historic buildings. As Mike said, most of the towns start to look alike after a bit, and Roccaraso was so new and commercial. Apparently during the war, the Nazis destsroyed Roccaraso completely, and only the only ancient ruins there are remnants of the castle, a tower and a church.
Novelia, our host in Sulmona, told me that Roccaraso is very famous as a ski town, though, and that people come from all over Europe during the winter.
"They get a lot of snow," she said. "Too much for me." Amen to that, too, sister. Anything more than one flake is a little too much for me.
Sunbathing in Pescocostanza
We aren't quite sure what we're going to do tomorrow as our refrigerator has gone out, and the repairman will be here in the morning to try to fix it. I know. I know. Another day. Another adventure.