By Veronica

Little Tibet

First of all thank you everyone for your good wishes yesterday. I'm still backblipping and miles behind on other journals, but I will get back to you.

We really packed in the activities today. Most of us got up very early (not quite early enough in my case) to see sunrise over the castle. After breakfast, a quick visit to the local cheese cooperative in order to buy some Pecorino. Then we headed for Bominaco, where Andrew had promised us something extra special. There's a Romanesque church there, where preparations for a wedding were going on. But next door there's a small oratory of which we were given an excellent guided tour by a local woman. The inside is completely covered in medieval frescos. I've seen painted churches before, but this is something else. The frescos are beautifully preserved, apart from patches of damp on one wall. We all loved it, and spent ages admiring this pre-Giotto art. The figures are so human and really convey emotion. Really the most special church we've been to this week, and we were very glad Andrew had tweaked the programme so that we could see it.

From here we reverted to the planned programme and drove to the Campo Imperatore, otherwise known as "Little Tibet", pausing only for an orchid stop -- I've never seen so many orchids in one place. Apparently the Dalai Lama burst into tears when he visited this area because it reminded him of home. The plateau is huge, 27 km long and 8 km wide, and is surrounded by dramatic peaks (alternative blip here). A road runs through it and right in the middle there's a car park with two restaurants, both serving arrosticini (the lamb kebabs we'd had at Marisa's). They were heaving with people who'd arrived in cars and on motorbikes.

Our visit to the oratorio had ruled out dawdling over lunch in the restaurant. Instead Lorenzo had shopped for a picnic, so we drove on and spread our tablecloth on the grass to enjoy bread, cheese, tomatoes, salad, ham, melon, and the odd glass of wine. So we still had time to fit in a walk, across the plateau and up a hill to the ruins of an abbey. Then we returned by the same route and drove down to Santo Stefano di Sessanio for some shopping. This medieval hilltown was massively damaged by the earthquake in 2009, and many buildings are still swathed in scaffolding or held up by RSJs. Nevertheless it is doing reasonably well on tourism.

After an aperitivo, we drove back to Rocca Calascio and had time to shower and change before another excellent dinner (more yummy pasta, including a bolognese-style sauce made with wild boar), only slightly marred by a lengthy discussion of how early we needed to leave for the airport in the morning -- something that should have been sorted out earlier. Then packing and bed!

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