Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Canguro/Kangaroo Effect

You've heard of the Butterfly Effect. We Australians had a weird effect on people, at times. Here's a special treat for visiting our blog. Thanks for visiting and sharing our journey!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Montescagliano (the city of the monastery)

Sunday 17th May
Before leaving back to Bari, and after the District Conference, we went up another mountain, passed many wheat fields and unfinished houses, to the city of the monastery. A noble family built the monastery for their noble daughters to become nuns. Talk about over-protective!
Justin celebrated mass in Italian with a congregation of Rotarians. Afterwards, we ate another amazing meal.
Special thanks go to Murray (hence the photo) for his leadership and guidance, the team for their patience and own personal virtues, and all supporting Rotarians for making this most amazing trip possible.

Matera (home of "The Passion of the Christ")

Matera, the climactic destination for the GSE trip, and venue of the District Conference, is where Mel Gibson filmed about 80% of "The Passion" (in Aus, "Passion of the Christ"). The old city is filled with caves people have inhabited for 40, 000 years. In one cave we visited, there was a Christian church with carvings in the ceilings to emulate windows, and upstairs there was a Greek Orthodox church.
The small gentleman is Francesco, a 78 year old who proudly walks everywhere in the hilly city.
We had the opportunity to reunite with many old friends from the various districts we visited. Sarah took a shine (that maternal instinct!) to the cutest little girl.
We visited an artist who annually creates an intricate float with papier mache. It is paraded through the streets during a festival. At the end, the crowd rip it to shreds, taking a piece to ward off evil in their homes.
Notice the curved-ceiling pizzeria restaurant that used to be a grain silo. Pizza in Southern Italy has few toppings (apparently too many spoils the pizza).

Mont San Angelo

Many kilometres above sea level is the city of Mont San Angelo. The smiting, slaying Archangel Michael is the patron saint of the city, said to have rid it of past evil. Here you can see Saint Michael's church, from the top, and the cave structure of its inside, (down many stairs). Justin was locked inside whilst praying, during the lunchtime lock-up. A priest tapped him on the shoulder saying they were closed and unlocked the door for him.
Frederico has yet another castle, where apparently he locked one of his wayward wives. We were told you could see Bari on a clear day, from the commanding 270 degree view.

Forest Umbra and Vico Garganico

We picnicked in the Forest Umbra (including Kenny) with our Rodi hosts. In the lake was the biggest fish and turtles. Later on, we visited the home town of St Valentine, Vico Garganico. Kenny and Justin shared a quick kiss in the famous kissing lane, where the skinny passage was a well-known route for lovers to take. Sarah, in her ever expanding domestic prowess (cooking, cleaning, nursing children) tries her hand at washing - old school!

Rodi Garganico (Gargano) in the Foggia region

In 'Rodi', the swirling winds require the distinctive chimney flue. Murray measures up to the Italians once again. Ricardo gave us a tour of the new harbour, creating jobs and enterprise to the tourist town.
Our only 2-day presentation was in Rodi, starting at 23.50 and finishing at 00.15 the next day. Whilst in Rodi, we visited a UNESCO protected Necropoli (with natural spring water running from the caves) with vertical tombs carved into the rock. See if you can spot the 'face' in the Necropoli.

Melfi, Frederico and Flying Kenny

In Melfi, we visited Frederico's hunting lodge (quite the castle builder in Southern Italy). Kenny found wings. Afterwards we had lunch with the gifted 2010 GSE leader to Michigan, Lorenzo.

Maratea and Spiaggia

Aussie's love a good swim. We hit the beach at Maratea (overlooked by the huge Christo/Jesus statue), comparing the white, sandy Australian beaches of District 9600, to the small, white, black and grey pebbles. The water was quite 'fresh' (as they say over here). The day was a holy festival, and we experienced roadside markets and daytime fireworks. Afterwards we drove to the small port at Spiaggia, enjoying caffe (coffee) and gelati.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Through a tunnel in the Dolomiti, we came to a town called Castelmezzano, where in Summer (Estate) you can ride a Flying Fox (Superman style) from one mountain peak to another. Murray, Alison and Justin were keen, but it wasn't operational. Murray stayed in the village because of his knee, but the rest of the team climbed the mountain with our Rotarian friends.

Mountains near Potenza

Friday 8th May. We drove up into the mountains, and saw an abandoned village, due to landslides, and went to the Gallipoli-Cognato park, in the Dolomiti mountains (the small Dolomites, as in Northern Italy). Passed a large cow whilst driving down the mountain, and saw many muccas (cows) in the forest.

Farewell Puglia - Hello Basilicata

Kenny enjoys his 2 hour trip to Potenza (in the Basilicata region) with friend Alison.