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Day 11: Scanno

Off the beaten track we headed. We've based ourselves in Sulmona, surrounded by mountain ranges all around us and decided to head into them. The small town of Scanno (population 2,000) was our port of call and so we took the lengthy walk to the station in order to track down the coach.

Our first impressions were extremely positive, being greeted by an effusively friendly driver and taking our seats as one of only a handful of passengers on his very modern coach. Within a few minutes we were in the mountains, the views spectacular and hardly anybody else on the road, as we passed through the odd hamlet. Although we only encountered a handful of people on our journey they all seemed known to our driver, who swapped greetings with the locals whenever we encountered one, before placing us right on time in Scanno following a visually exhilirating hour which only cost us 3.90€ each.

We were dropped off in a small square, which later transpired to be the communal meeting area where seemingly all of the 2,000 inhabitants spent their evenings. Our first port of call was to the tourist office, a mere five seconds away, where we picked up brochures detailing the whole region's national parks and a town map, which made it look as though we'd be able to see all of Scanno within half an hour. Our second port of call was to track down something to eat - it's not that we're particularly porcine so much as the tiny breakfast that we were entitled to courtesy of our hotel (one cup of coffee, one glass of juice, one pastry) had long ceased to power us. And so we set off to track down a restaurant.

That's when we first became aware that we really were in the middle of nowhere. The first pizzeria that we came across wasn't set to open until a little later. Neither were the very few others that we encountered. Clearly there's little demand in a village that doesn't get many visitors.

With no alternative we held off until the first restaurant that we'd spotted finally opened. When the food came it proved to be worth the wait though, especially as I was tired of pasta and pizza:


When the food, our half litre of wine and my big beer were despatched we headed into the old town to have a look around. Not much has changed over the centuries, the original brickwork still in place and the streets narrow. As we anticipated from our earlier peak at the map, we wrapped up the tour within half an hour, and that's including visiting some streets more than once.

With several hours remaining until the coach arrived and knowing that there was a lake down the road, we set off on a several-kilometre walk, bidding goodbye to Scanno as we left it in the distance:


The walk was entirely pleasant and traffic was light enough that we were never in any danger of being run over by cars speeding around the blind bends. We eventually found a turn-off with the lake signposted and so soon beheld a shimmering sea laying before us backed by mountain peaks and forests. It was exquisite, and so we determined to walk around it.

Unfortunately the grey clouds that we'd seen heading our way carried out their threat with aplomb and the heavens opened. We sought refuge in a cafe, no doubt abusing the goodwill of the owners by sitting down for far too long given the little we were purchasing. Italian coffee is much stronger than we're used to and so we wouldn't have been able to get through it at the same sort of speed I would've mown through my pints even if we were in a healthier financial position than we, with our purse holding a meagre 14€, actually were.

Within a couple of hours the rain, its massive drops reminiscent of those that we see in documentaries shot during monsoons, hadn't abated one bit and so we shrugged and accepted our fate - wearing our shorts and summer shirts, we'd have to do the long uphill walk back to Scanno through the downpour. The hostess dutifully apologised for the weather as we settled up.

I shan't lie and pretend that getting soaked to the skin was pleasant - it wasn't. But you roll with the punches and we arrived back in Scanno with a couple of hours to spare, which we ate into with a second tour of this historic town. Even on tired legs we couldn't stretch it out for more than half an hour! Concerned that the Italian attitude to punctuality might see the driver not stick to his timetable and potentially leave us stranded we resolved to sit in the main square and keep an eye out, and so we sat on a bench for over an hour watching the locals go about their business. It seems that every man in the village comes out in the evening. If there's a bench they sit on it, whilst others stand in groups or congregate on steps, and they talk, chat and blabber non-stop. I have no idea what on Earth they can find so engaging since the previous night, but there was no let-up, and it intensified once the women (whom we supposed would be at home cooking) emerged from the church facing us.

Our driver arrived with plenty of time to spare and, just like his matutinal colleague, knew everybody and so ran the gauntlet of locals on his way to one of the cafes. And once he'd sated his need for conversation and caffeine, our return home commenced right on time and we enjoyed another spectacular drive through the mountains.









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