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Tim
Tim

Day 15: Saepinum & Sepino

You'll have gathered from yesterday's post that we weren't impressed at all with Campobasso, the capital of the Molise region. And yet we'd gone to great lengths to reach it, necessitating two coaches and a train, and making reaching the airport in Pescara for our return journey a lot more complicated than it needed to be. The reason for heading down this far was in order to make today's visit to Saepinum.

You don't have to be particularly linguistically proficient to twig that Saepinum doesn't look like an Italian name. Indeed it isn't. What we planned to do today was visit the remains of a Roman town.

There was no such stop as Saepinum on the bus timetable and we knew from our planning that we'd have to ask for Sepino instead, a village not too far away. Once again being multilingual paid off because the bus driver had never heard of Saepinum but recognised what I meant when I said "it's an old Roman town not far from Sepino". Lovely man that he was, he informed us that Sepino wasn't close to the remains at all but that he would pull over when we approached and allow us to get off. Quite clearly tourists don't tend to flock to it, which is a shame for the region but a boon for us.

Well, scratch that last point because the first thing we encountered when heading to the only apparent restaurant in the vicinity was a rush and no free tables, everywhere being occupied by a tourists from a couple of coaches which had pulled in. We made our own luck in the end, grabbing some leftover furniture and creating a table of our own. The staff here were chronically busy dealing with the mass of humanity which had preceeded us, so it was perfectly excusable that our meals arrived separately. My goodwill would be overstretched, though, to justify the delay being so long that Clare, having delayed eating hers for twenty minutes for reasons of politeness, still finished it before mine turned up!

The meal over, it was time to track down this Roman town. It turned out to be the easiest job in the world, located about a minute's walk from the restaurant, and we caught our first glance of what was once a thriving settlement:

first-site-of-saepinum

There were all the usual things you might expect to have been there, including a theatre

theater-from-walls

and majestic pillars, which we were especially lucky to have seen framed by a beautiful blue sky:

pillars-blue-sky

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Our visit happened to coincide with the opening hours of a little museum, so we paid it a visit (even noting the presence of Esperanto in a notice about not touching an artifact) before setting off on our journey to Sepino, which would be based on guesswork. So we bid adieu to Saepinum and headed out into the countryside which surrounds it.

saepinum-in-middle-of-countryside

We walked along a solitary road, simultaneously enjoying the lovely surroundings but being conscious that we didn't know for certain that we were heading in the correct direction or how long it would take to get there.between-saepinum-and-sepino

Eventually we turned a corner and espied a village. This, we were pleased to confirm, was Sepino.

sepino-in-distance

Well, that pleased us. We had noticed a rainstorm following us and were slightly worried that it might overtake us, but at this point we were still ahead of it and looked to be safe.

Having covered the several kilometres with ease it was ironic that the last few hundred steps should prove unforgiving. To get into the village we had to head uphill. The steepness was a lot more than we were used to and we stopped a couple of times, chests burning and sweat pouring. How fortunate for us that when we reached the summit of this winding road the first thing we saw was a bar! Seemingly every man in the village (and the patrons were uniquely male) had met for their Saturday catch-up and for a split second I wondered whether it would be worth risking the "y'all ain't from round here, are ya?" reaction that I thought we were going to get. We were so thirsty, though, that we couldn't afford to walk away.

As it happens, we met some lovely people there. Along with our friends in Villalago they were our favourite people. The owner of the bar was a biker-looking man, long hair and bushy facial hair proudly on display. He engaged us in friendly chat, informing us that his son lived in Greenwich, before shouting over to one of the local fellas who was playing dominoes. We soon found out why - this chap had lived in Bournemouth and Wolverhampton for decades, and insisted on buying us a beer. He talked and talked and talked and then asked us to guess what he'd done for a living in England. "Ice-a cream-a man!"

We couldn't afford to miss the coach and so politely excused outselves, but all of our new friends said that it wouldn't be coming until later. We didn't want to take the risk and so headed out to the main square. We saw the local church en route

sepino-church

and sat down opposite some colourful houses:

sepino-piazza

And then the rain that had been tracking us caught up with us, bringing a deluge the likes of which we've seldom experienced. We took shelter behind a building but eventually had to submit and it was a few minutes after leaving it that we reappeared at the bar, looking like two drowned rats. Unfortunately, it was full to bursting, the local males who had been earlier chatting in front of the bar having sensibly decided to take shelter in it.

The owner's wife was now on duty and took pity on us, providing us with paper towels to dry us off and being very generous with her measures when we ordered Clare's wine. We kept an eye out for our coach and it never appeared, just as the locals said it wouldn't, so we killed off some time in the pub until the local bus that they had told us about was scheduled to arrive.

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The deluge abated in time for us to head back out to the main square, whereupon our bus appeared right on schedule and we purchased our tickets to take us back to Campobasso, putting an end to a highly memorable and enjoyable day. We'll definitely visit Sepino again to say hello to all the lovely folk in the bar who took care of us.




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