We started our day by making french toast with Matera looming in the distance. It was very windy and we were downright cold as I packed up camp while Tara prepared breakfast. Once again, thank you Mark and Lisa for sending maple syrup in our last supply drop! Yum.
Since Matera seemed so close, and getting there on roads would require 100+ meters of ascending and descending, we decided to ride to the end of the park we'd camped in to see if there was some way we could push into town after the road ended. Here I am turning around; there is a massive gorge between us and the city! Oh well.
Riding back into town, Tara tromped across a muddy field to take a photo of this "cute little house!"
Hoping to avoid a repeat of last week, we stopped at a local market to stock up on food before the weekend shop closings started in earnest. It was lively and colorful and Tara and I had a blast visiting all the vendors. We bought four onions, a kilo of mandarin oranges, and two bulbs of garlic all for 2 euro! The salesperson must have given us a discount.
We met a shopkeeper who welcomed us warmly and offered a giant bag of crackers to which we were supposed to help ourselves! We really are astounded by how friendly and generous everyone around here seems to be. The crackers were very dry and slightly salty with a hint of anise.
While I was saving our place in a long line to buy produce, Tara wandered around to take pictures. In the process, she met these men who loved being photographed and especially enjoyed goofing around.
Well stocked with food, we went for another walk in the Sassi. So cool!
Unfortunately, the torture museum we were so curious to visit was closed. We didn't have much luck finding our way into any frescoed churches either (though we didn't try that hard). We've been saying that Italy feels like England a lot lately. When we found this stone chapel it only served to strengthen the impression.
On our way out we found a fountain to fill our water bottles. Now that we had everything we needed to free-camp (it isn't much, just food, water and safe spot!), we decided to hang out at a cafe for awhile before heading "home." Approaching sunset, we made our way out of town just as it started to rain.
On our way up to the field overlooking the city where we camped last night, we rode by several caves. Feeling the cold, drizzly rain against our faces, we decided that one of these covered shelters would be ideal. We easily wheeled up to one and Tara immediately started "nesting" by putting our few possessions into little nooks and crannies. It was really warm!
For dinner, we (well, mainly Tara) made a cheesy pasta dish. First, I boiled pasta while she cut up an onion and three cloves of garlic. When the pasta was done, she took over, sautéing the garlic and onions in butter. This became the basis of a cream sauce to which she added the "flour" we thought we'd bought earlier today. It turned out to be finely ground cornmeal. Whoops! It worked anyway.
Next, she added milk to the butter/flour paste a little at a time so it would thicken into a creamy sauce. Into that, she put in generous amounts of parmasean cheese, and lots of Scamorza (sort of like fresh mozzarella only saltier and feetier). Lots of pepper, and sprinkling of salt later, we had a feast before us!
We had to force ourselves to stop eating so we would have leftovers for tomorrow.