After our quick stop at Matera, we were determined to find another lesser-known small town called Castelmezzano. And of course, we got lost on the way. We knew we were close, but we kept running into tiny closed off dirt roads. Finally, when we had almost decided to hitchhike the rest of the way, we were able to find the right street. When we finally got there, the payoff was well worth the journey.
We passed through a long, dark tunnel, BOOM! There it is, A beautiful hidden gem behind the mountain. Castelmezzano is one of those tiny towns where everyone knows everyone else by their first name and you wonder how people choose to live so isolated from the rest of the world. Unfortunately, thanks to our extended little adventure trying to find the way in, we were now late for lunch. Italians everywhere are pretty strict with their feeding times, but there will almost always be at least a handful of restaurants open specifically to serve lost and confused tourists. Not here though. It was 3pm or 4pm and NOTHING was open. Does everyone hide away for a siesta? Church? I honestly have no idea, but the truth is that the whole place was like a ghost town. The few people we did run into were the kindest and gentlest Italians I’ve ever met. Nobody spoke any English or Spanish, but with the art of hand gestures and the little bit of broken Italian we knew, we were able to make a new friend. Antonio saw we were starving and invited us to sit in his bar. I’m pretty sure he walked all the way to his house just to find the ingredients to whip us up some delicious sandwiches. Those sandwiches, a bit of white wine, and Antonio’s warm smile were enough to re-energize us for the rest of the drive to Pompeii.