It was an immense relief to leave Rome after 3 days. As splendid as it is, it is an onslaught for the eyes and ears and basically all the other senses. We headed out from Ciampino airport, opting for the non-highway road again. What joy to be surrounded by green! We passed directly through Tivoli and then wound into the hills to a little village called Mandela.
Even smaller than Spello, there is just one restaurant, one bar, one winery, one pub/club one small shop and probably one B&B, that being the one we are staying at. The owner was on the square and as soon as he spied my license plate he came up, showed us where to park and took us to our cosy room (with 3 beds to choose from!).
His wife, amusingly, is from Linz, just a few km from the Czech border, and we’ve been promised eggs for breakfast. Then we did a small “tour” around the village, which is set on a hill and quite low compared to the town we spotted sitting way up above us over the valley. We dropped into two of the three drinking venues, where two glasses of wine cost 1 euro. The owner was not very talkative, but seemed friendly enough.
Then we headed to the number 1 of 3 restaurants in the area, an agriturismo just a few km up the road, overlooking a green field and tree covered hills. We were a bit early so we took a walk along the farm road, getting a nice view of our own village behind the hill before heading back to a typical no-menu dinner.
The restaurant looked ready to receive at least 60 guests, but as we enjoyed a veritable feast of antipasti, pasta and a massive pile of roasted lamb, not a single person came in. In fact, the family sat down at a nearby table to dine themselves, and it was fun listening to the chatter away over the meal. At one point, one of the locals pointed out a very large herd of wild boar in the field, which progressively got closer to the windows (definitely within shooting range). And as we left, fireflies hovered in the meadow and around the car. Magical!
In the morning as we were leaving, we spotted the local gentlemen out on the square, seriously engaged in a game of cards. It reminded me of the men playing domino in the Caribbean.
The host walked us through the village and told us a bit about its history. He also pointed out the oldest house, which is still standing and perfectly lovely.
Even the local cats came out to wish us farewell as we headed out inland, to the hills of Abruzzo… except that they were anything but hills.