Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Europe Day 14: Serra San Bruno and Salerno

After we arrived in Italy

we decided that we would head to the region of Reggio de Calabria on the southern tip,

... to a little town called Serra San Bruno, where my wife's grandfather was born. 
Last year we made it to the part of Italy where my wife's mother was born and Slovenia where her grandmother and was born, so it only seemed fair that we make the 5 hr, 438 km trek to see where her grandfather was born as well.
It was quite the drive, we got lost numerous times because it seemed like the entire country of Italy was under construction. The road work and detours were so bad that both GPS's we were using became confused and one even tried to kill us by sending us down a road with a sudden dead end. 

I did have a little fun though, the last 50 km to Serra San Bruno was up a 2 lane mountain road with countless switchbacks and blind corners; scary fun, just the way I like it.

When we rolled into town, it was like going back in time, kids playing in the street, old women dressed in black and buildings that looked like pictures from old magazines.

No one spoke English, but my wife managed to get us to the church we were looking for, where we had hoped to meet with the priest who was a cousin on my wife's side of the family. 

Unfortunately, the priest we were looking for, died last year. A local couple praying at the church took pity on us and even though they couldn't understand a word we were saying, they managed to figure out what we were looking for and got us to follow them in their car with our car to the cemetery where my wife's family was buried so we could take some pictures for her grandmother in Canada. 

After that we tracked down a place in town where some family were supposed to work and went over to see if we could find them. As soon as we walked in, the town folk in the store seemed to already know who we were. They were speaking Italian, but we knew enough to know they were talking about us, the Canadians wandering around in town. 

From the time we had arrived to the time we entered the store, it had been roughly an hour. Funny how fast word travels in a small town.
Then it was back on the road for a very frustrating 5 hr, 377 km trip on highways that were closed due to construction, and detours that got us lost again and endless two lane highways with crazy Italians who thought it was 3 lanes, until finally, we found a highway that wasn't under construction going in the direction we wanted.
When we finally arrived in Salerno after a day of driving in traffic hell, we found the city was having some sort of huge celebration, the streets were packed and traffic was an absolute nightmare.

Turns out it was Gay Pride weekend.
I was very happy when we finally found a place to sleep in Salerno,

... even if it did cost 130 euros for the night.

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