Italia Home Page Link


Day Three - Tecchiena and the Train of Torment

Monday would find us on the move, traveling down to Frosinone, and the town of Tecchiena, where we would rejoin Monica and Elena and spend a day with Monica's family. An early start was required to catch the train and we were a little concerned being without an alarm clock or wake-up service. Silly us.

We discovered that Monday morning on Via Montebello started quite loudly, with street vendors setting up shop at the crack of dawn. The hammering, revving of engines, commotion, and banter had us wide awake with plenty of time to spare.

The Street Vendors Outside Hotel Montebello
The Street Vendors Begin Early
on Montebello

The train trip to Frosinone took about an hour. At the station we were greeted by Eliseo, who was kind enough to pick us up and take us to Tecchiena, and his son, Paolo.

Paolo had taken English in school and was very eager to practice. He was a big fan of South Park, American video games, and Pringles. I had brought him a baseball glove from the US and this had him quite excited.

We enjoyed the road trip and the opportunity to see some smaller towns and villages in the Italian countryside. We passed vineyards and olive orchards and eventually arrived at Eliseo's home. We met his parents, who lived downstairs and took a tour through their plentiful garden, sampling pears and berries along the way. The majority of their daily meals would come from this garden and the meals, as I would soon find out, were something to envy.

We were welcomed next into Monica's Aunt Rita and Uncle Nello's home for Pranzo, which is the large daily meal, generally eaten about 1:00 PM. While Rita cooked and Fai packed for our next stop on the coast of Amalfitana, Nello, who spoke very little English, motioned for me to sit down next to him. "Del vino o della birra?" he asked, and I enjoyed a beer while watching Italian television with the volume quite loud.

Before I knew it, a plate of rice, shrimp and crawfish, with a rust-color sauce was before me and I began my first home-cooked Italian meal. Soon, others began to join us at the table and the conversation was animated and festive. The television remained on and still quite loud.

I finished the plate and it was replaced by a plate of pasta, with the same mix of ingredients. Monica later explained it wasn't normal to serve rice and pasta like this, but Nello and Rita's son, Christian, had requested pasta also.

While I finished the pasta, a plate of fresh tomatoes with olive oil and basil was set down and Nello was slicing off large pieces of fresh mozzeralla for me. A basket of bread was also brought out. The tomatoes and mozarella were very flavorful and quite a bit better than what I'm used to.

Next was thinly cut chicken breast, spiced and cooked to prefection. While I was finishing this dish, Nello began cutting up some nectarines and put them in a cup. He motioned for me to pour vino over it and then eat the fruit. Rita then appeared with a whole plate of assorted fruits and I ate two large slices of watermelon. As if that wasn't enough, dessert was a tray of sweet pastries of different varieties.

The Protective Walls of the Acropolis
The Protective Walls of the Acropolis
(Click to Enlarge)
The Narrow Sreets of Alatri
The Narrow Streets of Alatri
(Click to Enlarge)
The Hills of Frosinone
The View From Alatri
(Click to Enlarge)

Sufficiently nourished, we set off with Eliseo to see the historic town of Alatri, a picturesque walled town built in the 6th century. The town is built on the slopes of Monte Ernici, covered in olive groves. The walls of the 4th century Acropolis are particularly well preserved. You reach the Acropolis by walking in from the Porta di Civita, a gate 17 ft. in length, 5 ft. in height, 6 ft. in thickness. There are 6 gates still standing and they have turrets and towers that once protected the ancient town and its surroundings.

The duomo on the site of the Acropolis houses interesting relic Incarnated Host. On the top of the hill, through narrow streets, is the 13th century Palazzo Gottifreddi, which is now the Museo Municipio and the Romanesque Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore (which houses the Madonna di Constantinople) with a beautiful rose window fretwork and a 2 storey belfry.

The sense of history in Alatri was incredible and all the structures so well preserved. We enjoyed our brief visit to the old town greatly.

We hurried back, said our goodbyes to Elena, Monica, and all Monica's wonderful, generous, and hospitable family, then accepted a ride from yet another kind relative, Sara, to the train station.

Getting to the coast of Amalfitana is not an easy thing, as it requires a few stops and changes in transportation. The ride to Napoli went without much incident, though we were a bit rushed to catch the Circumvesuviana, a smaller trainline that travels between Napoli and Sorrento.

We made it with a few minutes to spare. Then, we waited. Much like an airport during a snowstorm, our craft was delayed, then stalled, then postponed, then bumped, then pushed back. There were a few false alarms, but it was never the right train or it was the right train oddly not going to the right place. It was also 98 degress and we we underground in a damp station. The train finally creeped along and we were on our way. Slowly. Stopping often for no apparent reason.

Needless to say, yet I do so anyway, we reached Sorrento a tad behind schedule. The train stops at Sorrento, so we needed to catch a Sita bus the rest of the way. The buses had already stopped running. We approached a few taxis, but they were asking far too much, plus the time was getting late.

We decided to make a night of it and found a decent hotel. We located a pizzeria for some pie and a beer, then called it a night.

Day: OneTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTen      Italia