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.
Street Vendors Begin Early
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
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
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.
Protective Walls of the Acropolis
(Click to Enlarge)
Narrow Streets of Alatri
(Click to Enlarge)
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
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
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.