We woke up just after noon and relaxed around the house a bit. As would become common in this particular house, I was the first one up, so I took a leisurely and much needed shower and read on the patio. I was to meet Rob in Naples the next day, so my initial intent was to stay for the day and leave the next morning but it proved irrisistable. Not much happened that first day. Marcello has a Fiat 500 which he'd told me I could drive since only Keira and I had licenses, and you can imagine my disappointment when we discovered it wasn't working. His dad had dropped a spark plug in the motor, so we had to pull of the cover and plug it back in. He & I did that while the others were elsewhere, and his uncle (of sorts) Pepe came to try and help. He seemed to know his stuff but would turn out to do more damage than good despite his intentions.
His grandma, who lives nextdoor, made up some dinner for us that evening, a nice pasta, salad, and some fresh Italian bread. What happened that evening, I have no idea, but I think we really did just hang out. I got some laundry done that day, all of which I washed by hand and then monopolised the banister from end to end with my wardrobe. It was a nice recharge day, but since we got nothing done I decided that I should stay another day or two and get a feel for the place rather than running off, and I believed I'd still have time to meet Rob, so no problem.
The next morning, I was up first again, it was sunny, and I sat on the balcony reading and slowly taking up my laundry as it dried. Pepe and Marcello towed the car into town (Atina, I think) to get fixed by a mechanic, which was interesting. It's the only time I've ever been towed and told I could go faster down the hills if I want to, which to me defies several laws of physics. Pepe's an interesting character, whatever else might be said. As we were there, it started to pour, but thankfully all my laundry was in before I left, and we headed back, stopping off at Tony's house, an uncle of Marcello's who'd invited us to a BBQ in honour of a christening, some friends from France being in town, and of course, us. We popped back and picked up the others and headed over there for the night.
Tony is hilarious and is the stereotypical Italian. We met more of Marcello's relatives and friends, and really got to practice the Italian. The food kept coming and coming, and was terrific. One of the guys brought a guitar, so we had an impromptu singalong, and all said, it felt very much like what I remember of Greece. It's only gotten me more excited for getting there. We were there until 1:30 AM (from 6:00) and then walked back to Marcello's place where we lit some candles and chatted the night away.
As usual, I was up first the next morning, and good thing. Pepe rang the bell around 9:30 AM and the car was ready, so I went with him into town and we picked up the car. It was a LOT of fun to drive, I'd love to have one back home! I brought the car back and everyone save Dan was up and quite excited to see the car arrive. The girls and I made a trip to the supermarket for some food and supplies, made some breakfast, and then Marcello, Sefra and I headed up to the castle and did a little sightseeing. We stopped at the bar owned by a brother and sister we'd met at the barbeque the night before (the brother being the guitarist and the sister being the girl I'd talked with quite a bit that night) and hung around. Then we picked up the others, went to a lake, rented a paddleboat, and cruised around for an hour. Afterwards, the girls were tired, so Dan, Marcello, and I hung out at the bar again and I introduced them to three-person cutthroat (a pool game). And also to the REAL rules of pool (they insist that a scratch/foul means you miss your next turn in addition to losing your current one). Since the Fiat only holds four people (and barely), we also had Marcello's motorbike. After returning from pool, Dan & I engaged in some heated table tennis (AKA Ping pong), the boys taught me to drive a motorbike, and I zipped around.
That night, Marcello, Keira, and I made dinner, sausage, mashed potatoes with a tomato sauce that Marcello's grandma had made, fresh salad, green beans, and some nice red wine. Then us boys headed into town, met some of Marcello's friends, who proceeded to take us on the Grand Prix tour up the mountain to a little bar there overlooking the towns in the valley. We stayed for a few drinks/smokes in the case of the driver, and again called it a night after a stop for some Italian pastries.
I had to leave to meet Rob, though I discovered upon finally getting to the internet that he had already left Naples, so I drove the Fiat in to Cassino with Marcello and Keira, and said goodbye to them all. It was difficult to leave and get back to travelling, but the pressure of my Sept 4 deadline in Athens was looming. I should also mention that the place is crawling with "chippers", Irish Italians who own Fish & Chips shops, all of whom have a LOT of money and a LOT of nice cars. You can't avoid them. Anyway, that aside finished, now I'm in Naples, and heading out to a pizzaria with some girls whose claim to fame is that one of the original owners was the guy who invented the Calzone. It comes highly recommeneded from our hostel owner, so I'm looking forward.
Tomorrow, Pompeii/Vesuvius/Herculaneum, then the next day to Bari and ferrying to Greece. Which reminds me, I should get booking my ticket...