Friday, May 6, 2016

Leaving Matera and Arriving Benevento

We followed our usual routine this morning (up at 6:30am, breakfast 7:00am and then on the bus at 9:00am) as we prepared to leave the beautiful and historic town of Matera and head out to Benevento. We had a three and a half hour drive through beautiful scenery from Matera to Benevento. This city is known at "The City of Witches" but they didn't have witch hunts like in Salem. It was okay if you were a witch. The drive went by quickly and was enjoyable. We arrived around noon at VillaTraiano (a beautiful converted villa), our hotel for the next two nights. Once we got checked in and settled in our room we met some of the group in the lobby and we walked to Con Gusto for some lunch. They had specials of the day which were two course meals with a dessert at the end. Thomas had pasta salad with tuna and toast (potato squares – kind of like hash browns in a block with ham and cheese in the middle); I had pasta with crab sauce and baked cod and a salad. The dessert we got was a small cup of gelato. It was all really good. After we ate we returned to the hotel to get the rest of the group and go on a walking tour of Benevento.

Arch of Trajan
Linda took us from the hotel and we walked to the Arch ofTrajan. Here she talked about the arch and what it meant and also the history of the town of Benevento. From the arch we walked to a square where Linda talked about the history of the bell tower. Next we went into the Chiesa di Santa Sofia. This church is built a little different than most churches. It is in the shape of a star and is beautiful. From the church we went around the corner to the Cloisters of Santa Sofia. This was an incredible place – full of history and beauty.
Cloisters of Santa Sofia
Linda explained some of the meanings and symbols of some of the columns surrounding the courtyard. Each of the columns had a different topper. There was one column that had a knot on it – it represents the divine spirit and the human spirit. And there is also a column with a topper that had a carving of the birth of Christ. The concept of the nativity was credited to Saint Francis, but the carving on the top of this column here at the cloister was carved hundreds of years before Saint Francis - so it may be that Saint Francis traveled through this area and saw the column and just relayed the story. Here is where the walking tour ended. So we walked to where our bus was parked so that we could head out for an evening of cooking and dining.

We drove about 55 minutes to Telese Terme to have a cooking lesson with Giuseppe Iannotti (a Michelin star chef) at his restaurant (Krèsois). We first got a tour of the place and saw an incredible wine cellar that has about 2000 bottles of wine. They have one bottle that is worth over €6000. Then we were introduced to Guiseppe and he took us into the kitchen for a cooking demonstration and then we made some pasta.
Handmade cavatelli pasta
He showed us how to make pork braciole (pork with seasoning in the middle and rolled and cooked in a tomato sauce). And then he taught us how to make pasta – just with flour (00) and water. So we all mixed our flour and water (some of the group did good and some of us made a big mess) and then he showed us how to roll the dough into cavatelli pasta. Once we had made all the pasta needed for dinner we next learned how to make Choux (kind of like a cream puff) – ours were filled with a dark chocolate cream. After that we all took seats at the table so that we could enjoy the food we made (well really helped make – the staff did most of the work). They started us off with red wine and bruschetta. All evening the wine flowed freely while they served us the pasta first and then the braciole. After the meal we enjoyed the Choux for dessert. What a great evening, so much fun and very interesting.

We left Kresois a little after 9:00pm.
Benevento Calcio Fans
The drive back to Benevento went by fast but we encountered a slight problem when we got near the hotel. There was a large (and rowdy) group of youth out celebrating by the Arch of Trajan. They were celebrating their soccer team's recent victory. The team is the Benevento Calcio. They had the road blocked and wouldn’t let us pass. Finally they moved out of the road so that we could get to the hotel. We learned that they thought we were the losing team's fans and they didn’t want to let us through – they wanted to taunt us. But we made it to the hotel without any major problems. Now that we are settled I took a shower and worked on the computer. But now it is time to get some sleep – tomorrow is a busy day with lots of things going on – a chocolate tasting, a wine tasting and a walking tour of two medieval villages.

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