When we were in Naples for the first time, we really wanted to see the Amalfi coast, but we didn't have enough money and time for it. Luckily, 2 months ago, we met Jesus (lovely spanish guy, and yes we are always making jokes about his name) during a project, and he told us about a couchsurfing camp in Amalfi. The timetable seemed awesome, full of excursions and since it was quite economic with everything included (trips, food and also drinks), we immediately booked the tickets. The camp started on the 29th of June, but we had bus tickets for the 28th, so we stayed in Naples for a day in the house of the lovely volunteers Eleni & Lola. Visiting Naples is always a good choice if you want to eat a perfect italian pizza. We love that city even with the crazy traffic, and Tairi found new sandals - jackpot (fun fact, by now they already broke and I had to glue them back together - Napolitan quality + poor volunteer life - always need to glue shoes until there's nothing left to glue). We went to see the panorama view from the hill, and finally we could take a ride on the funicolare (if you have read the previous post about our stay in Naples in March, you know what we mean). The colours of the city were amazing after the rain.
Next morning we took a bus to San Lazzaro to find our camp. We knew that there will be about 100 people from all around the world, so the excitement was big. We got a tent from the organisers, so we spent 3 nights sleeping there all together (us + Ruta). As we arrived we started to introduce ourselves to a lot of people and it was clear that everybody was opened and wanted to meet new persons. Everyone was easygoing and getting to know each other went very smoothly from the beginning. As we arrived we were super hungry, but luckily we were greeted with an incredible aperitivo. This was followed by a short excursion to a hilltop next to a castle, from where we could see a very nice view over Amalfi. After dinner we learned some traditional folk dance with live music. Also, we were dancing the Polish wedding dance which we know very well, thanks to the polish group we met in a project we organised in Lecce.
DAY 1 - POSITANO
We woke up early (8 am), but in the sense of the schedule it was too late. The bus left at 8.20 so we were late to have a cornetto for breakfast, but we were fine also with just cookies and coffee. The bus took us to the beginning of the Path of the Gods. It is an amazing 8km long way to Positano. It goes up and down on the hills, but it's not too extreme. Also what makes passing the road so much easier is that a marvelous view of the seaside and the island of Capri is accompanying you along the way. The path is full of cliffs and blooming with colourflul flowers. We cannot find words to write more about the beauty we saw, you should just go there and see for yourself. :)
When we arrived to the end of the path, they gave us a choice to take a bus from Positano or walk there. The trick is that the walking way goes 1800 steps down the stairs. But it is totally worth going by foot, because of the view of the coastline and the cute houses on the way down are making you forget that you have 1780, 1779... steps more. Even though that after around 900 steps the legs start shaking a bit, and it gets worse after every 10 steps, the path is actually not so difficult to pass and the stairs end before you know it. As you can guess, we took the stairs, had muscle fever for days, but it is impossible to regret it, because of the view totally paid off the leg work.
When we arrived to Positano we went straight to the beach. By that time the sun came out (we were lucky that during the hike the sun was hiding behind the clouds) so we were ready to get some sunburn and cool it off in the water. The beach is nice, but just a small part is for free and meant to be for lying. Also there is a small square of the sea that you can swim in. But the water is clear and when you turn around to take a look at the city, you find yourself gazing at an incredible view. We did not stay too long on the beach, because we wanted to discover the city. The main product of the area is Limoncello, we could see the yellow colours of the lemons everywhere in the small cute shops. After a short walk in the centre we found a “balocony” and stayed there to have an ice cream and a beer in nice company. In Positano, the more down you go towards the beach the more expensive the food and drinks are. So the best place to buy everything is a small gas station up the hill, near to the bus station.
After enjoying the view for an hour and making one hundred photos the bus took us back to the camp. We had dinner and danced all night, even though we were totally exhausted. But we couldn't skip the evening, because it was the night of pizzica, the traditional dance from Salento.
DAY 2 - Maiori &Minori
After breakfast, we went to Maiori by bus. We were hanging on the beach until lunchtime, and then we went to a local pizzeria. The prices there were nice, it was much more economic than Positano. But of course the pizza couldn't be compared to what you get in Napoli. After stuffing our faces with Margheritas we put on sunscreen and started our next hiking trip. We took the Path of Lemons. It is an awesome way to avoid taking the bus to Minori, but to enjoy the beautiful nature that is between the two towns. On the way we could see plenty of lemon trees and panorama views to die for. The path was not so long like the day before, so after an hour (because we were very slow and stopped to make photos a thousand times) we arrived to Minori. The two cities are very similar - small, cozy, surrounded by cliffs, hills, the sea and lemon trees. We went to a Pasticceria to enjoy delicious local cakes.
We didn't have much time in Minori, but anyway it is quite small and the best part seemed to be the seaside. So, 5 minutes before the departure of the bus Tairi decided to take a swim. The bus driver didn't seem too happy to see her entering the bus wearing a towel and water still dripping from the hair.
That night happened amazing things. Tairi went to see the castle nearby with the guys and I (Sofi) went out from the camp with Ruta to enjoy the panorama. We were sitting and one guy appeared on a horse. I love horses, and I always look for an opportunity to ride them. I was brave enough to ask the man and he let me ride a horse by myself.(!) That made me sooo happy! Also, the guy told us that an observatory centre nearby had an open night. So after dinner we told everybody about the event, and went together. with a lot of people. It was amazing! We could see Saturn with the ring surrounding it and Jupiter with it's 4 moons. We also saw the Moon, with a very detailed view of it's surface. And last but not least, we enjoyed a beautiful view over the city of Praiano at night. Meanwhile in the camp a band from Brazil was playing, and we joined them later to dance samba.
DAY 3 - Amalfi
In the morning the bus took us close to the Valle delle Ferriere (Valley of Iron). We hiked a bit with a wonderful view. Even though we had been enjoying incredible views for 2 days already, we were still amazed and surprised once again how beautiful it was there. We knew that in the end we would reach a waterfall, but we did not expect so much, just a small one at least. BUT, that place was like a fairytale. Everything was green, and the waterfall was huge and amazing. And we could see two rainbows inside the falling water. The water was very cold, but it was a nice refreshment after hiking with hot weather.
The last hours with the surfers we spent on the beach of Amalfi. Had very good seafood there, and buying an ice cream with a taste named after Amalfi is highly recommended. It is creamy, lemony and super delicious. From Amalfi we had to go back to Napoli because the camp had ended. We really loved the 3 days with the people from all around the world. We made new friends, talked about our experiences with travelling, heard interesting stories about Dubai, Algeria and much more. When applying to the camp we didn't expect to be hiking so much during the 3 days, but it was perfect. If you just use the bus to go everywhere, you miss a huge part of the beauty that is hidden on the coast of Amalfi. Big thanks and a hug to the organizers, we would not have found a better place and people to see the wonderful coast of Amalfi.
Allora, we arrived to Verona at 8 pm. We didn't have accommodation again, but at least we had arranged a city tour with a local guy Simone. He came by car, so we could leave our bags there while exploring the city. We drove up to a hill and found a beautiful view of the whole city.
This city tour was the most informative we ever had. Simone and his friend are architects, so they knew everything about every building. We learned a lot about the history of Verona. And most importantly, we called for Romeo in front of his house.
By 11 pm, Ruta received a phone call from a guy who could host us. Yaay, no sleeping outside! He picked us up and brought to his amazing house in the countryside, in Vallese. We stayed up until 4 am, enjoying a bottle of very good Soave and chatting about life.
The plan was to go to Lake Garda this day. Luckily we made a 2-3 hour city tour of Verona the previous evening, so we didn't need to waste more time on that. But before leaving we had to stop in Julia's house to grab her boob for good luck.
To have good luck in love you need to call for Romeo under his balcony, touch Julia's boob and throw a flat stone into Lake Garda so that it bounces at least twice.
After this, we took a bus to Sirmione to visit Lake Garda. We had a small walk in the city. Very short walk, because it was so hot that we couldn't wait to get into the lake. The region there is beautiful. Unfortunately it was very foggy and we didn't have a clear view of the surrounding areas, not even the mountains. We can imagine that on a clear day that place looks out of this world.
The next challenge was to reach Padova, where we had a sleeping place at Ruta's friend's house. We had a train from Pescheria di Garda at 18.53. It was 18.15 when we started to look for a ride and the place was a 20 minute drive from us. We were in a hurry again. After some time hitchhiking a cute girl picked us up. She was on the way home which was near, but was kind enough to take us to our destination. We arrived 18.54 to the station and luckily the train was a few minutes late, so we made it.
We arrived to Padova at 9 pm, and Marco was there to pick us up. At home he cooked us burgers and we could finally wash our clothes in the washing machine.
We were not sleeping inside Padova, but near. So we never saw the city because we hitchhiked from the house straight to the beach of Sottomarina. We were very quickly picked up by an italian mom with her lovely daughter. They took us to the beach and offered us a Spritz. Very generous people.
The beach Bagni Oasi Sottomaria was not the prettiest beach we have seen. But it was okei for a quick swim until we found a piece of poo swimming around.
We changed the wet clothes, put the backbags on our shoulders and walked around 4 km to Chioggia, which is known as small Venezia. It was a quiet and small town, with nothing much to see. The ports looked good and we had a delicious panini in a local caffeteria. The prices are very cheap compared to other cities we have visited. There was one nice place we liked in the city. A canal, not like in Venice of course, but looked cute.
At 5 pm we started to hitchhike to reach Forlí. The first car took us to the autostrada that takes to Ravenna, which is on the way to Forlí. After 20 minutes another car picked us up. They were guys from Marocco who were selling belts on the beach of Sottomarina. Unfortunately they only took us 10 km further, because they had to go home to eat couscous??? For the next half an hour we were stuck in the middle of nowhere when finally one car stopped to take gas. They picked us up, but it came out that they were on the way to Firenze, so they left us in the next gas station. We were in a town called Rosolina and our plan to reach Forlí that day didn't seem to work out. Luckily in that city there was a trainstation so we caught the last train to Bologna. Fernando was super kind to take us into their house again. It was Sunday, but since we had not been out for socialising for already two nights, we decided to go out and enjoy the nightlife of Bologna.
Day 12 - the last day of the trip
Finally we managed to wake up early in the morning at 8, it was the first time for us. We wanted to go to Rimini and later San Marino by hitchhiking. To get out of the center it took us one hour by bus, but we were still in Bologna. We found a superstrada, but that seemed very dangerous, so we walked more to find a better place. This didn't work out for us. We tried to find a road that is out of the city, but after getting out of Bologna another city started. So there was no way to hitchhike. We decided to take a train from there. It was a very sad situation because we were already used to our luck (except the previous day). Maybe it was karma, but no regrets. We arrived to Rimini at 3 pm. So it took us 5 hours to get there, normal time by train is maximum an hour and a half.
The weather was super hot, so we went to the beach. We had a swim and laid down for 10 mins, when we were told that not every part of the beach was for free. So we needed to change place. Honestly we were again totally disappointed because the smell was terrible and everything was very expensive on the beach.
San Marino which is small country in Italy was the next stop from there. We were afraid that we won't have enough time to visit the city because we had one and a half hour. But it came out that the time was perfect for walking through the whole city. We enjoyed beautiful views from the hilltop and the beauty of the cute centre. It was very calm, because it was already 7 pm. There were just a few tourists and even the shops were closed.
In the late evening we returned to Bologna and rested well for today. We are on a train to Orte from where we will go to mid-term training for our EVS project.
Genova - the longest hitchhike so far
So from Firenze we managed to hitchhike to Genova. First an amazing italian mother took us to close to Pisa. We were next to the superstrada where actually you can not hitchhike, but the petrol station seemed safe. We had to wait about 20 minutes and two trucks came. First we were hesitating to go or not because we had to sit in 2 separate cars. Well we didn't want to wait more so Tairi went with 2 italian guys, Ruta and me with one. We told them that we want to go to Pisa but their destination was almost Genova. So we started thinking about going to Genova without visiting Pisa. The way was so long because they were porting wine bottles and had a speed limit. After 2 and a half hours we were out from the trucks in Sestri Levante, quite close to Genova. Came out that they were not going to actually in the city of Genova. We were again next to the superstarda. We started to write a new poster with the name of Genova, but we couldn't even finish the word before two guys picked us up and we reached Genova finally within 30 minutes. The guys were super nice and the story is not yet ended with them.
We were very lucky (as always) because we had a pleasure to stay with two volunteer girls Ana Karen and Brenda form Mexico and Argentina. We arrived quite late so it was time to have dinner. We made the typical dish from Genova - pasta con pesto. After that, the girls recommended a festival. They live in the historic center, but the place was a little bit far so we took a bus. It was a festival about peace and culture. A band from Chile was playing and we totally fell in love with the South-American rhythm.
After the concert we visited a Genovese Erasmus party in the port. We had so much fun there and met people even from Salento. Nope, the party didn't finish, we went to a local pub in the center. It was a very strange place, it's similiar to hungarian ruinpubs but it was totally ruined. The citizens don't like the noise (ofc we can agree with that) so to scare off the people they are throwing from the windows plastic bags with water (they have also other options instead of water, but better to not know it).
As the night was so long we didn't wake up early, but we knew that we have a meeting with Giuseppe and Marco (they gave us the last ride to Genova). We went out from the city by car into the woods and mountains. The road was beautiful. The fresh air and the colourful houses in the green "jungle" were amazing.
After 1 hour of driving we arrived to a small village called Maissana. We had lunch in a restaurant that was run by a local family. First we had ravioli as a primo piatto. The second one was a kind of steak with zucchini. The dessert was ice cream with panna. Everything was so delicious and the place was really cozy.
Giuseppe then took us to Baia del Silenzio in Sestri Levante where we first met. It was a small but very cute place with a beach, port and a nice view.
Actually we wanted to go to Cinque Terre, but with a car it is very complicated, so he could not take us there. It was already half past five, we were thinking about going back to Genova, but at the same time we really wanted to visit Cinque Terre, so until the last minute of the train's departure we couldn't decide what to do. A few minutes before the train left, we decided to make the trip, so we were running to catch the train and for that reason we couldn't buy the tickets. We were so nervous during the whole 40 minutes, but fortunately the ticket controller didn't come.
Firstly we arrived to Monterossi. It has a long beachline and a cute city.
We were thinking to take the train back to Genova, but we checked that if we would go to the next stop of Cinque Terre, we would still catch the train and could see Vernazza. So we ran again to the train and arrived to the second village - Vernazza. This one has no beach, but it's still possible to go to swim from the rocks, there's a ladder.
10 minutes before the train we double
checked the info and found out that it is not going to Genova, but a town near Genova. So we had 2 more hours to spend before the next train. We sat down to watch the sun go down.
After 20 minutes we figured that we could also visit another village. There was only one more train so we decided to skip Gorniglia, which is the only one with no access to the sea, and take 2 stops to Manarola. We didn't have tickets and with two stops it was more risky. When we got on the train we saw the control guy coming to our direction. We became very nervous and Tairi immediately sat down with some random Americans and started having a conversation. It was more like throwing out words from a machine gun than a conversation. I (T) was so nervous that i forgot what i was saying in the middle of the story and was telling them random things and facts about Cinque Terre and our travel. They probably think i was nuts. But the Americans were very nice, and i would have loved to speak with them longer than 6 minutes train ride and while feeling normal. They were on a car trip in Italy and had stayed in Salento a few days ago. Anyway, the ticket guy just passed us and was not asking tickets from anyone.
Manarola was beautiful as well, the sun was hidden behind a mountain and we could see full moon.
We managed to visit 3 out of 5 five villages. But Corniglia we could see from Manarola, because it's on top of a hill. Unfortunately we had no time for the last one - Riomaggiore, that from the google photos looks the greatest. The coastal area in Cinque Terre is beautiful, but we were expecting something more incredible. We guess we are spoiled with the beauty of Salento. But, the villages are amazing. The colours and buildup of the houses are so cute and interesting. We are very happy that we decided to make that trip.
We went to buy the ticket from Manarola to Genova and found out that this price and connection didn't exist. So we wanted to buy a ticket to Sestri Levante, but since the time of the train was passed by then (the train was 15 mins late), we couldn't. According to the ticket machine, the train had left. We were nervously waiting for the train, not knowing how we will get to Genova, because the train only went to Sestri Levante and since it was late the next train to Genova would have been left before our arrival. A German couple Elizabeth & Dani and a Canadian guy Nathan had seen us before fighting with the ticket machine, so they asked if we managed to buy the tickets. We told them our situation and they said that their car was 3 stops away in Levanto. They were kindly offering to bring us from there to Genova. Such a release, we are so lucky all the time here. But we still had the problem of no ticket. The ticket controller came after one stop. She was a bit angry, but we explained our problem and she sold us the tickets for normal price (4€) and let us continue the trip. Super fortunately!
We had a great time travelling with our new companions for the next 2 hours. We were talking about our countries and travelling. Their stories were amazing, they have made a trip around the world and visited Italy many times. It was so great to share stories with them, remembering all the nice people who have ever helped us and them. If you read this guys, know that we are super grateful and hope to see you again somewhere in the world, hopefully in Lecce before November.
This morning we walked around Genova, because we actually hadn't had time before to see the city. It would have been sad to leave it, without seeing anything.
On one narrow street we met a super cute dog named Anakin, he was on the doorway of a popular barbershop in Genova. We stopped to pat him and met his owner Francesco who came out to be from Gallipoli. We are meeting people from Salento all the time, that's very nice. They are always so warm. He offered to make us a city tour, but because we didn't have much time we had a small walk with him and his lovely dog and talked about Genova and Salento.
We just arrived to Verona in this moment. We have been writing this post the whole time in the bus - more than 4 hours. Also we managed to find someone through couchsurfing to make us a city tour when we arrive.
New town, new adventures. We'll keep you posted!
Siena - cute city full of surprises
On Monday we hitchhiked from Firenze to Siena. We arrived without any plan where to sleep. We tried to get accommodation through couchsurfing, but unfortunately nobody accepted us. We are a group of 3, so it is a bit more complicated. So we were thinking that, it was not so cold anyway, so we could sleep under the stars.
We made a small city tour, visited Duomo di Siena, which is one of the most beautiful cathedral we have ever visited.
After walking around for a while with our huge backpacks, we decided to take a rest and charge our phones. We entered a bar which looked like under construction, but never finished. It was an empty, but big hall with a small bar and a few tables where elderly men were playing cards. Nothing special about that place, so the wine cost 50 cents. When we got to the end of the place and opened a door for the terrace we were reminded of a very smart sentence - never judge the book by it's cover. The view what was released behind that door was breath taking.
Meanwhile we announced on the couchsurfing page hangout section, that we are looking for a place to stay for 3 persons. We started receiving letters that maybe some people can host us, and some people just wanted to hang out and show us the city. After a few hours of chatting with different people we arranged to meet with someone on Piazza del Campo.
Arrived 4 guys with 2 cars. From that moment everything went only uphill. They took us to one of the guy's home, which was just in the centre, a very beautiful house. They cooked us dinner, offered good wine and great company.
Later we went out to a karaoke bar and had lots of fun.
We were planning to stay just for one night, but the guys offered to show us around Tuscany the next day. Since our trip is not strictly planned (not planned at all), we decided to stay for another day.
Unfortunately we woke up quite late the next day, so the guys didn't have so much time before work, but they took us to a place near Siena, close to Castello di Leonina where we found an incredible view of Tuscany.
The rest of the day we were discovering Siena and met a nice indian guy from couch surfing, who took us to the university mensa (caffeteria) for lunch.
In the evening our dear hosts took us to a fancy party. It was the opening of the summer terrace of a place called Cantina.
That evening we slept in a cute and cosy house in the region of Chianti. We arrived at night, so in the morning it was amazing to look out of the window. Such a pleasure seeing the grape fields surrounding us.
We really loved Siena. Tuscany is amazing and we hope to go back there during our stay in Italy. We are thankful for everybody who helped us to get there, starting from the busdriver in Firenze who showed us the way to the right road for hitchhiking, the 2 car drivers and super grateful to everyone who opened their homes for us and made our stay in Siena unforgettably incredible.
This morning we hitchhiked to Firenze and from there we are now on the way to Genova.
firenze is amazing
We arrived to Firenze around 5 pm. We made a selfie in front of Santa Maria Novella and found a park to hang out while waiting for our host.
In Firenze we were staying with a lovely hungarian family who had a beautiful house with an incredible view of the city.
In the evening we met a sweet Lithuanian girl who made us a small city tour.
We found a couchsurfers meeting event on the CS page and went to check it out. It took place in a bar named Slowly. There weren't many people but we had a nice aperitivo and met a local guy Monju, with who we continued the evening in a nightclub called Space. Firenze is full of americans, it seems like there are more of them than the italians. Also the nightclub was loaded with them. We felt like pieces of meat in there but apart from that we had lots of fun dancing for hours.
Since it was the first Sunday of the month most of the museums were for free. We visited Galleria Palatina and Giardino Boboli - huuuge garden, we didn't even manage to see half of it. To go there you should bring good shoes and food for picnic. Would be lovely. Lastly we visited Galleria di Uffici.
For dinner we stood 10 mins in the line to buy a panino (sandwich) from a place called All'Antico Vinaio. Very nice and big panini for 5€. A little bit dry, but probably could have asked for some sauce.
By the time of the sunset we went on top of a hill where were loads of people sitting on the stairs enjoying the view. From there we could see a beautiful panorama of the city.
Somewhere up there
The evening continued with a beach party next to the river with good dance music.
When we finally arrived to our house Sofi managed to bend the key inside the lock, she is just so strong. When Tairi tried to make it straight again, the key broke into two pieces. What a joke! We started to think about staying up all night, hanging around somewhere, but in the end decided to ring the neighbours and finally got into the house.
This is our story of Firenze. We really loved that city and our home there. Firenze is beautiful and full of surprises, and the nightlife is great. It's probably a city where you never get bored.
Today we hitchhiked to Siena. We were very lucky because one lady took us to the car road to Siena and immediately another one picked us up and brought to the destination.
We are planning to stay for one night and tomorrow try to reach Pisa.
In the beginning of March we had on-arrival training in Nola. We met a lot of incredible volunteers there and immediately we knew, that one day we will visit them. Luckily 2 months ago we found Marinobus tickets to Bologna for 9€. So we hit the road on Wednesday and spent 11 hours in the bus to reach Bologna.
We will be on the road until 13th of June, by then we need to reach Rome, where we will have the mid-term training for our EVS project.
We arrived at 4.20 am, found our way to our dear friends Laia & Fernando's apartment and went straight to bed.
Next day we started quite fresh and went to explore the city. Bologna is beautiful, but to be honest there were not many things to see. We ended up mostly in the clothes shops to find a birthday dress for Ruta. But, the city has a lot of parks and squares to hang out and many hidden but fascinating places. For example, we accidentally found a window to small Venice. A canal between some houses hidden behind a small window on the street. It's called Canale delle Moline.
In the evening Laia prepared us a delicious Spanish tortilla. Poor girl was cooking for 3 hours. It took 2kg of potatoes, 2 big onions and 14 eggs to make a perfect tortilla de patatas.
Tanti auguri, Rutella! ❤️
We started the day with exploring the second-hand market and later went home to prepare for a big volunteer-family dinner. And finally we found the perfect dress for Ruta.
We made a lot of international food from Greece, Spain, Estonia, Lithuania and Hungary. The kitchen was full of volunteers, 15 amazing persons from all around Italy.
This morning we said good bye to Bologna and are on the bus to Firenze.
We'll keep you posted!
By now we have been living in Lecce for more than 4 months. Still love it here!
We have experienced a lot of new and even strange things here. Also, just some funny moments. So here is a list of some examples:
Our first visit to the supermarket
After 4 days of living here, we finally had time to find a supermarket. We had been dreaming about having coffee at home, because it became quite expensive to buy a caffè every morning from the bar. We heard that the best coffee to buy was "Quarta", but in Lidl they don't sell it. So after staring at the coffee section for some minutes we decided to ask a guy who was working there. Tairi: "Cuale cafe buonissimo?" - it was my very first try to speak italian, so it is not grammatically or probably any way correct, but I meant - Which one is a very good coffee? So the guy looks at me and says (with a very excited and loud voice) "Io sono buonissimo!" - I am very good. At this moment we found ourselves laughing hysterically while being shocked at the same time. Afterwards he helped us to find a nice coffee to buy.
Snow in South-Italy
What a scene! One day in the beginning of January it started to snow. Of course it was a shock for us. I (T.) came from very north and was expecting a nice "warm" winter here, but then the white stuff started to fall down the sky. Anyway, it was not a huge problem for us, because we were ill during that period, so we didn't have the chance to go out. But it was a blast to watch the reaction of the locals. They closed the universities, schools and kindergartens, because it was too cold. Imagine my reaction when I checked that it was -2 degrees. In Estonia you are not obliged to go to school when it is -20 or more (this doesn't apply for high school, there you need to go with any kind of weather).
The streets were quite empty, because nobody had the winter tyres for cars, so no one was driving. Also a lot of people took holidays from work, because moving from point A to point B was dangerous and impossible.
This is an exaggerated description of the situation during the period of snow. Of course there were people who were enjoying the snow and went even skiing. But every time someone asks us, how was the situation with the snow in Lecce, the answer is: "Life in Salento stopped".
A custom that we didn't know about
One evening during the first week we were sitting outside of a bar in the Historic Centre. We started talking to a local guy and then he proposed a toast and we hit the cups together as people normally do in that case. During this action he turned his hand, so instead of putting the cups together our hands touched. First time we thought it was a mistake, the second and the third time it started to feel creepy. So we got the impression that he was a strange guy who proposed a toast many times just to touch us.
After a week or so, the same situation happened when we were making a toast with some friends. While trying to put the cups together, everyone turned their hand and touched us. This time we decided to ask that what was that about. As it came out, it is a custom that when you make a cheers with plastic cups, instead of putting the cups together you put your hands together.
Italian washing machine
In our apartment we have the luxury to use the washing machine. We put the clothes in, choose a program and turn it on. At first we usually did it before siesta time (around 12.00). The washing machine never finished before 17 o'clock. It was so strange. So one time around 14 o'clock we went to check how was the situation. The machine was stopped, but not finished. Also the next time the situation was the same. And the next time. Slowly we realized that our washing mashine has siesta time. Some moment between 13 and 15 o'clock it stoppes for some hours and continues later.
Sunday, funday visiting Napoli
When we came out of the dark streets, we found a huge park. We bought some beers and chilled on the grass in great company (Ruta - poor volunteer from Melendugno, Prune - an amazing girl from France, Adrian - Spanish guy who hates Spanish music and Dion the English guy with lesbian hair, who is very english indeed (bad jokes).
After 2 hours talking mainly about food we started looking for napolitan pizza and the sea, but unfortunately we failed. We did not have the best pizza or not even napolitan pizza, but it was quite enough to solve our hunger problem.
After the training we went to Napoli for three extra nights to explore the city. To our luck Lola and Eleni (EVS in Napoli) took us into their apartment. When we arrived we went to a very good pizzeria and then straight to bed for siesta. The funny difference between life in the south and north is that the northern volunteers don't care at all about siesta time, it pretty much doesn't exist. For us siesta has become a very important part of the day, without it there is always the danger that we turn into zombies.
We did some research on the square, asking locals what they know about this tradition. Finally we got info from where to where we needed to walk. The legend says that some queen in the past made her slaves walk blindly from one side of the square in front of the palace. But they needed to pass between the two horses. Anyone who went around the horses died. Everybody died. The other legend we heard was that this system was used for trials. If the criminal passed between the two horses, he stayed alive. Everybody died. We are not sure what is the true legend, but we tried to do it. None of us managed to pass between the horses. We have heard from locals that noone has actually ever succeeded.
Next we went to the seaside and visited some castles until we got very hungry and started looking for a pizzeria. Of course when you need one they don’t exist. After some time walking, we found a pizzeria with not the best athmosphere but a very good Margherita. Our lunch was followed by some amazing ice cream.
After the heavy lunch Sofi looked like she will die without having siesta time. But no, there was no time for it. Let's go up the hill and see a castle! On the way to the train station Tairi stopped to buy sunglasses (after looking at every table on the streets the whole day, she actually decided to buy something). Because of that, we missed the train that takes people up the hill. Okay, it was not a problem to wait for the next one. The problem was, that the next one never left the station. They closed the whole department, we spent 40 minutes there and after when we went to the ticket booth to get money back it was closed of course. The workers knew a lot of trouble was waiting for them, so it was easier to go home and avoid the problem. Great job! So we took our tickets and started climbing up the stairs, many-many stairs.
When we finally arrived up the stairs it was already night time. But the view was great. We made a picnic with mandarines and started our journey back downstairs.
Friday was meant to be dedicated to volcanos. The plan was to visit Vesuvius, but after talking to a local we decided to make a trip to the other direction. We took a train to Campi Flegrei to visit Vulcano Solfatara. We chose the place, cause we thought it's for free, we wouldn't have to walk so much and would see some real volcanic activity. None of the 3 reasons were actually true. We paid 7 euros, walked the whole day and there was pretty much nothing to see. But, the smoke coming from the ground gave us an opportunity for a cool photoshoot.
Indie rock band
Chapter (some number)
The seaside seemed like a perfect place to watch the sunset. But it was too early to stay waiting on the beach and too late to return to Napoli for the sunset. So we made a decision to hitchhike on top of the hill (the one you can see on the previous photo). We were 6 so we split into two groups: team "Fernando", with Eleni & Tairi and team "Blonds" (Zsofi and Ruta) with Adrian.
After some minutes every team got a car and was heading to the top of the hill. Tairi’s team arrived to the place with the view of the sunset.
The children prison island
Of course after some time everyone needs to go to a place called toilet. So us and Ruta found a very modern wc, that turned out to be a house of horror. First there was a sign that said: pay 50 cents or pee your pants. Okay, we paid and entered all together. The door closed and the lights went off (it was like a lift door). After sofi stood up from the pot, the door opened. It was very confusing and while Tairi was stepping out of the toilet the door closed again, almost smashing her. Next moment from Tairi’s perspective: very loud screaming and water splashing sounds. It was like in a horror movie. After 5 seconds the door opened and Ruta & Sofi ran out. Their legs were soaked from water. The water had come from somewhere on the floor (luckily just water). Probably it was a punishment, because we just paid 50 cents for the 3 of us. But in the end only one of us had the luxury to actually use the toilet.
It was our last night in the city, so quickly after a shower, we were in Piazza Bellini with spritzes in our hands.
The next morning we had a shopping tour. Pretty much like every day, but this time we at least bought something - postcards.
And then we went home. The end.
One day our dear friend Moe from Germany (Unfortunately he finished his studies in Lecce, so he left, but you know we will meet soon on our rooftop!) organized a great bycicle trip with the Erasmus students. We woke up very early to catch the train from Lecce to Poggiardo. When the workers in the station saw our crew with 12 bikes they told us that it is not possible to get on the train with them. When the train arrived we understood why – it was so tiny! But the driver was very excited to see us. He asked if we were some kind of a biking squad and said that let’s go! Packing the bikes on the train could be compared to the game of tetris (Simpsons style), but they did it. All 12 bikes in that small train.
When we were almost in Castro, we decided with 3 guys to visit one cave under the ground. It’s called La Grotta Zinzulusa. There are many stalagmites and stalagtites from more than 5000 years ago. Since it is not a touristic season right now, we were the only ones visiting and had a private tour with a guide.
We stopped many times for a few minutes to admire the beauty of Salento, but our next bigger stop was in Tricase. At first in a port and after we went to chill and eat lunch in a wonderful place between the rocks. We saw an Italian man, who was swimming and also some sunbathing Italians. It was a big surprise, because so far we have seen only foreigners going swimming and Italians staring at them with big eyes.
The last sight was in Leuca but in the end we stayed only with Moe and Roma, because the rest of our company took the earlier train home. We bought a bottle of wine, rustico and chocolate …mmmh perfect. We sat on a hill and watched the sunset. It was an amazing moment sitting in front of the meeting point of the ionic and adriatic sea. We were listening to Motta and the lighthouse behind us created a very cool athmosphere and gave us some more wonderful feelings.
IN TOTAL: More than 50 km by bycicle (without musclefever), uncountable and unforgettable marvelous places, and we became heroes… THANKS A LOT MOE!
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We are travelling a lot in Salento by hitchhiking, bus and bike and we really like to try new things here. We have „happy tree friends” in Lecce and one of them, Ernesto, has a sailingboat, it’s called Tom-Titi. So one Sunday we went to Porto Cesareo to have a trip. We did not go alone, we had another boat accompanying us. We brought food (pasta and potatoes) and we stopped somewhere near to Porto Sant'Isidoro to have lunch. It was the first time we tried super fresh oysters, they were delicious.
After the Christmas holidays we concentrated on project writing. We and two local volunteers Marinella and Jacopo wrote a youth exchange for the last deadline of Erasmus+ projects (2nd of February). The topic is road safety and sustainable mobility. It is an interesting topic to discover in South Italy. The rules here and the traffic culture compared to the ones in Estonia are like day and night. It seems to a foreigner that here are no rules, but actually the Italians know what they are doing. Here we just need to adapt to the craziness. We are planning to make the exchange in collaboration with Ciclofficina. They are the best partner because our project involves bike culture. If our youth exchange is funded by Erasmus+ it will take place in October with participants from Italy, Estonia, Hungary, Spain, Greece and the Netherlands.
San Cesario – A casa della nonna, della mamma e della zia di Sara
One day, when we were working in KiioLab, our dear Sara invited us to San Cesario di Lecce. First we visited Sara’s grandmother in her huge house. Of course we had a coffee there and heard interesting stories about the witches of the Marzo family. After we went to Sara’s parents' house, and finally Tairi got the dearly loved guitar from them. It is a little bit old and had broken strings, but our dear friend Francesco repaired it and now she’s practicing a lot. She already knows one song: “Smelly cat” (from the TV series "Friends") :D.
Our last stop was the house of Sara’s aunt. Che bella la casa! She was very kind to us. We tried her homemade Limoncello (lemon liquer) and Mirto (liquer of myrtle berries). We were speaking only Italian with all of them, this is the best way of practicing the language.
Also, you should know a lot people want to try the famous Hungarian gulash soup version by me (Sofi), but all the time I had an excuse why I couldn't make it. The last one was: “I don’t have any bay leaves”, but Sara’s aunt had a bay bush in the garden, so I got some leaves (Thank you again!!). So I will make gulash one day, I promise.
In the middle of the January we visited Focara festival in Novoli (city/village near Lecce). It’s a 4-day fire festival held every year. We went on the first day and there was so much fireworks that it felt like New Year’s Eve (especially because on NYE there was almost no fireworks).
Meeting a Minion, Tairi loves them, Sofi hates them..
In the end of the night I (Tairi) noticed that my iPhone was missing. Aaah, why mee! So everyone started looking for it on the square. Then I remembered that I probably left it in the toilet, where I was using it to show light. So we checked all of the toilets.. nothing. Then we met a police guy who said that no one had brought any phones to him. Sara left her number to him just in case and we started going back home. I was so sad, the previous month my bike was stolen, now this month my phone, what will be next? On the way to the car Sara’s phone rang.. “Hey, this is the police, we have found your phone”. Nooo way, thank you universe or someone, I was very lucky. At home I discovered that the SIM card was missing. We were wondering if someone stole it, threw away the SIM, but then lost the phone again?? Or threw away the SIM but then started feeling bad about it and returned the phone? Anyway, it doesn’t matter, I am so grateful and happy that I got it back.
Trip to Otranto
When Bogi (Sofi’s coordinator from Hungary) was still here, our dear friend Giorgio took us to Otranto by car. It is a beautiful city on the seaside, around 45 km south from here. We had an amazing day discovering the coastline of Salento, the city of Otranto and we had a good homemade lunch on the beach (Estonian and Hungarian food).
MORE TRIP-POSTS COMING SOON!
Tairi & Zsófia