We’ve only a few hours to get from Spain to Italy, then across Italy to catch the next ferry to Greece. We arrive in Italy well before we left Barcelona, courtesy of the ferry company being Italian and not one for tight organisation. There is organisation, just layer upon layer of it. How they manage to make a simple process so complex I’m not so sure. Anyway it results in us waiting on the docks for three hours, all the while standing beside the bike, with a handful of other bikes and a smattering of cars. Thankfully it is undercover as Barcelona decides on a wet send off for us. Finally we are unleashed and in the bun fight to get to the ferry 0.5km away on another dock, one of the riders goes down crossing the wet train (crane) track, right in front of a van which somehow manages to miraculously miss the head of the unhelmeted rider. The boat finally gets under way, two hours late. I still can’t believe how smooth the whole crossing is, I don’t remember a single gentle rock or roll of the boat, I didn’t know whole seas could actually be flat, you’d think we are on a billiard table for the whole 20 hours!
After arriving on the west coast of Italy at Civitavechia we check into a local hotel on the foreshore, it is a lovely Sunday evening along the promenade. We are up early the next morning, along with the rain, for a substantial ride across the country toward Bari on the east coast. Our target is Matera, more than 500km away. The rain persists in light showers and doesn’t help on the gridlocked circular around Rome, that is a drag, but once we are past that I wind the new throttle cable up and we make fast time all the way to Matera, arriving late afternoon. After a rest, shower and well earned beer, it is on dusk so we head down to the old town, just in time for the “light show”, the pre dusk light on the old city is just magical, and we are entranced as the “city of kestrels” also puts on a show of nature with the birds calling and courting constantly and taking up every vantage point over this unique city, and allowing us to look through the window into their courtship. We remain in awe for an hour just watching the sun go down and the kestrels reveling in the spring evening, it is an hour I’ll never forget. We spent the next morning exploring more of this old city carved out of rock before heading for our ferry in nearby Bari. If you ever get a chance, visit Matera, it is quite special, and although a UNESCO world heritage site, is not over run with tourists.