I will have to spend the rest of today reflecting carefully upon my visit to Benevento, Massimo, his ideas, his promises and his actions. It was an “interesting” experience to have spent 48 hours with him. The inverted commas say much.
For the time being I’ll stick to this morning. The three of us – Massimo, Aitza (the visiting Spaniard) and myself – set off early from Benevento town centre and within a few minutes we were in one of the valleys that encircle the town on a very quiet road. Beautiful scenery. The hills are now just that – hills rather than the mountains that I experienced just south of Rome but just as stunning. One crop that is grown in abundance here is tobacco. It’s a rather ugly plant which in some ways seems appropriate. What is interesting to see and does add to the countryside however are the cubed structures fitted neatly in open barns from which the tobacco leaves are hung to dry. Despite the lack of support from the EU – no subsidy – there is clearly money to be made from these dark green leaves.
At one point we were taken on another one of Massimo’s unannounced diversions (there have been many in the last couple of days). This time it was to see a friend of his who kept a small-holding in one of the villages. He watered us and gave us a taste of produce. It tasted wonderful.
We climbed higher and higher until it became time to drop into the next valley. For most of the morning I had held up the back of our small group, Massimo in the front. However, feeling the urge to use a long downhill stretch to cool off I overtook my fellow cyclists. At the bottom of the hill I turned right towards the town of Grottaminarda, a town we had arranged to pass through when discussing out route last night. After one hundred metres or so I paused to wait for the others to join me. They never did.
I guess they must have turned left and continued on their circular route back towards Benevento as planned. I’ll have to speculate why they never turned right this afternoon while I try to fathom the rest of Massimo.
I continued eastward and find myself having lunch in a remote service station. The heat is fearsome, but, suitably covered in sun cream I will soon be on my way to the Laghi di Monticchio and probably my last night camping.