Thursday, October 19th, 2000 On the road again!
On the road to Salerno by 8 am. Headed South to Paestum; a Greek/Roman Ruins that dates back to 550 B.C. Three large temples and a whole town of buildings that only have the bottom layer which allows you to see the layout of the buildings and homes. There are swimming pools, streets, etc. Somewhat similar to Pompeii, but much older.
The sun was blinding while driving out of the Amalfi Coast, but at least we were so early that there were very few large tour buses on the road. But, we did keep the window rolled down to listen for the horns. It took forty-five minutes to reach Salerno and the autostrassa. We were in Paestum by 9:30 and left about 11:30 am.
Our plan was to drive to Caserta and find a new hotel. There is a palace there that really looks great! Arrived about 1 pm and found a large industrial city and we couldn’t find any hotels. Saw a mountain town and drove up the mountain to it. Same name “Caserta”, but very, very old and no hotels. Took us less than a half hour to walk through the streets. People do live there and there are tons of little restaurants. But now we know why we shouldn’t spend lots of time getting in to the small hill towns that we see from the highways unless we see them marked in the tour books as something to visit!
Back in town we actually found the palace; but didn’t stop as we were busy looking for hotels! Didn’t find any hotels! Followed signs to several and they were always closed. So, new game plan…back on the Autostrassa and head further north to a town called Cassino. Got there about 4 PM. Found several hotels right off the main road. Drove into town and didn’t find another one, so back to the highway. Checked into a small hotel called Hotel Diana. They seem to cater to Tour Groups. Clean, carpet is worn, but has ok bed and bathroom in our room. Probably the worst of the trip, but better than a lot of others that we’ve driven past.
Went back into town and up the mountain to Monte Cassino. A famous Benediction Monastery which was built on the top of a mountain centuries ago. During WW II it was totally destroyed during a very famous battle. After the war, they rebuilt it exactly as it had been before the war. There are cemeteries all over. The Monastery was closing but we were able to get into the most famous of the cemeteries. It was located at the top of the hill near the Monastery. It is the Polish soldier’s cemetery. They fought the hardest in this battle. There was a group of people there and a priest was saying Mass for them in the open in the Cemetery. Lots of emotional feelings watching all of this. Down the mountain just before dark. Had dinner at a restaurant located in front of our little hotel. There were only two women in the whole place…myself and one other older woman. Place was full, but all men!!! Had spaghetti! Back to the hotel to wash hair and watch a movie “The Rock” dubbed in Italian so we could still hear the English!