Alba was a seaside resort on the east coast of Italy, lying between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea where you could be walking on the beach one morning and an hour later you could be on the ski slopes.
Jacqui and Sergio had a garden flat in a quiet road not far from the sea front. Their little apartment, in a block of four, had a patio and garden, surrounded by a thick hedge. On the far side of the hedge were parking bays, one for each resident and that was where we parked our camper. Sergio rigged up an electric cable that wormed its way out of their window, across the garden path and through the hedge to provide us with a power supply.
On Easter Sunday we drove west into the snowy Apennines and on into the green Sabine Hills – once famous for its beautiful women and the story of the Roman army under Emperor Romulus attacking the local villages and abducting the young women to become wives for the Roman soldiers. There were several old masters depicting “The Rape Of The Sabine Women” although history questions whether the women were raped or just invited to become solders’ wives. I wonder what you think?
Last year disaster struck the area with a series of violent earthquakes, reducing building to rubble and destroying roads and bridges. We passed by on a recently repaired main road from where we could see villages with semi collapsed buildings next to piles of rubble as well as whole hillsides that had slid down and had blocked the main road. We saw the prefabricated homes now housing the surviving population who remained in the area tending their animals and growing produce as best they could.
The restaurant where we had lunch was packed with large family groups – pre booking was essential. Each place was set with a generous plate of cold meats and cheese, served with red cabbage in local olive oil, plus a steaming dish of savoury chopped offal. There were jugs of red and white wine and bread. Then followed two dishes of home made pasta followed by the meat course, a choice of various roasted meats and sausages – we chose a dish of baby goat but I also bravely tried tripe cooked Roman style. After dessert of crepes and ice cream we had coffee and tasters of their home made liqueurs. It was quite late when we finally left the restaurant although we weren’t the last to leave by a mile.