I left Potenza with storm clouds in the sky and a cool breeze blowing. It was going to be a long trip to Castelmezzano, but I was feeling fresh and ready to go. Once again, the day was filled with switchback roads, absurdly long climbs and amazing views. I stopped around 23 km to fill up (my stomach) on water and to eat the granola bar that Lieze had given me. It was a short break, and I went straight into the second half of the run feeling fresh and ready to go. 47 kilometers is a long ways, and the last 10 km were up one of the most insane hills I have done. Despite how tired I was, I somehow forced myself to keep running. At times the hill was so difficult that my stride was hardly the length of my foot. By the time I neared the top of the hill I was making the muffled sounds of a dying cow. I felt pretty pitiful...but considering the situation, deservedly so.
Castelmezzano was a beautiful sight. Built into the rocks of the Dolomiti Lucane, it follows the natural forms of the mountain and seems grappled to the towering rocks which lay behind. When I came into the city, one of the first things I noticed was a screaming man flying far over my head. He flew almost a mile from one peak to another, high above the valley below. Had I not already known what was going on, I probably would have been pretty surprised. This was the famous "Volo dell'Angelo": a massive zip line from one peak to another which allows people to "fly like an angel." It looked pretty amazing, and I went into the tourism office to see if I could give it a go. It ended up being 38 Euro, which I couldn't really rationalize. As I decided to hold off on shelling out around 60 bucks until the next time I found myself in Castelmezzano, the woman told me they were sold out anyway.
I spent the rest of the day climbing around the rocks above the town and sitting down to enjoy the views and give my legs a rest. There is a staircase that was cut in the rock by the Templars, and pretty much all of the rocks offer some nice view or another. The whole day I wandered around, every couple of minutes seeing some screaming person fly far above my head. I was definitely a bit jealous.
My legs felt terrible from the run, and every time I would get up from sitting down it felt like walking would be impossible. One step after another though, I managed.
I spoke to a lot of people about finding a place to stay, and wasn't coming up with any solutions. The cold mountain air was starting to worry me...sleeping outside would not be an option. I also checked my wallet (a ziploc bag) to see that I only had around 7 Euros. There was no bank in the town, and I laughed when I thought about how much it would suck if the next town also didn't have an ATM.
At the end of the night, Rosellina who ran one of the two bar/cafes in the center of town talked with her husband Antonio and they offered me a place to stay in a spare room/studio thing they had. There was no shower, but I wasn't about to complain. I wouldn't freeze to death, and that was what mattered.
Before going to bed, I spent some time hanging out with a huge group of locals in the town center...they were playing instruments and singing drunken songs, and I had a little bit of their sweet locally brewed wine.
Around midnight I went back to my little room and gave myself a sink/wet-cloth shower and rinsed off my clothes before going to sleep.
09 September 2009