August 31: Matera Around San Giuliano Lake and to the "Original Sin Crypt"

With the sun promising a warm day, the group assembled immediately after breakfast for bike fittings and general "instructions" on how to get out of town. Matera is a maze of crooked streets, some with stairs, some of stone and some just steep. To find the perfect spot to start pedaling became the chore of the guides -- and the town square was voted in. A gentle ride through the old town and into the square gave everyone a chance to try out the gears, seat placement and general operations of the bike. And now onto the ride!

One guide (Ilaria) is responsible for moving the van from one point of the route to another always trying to stay slightly ahead of the group to be on hand if help is needed. The other guide (Jen) rides with the group and assists with reading the directions or any other immediate help that may be warranted. Such a perfect arrangement for the day!

Within 2km of the trip Jen disappeared!! The group while confused as to the next turn stopped to ask for help. Where did she go?? Backtracking found Jen with rear bike tire off on the side of a busy street with a major puncture in her tire. This time it wasn't the guides that provided help -- it was the group! Team work is the motto! The supplying of a 10 Euro note to "boot" the tire and some air in a new tube and everyone was good to go. Off out of town and through the countryside to San Giuliano Lake.

Situated 15km out of town, the lake is surrounded by pine and eucalyptus trees allowing one's senses to explode with the smell of each. The lake is aqua in color encircled by the green of the trees. It is a picture impossible to capture other than through memory.

Continuing on to the winery Azienda Dragone and its famous Crypt of Original Sin, the promise of lunch draws the group onward and upward. The Crypt of Original Sin is a cave located in a rocky hollow overlooking the limestone cliff behind the winery main building. Its walls are covered with narrated scenes from the Old and New Testament in a cycle of frescoes dating back to the 9th century. A. D. of the rupestrian wall paintings. Prior to discovery in 1963 the caves had sheltered herders with their flocks for centuries. Today it serves as a historical treasure and is tightly restricted to preserve its beauty. Pictures are not allow within the confines of the cave and entry is allowed only under the watchful eye of a guide. The visit is well worth the restrictions and is praised by the group for the effort.

After a four course meal and wine tasting the group heads back out into the afternoon sun and returns to Matera.

Sandy, Ilaria, Shawna, Claudia, Tracie: "We Can Do This!"

Jen: "Ilaria, The Manuel Says to Turn Clockwise!' Shawna: "Oh Boy, I Hope They Know What They Are Doing."

Christy: "I'm Just Going to Stay Back Here and Watch"

Shawna: "You Can Fix This, Right?"

The Group Is READY!

Jen: "Look Mom, A 10 Euro Note!"

Sue With Lake In Distance

Sandy and Shawna Checking out Lake View

Crypt Entrance

Sandy at Winery

Lunch Italian Style!