A castle and an historic battlefield were on tap today. On the way out of Gravina, we were met by a group of Italian riders. And by met, I mean overtaken, passed and left in the dust. But as had been the case on every day of the tour, the weather was glorious, the countryside was spectacular and the wind was in our faces.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Gravina in Puglia to Canosa
After the encounter with the Giro d'Italia riders, there was a nice climb through an open valley. At the top, we found the van pulled over with some of the group out looking over a wide plain to the hill and castle we would be riding to. The castle had an oddly contemporary look from outside - precise shapes, symmetrical, unmarked, smooth, white walls. Inside, it did look a bit more like the medieval structure it was with rough stone floors, rambling hallways and rooms connected in a hard to discern order and steep, winding staircases. It was a nice rest stop and an interesting piece of local history.
We were not through with historical sites by a long shot. As it happens, Julio was quite absorbed with the famous battle between Hannibal and the Roman army at Cannae. The site was well marked on our maps, but when we arrived at the location, we found ourselves on an overpass above a four lane highway. Turns out, there was a service plaza named after the battle site, which was only a few miles further on.
We started the visit here at the ruins of a castle above the battlefield. It was not really part of the history of the battle itself, but there was a visitors' center with some artifacts and descriptions of the events. However, considering the magnitude of the events that happened there, it was a bit understated.
Here is a view over the battlefield, now a large vineyard and not part of the memorial.
After racing a thunderstorm into town, we settled in to the hotel. Dinner that evening was actually typical of many we shared during the ride. We would go to a small restaurant, several times being the only customers, and ask the staff to just serve what they felt best represented their establishment and the area. Meals were exceptional and we were often treated to complimentary grapa or home made limoncello.
Highlight of the day
The visit to Cannae was something Julio had been hoping to do for a long time. The story of the battle first captured his attention while he was in high school. Sharing the visit with him was clearly a high point of the tour.