Paestum - Water buffalo and Greek temples

Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
Trip End Sep 20, 2008

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Flag of Italy  , Campania,
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

10:10 PM
     Hey! Wow what an awesome day! We slept later than usual due to the cancellation of the ceramic factory tour, but I've already seen dozens of ceramic shops so I didn't really mind. We got on the bus at 8:30 and drove to Paestum.
     Paestum is quite a small town with only one very impressive yet often unnoticed tourist destination. We started out at a mozzarella factory. I saw the men pulling and stretching the curds until they were soft and smooth balls of mozzarella cheese. However, we not only learned about the water buffalo which make the cheese (yes, there's actually herds of water buffalo in Italy), but also about every use for water buffalo. I stopped at a leather shop (this is all on the farm grounds) which made water buffalo purses from the leather.  I also saw how to make yogurt using buffalo milk and also some tools that were used to milk the water buffalo 150 years ago. Then I finally got to see the actual water buffalo. First of all, it smelled like manure, which my hometown smells like for most of the spring and summer, so I thought it smelled like home. Others might have been a bit distraught by the overwhelming pungency, but I'm a country girl and I didn't really care about it.
      These water buffalo live better than some people do. They have a rubber mattress for each of them, a personal backscratcher, and a shower once a week. They do work though. Twice a day, they all line up outside a milking machine to be milked on the way to meals. These animals are about the size of bulls, but they might taste different (unfortunately, they don't kill them for buffalo burgers or wings). So as the interesting tour came to an end, I was able to sample fresh (only one hour old!) mozzarella cheese. It was so yummy! I love the sweeter taste of the squishy white cheese. We had a bit of free time to check out the yogurteria. Several people (including myself) got gelato. It was made with buffalo milk with has 10% fat which is more than the typical cow's milk which only contains 2.6% fat. I had chocolate - delicious!! So creamy and good, I don't know how I'll ever go back to eating American ice cream again.
     After finishing the gelato, we boarded the bus and drove to a small part of the town for lunch and some shopping. After I did some shopping, Granddad, Grandma, and I had prosciutto with melon and frozen drinks. I liked the combination of ham and melon - Italians do it best.
     We then met up with the rest of the group for a tour of the best thing in Paestum - ruins of Greek temples and the surrounding ruins of the town. There were 3 skeletons of 2,000 year old temples dedicated to Athena and Hera. SO COOL!!! LOVED IT!! It was so, so neat to see the ruins of the magnificent and intact temples. Walking around the foundations that made up ancient Paestum was pretty cool too. I walked around and took pictures while listening to the tour guide dump tons of information on us via earpiece. I got some great pictures before we said "ciao" to Paestum and headed back to the hotel. Once again, I don't remember the drive back because I fell asleep and I had to be woken up when we arrived at the hotel.
     It was a gorgeous day today. It was about 85° degrees out with a nice breeze - the second best day so far. I've always wanted to swim in the Mediterranean Sea and today I accomplished that dream. Let me describe the beach. There was a fine type of gravel made of volcanic rock instead of sand. There are no shells, only rocks and the occasional piece of sea glass and some worn pottery. There are no waves; it's more like a large lake than an ocean. The water temperature was perfect: warm, but not hot; cool, but not cold. I did a bit of swimming before I went over to chat with other members of group who also went to the sea after the tour. I looked for shells, but to no avail, so I picked up a couple pieces of sea glass and some pottery instead.
     I went up to my room and showered before I had to run into town for AA batteries. When I got back, we readied and left for dinner early to avoid the threat of rain from the dark clouds. It never actually rained, so we hung out with many other members of our group outside the restaurant. We got in a 7:30 and were fed quickly and efficiently at "La Sosca". We had some awesome bread before eating gnocchi for our pasta course. A side salad was served shortly thereafter and then I had pizza as my entrée. Yum!! I really enjoyed it. We had an angel food cake with lemon cream filling for dessert. After a tasty dinner, we quickly walked back to the hotel to get out of the windy coldness that had suddenly come over Vietri-sul-Mare.
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