Home > 2011 Posts, About Dave > Slackalackin’ on the Instep

Slackalackin’ on the Instep

It was a long drive from the dig near Siena, more than three hundred miles. But the lovely late spring day and ruined castles topping the Apennine foothills made the trip to our hotel on the Gulf of Taranto a delight. Incidentally, Lancia makes cars that are a great match for Italy’s driving conditions.


In the ‘boot’ of Italy, ruins of the ancient Greek colony-city of Metapontion lie almost exactly at the instep. Our destination for the next three weeks was a pleasant beach resort, Akiris, located a few miles west, in tiny Marina di Nova Siri. The place is not somewhere you would  go to experience for itself, but it is a perfect base camp from which to explore the amazing things along much of the gulf.

You can easily reach Brindisi, Lecce and Gallipoli in the east and medieval Castrovillari and the ruins of famous Sybaris to the west . You know, Sybaris, the astonishingly rich and uninhibited Greek colony, the behavior of whose inhabitants gives us the word ‘sybaritic’.

Barbarossa's Palace Fortress Atop Rocca Imperiale

In-between, you can dine in a Norman castle on the water, climb to the top of Barbarossa’s looming fortress on Rocca Imperiale for a 50 mile view, explore the astonishing cave city of old Matera, wander among the mysterious Truli buildings of Alberobello, and meet the Messapian Tomb Serpents. Plus much, much more.

Il Castello, Norman c.1070

Future posts will have stories and photos from each of these places. But this post is about an approach to travel that has proved itself best for us. We call it Slackalackin’, a wholesome variation on Chris Rock’s decidedly unwholesome term, Crackalackin’,

When one chooses the Slackalack travel mode, days alternate between intense exploration and poolside R&R (or I&I, depending on your inclination that morning). What you get for weeks at a time is never having to pack and unpack, or check out and check-in, or hassle with travel overhead. You just enjoy. But, the place you want to explore is usually not a short distance away. For us, that’s no choice at all. We hate packing and unpacking, etc and we love scenery.

Anyway, in a land like Italy, a car trip or taking the train is a great travel experience in itself most of the time. There have been exceptions, though. Driving across Rome comes to mind. And our unintended participation in an Agricultural Subsidies Protest on the coast highwayalso rears its head: eight miles, behind tractors and combines, moving at a walking pace, in a section with no exits . But these were both avoidable exceptions to what is a good, general rule.

Medieval Turret Window in Castrovillari

The main benefit of Slackalackin’ is that you don’t feel worn out during the later parts of your trip. Your energy and enthusiasm on the final day of exploration is as high as it was on the first.

That’s also the main benefit of a cruise that stops at a different port every day. But Slackalackin’ is so much less costly and so much more flexible. We often take cruises to get our bearings in a new part of the world, but when we come back to dig in deep, it’s always by Slackalackin’.

Most people’s main objection to our method is “I can’t be away for that long!”

A 'Fixer-Upper'

And my answer comes from Lou, a guy I worked with some years ago. He declared that three weeks was the ideal time to be away from work. I was appalled. Three whole weeks? Not possible. But, then he revealed one of those Wisdom-of-the-Ages tidbits that you know is true as soon as you hear it.

“Three weeks is the perfect amount of time to be away,” Lou advised. “It’s long enough for everyone to desperately miss what you do, but not long enough for anyone to figure out that they can do it without you.”

Think about it. Then go Slackalackin’.

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  1. October 17, 2011 at 6:34 am

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