It was again quite a hot day in this mountainous part of southern Italy. At sea level, 45 minutes drive down the steep winding road, Naples was sweltering uncomfortably in the August sun. Here at altitude the air was cooler of course, but the sun seemed just as strong. Choosing the early afternoon for an exploration of the medieval quarter of the town was therefore a hobby only fit for the mad English, but still I decided to wander down past the square with the quiet cafes and ice cream bars, down the hill past the few desultory fashion shops and assorted stores.

Once off the end of the square, the buildings changed suddenly, and though the paintwork was still new and tidy, the ad hoc mixture of angles - never right - with which walls fitted together, the rough texture of surfaces and the shrunk, compressed, squeezed in feel of the houses, made it clear this was the old quarter, the medieval remnant of the town.

Another sensation quickly became apparent, wandering around the winding paths of this quarter: it was cool, blissfully and gently cool in comparison with the tarmac and paved expanses of the square, even with the fringes of trees to add shade, or compared to the normal, wide roads and pavements designed for traffic and bustling shopping crowds.

Unfortunately, cool and interesting though it was, this medieval quarter was small, and only a few minutes walking meant the whole area had been mapped out and investigated, though many interesting courtyards and gardens lay invisible behind walls and high gates. Below and beyond even this lowest point of the town however lay open countryside, dipping away briefly before the ground rose again to a small hill upon whose summit were clearly visible the stone remains of what seemed to be a hilltop castle of small but distinct proportions.

This had to be worth a visit and it was easy to drop away from the last line of cramped dwellings lining the lowest limit of the town, to cross the ridge, ground falling away further, steeply on either side, and to climb the hill up to where the stone foundations poked from the grass like squared-off teeth. There was an impressive view in the brilliant light of the afternoon, up and down several valleys that dived deeply into the earth. All around was apparent stillness, and even the heat haze seemed to have given up bothering to shimmer. The hilltop was exposed but the air too seemed to have given up moving and no breeze refreshed the stones. Sitting and looking at the view, and looking at the remains of what, at a closer view was probably rather too small to be a castle, was a good moment to become lost in thought. Who had made this building and why? How had it come to be ruined? - through earthquake, or hostile attack, or perhaps simple bad building? It would be easy to get carried away with a world of imaginings as the sun beat down on the sleepy mountains as it had every summer since well before these stones were set.

It was definitely time to be getting back to some shade, this heat was suddenly becoming uncomfortable for a temperate constitution and the only breeze was that of my walking back down and along the ridge back towards the town. Clambering back onto the road and through the twisting streets the cooler air did nothing to dispel the powerful parched sensation in the throat and it was easy to decide the next priority was a shop that would sell a cold refreshing drink. However, this was mid afternoon, and wherever I looked, even up in the usually busy ranges of bars in the square, every door was closed and shuttered: the town sensibly snoozed the afternoon heat away in the shade. The more I searched for an open shop or bar the more the sense of thirst became inflamed, and though I could have cut losses and made straight up the hot hill to the hotel, it seemed too bizarre, so unfair, that a quenching drink should be unavailable before that: I searched on.

At last I decided that in fact I would be obliged to march through the heat up the road to the hotel, though the parched, dry feeling was maddening and unpleasant. Then, left outside a cafe on a table, may attention was caught by half a small yellow fruit: I grabbed the half lemon and bit into its juicy flesh with relish, its sharp tang biting into my tongue with exquisite pain.

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