Sunday 23rd October
I really shouldn’t have anything to complain about, I don’t work, I can laze around whenever I want, I’m almost on permanent holiday, the weather is not bad (occasionally sunny but not freezing cold) but today I am heading for a rant.
We’re in Italy, home to one of the greatest empires ever built, wherever you go in Europe you can be sure the Romans were there long before you and they left monuments that make you feel like a midget. The food is fantastic and you can make a long list of all your favourite Italian foods, spaghetti bolognese, pizza, risotto, lasagne, cannelloni, etc, etc. Italian ingredients: – Parmesan, Parma ham, passata, pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, etc, etc. We even have Italian restaurants in Britain. You can make a similar list of cars, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, De Tomasa, Lancia Delta… OK forget the Lancia but you can see where I’m going with this.
So what in hells name is this? I’ll let you into a little secret, in Italy it’s called an Autostrada (motorway).
Here is another bit of truly awful road. When I say awful road, what I really mean is normal road. It seems like the Romans laid all the roads and no one has bothered to repair any of them since. These really are the worst roads I have ever driven on and I’ve been on the N125 in Portugal which is a billiard table in comparison. There have been much worse sections of road but Lucy is trying to take photos whilst keeping her mouth clenched so her fillings don’t get shaken out and all the rest have been blurry.
Here’s a typical sign that you will see a lot of. Bumpy road, 20mph speed limit, no overtaking. All it means is that the road is a bit f*@Ked up. Message to Italy. Just put signs like this up at the borders and don’t bother putting them every 100 yards, in fact you could save enough money that you could re-lay all of the roads. Whilst we’re talking roads lets not forget the drivers. Seat belts are optional and mobile phones are essential. Road markings and signs are to be obeyed only by the British. I’ll be driving along being pushed by the car behind who is trying to read the serial numbers off the bikes on the back. Double white lines and signs saying no overtaking and whoosh and then sharp braking as they try and make their turning either left or right. They have absolutely no patience whatsoever and must at all costs be in front of you. Many cars are German makes which don’t come with indicators as standard but they do come with a horn which seems to be a source of pride, beep, beep, look at me, I’ve got a horn. Sometimes I join in with the beeping for no reason at all.
Rant over, I feel a bit better now.
After leaving San Marino and filling up we headed along the coast to Fano. The sosta wasn’t much to speak of but no one came round to collect the €5 per night fee so we stayed there a couple of nights. We looked out over the Adriatic (through a chain link fence), did a bit of sunbathing and watched the fishermen drown their poor little worms.
The town itself was OK, there were some old buildings (I’ve lost the map so can’t give you names).
This chap came calling a couple of thousand years ago, Fano is on a good trading route with Rome through the Appenine mountains but it is fairly easy travelling and there’re no Grossglockner passes here.
This is the gate that Julius Caesar would have come through on his way to a thirst quenching pint of…
Today’s beer of the day. An eye watering (nearly a pint) of genuine Heineken for €6 per nearly a pint. I bet you anything you like Caesar never paid prices like that!
The following day was Saturday so we went into town to get a couple of basics (radicchio, cornflour and passata – try and guess what we’re cooking tonight) which should mean that we have menus until Monday. It was market day (lucky me) so it meant all the shops were open, even during sleepy time.
We moved on to Gubbia after trying another town and taking an instant dislike to the sosta (next to a main road, uneven surface, all by ourselves (we get lonely). It was free but you can easily tell if somewhere makes you feel uncomfortable.
Gubbia has a decent sosta out of town behind a technical college. Walking in we first see the remains of a Roman amphitheater with a large church at the top of the hill.
As you can see, in far better condition than any of the roads.
You can’t help noticing the 14th century Palazzo dei Consoli, the seat of government for this area.
Gubbia and all of the surrounding area is well know for their majolica industry which dates back about 400 years when a master craftsman discovered how to create a ruby red glaze and despite employing hundreds of people in his workshops took the secret to his grave.
The Palazzo is a great building, very imposing from every direction and was years ahead of it’s time. The building has internal fountains and toilets with the plumbing built into the walls.
The roads are steep but car friendly, I can’t see Frankie getting up there no matter what Stella says.
We did a lot of aimless walking, up steep paths and down, looking at the roofs of buildings that just scream “made in Italy”, and the sun was shining!!
Sunday’s pint of the day, another €10 never to be seen again, I’m just thinking that I could get 6 bottles of wine flavoured drink in San Marino for that (or 4 pints in Wetherspoons).
This is why we had to have the beer of the day. Everything shuts for half a day, everyday, so the Italians can catch up with their sleep or housework or dreaming about smooth roads, Anyway, before I get all ratty again, in about 1500AD seven brass tablets were found down by the amphitheatre. Two are inscribed in Latin whilst the other five are in the ancient language of the Umbrians. They are called the Eugubian tablets.
Lucy had seen them mentioned in the guide book. I can’t begin to imagine how long they took to inscribe, bronze isn’t the easiest of metals to work.
On the way back to Frankie we saw this church which looked a bit odd. The top half of the exterior has come away (probably due to an earthquake).
Did I tell you we were in a sosta next to a technical college? They start classes at 8am, all the students drive Vespas. It’s very noisy at 7.45am.