Coast to Coast
All we had to do today was go from one coast to the other. It’s never that simple though. We had to trek through some busy towns, cars (most of them clapped out Fiat Pandas) spewing black smoke. It wasn’t very pretty. Italians and car maintenance don’t really seem to go hand in hand in the areas we have been travelling in.
I don’t think that I have mentioned so far about Fiat Pandas, remember them? They are still alive and kicking in the south of Italy, there are literally thousands of the things. Some are still in surprisingly good condition; others are held together by bits of string. They are in the towns and in the mountains (especially the ones that have 4×4 written on them). Some have lights on top of them, road maintenance I think…..One thing they have in common, their bloody horns work! Noisy, expressive bunch!
So, we were heading across another National Park to get to Reggio Calabria. I’d booked into a B&B, I’ve found using booking dot com takes the pain out of looking for accommodation when it starts to get dark.
The route across the hills was, once again, not for the feint hearted. Yet again, Ed managed to con me. Admittedly, I was as bored as he was, going by the Eastern coast road. Then Fanny came into her own and took us over the mountains. He does have the habit of saying, “It won’t add too much to our day,” or, “Och, we will be there by 3:30ish.” You’d think I’d have grasped it by now. Apparently not. I fell for it when Ed asked if I wanted to do more twisties, or take the boring route. I said to compromise. Half and half. So, he compromised. We went the whole way by the hills.
An average day on the bike is about 6 hours. That’s ok, but on some occasions we have ridden for all those hours and then spent some time, up to an hour in some cases, looking for what accommodation is open. It works beautifully in the summer, not so good in the off season. So, I’ve been booking in advance. In fairness, it’s their winter season.
When we were heading down into Reggio C, that’s when you realise just how high up we were. Not only that, there must be a bin man strike in Italy, it seems that any part of the towns up a hill, haven’t had litter collected for a week. It was a shame really, spoilt what would probably be a lovely area.
On the way across, we did go through some fabulously beautiful hilltop towns. One in particular, the sat nav had a hissy fit. She got a bit lost. We ended up leaving the village by one of the steepest ‘straight up’ roads yet. If I remember correctly, there was an obligatory hairpin at the bottom and the top. Even Ed commented. Smoggy was objecting too. I was too shell shocked to comment, for once, just focusing on getting up the hill!
Lovely views as you can imagine. What we have been wondering, is why the Italians have chosen such high places to build their villages all those centuries ago. I get that they were ‘defensive’ positions, but come on! Some are just bonkers! It’s not as if there’s a lack of land.
Coming into Reggio C, Ed and his bike found a pot hole. It must been about 3 feet wide and about 6″ deep. I saw him disappear into it and pop out the other side, pulling out a boulder, the size of a small meteor whilst he did it. Smoggy and I took evasive measures. His suspension is pretty knackered anyway, if I had landed in that, I would have been getting transported home! It was difficult not target fixating on that or the piles of rubbish in the street; especially when cars would be doing their usual, driving on any part of the road that’s available; sod whatever’s coming down the hill!
Our B&B was tricky to find, however, we got help from a random Italian. Later we found out that it was virtually unheard of for Italians to help anyone. It must have been my smiley face and the combination of the guy being a GS rider himself. They had the most confusing street system where we stopped. Geez. A one-way street going into a…. wait a minute….. Two, one-way streets converging into em…. um…. 2-way street going up, 1-way street going down. Brace yourself, we’re going in. We had to ‘go in’ three times until we found the place!
Luckily we had underground parking at the B&B. Just as well. Italians don’t look for parking spaces; they look for somewhere to park. On corners, across walkways, one wheel on a pavement, you name it, ingenious. Totally bonkers, but normal!
The whole Italian Driving School experience will be a separate blog, that both Ed and I will write….
We took a wander into town that evening and I even did a bit of shopping. Well, one shop. Briefly. I didn’t want to wreck what is a really enjoyable holiday. A lovely dinner of buffalo steak for me, which was really tender; Ed had pizza. Just for a change! He is, after all on a mission to find the best pizza that Italy can provide!
The next morning, the B&B had got in some gluten free bread and biscuits. The beauty of booking dot com and being able to put in a comment. Joanne, the lass at the B&B was just superb, gave us all sorts of advice. Some of the best hospitality yet!
Onwards to the ferry to Sicily.Ed was spitting. We got to the queue as the ferry left. It’s alright, there’ll be another along in a minute. Right enough. We stood in the sun and called Craig, who turned 40 on the 21st. I could see Mount Etna in the distance, a wee puff coming out from the summit. It’s ok though, Ed won’t be taking us up there. It’s covered in snow…..