Thursday, 15 October 2015

Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Puglia, in a day.

Saturday, 10th October

It's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security with this motorhoming malarkey and give the impression that it's a breeze. One fascinating day following another, a life of endless sunny days drinking local wine outdoors surrounded be gorgeous scenery. Now it's true, there are lots of days like that, but there are also others which have unexpectedly tricky moments. Yesterday was one of them.

Before we left home we had sketched out a rough route which would get us to Brindisi by the 16th, our departure date. From Assisi we had planned to drive south, stay at a Sosta in Cassino, then cut across country to Manfredonia, near the Gargagno Peninsula, staying at the Campsite at Lido Solpi. Now heavy rain was being forecast and our planned route took us through some narrow mountain passes on smaller roads. So, we looked at the maps again and decided to make a bee-line for the autostrada that follows the Adriatic coast. We found a clutch of sostas just south of Pescara. Next day we would have an easypeasy drive to Lido Solpi

Unnamed road in the torrential rain
First glitch, we had a Satnav malfunction, for some reason Muriel decided to head-off on a northerly direction from Spoleto. Her attempts to rectify the situation took us on narrow, unclassified roads which wound their way ever higher into the more remote regions of the Apennines. It would have been picturesque but for the torrential downpour. We persevered and eventually joined the main road which we should have picked up miles back at Spoleto. an hour or so later than planned we found the dual carriageway that headed towards the autostrada.

Pete, *Where are we?"   Gill, !]No idea!"

"Oh look! Here's the road from Spoleto we should have been on in the first place..."
Driving conditions were tricky. Where the road tunnelled through hills, the short covered sections were interspersed with connecting bridges, most only a couple of hundred metres long. The road would be bone dry in the tunnel, but you exited into a waterfall of rain and puddles the size of ponds. It was unnerving. Just how hazardous the conditions had become was underlined when the tanker in front of us swerved into the outside lane of the tunnel, a brave soul waving an LCD torch appeared momentarily pressed against the tunnel wall. moments later we past a three car pile up on the inside lane. Bits of bumper were spread across the road. The occupants stood by their crumpled cars; they looked shocked, but uninjured.

The downpour becomes a monsoon.
We crossed Umbria, into Marche, and eventually reached Abruzzo - all new territory. It was now late afternoon, the downpours continued unabated, but we were approaching the camper stops we had identified around Vasto. The first could only be reached through a 2.7m railway bridge - too low for Maisy. The second two, at S Salvo Marina were locked up, though the Camperstops book listed them as open all year.

Now we were in a bit of a pickle. It was after 5 o'clock, daylight would soon fade. We found the number of a campsite at Manfredonia, checked that reception would be able to receive us around 8ish, and headed south once more on the autostrada. A sign announced we had left Molise and were entering Puglia, I had not realised we were in Molise anyway.

Usually I avoid driving the motorhome after dark, but needs must. The autostrada was more or less empty. That bit was easy. The final forty kilometres from Foggia on the S89 was scary. The surface water made the road reflective like a polished black tile. The white line markings were non-existent, and the driving, well, Italian!

At eight on the dot we drew up at Lido Solpi. I glanced at the odometer, did a quick bit of mental arithmetic, and concluded we had just driven 289 miles in terrible weather.

Not everyday is a piece of cake.

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