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Through the Sila to the north along the Adriatic coast

Home -> Europe -> Italy -> Travelogue Italy -> 02 & 03 June 2004

Wednesday 02 June, through the Sila to the north along the Adriatic coast

Silla grande Sila GrecaWe want to cover a long distance today, but not without seeing some nature in this part of Italy. Therefore we take a road through the Sila mountains, also callaed little Switzerland of Calabria; high tablelands with lots of woods, quite different from the surrounding areas which are more withered and barren.
To the left a monument along the way for two lovers. To the right the broom is flowering an colours the hills yellow.
Longobucco LongobuccoIt is a nice trip that we take through the Sila Grande and the Sila Greca, but it takes us more than 3 hours for only 100 kilometers and the road consists of nothing more than curves, thousands of them. And again we discover some old villages build on the top of a rock. From above it seems as if there is no space left for streets between the houses.
Some of them, like Longobucco, are forbidden to enter with the car since the roads are indeed too narrow.
At Rosanno, a somehwat bigger town, we search for a shop since we didn't have breakfast. But everything is shut tight. We drive through the center with it's narrow streets but we only see closed doors. Even the restaurants and bars are closed as well as many gasstations. Of course, we think, it is between 1 and 3 in the afternoon, so everyone is having a siesta and we drive on. All the villages we come through look totally deserted. This is what our travel guide says about the opening times in Italy: it is total anarchy. So we drive on, hoping it will be different in another region and we pass trhough some nice towns, like Melfi. But no open shops. Now, writing this report at night (and too late), we read that June 2nd is a national holiday, to commemorate the proclamation of the republic. The next holiday will be on August 15, so we shouldn't have this problem anymore on this trip!
Cala CastelloAround 3 o'clock we finally find a restaurant that is open, near a castle. The only food they offer is a complete menu, and we are not that hungry, so we only have a drink. And food is only served inside but the weather is too nice to sit outside and our last argument for not eating is that we are not allowed to smoke inside and we are still addicted...
From Calabria we now pass through Basilicata, a barren and inhospitable area. It is amazing how desolate a landscape can be, there are not even cars on the road. Now we know that one of the reasons for that is the holiday.
Along the highwayAnd again we have been pondering about the traffic! Pedestrian crossings along a highway going nowhere; highways which are announced with lots of big signs but never show up, they probably put the signs there before they start building the roads (some highways are already on the map but don't trust them too much, especially for southern Italy); highways with speed limits: 60 km. 40 km. and even 20 km. while there are 4 lanes, all in good shape... Regularly we drive 50 to 80 kilometer too fast and even police cars then still pass us at even higher speeds.
Once we are stopped for a check of our car papers and there is one village where there is a speed check. But the police cars are visible from a long distance and some cars drive on with a speed of 70 km. an hour, without being caught. The roads are quite bad in this part of Italy and we really have to watch out for the big and deep holes in the road. Another difficulty is the signposting, which is really terrible. Sometimes an exit is announced long before it is there and when you want to take the exit you see that they meant the second one; sometimes the signpost stands on the exit itself but the Italians like signposts and then put 20 together on the point of the exit, so you have to make a decision in a split second without being able to read all the signs. It often happens to us that we take a wrong turn and have to drive back again.
Although the roads are almost empty we still think Italy is quite chaotic, but it is also one of it's charms. But we feel very tired when we arrive around 8 at Manfredonia on the northern coast. We had choosen a campsite from a campguide but (obviously) there is no sign of it. Finally we decide to take a bungalow in one of the many holiday resorts since it is getting too late to put up the tent. We expect these touristic villages to be modern and proper, but inside the resort it is as messy and chaotic as the rest of Italy. We pass a gate and then find out that the campsite which we were looking for is part of this village. But we take a bungalow at the African Beach where no one speaks anything else than Italian, we almost get a quarrel with someone. Hopefully this goes all well when we have to pay tomorrow...
A word about the weather: the day started very grey and cloudy, then it became hot and sunny but later in the afternoon we had some real heavy showers. The next few days will be not much better and even colder, so we don't know yet what our plans will be. But first we have a rest in our African chalet on the Italian beach.

Thursday 03 June 2004, along the north coast to Fano

At night we are really glad that we didn't set up the tent when the thunderstorms begin and never seem to end. Outside everything is soaking wet when we get up in the morning. We have breakfast in the car although it is not very cold outside. But now and then it rains and it is not really inviting weather to take a stroll. But sometimes the sun comes out and then we have beautiful views on the coastline of the Gargamo peninsula.
The coast of Gargano The coast of GarganoThe Gargamo is the spur to the heel of the Italian boot and is gorgeous to drive through: limestone hills and mountains, white villages and wide sandy beaches. And sometimes views that are shown in every travel guide, like the rocks to the right. In the northeastern part, near Vieste, is a lot of tourism, considered the number of hotels and campsites but it still is relatively quiet.
Rodi GarganicoFrom Vieste we follow road SS 89 which goes all the way to the west. Near Rodi Garganico we take a break to have a coffee and although more and more clouds are gathering we can still sit outside. The temperature feels very nice.
A new road is being constructed (no sign of it on our new map!) and a part of is it ready, but we follow the old road which is very poorly maintained, but it offers better views since it goes higher up the hills.
Goats along the waySometimes we think we are in Scotland: cows, sheep, goats and dogs roam freely over the road and regularly we have to stop for a herd of one or the other. The dogs guarding the sheep look like sheep themselves, white and hairy as they are.
Then it starts raing again, pouring even and the clouds hang low above the lanscape, taking away any view on the beauty around us. We wanted to go a bit more into the interior of Italy, but since we won't be able to see much we take the highway to the north, through the county Abruzzo. Only at 6 we start to see some blue spots in the air, somewhere in the distance and after half an hour we finally see the sun again. Not a perfect journey to take pictures of the scenery which is quite nice. The rough mountains slowly turn into sloping, but still quite high, hills when we drive into the next county, Le Marche.
When it is time to look for a place to spend the night we are still in doubt wether we will take a hotel or sleep in the tent. The weather forecast last night was quite bad for the whole country, but it looks so beautiful now. We stop and look at the laptop through the campsite guide. Less than 10 km. away should be a nice one. When we had seen a motel along the highway we would have taken a room there, but we didn't see any, so we drive to the campsite.
View at FanoCamp Mar y Sierra, near the town of Fona, turns out to be a nice campsite which also has rooms and bungalows (the latter not being ready yet). It is already after eight and we don't feel like putting up the tent so we take a simple room, since we have the choice. This way we are sure to keep the tent dry. The campsite lies on a hill and we have a nice view.
In two days we have now traveled from the southern point of Italy to a far end up north. We haven't seen much of the interior of the country, but we knew that beforehand. We wanted to taste a bit of all of Italy, since the country is too big and has too many sights, attractions, culture and nature to see in a few weeks. Every region has it's own characteristics and charm. But we have decided to spend our last days at Zadar, Croatia, to visit our friend Joshko. So, tomorrow will be our last day in Italy.


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