We never seem to get used to Italian opening hours, and find ourselves repeatedly being thwarted by the lunchtime closing — I think our main issue is our fairly relaxed morning routine, which usually leads to us not venturing out until late-morning. Today was no exception — after driving to the clutch of camper accessories shops (with a minor detour due to some bizarre directions from our newly-acquired TomTom iPhone navigation app), we had only about 15 minutes before we found the shop closing around us. We suck.
So, the immense to-do list remains outstanding, except a couple of items we managed to find. Our community of mould gets to live another day!
We had a quick snack, parked by the noisy road, then hopped back on the autostrada and headed east, bound for Chieti near Italy’s east coast.
Our TomTom navigator — we dubbed her “Nigella” for now — took us off the motorway, and onto some fairly small crowded roads in an outer suburb. We were directed to make a turn onto another motorway, which looked oddly familiar, and turned out to be the same motorway we were directed off — we even passed by the exit we’d previously taken! Oh, Nigella.
We’d decided to avoid the tollway, preferring to take the surface roads and avoid the hefty €14 toll charge, so we’d disabled tolls in the navigation app. This plan was thwarted by Nigella, who apparently knew better: We found ourselves taken straight onto a toll road and, with no other options, paid the toll and continued onwards. Last straw!
We found our way to the exit, and then the navigator’s directions took us straight onto a different tollway! We spluttered furiously for a little while, pulled over at the next opportunity and brought out Google Maps to try to figure our own way out of this mess. We decided the TomTom app was “the little GPS navigator that couldn’t, then shat itself. Then ate it.”, and dissolved into childish giggling for a little while (that eating bit was Katherine’s suggestion; I’m not that filthy).
Armed with a new plan to continue on the toll road for a way, not really having any other options, and then exit when we could, we proceeded. We found the exit, took it, then pulled over to set up the TomTom app one more time.
After leaving the tollway the drive became quite pleasant, a winding road through little villages and bare-branched woods. We passed by several quite spectacular hill-top villages, the sight made even more impressive by the gleaming snow-capped mountains in the distance.
We stopped in the little town of Tagliacozzo to visit its supermarket, then drove on for a way in search of a suitable place to park up for the night.
The surroundings had become suburban plains, so we continued on a bit longer, climbing upwards again. Katherine remarked on the difficulty of finding suitable wildcamps here, and compared it to the near-impossibility of doing so in the UK — as opposed to Ireland, where we found it absolutely effortless. I guess it’s a population density thing.
Eventually, though, we found a very quiet side road in the mountains, amongst whirring wind turbines.
The following morning, we set off again along the winding mountain roads. The region had a very alpine look to it, and the surrounding snow-capped hills looked quite close.
We wound through the wooded hills to the east, dotted with startlingly purple blossoming trees, and eventually made our way through the pass and out of the mountains, and across the hilly plains to the town of Chieti.