Internet connection has been limited so I have not been unable to update the site at all. Now that we have settled in a different place we have working Mifi and internet (thanks to an unlimited data sim card provided to us by Holiday Phone), so we are able to update you on our trip so far.
I was going to start at the beginning, giving more details and information on our stops in Burgundy, the Midi-Pyrenees and Cannes. Instead, as our first day in Italy has inadvertantly hit the headlines, I thought I’d begin there!
We had been in Italy a matter of hours, travelling through the Emilia-Reggio area of the country and heading toward the property we had rented in the Apennine mountains.
The mountains cover an area approximately 800 miles long from North West Italy down to the Strait of Messina. The views are breathtakingly beautiful, the air is fresh and clean and it is an area left untouched by tourism. The villages are simple and unspoilt, with traditional buildings many years old.
Beautiful as it is, the drive can be quite daunting for those not used to it. Driving on winding, bending roads set high up within the mountains is not for the faint-hearted. Many roads are narrow and the bends so sharp that they can prove difficult for smaller vehicles to contend with, let alone larger ones such as Jalopy.
The TomTom Sat Nav which we bought three weeks before our trip was informing us that we were very close to our intended location. Being a brand new device, we had expected it to be accurate and up to date, and relied on it to take us around a country we were new to, in an area we were completely unfamiliar with.
The GPS told us to turn right into another road, set off one of the many winding roads within the mountains, which began as the one we had left had ended – narrow and barely large enough for one large vehicle, let alone two travelling in different directions at once.
As we travelled along it began to narrow more and more becoming bumpier and increasingly uneven as we went, with the drop alongside it becoming more precarious. We realised we needed to get off what was now nothing but a dirt track but there was nowhere to turn. We couldn’t back up as the track was too narrow, and too close to the edge to take the risk. There was no room for us to turn the minibus either, so we had no choice but to keep going.
The track became so rocky that the bus was very unsteady – by now it was quite frightening. We held our breath as Mike slowly inched the bus toward a small clearing which offered us the chance to turn Jalopy around and guide it back but as it slowly edged forward, bumping and rocking over the rocks and mud, beside a stream on the edge of a drop, the tyres stuck fast.