Yesterday, today and possibly through end of week I’ll post pictures of Italian trip. Thoughts today on cars and bike riding while fresh in my mind.
The warm days and cool evenings in Italy have been accompanied by cloudless golden hued skys. Very different from the cool blue light of Minnesota USA. Travel for the first half of the trip took us through regions south of Rome and north of Reggio Calabria. We rented a Opel six speed with me at the wheel and backseat navigators with our Google print outs. The first 50 kilometers proved to be a quick learn. The autostrada opened up 3 lanes wide until Naples. We sped along at 140k or about 80mph. South of Naples, mountains prevailed, the road snaking through incredible tunnels too numerous to count. I was having fun driving, maybe more fun than I’ve had ever in the US. I should mention the diesel engine purred along at around 2500rpm. Most cars are diesel in Europe where the cost of fuel is less than gasoline. While the USA policy is tax incentives for electric hybrids there are policies that keep the more fuel efficient diesels from importing. All in all our driving was more than 1400k/870 miles. We used about 21 gallons at 41mpg. Like I said this was fun driving with many high speed maneuvers and sometimes hard deceleration and acceleration. Our gasoline Forester would get more like 25mpg overall. One quirk is the fact there was one traffic light the entire round trip and this included very busy Sorrento, Pompei and Tropea.
We parked the car for a week in Tropea before I could play Formula 1 driver again. On our final morning I backed out over a trash heap, killing the engine once again. I prepared myself with new composure and turned the ignition over. The car nimbly climbed into the blind exit of our apartment lot as I made the dash into the petrol station. My family waited at the cafe next door.
For the week we spent in Tropea our feet was our transportation which might seem strange to our countrymen. We may have been the only Americans in the town. The boys were mistaken for French, German or Canadian. My family is Calabrese so when I spoke halting Italian it must have seemed strange to the locals. The reason we went South in the first place was to connect to the land of our ancestors. We did. Festivals, music, food and interacting with the locals made this leg of the trip my favorite. As I usually mention bike riding, this trip was the longest I have gone without riding since January 2010. Tropea had a few riders but the Italians have lower fuel consumption than Americans and bustling is very common. The rule of thumb is drive faster if the road is open and drive faster than the other guy if there is an opening in the road. We strolled. I ran in the morning with my daughter to further our exploring. We made daily ascents and descents to the beach from the cliff side town plaza stairways. Breathing in the views are incredible. Will post pictures later.