Dave the motorhome is in an official town sosta (N44.66517 E8.47043), just over the Bormida river from the town of Acqui Terme, Piedmonte, Italy. For a grand total of €5 per 24 hours we have electrical hook-up and the use of a full service point. Oddly, if you decide not to stay the night but just use the service point, the cost is still €5. Even more odd, the service point is completely open, so unless you’re English or German, you can just use it for free. The town’s really nice, we’ve struck sosta gold!
Last night as we guiltily unhooked Dave from the town marketplace electricity supply, the fridge conked out in retribution. It refused to light on the gas supply, the little clicker light wouldn’t flash. Removing a panel from the back of Dave in the dark and sopping rain, we couldn’t see anything wrong so rather than waste all our food, we dispensed with our morals and hooked back up again. This morning the fridge resumed fully functioning again. Could have been our leisure battery being low on juice; it’s taken a beating the past few days with no hook-up, little direct sunshine on the solar panel and mainly 2nd and 3rd gear driving so probably not much charge from the alternator.
Drizzle and fog put paid to our plan to continue along the road to Locarno in Switzerland, which we’d been told was a great drive and the valley above was a beauty. We’d see nothing, and as the weather so grim, we knew were were going to be stuck in the van for a while so decided to use the time making tracks south. Out came the map, guidebooks and database of sleeping spots. Much deliberation and we decided to stick Acqui Terme into the sat nav, which showed as over a 3 hour drive, and stop somewhere along the way, wherever looked nice. As it turned out, once were past Lago Maggiore, nowhere along the Po valley looked nice, just a steady stream of run down towns, fields and the odd maniac driver. Luckily the roads were like stretched elastic, running dead straight between the towns, almost like the Romans built them, erm.
After a couple of hours we pulled in for a breather and to let Charlie out as he’d started to roam around the van bored.
Another hour or so brought us here. The town’s provided a brief Italian experience already, as we walked in to eye it up and to top up our Italian Internet SIM. We found the Vodafone shop and were pleased to see only the two assistants only had one set of customers each. Half an hour later we’re still stood smiling at it all, the shop now packed with foot-tapping punters behind us. One guy was even braying like a horse in frustration. As expected, there was no queuing system, although one lady did see we had waited longer and allowed us in front. This assistant spoke no English, so we folded ourselves back into the mass to wait for the other. She was serving a chap who was buying an iPhone, slowly, and with much discussion. I almost cracked up as he requested various covers to be brought to him and closely inspected each of them, with half of Italy behind him chomping at the bit! Once he’d finally done a collective sigh of relief whooshed across the shop, and Ju magnificently elbowed a potential queue pusher out of the way to get a served in a couple of minutes. Loads of paperwork was involved, photocopying, signing in duplicate, good stuff!
Blinking in daylight we found La Passeggiata in full flow, the Italian evening wander where literally every man, his wife, children and dog wanders the streets eyeing each other up. It felt great to be amidst so much life when we’ve grown to expect small(ish) towns to be generally devoid of people in the evenings out of season. Charlie even made a friend with a brother from another mother:
And we scolded ourselves in the roasting hot water:
Yep, that’s right, we’re going out. On a Saturday night. Without Charlie. Ju’s even had her hair straighteners out amid much excitement. Only problem is it’s only 8pm and town’s just a few minutes walk away. Will any of the trattoria or pizzerias be open yet?