Dave the motorhome is still in the official town sosta (N44.66517 E8.47043) of Acqui Terme, Piedmonte, Italy. After all yesterday he did drive the equivalent of the across Switzerland, so he (and we) deserve a rest day.
A Saturday night, next to a town that was full of friendly people – we had to make full use of it and go out. While Jay wrote his blog post for yesterday I put on my ‘going out’ clothes, ie my best (aka cleanest) jeans, a top without holes or bobbles on it and straightened my hair (I can’t believe I didn’t think to take my hair straighteners with me last year, it’s so nice to not look like I’ve been dragged backwards through a hedge, even if it is only on the rare days that we have electric hook-up). Before we set off I had a quick read up about eating out in Italy in our Rough Guide (kindly on loan from our friends Jon and Sue – thank you it’s been invaluable already!), as it’s a confusing world of antipasto, primo, secondo and dolce.
On our way into town we spotted a Osteria (the phrase book translates it as an Inn, but it’s sort of a cheap yet home-cooked type place) and after a quick walk around the town we spotted nothing better and retreated in there as it was rather chilly. The place was full of locals who were mainly eating pizza. It looked delicious and meant we could avoid the confusing courses, so we opted to join in – with the added bonus of being able to watch the bloke make it then cook it up in a huge pizza oven in the corner of the room – which partly explains why it was lovely and warm in there. We washed it down with a half litre of the local red and the bill (if we excluded the service charges) came to the same as our McDonalds in Switzerland the other day! When we were in Italy last time we hardly ate out as it seemed so expensive after Spain and Portugal. Now after time in Germany and Switzerland it’s a bit of a bargain!
We both slept like logs last night and were woken this morning with the sound of rain hammering on Dave’s roof. It’s Sunday and everything is usually shut on Sundays, so we rolled over and went back to guilt free sleep. We’d already agreed to stop another day here and with the rain neither of us were in a hurry to go out and explore so it was a nice change to have a lie in (I know we don’t normally get up all that early, but we’re not too late after our alarm goes off, so to not have to get up until we really, really wanted to is still a luxury). I read more of my James Bond book (On Her Majesties Secret Service) and Jay got up to fire up the lap top and test our Italian SIM card was working – it’ll work out quite a bit cheaper than using our Europa SIM while we are here and from our previous time here we know how locked down the wifi networks are – by checking out the weather reports. It looks like we left Switzerland at just the right time, the pass we were on just a couple of days ago is now -12c and snowing!
I eventually clambered down from bed around 11.30am, feeling a tiny pang of guilt that half of the day had already gone. Eventually we noticed the time on the laptop and mobile were showing an hour earlier than our thermometer clock. Confused as we hadn’t crossed a time zone – at least we didn’t think we had, we’d already been caught out with that one crossing from Spain to Portugal! – we could only think it could be one thing and a quick check on the UK Government website proved it to be that – the clocks had gone back, we’d had an extra hour free in the sosta, I could have gone back to bed for another hour and British Summertime had ended. I’d been lured out of bed by the smell of scrambled eggs and lardons being cooked up by Jay, so returning wasn’t an option (until my afternoon nap later!).
After breakfast and showers we wrapped up and headed over the bridge into town. Yesterday Jay spotted a length of road where the parking spaces each had a hand written sign taped to the wall next to them saying cars couldn’t park there today because of a market. We headed over there only to find cars parked and no sign of a market – whoever wrote out all of those signs must be pretty annoyed.
Plan B was to explore the town using the walking route we’d picked up at the Tourist Office the day before, so off we went. Taking care not to break the rules of dog walking which we spotted in the town (his lead should be no longer than 1.5m or we faced a €150 fine – we think!), we found ourselves back at the main fountain. This time it was empty of families and still splurging out around 500 litres of piping hot water a minute, so it was put to good use warming up chilled hands and faces.
Walking round we spotted statues and memorials to Italy’s war dead. One statue depicted bodies in a tree and dedicated to the Italian troops killed on Kefalonia during the second world war – if you’ve seen Captain Corelli’s Mandolin you’ll know what I’m talking about. The troops were from the Acqui Division and many of them were from around here.
To lighten the mood, Charlie disappeared under a hedge and when he was eventually pulled out from under it he had a mouth full of feathers – I didn’t look too closely but they were big and white/grey so we’re guessing pigeon (fortunately I don’t remember any reference to eating dead birds in the dog walking rules). The list of disgusting things Charlie has scoffed now reads as: A chicken foot (Portugal), a huge crab leg – almost as long as he is tall (Morocco), a whole sardine (Morocco), camel poo (Morocco) and now part of a decomposing bird – which is digestive system is currently tackling and filling Dave with the most ungodly aromas!.
Carrying on the walk for a short while we found we’d seen pretty much everything the day before. It was rainy and cold so we retreated back to Dave and plugged in our electric heater (the halogen one as the hot air one tripped the fuse yesterday – electricity is included in the price, but only a low wattage). The rest of the day has been spent reading. More James Bond for me and a couple of hours plotting all the sostas and parking places in our map of Italy. Jay’s been reading up on where is good to go, so we have a vague plan – if only for the next few days. Look out Italian Riviera – here we come!