Dave the motorhome is parked up beside the beach at Nocera Terinese (N39.01477 E16.11446). He’s facing into the wind, which is bowing palm trees around us, and the sky I’m viewing through his windscreen is as black as night, apart from the frequent flashes of lightning.
Last night Dave’s fridge decided it didn’t want to light using gas, we can’t blame it – Dave had just been soaked by a monster thunderstorm (which also soaked Jay and Charlie) so something was a bit soggy. Having spent quite a bit of time looking at Dave’s fridge’s gas connection after it packed up as we set off on our adventure in October 2011, Jay knew how to light it manually. Huddling outside, around the torch I was holding to provide a bit of light, Jay unscrewed a cover plate off Dave’s rear. Just as he were about to light the gas with a lighter there was a massive bang from inside Dave. We panicked a bit, but there was no need; it was nothing to do with the gas. Charlie the perma-hungry beast had leapt onto the table to check our dinner plates for leftovers and in his excitement fallen off it, taking the plates and cutlery with him (it’s a good job we have melamine plates!). It was our fault for forgetting the plates were there as we battled with the fridge, so we couldn’t really scold the poor dazed pooch as he attempted to snuffle up the last traces of salmon aroma.
A storm raged over Dave for a good couple of hours last night, tearing my eyes away from Series Two of House (loving it) to watch the lightning in the sky and the wafting grasses next to us dancing around as if they were alive and about to attack us. This morning the day couldn’t have been more different, blue skies enabled us to see the mountains around us dropping off in the sea, and the winding road we’d driven along yesterday. We had a morning stroll down to Porto di Maratea and discovered that we were in one of the poshest resort on this stretch of coast. Sitting by the harbour we gazed at the expensive power boats moored up for the winter while Charlie found and tried to scoff some sea-water soaked bread – about half a loaf! We were surprised he didn’t throw it up right there, but he kept it down and just had a raging thirst for the rest of the day.
Setting off we drove down the SS18 which hugged the coast, we drove straight past our initial target destination in Cirella as the sun was shining and we were making good progress, besides there wasn’t really much to see or inspire us to stop. The coastline was an almost endless row of apartment blocks facing onto the beach with shops and restaurants behind – all closed. Ploughing on we passed Diamante (a city with modern murals) as again we wanted to get some miles under our belts before we stopped.
Following signs to a motorhome service point had me guiding Dave through a tunnel going under the railway line. It was a sweaty palm moment as he had only inches to spare on either side, and even less than that above his roof, only to find a distinct lack of signs on the other side and no service point in sight – grrr!
Our second choice for overnight stopping was closed, but Jay nipped in and found the loo emptying point was luckily still accessible, so did the deed – now we can stop where we like with a nice empty loo.
Just north of Amantea we caught up with the black clouds that had been ahead of us, and soon the rain began, then it turned to hail, then big hail, then very loud big hail that had me fearing for Dave’s windscreen, so we pulled over and waited for it to stop. Some cars crawled past us, others zoomed as if there was nothing going on. As we pulled back onto the road once the worst of it was over its surface was covered in water and hail, so we edged our way down to Amantea and sought refuge in Lidl – trying to replenish some of the Christmas supplies we’ve already consumed – oops!
Packing our goodies into Dave the local schools had emptied and the area was full of teenagers. Two very, very loud bangs had Charlie trembling and us leaving, before the New Year fireworks on sale in Lidl were turned on us instead of the nearby rubbish bins. A police car followed us with his blue lights flashing, but not in a hurry to overtake. As we got to the edge of town the reason was clear; he was on his way to a car accident. He pulled in and joined the 10 or so other officers already there, round lollipop stop signs sticking out of their knee high boots, to sort out a Fiat Panda which had run headfirst into the end of the crash barrier.
Italian roads are bad, badly repaired and badly signposted in places. Twice we were fooled – the first was understandable I mean why wouldn’t you clearly signpost the diversion for the main road in roadworks? We ended up on a narrow street blocked by a lorry delivering gas bottles. Car horns around us beeped (which here mean anything from I’m coming through or out of my way, to hello or what are you doing?) as we stopped in a junction, they stopped beeping as I leapt out of Dave’s back door and directed Jay to turn him around with precision waves which back on our way towards the main road without any major hold up. The second time we were fooled all signs told us the road ahead was suddenly one way, our lane chevroned off and pointed down a slip road. Yet as we pulled off other cars carried on, driving over arrows pointing towards them – it looks like the road had become two way, but no one had told the council!
With 125kms of coast covered – a lot for us in a day – we pulled in and parked up. It was only 3pm but the sky was growing dark and lightning was flashing in the clouds around it. More hail followed and the storms are still going on now – there was only one thing for it; mulled wine (with free oranges from the Pomepii campsite) and spiced biccies; more of our Christmas stash demolished!