23 September, 2006

Italy - o solo mio . . . 3307miles

Italy - beautiful country, fantastic scenery, fascinating history of course. I understand that you either love it or hate it here. Thoroughly recommended - but no further south than the Dolomites on a motorbike!!

It seems as if there is something lacking in the male Italian character. They have to prove their masculinity in ways other than those available to the rest of mankind. Manhood is measured by how much paint you can scrape off your car in the process of overtaking other vehicles, especially overladen motorcycles from Scotland, it would seem. I am also constantly amazed by the massive number of Italian men (it's always men - sorry) who are willing to risk lives (not just their own) and limbs on some crucial mission of mercy. Are so many of them on their way to Kofi Annan with the answer to the Middle East crisis? How can so many of their only children have been rushed to hospital and are at so many moments crying for their fathers, at death's door? Indicators? Lovely wee flashing things only to be used on straight roads when you have neither intention nor opportunity to turn anywhere. Mind and switch them off or turn the opposite way whenever there's a turnoff ahead.

And will someone please tell these guys that it is possible to slow your vehicle simply by easing your foot off the accelerator. It's not always necessary to slam on the brakes at the very last minute. This technique is reserved only for emergencies, when you haven't seen the person in front. Maybe it's because they were on the phone. Italian men seem honour bound to jump into the car and start driving whenever the phone rings. Like they can only take calls in the privacy of a really fast-moving car. How is it the designers and producers of some of the world's most beautiful motor vehicles (motorbikes as well) can be such poor users of them.

Not that I've seen any Lambourghinis or Ferraris. Italian roads would ruin them. Little development seems to have taken place in some areas since their forebears the Romans invented modern road-building. And little resurfacing either! Even I learned about cambers at Primary School!!

I have heard that Italians don't much like to travel and that they don't usually get further from home than a few kilometres. The trouble is that they must travel these few miles at breakneck speed, which is fine if you're only going six or seven kilometres. However, if you've just ridden a wobbly, overladen BMW 230 miles and are dreaming only of the shower at the campsite you haven't found yet, the last thing you need is some cocky wee lassie cutting you up in traffic. Yes, the lassies are fearless on the mopeds! But this isn't like Paris, where beautifully coiffeured and attired middle-aged ladies waft effortlessly past on their 80cc Peugeots, their spotless white skirts billowing gently in the breeze like unfurling sails. Oh no, not here. Everyone on Italian roads (save for other baffled, frightened tourists) wants, it seems, to kill (ME particularly!) and is fully willing to sacrifice themselves in the attempt. Madness. I commented on the signposting last time (three hours to get out of Rome!). Myself and several Polish truck drivers are quite frustrated by its lack!

Having said all that, the weather really is excellent, the food is great too. Just leave the driving to the Italians.

I've been assured that the Libyan visa will be waiting at the Tunisian border and that my guide will take me to the Egyptian border. I'm looking forward to that. I have to be there on the 28th.

Last evening I sent a few texts reporting whereabouts to several members of Friday Club & selfishly bemoaning the lack of good company. I then spent the rest of the evening in text conversations with several of them. So I had pretty good company after all! Only cost about a £10 - much less than an average round in the Ship! Thanks for that everyone! :-)

Off to have a look at Vesuvius and Pompeii, then down to Sicily tomorrow. Ferry to Tunis on Sunday night, I hope!


At 23/09/2006, 20:18, Blogger Heather said...

A wee bit guilty, is it? Yes, the rest of us have to work but at least the sun has been shining on Scotland for most of September. Been out looking for an Impreza for the imminent winter today though...

At 24/09/2006, 08:11, Blogger alf said...

Sounds like surviving Italia will make the rest seem easy - maybe not though... Ailsa has suddenly shown an interest in your blog - as a diversion from completing her household tasks. Mmmm. Some things stay the same. Glad to see the Friday Club is making the best use of the available communications technology. When the time-zones move around, it could get weird.

At 24/09/2006, 14:44, Anonymous Roy said...

I just get the feeling that the Italians are preparing you for the driving in Africa.....

At 27/09/2006, 00:31, Anonymous Nikki said...

Did you ride up to Vesuvius or catch the bus? Interesting run of events on the bus trip... We were abandonded at a tourist shop 4km from the top to listen to a local 'celebrity historian' & then they tried to charge us for his book when we went to purchase our tickets! What's the record you've seen for the number of people/things/pets on a scooter? Haha.

At 28/09/2006, 13:40, Blogger Mick said...

Didn't have time to go up Vesuvius - hills always look better to me from the bottom! I counted two adults, two children and a small puppy on one Vespa. All had helmets except the pup - the kids' were just those play ones you get. This would be 'irresponsible' at best in the UK. Are we over-protective or are they mad?


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