Saturday, 15 August 2009
Today is August 15th which is a big deal here in Italy. It is the Feast of The Assumption and Italy closes down for day. Some go to church and some go to the beach. Don Innocente, despite his 89 years has to celebrate Mass twice - first in a village somewhere else in the hills and then again in his own parish church. When Don Innocente set off for church I set off for the beach. I didn't know where I was going. I just do what the Sat Nav says. Perhaps a more sophisticated Sat Nav would have known not to go near the beach on Aug 15th. Miles of traffic jams along the coast around Viareggio. If you ever want a day at the seaside do not come here. It has all the hallmarks of a cheapskate day out. Spend all day parking for an hour or two sitting in a crowd on the sand - all the fun of the fair. - you know, bouncy castles and stuff. Rosie started overheating in the sun as the traffic came to a standstill and her fan came on. I started overheating too but I don't have a fan. Once we got on a dual carriageway I just opened the throttle and let the whistling wind cool us both down. Then it was another little road through Chianti - hillside of a million vines and otherwise deserted. Rosie went from a quarter full to the yellow light coming on and no sign of a garage. And then just in the nick of time a garage. Like everywhere else it is closed for The Assumption. Why did I choose to go to Rome? But there was a self service pump. It didn't like any of my credit cards but it was happy with a ten euro note. With fuel in the tank - enough to get to Perugia - all my needs were satisfied. And then I came upon a tiny village with a crowded cafe. It must have been the only cafe open in Tuscany. It is so hot everone is sitting inside. Like a mad dog or an Englishman I took my orange juice and fizzy water outside and I sat in the sun. Then after meandering over the chianti hills I fetched up onto another dual carriageway which was going all the way to Perugia. I loosened the reins and opened the throttle and let Rosie go for it. The faster we go the cooler we get. I know my way to the hotel. Can you imagine the thrill of arriving here - not in a taxi - not on a bus - just me and Rosie on our own. We feel like we've come here from Edinbugh - which I suppose we have - but not on Ryanair or Italian railways. And I know it'll feel the same tomorrow driving round Piazza Venezia in Rome - just me and Rosie. And again when I turn up at my old familiar haunt in Manciano where I will be on Aug 20th. There are buses from Manciano to some of the neighbouring villages - sometimes as often as once a day! Can you imagine this new freedom to go anywhere anytime. Independent but entirely dependent on fuel, Anyway, I got ahead of myself there because I'm here in Perugia where I had dinner in the hotel. I didn't even get the chance to discover that all the restaurants in town were closed. What a nice hotel to have kitchen going today. Thank God (but no thanks to his mother!) But the other guests here on the same floor as me - teenage boys and girls who have no intention of going to sleep. The loudest and ugliest is the capo/scoutmaster/leader/ teacher who hammers on doors telling these young lions and lionesses to be quiet. I have decided to keep a smile on my face and ask for a different room in the morning. Good night.