Going Home

Going Home

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

After almost two weeks of wandering around the regions of Italy which border the Adriatic coast it was time to head home. Most of the trip from Bologna down to Puglia was in relatively small bites save for the 4 hour race from Giulianova, Abruzzo to Fasano,Puglia one Sunday morning. Now I was facing the trek back; over 500 miles on the autostrada which Google Maps estimated at 7 ½ hours of driving time and I have found that their estimates tend to be a bit optimistic. The car had to be back by noon (piu’ o meno – more or less) on Sunday so doing it all in one session seemed total insanity. So I found two BnBs. On the first day I would drive about 275 miles to Arielle , Abruzzo and spend the night. The next day an even more leisurely drive to Cattolica, on the coast just over the border between Emilia-Romagna and Abruzzo with a mere 85 miles remaining to return to the airport, but with a stop at Cesarina’s place to drop of the suitcase and whatever other stuff I’d accumulated. I was ready to go “home” to Bologna.

Of course driving on the autostrada is like taking the interstate highways here, boring but efficient. I stopped on occasion for a coffee and bathroom break at (usually) an Autogrill. Whoever owns Autogrill must be very wealthy. They seem to have almost all of the rest stops locked up on the autostrada. In any case, they really are not outrageously expensive and are full of marginal but tolerable food, decent coffee and enormous number of nick-knacks to tempt kids and people of marginal taste. I guess it’s like I remember Howard-Johnson’s being at some time in the dim past in the U.S. In any case I arrived at Casa Dell’Arciprete, the BnB, before dark and met the really very charming owners Anastasia and Tonino. It was a great choice for a stop. Olive trees in the back, a splendid garden nearing the end of it’s productivity at the end of October and generally pleasant surroundings. I asked about a good place to eat in town and was told by Anastasia’s son that she would cook dinner for me – all Abruzzo specialties. It was a great dinner (friend cheese anyone – it was terrific) including 3 or 4 courses, wine, water and some grappa. The cost 20 euros I could have probably paid 15 but she was so nice and gave me an extra grappa. The wifi was not working for me so they ran an extension internet cable from their house above to the terrace so that I could have internet access. They were terrific hosts in general. I’d definitely recommend the place if you need a place to stay in Abruzzo so you can find more about it by clicking here.

The breakfast was stunning and they gave me a bottle of Tonino’s wine, hand decorated before my eyes by Anastasia. A don’t think that the town has much to offer but it’s not far from the coast where I was able to see a very unique setup for fishing called a trabucco. I had seen pictures of these strange rigs that use a series of ropes and pulleys to lift nets out of the sea. I guess it  may be efficient but seems like a rube goldberg apparatus. They are certainly interesting and you can find out more about them by clicking here.

The next morning I continued on to Cattolica. The BnB was not very memorable but it was close to a pretty good restaurant that was clearly a favorite with locals, always a good sign. Cattolica, like almost every town on the coast is no doubt overrun with beach goers in the summer but also has a substantial fishing fleet but in my limited walks around town I found it largely forgettable.

Finally, the next day I was back in Bologna. I returned the car and added up the costs. I had the car for 15 days for a mere 200 euros, the gas and autostrada tolls added up to about 350 euros for the almost 2000 miles that I drove. My little Fiat Punto averaged about 35 miles per gallon which was a good thing  considering the price of gas and I found it worked quite well for me. A tip: I used Kayak to search for a car and wound up at Firefly. This is clearly a low cost subsidiary of Hertz that rents cars that are, well, aged. Mine had almost 100,000 km on the odometer when I picked it up but was as good as new as far as I could see. We whine and complain about $4 a gallon gasoline. Try $9 a gallon in Italy! I stayed at Cesarina’s place for two nights, had a chance to see Vittorio at the pub and Claudia for dinner before leaving on an 8:30 AM flight. It seemed like a journey to a distant planet.

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