Another beautiful day, 70 F, cloudless sky etc.
Set off due east towards the Adriatic coast. A wonderful first few hours riding across the Apennines. Climbed steadily through meadows and orchards. The mountains are impressive but smooth and wooded rather than rocky and rugged like the Alps. Local farmers offer fruits, vegetables and nuts by hanging them on rods and fishing poles or by stacking them in eye-catching places, like the scoop of a parked back-hoe.
As the climb ended and the road leveled for a while before the descent, there was snow on the mountains to either side.
The only blemish on this wonderful scenery was the occasional sighting of a new tunnel or section of road under construction. The charming S77 is to be replaced by a modern highway. I suppose it is a mixed blessing to the villagers. For many it will bring peace, while for others – like garage or inn owners – it will be a commercial disaster.
After an exhilarating descent, the Adriatic appeared ahead – the shallows an improbably stunning turquoise on this sunny day.
To make good time we took the Autostrada for a few hours – the Adriatic still to our left and hilly farmland to our right. But the villages and towns we pass have little of the charm of say Tuscany or Umbria, comprising principally of shoddy blocks of flats.
There is a rhythm to riding the Autostrada – a minute of peace followed by flashing lights in one’s mirror as some Fangio-wannabe signals you have but seconds before he (or the occasional she) crashes into your rear tire. I have learned that any foreign car (Mercedes, BMW, Range Rover…) driven by an Italian never slows below 150 kph (again a matter of honor, like holding the racing line through turns). Today I saw in my mirror a silver Mercedes approaching fast, lights flashing furiously He was doing maybe 130 kph, so I eased out of the way. But as it blasted past – the driver gripping the wheel in racing posture – I realized firstly that it was a Mercedes station wagon and secondly that it was a hearse, loaded with a brilliantly-polished, wreath-bedecked, mahogany coffin.
After a detour inland, through lovely rolling country, in a vain search for a charming hilltop hotel…
…we returned to the coast where most towns resemble Torremelinos (a word I’m not going to check how to spell, because I hope to never use it again).
Ended up in a haut-naff hotel in Termoli, but it has a good view (see above – or sea above). Fabulous seafood restaurant nearby so loaded up in anticipation of Greek food – unquestionably the most overrated in the known world.