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Coast to Coast in Two Days

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tbutler

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We spent Sunday and Monday nights, May 22 and 23, at Mareblu Camping in Fano.  Tuesday morning we woke, tidied up the camper and headed out the gate about 10:00 a.m.  Our intended destination was Isernia in south central Italy.  The trip was mostly south before turning west into central Italy.  We were driving on the A14.  A is for Autostrada, the Italian version of the Interstate highways in the US except that they are toll roads.  They are the only high-speed highways in Italy though you wouldn't know it the way some Italians drive.  We stopped to fill up with diesel fuel so we wouldn't have to worry about finding a station along the way.  The total distance was about 250 miles, 200 on the Autostrada and 50 a smaller mostly 2 lane road into the mountains.  We never drove into the mountains, they made great scenery but the route we took kept us in the valleys. 

One of the most interesting things about Italian roads is the extraordinary number of tunnels.  They have tunnels on the Autostrada, on major highways and even on small roads.  There are just so many extreme hills and valleys that it makes tunneling the only option.  We didn't count but I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't fifty tunnels in the last two days driving.  On the Autostrada they had three lanes for the first 100 miles as we got further south the number of lanes dropped back to 2.  There was frequent road work including some tunnels that were under repair so all of three lanes of traffic would squeeze into one lane.  The roads are generally in good shape though we have encountered small patches on rural roads where the speed is reduced to 20 km/hr (12 MPH) for rough roads.

Our goal for Wednesday was to get to Isernia and contact members of the Lombardi family.  Louise’s younger sister married Louis Lombardi.  He was born in Italy and brought to the US by his mother, Ida.  Louie's father had been in the US for a while and had established a home for the rest of the family.  The family home in Italy was near a small village just north of Isernia.  Unfortunately, the phone and internet access failed us and we were unable to make contact with relatives in Isernia.  We attempted to find a campground and there were none to be found anywhere near Isernia.  We ended up spending the night in a parking area near an old, abandoned building.  There were some local groups hanging out there, loud music, noisy motorcycles, etc.  That quieted down about 11:00 but I wouldn't know.  I fell asleep noise and all.  The next morning we spotted a dump station on one end of the lot.

Our camper is very much like our motor home.  Both are happiest if they are plugged into a power source.  Our motor home has enough battery power to get us by and of course we have a generator.  The camper has one battery to start the engine and one battery to run everything else.  In addition, there are some things that will not operate without an electrical hookup.  Not plugged in, we have  no way to charge our computers.  We can charge our phones and i-pads from a USB outlet when the engine is running.  There are other USB outlets that won't work unless we are plugged in.  By Thursday morning, everything needed charging. 

With no family contact to guide us we set out with directions that Louise’s sister had provided.  We left Isernia headed for Caravilli.  We have seen any number of small communities draped across the tops of hills.  They make quite a picturesque sight.  Caravilli is one of them.  Up the hill, around the curve and up the next hill.  The view from the village is spectacular.  We missed the turn and had to turn around and go back down a way before we took the next road on our quest to the town of Villa San Michelle.  Another spectacular drive and we came to Villa San Michelle.  People were parked along-side the road on what looked like sidewalks. We made like the natives and parked the van on the sidewalk.  We explored the town from bottom to top.  Along the way Louise struck up conversations with people who spoke no English.  No matter she got her point across to most.  One touching encounter happened when we talked with three women.  One was able to work with Louise and develop an understanding.  There was one very old woman who seemed to make a connection talking about Louie's parents.  We had Ida's picture on the memorial card from her funeral.  When we mentioned her name and Nickolo, Louie's father, she lit up.  Then mentioning Ida's sons, Luigi (aka Louie) and Dominic seemed to really make a connection for her.  We had a wonderful time and really enjoyed the experience of a small Italian village.

Then it was off to the West Coast, Naples and Salerno.  That was about a two-hour trip from Caravilli.  We wandered along small roads for a while and then got on the A1 Autostrada.  A look at the possible locations of campgrounds set us on our way to Camping Salerno which is where I write from now.  Coming through the gate, the asked if we wanted a shaded site or seaside.  We jumped at the seaside location.  We were guided to our spot at the southeast end of a long line of RV's along the wall overlooking the beach and surf.  I'm certain I'll sleep well tonight with the sound of the sea. 

From this base, we will stay here a week, we plan to explore Naples, Pompeii, Vesuvius, and Capri Island and probably more...  It took two tries to get our electric hooked up.  The power box is located too far away for our cord, so the park brought an extension.  Nothing worked so they brought another, plugged it in and viola! It worked and we once again are powered up.

Louise has had her first swim in the Mediterranean and a shower.  I need to do the same and then we are planning to have dinner in the restaurant here at Camping Salerno.

We left Texas and the US on Wednesday and arrived here on Thursday so this marks day number 8 of our great Italian adventure.

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