Revelations

As I have mentioned, there was a reason that I have been slightly incommunicado for the last couple of weeks. I have been doing a lot of reading and then expanded this to actually reading the Bible -King James Version. A few reasons really, some listed below:

1) I have never read it all, only those bits covered in 5 years of Religious Education at school, which seemingly didn’t really amount to much.
2) After reading 11 books in a series about a lady vicar in Herefordshire, it helped fill in the gaps.
3) Similarly, admiring all the elaborate frescoes in Italian churches depicting scenes from such, it gives you some context.
4) On that basis I was curious to know more about John the Baptist, who (apart from Caravaggio’s romanticised portrait of him in his youth, comes across as a social outcast, a cross between a goat-herder and a modern day hippy.
5) Know thine enemy!
6) I had nothing particularly better to do.

So in context then, this is me according to, I believe, Rafael in one of the chapels in the Vatican, where the walls and ceiling frescoes are dedicated to Christianity overcoming the heathens:

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So, with nothing but time, I read from cover to cover, well almost, there were a few bits that I skipped through; Numbers, I think, where it lists the genealogy of the peoples of Israel; Psalms, as they were just different prayers and songs in how to worship or show appreciation; Some of the repetitive bits in Paul’s letters to Romans, Greeks and the like.

So being of the inquisitive persuasion, also non-prejudiced as best I can after consistently being on the receiving end of hard line religion for being gay, though I do think Popey has said something favourable recently and I have missed it. I present my observations of the book and please feel free to correct and or inform as to my misgivings, coming at present from a Pagan point of view.

a) The Adam and Eve argument. God created man and woman on day six after populating the earth with all the animals and everything else and gave dominion of such to man. He then took a day off on day seven, the Sabbath, and then the following week created his garden of Eden that contained basically one of everything that was good to look at and included the Tree of Knowledge, the one with the Apple. He then created Adam, referred to later as his first son, out of the dust of the land specifically to tend to Eden. Finding that actually there was no-one to tend to Adam, he then created Eve. This is totally separate to the Rest of the World. So man already exists outside of Eden and therefore outside of the whole Adam and Eve arguments. When then the whole Apple thing happened and off they went outside of Eden, this lineage became the Israelites, but also the lineage of the different tribes of Israel, as in Canaanites. So in fact the Rest of the World is still going on outside of the Old Testament.

b) My understanding is that the Jewish religion don’t accept Jesus as the Son of God but as a priest (Hebrews) and so therefore follow the Old Testament. If they did this then to the word of God, where in heaven do they get all their animals from to sacrifice? And more importantly where are they doing it? The word says they should be doing all the blood-letting on the altar and then smoking the meat on it, either ox, lamb, goat, pigeon or turtle dove. This is their only way of relinquishing their sins if they don’t believe Jesus took them away. I don’t see any of this happening so how have they resolved themselves in modern day? If they can ‘bend the rules’ to accommodate this, how do they justify? What would they have done in the foot and mouth era?

c) No-one can go before an altar with any physical blemish, yet there isn’t a Jesus outside to fix them before going in. Anyone that has any blemish, i.e. any physical or mental disability is unclean before the sight of God (well I am already on the back foot there!).

d) How does a house get leprosy?

e) Adultery. This one I found quite interesting with a touch of hypocrisy. Though shalt not commit adultery, as in a man can’t sleep with another man’s wife. You can however take as many wives as you like, I think it was David who had 600 wives. Not only the wives, but if your wife has a handmaiden you get to have her too. I think Moses’ lineage included children from handmaidens as well as wives. So as long as you don’t sleep with another man’s ‘property’ as it were, as the taking of a wife means taking charge or responsibility of her and handmaidens etc, you are pretty much able to do as you please. Unless you are the wife or the handmaiden.

f) This brings me on to David of David and Goliath fame, he of Michelangelo’s subject, and the subject of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ Christmas Carol. David went on to be one of the greatest Kings of Israel, the city being Jerusalem and he accomplished quite a lot in his lifetime, not least evading his father-in-law’s many attempts to kill him. So of this great man of the Bible and therefore the whole Christian based religion, why is it never mentioned the fact that he was actually in love with his brother-in-law Jonathan? Numerous times their relationship is mentioned, the fact that they were of one soul, a way in which the Bible also relates to man and wife, saying that the one-soul business equates responsibility between the two as they are inseparable. It also states later after Jonathan’s death that the love between them was ‘more than that of a woman’ (perhaps this is why he had so many wives that he was over-compensating).

g) Wealth will not get you in to heaven so what is it with all these reliquaries laden with gold, silver and precious stones encapsulating the remains, or bits of, stuck in churches? Isn’t that emphasising the wealth? Also, on the point of dead bits, Jesus quite emphatically states that dead is dead, and his father is the God of the living, so don’t go on about it. They aren’t really dead anyhow, cos they are all going to be resurrected when he comes back, so there doesn’t really seem a point of covering them in gold and sticking them in a church which is then going to just send them to hell for being rich anyway.

h) The Old Testament is over two thirds of the Bible and coverage of what Jesus actually did was about an eighth of the New Testament, the rest of it was how people went off and did other stuff afterwards. Also after birth, fleeing to Egypt and returning, not a lot was recorded until really the last year of his life, and the majority in the last three months. However, with the ‘water in to wine’ miracle, it was asked of by Mary his Mother, who obviously knew what he could do, by way of Jesus’ reluctance to do it in public as he was ‘not yet come’,  which kind of belies the fact that he must have spent the previous 20 years practising at home (David Blaine?).

i) The Book of Revelations. All I read was a list of instructions to the seven churches of Asia, mostly Turkey, by Paul, who was inclined to scare them in to submission by letter based on the fact that he himself was ‘not allowed to go unto Asia’. It then follows a complete load of confusing codswallop that I don’t think anybody that isn’t on LSD could possibly hope to interpret. Even the seven plagues thrust on to Egypt were almost believable, though actually anyone in their right mind would probably have released the Israelites after four. And why didn’t he bring them back to Israel a bit sooner when there was only about 600 of them after he had wiped out the majority for being naughty? Isn’t that Genocide? No similarity between God and Hitler intended – honest!

j) As I said, the New Testament is about three hundred pages long in this version, with Jesus making up about an eighth so how did so many strands of Christian religions pop up, if not to be ‘false prophets’ as discussed by the man himself?

k) Timing in the Bible is quite different, I am not sure but there was possibly ten months in a year? That is to say that a lot of the people in the Old Testament lived to 120 years old or more. If that is the case, and though I didn’t see mentioned anywhere the specifics of Jesus returning in 2000 years time, shouldn’t that then have already happened a couple of hundred years ago or am I just misquoting Chris De Burgh? 

l) Black Pudding. It is a mortal sin to eat blood as that is the life of a being and therefore God’s, it having to be spilt on the ground or at the altar. Or I suppose a blue steak or anything raw. Or coneys, which are rabbits according to Tolkien, and anything in the sea that does not have fins AND scales, which to my reckoning includes shellfish and whales, or essentially mammalian.

m) Job. What was all that about? It is referenced later on as the patience of Job, so I assume it was because he had to sit there listening to some guys prattle on about why he should be depressed and want to die and he must have been really, really naughty. But I didn’t read anywhere that he was given an explanation as to why his devoutness had brought on the temptation of the devil to piss him off, thereby justifying his life up to that point, saying ‘there, there. Not your fault’. But more importantly NOT the actions of his God. 

n) Idols. Thou shalt not worship false idols, you can only worship me, which none of you have seen (but I made you in my image). What have we been doing then in the churches across the world, building statues and effigies and things to worship at? In the tabernacle, there is only an altar. I understanding paintings and frescoes of the Bible, even if it is just to humanise the book for those that cannot read so they can identify with it, even though the majority of such is emphasising the wrath of God if you don’t do as you are told in the commandments.

o) There were twelve disciples, then eleven after Judas topped himself (and was labelled an anti-christ even though he was actually carrying out God’s work to get Jesus to the cross and therefore die so that he could be resurrected and fulfill the prophecies), but there are only a handful of them that write down what they did after (not even the one that was brought in after to make it back up to twelve). And the majority of it was Paul whittling on about how well his devotees had done (though could do better), not actually recounting much of what Jesus had done or said to back up his words.

I could go on but I am already waffling a bit and I appreciate the length of this post. Those of you with a religious persuasion please feel free to comment and fill me in on the gaps. In the meantime I shall leave you with this image, found in the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian in Rome, where even the guide asked ‘fact or fiction’. Supposedly the footprints of Christ in the sand after he appeared to Paul on his way to Damascus. And everyone who knows me, knows how I feel about THAT ‘Footprints in the Sand’ poem…

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Posted in Italia 2013

Vinci to Pisa

Out of Florence came the idea to do Vinci, where Leonardo da Vinci was from, bolstered by the fact that according to the Stellplatz book and the camper app, it was a free site with services! After bidding farewell to Florence, finding a camper accessory shop on the way out for toilet chemical, I headed for the hills. Only by the time I had made it to the hills, that I didn’t know were coming, and after getting exceedingly lost in one way systems on the way out of Florence to the camper shop, my sat-nav took the scenic route, much to the dismay of my petrol gauge and the fuel pump whenever we weren’t precisely horizontal. But after the expenses of the city of culture, I was determined to not buy petrol this side of Vinci. Coasting down the hills, I thankfully pulled in to the camper stop with about 10 miles left in the tank!

So anyways, it happened that the week I am planning on being here, is a festival for the town, and there is a fair amount of free entertainment going on in and around the town for the next few days. My first evening, was a troupe of girls that danced on ropes, and though they were very, very good, I was more impressed with the interaction of their shadows and their audience. I think I took over 500 photos in two hours! I did manage to share the best of them on Flickr and on the troupes Facebook page. This is one of my faves from the set with the official photographer of the community I believe.
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Over the next couple of days was Italian singing and dancing and a re-enactment of an event from Leonardo da Vinci’s life which involved something to do with a man being threatened with death and Leonardo saving him by flying, culminating in a firework display. The most impressive thing about this event was the amount of people involved with no lines, just walk on parts, that were completely overshadowed by the two massive oxen drawing the cart of the condemned man! Mahoosive!!!

The Vinci museum housed an interesting bundle of Leonardo’s inventions, including cranes and flying machines and a bicycle (though with a leather ‘chain’Smilie: ;) and lots of interesting gadgets. The town itself is in amongst a network of hills and has some beautiful scenery, summing up nearly the whole of Tuscan heritage in one town. The townsfolk seemed very friendly and I almost felt like staying til the end of August, but the draw of more interesting sites pulled along and so I upped-sticks and headed off for the promise of Lucca.

The thing with Lucca being an impressively intact walled town, is the equally impressive one-way system, or for the non-native, the impressively infuriating. And again, on finding the carpark listed as free in the camperlife app, it is under renovation with a prohibition order for ‘sosta’ or stay over. It did have a conveniently long and legal disclaimer with the possible relocation of 10 spaces allocated for sostas at an indeterminate location for lay men.  The impressively expansive lorry park/market area equally gained a prohibition order conveniently during my first day out, after my one night there, so that meant packing up and moving to the sports ground car park that I had discovered someone else camping in the night before.
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I think I have managed to circumnavigate the old town about four times during my stay. Firstly was a complete lap of the outside of the wall, followed by a complete lap of the inside top of the wall, which impressively again, was the size of a dual carriageway! But then for the amount of human traffic of an evening up there either walking, running, cycling or skating, it needed to be!

Lucca has managed to impress again in its one-upmanship of Florence in bizarre things to have in churches. I found two churches with glass coffins containing the actual whole remains of people on show, not just fingers or teeth. Though I have yet to find out more info on her, the most impressive was Santa Zitae, who has almost withered away to nothing save her floral headdress, all the while in her presence I have “Oh What a Circus” from Evita playing in my head.

With the uncertainty of the parking, and wanting to be at the coast for the weekend and running out of walls to walk round/on, I packed up and headed for Pisa.  Having spoken to a Belgium man in Florence about how there was pretty much nothing going on apart from the tower, one night seemed to be the order of the day, especially as it is a pay site and with services so that I am set up for the non-serviced coast site. After landing, I headed off to do the done thing and get a phone photo of me in front of the tower. Well, me and five thousand tourists and a miniscule white thing in the background somewhere!

And here, not to be outdone by their fellow Tuscans, Saint Reneriare (can’t remember how to spell it) is laid out under a death mask in the cathedral – after they had gathered all his bits together, or as much of him as they could find – and Saint Severino’s skull and cross bones are in a reliquary staring at you from the side wall. I wonder what will be next…

Posted in Italia 2013

Radicofani to Firenze

After having a lovely stay in the village over looked by the castle that had been built on top of a volcano, I wanted to head more towards Firenze (Florence). After getting in to Tuscany, I have found myself slowing down quite a bit, as the need to ‘be somewhere’ is evaporating, unlike the gas cylinder.

Using the Camperlife app gives you the information on sites, services and costs as to those in the area which is how I have come across these lovely and free stops across the country, well, when they are there.  En route to Radicofani, there were three non-existent sites, and behold things weren’t going to change too quickly in the run up to Firenze.

The main town between me and Firenze is Siena, and though it had a so-so write up in the Michelin guide, there was nothing in there that was inspiring me to spend 20 Euros for one night. However, with the stop over in Florence being free, the trade off is no services. This means that between me and Florence, I have to empty the poo bucket somewhere!

San Gimignano, small walled town with big clocktowers on a hill. Pretty much that is it. Very steep hill, no shops leading up to or away to the campstop 6km on the far side at the bottom of the hill. Bugger that. Off to the next one which tells me it is outside of C.I. Caravans. Sounds great cos I need some more loo chemicals so I take that one and tap it in to the sat-nav. Only to find an industrial estate and a big car park.  The camper service area is bolted down, no where to empty grey water and no clean water and no cartridge toilet drain. Doing well, still I had two days to my birthday which was going to be in Firenze come hell or high toilet water. I decided to bed down in one of the camper parking spaces in the car park to the C.I. Caravans manufacturing site, no accessory shop at all.

New day, new hope for refilling in Poggibonsi.  Supposedly a purpose built communal  camper service stop in a recreational park. Well it would have been if it had been not broken.  I was able to empty the grey water but not refill or refresh the bathroom. This was the last opportunity before Florence, so I bit the bullet and thought if I get to a camper stop in Florence with services, I can pay for the services and then go on to the free carpark. Which I did only I didn’t get to pay because the barrier was broke so I had to drive out the in way!

Firenze. The principle town of Tuscany and one of my main reasons for coming! Absolutely beautiful. The green and white marbled buildings with terracotta roofs stand out magnificently in the light. The cathedral is just out of this world. Here, art and history are thrown at you from every direction, and though the crowds and queues are long, the rewards are worth it tenfold. Though I have to say after awing at the sepulchre built by Michaelangelo, I was a bit gobsmacked at the contents and make up of the reliquaries. Fingers, ears, bones and teeth wrapped in gold, silver and glass for eternity. No idea why, less it was for other people to receive blessings from the dead one inside. Or what was left of the dead one, after they had been chopped up and shared about a bit. It did not sit easy with me at all.

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Michaelangelo’s David (this is a copy in the square in front of the Medici Palace) was another awe inspiring event. Basically the room had been created for him to be put in. The copy, obviously on display in the open air, doesn’t do the white marble justice of the original. The hidden detail in the veins and things is quite remarkable, along with the sheer size. As in other museums, art galleries and churches, photography isn’t allowed (unless you are an uncouth American apparently), so I did at least respect that.

I spent my birthday in the Uffizi Gallery on the trail of Caravaggio again and in the evening took myself out for a meal and a half carafe of rose. The decision inevitably forced because the temperature was about 38 degrees and annulling any sense of hunger. I did though have a coffee and a sandwich in the same cafe for 5 out of the 7 days I was in Firenze though, making myself something of a regular.

In the effort to be in the company of David for my birthday, I never managed much of the south or east of Tuscany, notably Chianti country, not least because of timing, but also the description of parking off dirt roads does not instill me or the camper with confidence. I have enjoyed Florence so much, and with the free parking, that I do intend to go back again before I leave Italy. I was so impressed, I even got up at 5:30am on a Sunday to go photographing before the crowds and in the best light…

Posted in Italia 2013

Pompeii

Thankfully by the time I got to Pompeii, most of the tourists were in the ruins already and off the streets and roads. This allowed me time to be selective over which non-advertised camper stop I was going to choose, seen as the advertised one wasn’t where it was supposed to be. It backed on to the Circumvesuvius railway line, but as it was near a station and a basic local service, the trains were neither big nor intrusively loud. I went and checked opening times for the archaeological site and was happy that there was no difference on Sundays so I thought I would take it easy for the rest of Saturday and get the camera out for Sunday afternoon. I considered doing some washing, but actually had an afternoon siesta instead.

With the amount of camp stops we have done since setting out that have been next to churches or on church grounds, we and now me on my own, have got used to bells or clocks chiming, so with the camper stop about 500 yards from the cathedral I wasn’t expecting to be woken by church music. Or singing. Or preaching! Apparently one of those ‘without trappings of buildings’ sects was going for it at 9am on Sunday morning outside the sports ground on the other side of the railway, complete with amplified hymns and preacher. But even this was topped off at the end of the day by the same venue putting on karaoke for kids, including Old Macdonald Had a Farm at 11pm. Hey ho…

The idea that one has in one’s head from history and Dr Who of Pompeii is that of a city wiped out by a volcanic eruption in minutes, no one prepared or having evacuated the city and it being lost for centuries under a pile of ash, not really of a fenced off bit of land in the middle of a huge tourist town. Even the seemingly massive volcanic mountain has dwindled into a hill with a hole by the time you get up close to it. Then the signs around the cashier telling you about how the way that Pompeii was lost is allowing archaeologists to uncover, virtually intact, a genuine Roman city the likes of which have never been seen before, so thanks for your 11 Euros entry fee which is allowing us to continue to remove all the good stuff from where we found it and stick in vaults or behind fences so you can’t actually get to see it.

Walking around the site, literally, first to try and get a feel of the size of the city, you took in signs in front of cordoned off vineyards telling you how they have been replanted using the spaces where the calcified root holes were and using stakes and poles as per Roman guidelines. Ooh. Even on the gates of locked off areas you had ‘PompeiViva’ emblazoned within the steel of them as they try bringing it back to life. To me, this was a contradiction in it’s raison d’etre surely? Wasn’t the point of it being Pompei’s Dead, not Pompei Lives? After nearly 3 hours wandering in what was feeling like any other uncovered Roman ruins, where as they cleared a building, they cleared the contents away to different museums or warehouses, leaving only the shell of the building standing, and the onlookers looking bewildered from beyond a ‘keep out’ barrier. I stopped at the unsurprisingly unempty and uncheap Cafetiere and spent 9 Euros on 2 drinks and a doughnut and sat outside. Only to be rebuffed by an AMERICAN tour guide telling me to sit somewhere else. I didn’t respond, I just gave her daggers in return. Bloody cheek.

Just off the main square were a couple of buildings that were impressively untouched, including one that actually still had wall tiles in place. You usually see mosaic and raised floors in these places, but I have never seen wall tiles before. I kept thinking of the ashen figure of the mother covering the child, but never did find her. It was this sense of sudden death, the helplessness of the situation, the loss of a whole area of people that was missing. There didn’t seem to be any respect for the cataclysmic act of nature that had taken thousands of lives, just a perverse sense of bringing architectural inanimate objects back to life. Even the couple of bodies that they had were held in amongst the clay pots and tables tops in cages off the main square. It was as if they didn’t get it. And Vesuvius, sitting behind with it’s mouth open laughing down at everyone still not getting it.

I walked through more rows of half buildings, read the story of the eruption and how the buildings were affected and how they can tell what happened through the lines of different stuff left on the walls. I went back to the main entrance and sat down and had a cigarette. Perpendicular to the main entrance and walkway was an inconspicuous side shoot, a walk way through the gardens, ‘where you could learn about the green spaces within a Roman city’ (not at the top of peoples to do list I imagine when coming in, I would assume if anyone was given that option first they would ignore it and head straight for the amphitheatre right in front of them) and I thought I would have a wander, it’s not like I had anything else to do today.

The outside gardeny type area also looked as if it housed some tombs and small shops on the outside of the main city walls. Plinths for statues of today’s councillors and leaders lined the road to the gated entrance, through the arch of which you could see the volcano framed within it. In a far corner, another back lane entrance brought you past another vineyard, but this one didn’t have a closed barrier. On the plaque outside it explained that as well as the vineyard, there were also buildings and tables and so it must have been some form of eatery and/or meeting area. This would also explain why there were so many bodies found in this area. As you entered the gate, the wall opposite had a long glass case, about 20 feet in length. Within the case were the ashen outlined bodies of 11 adults and children laid out as they had been found, as they had died. Some of the faces still showing their helpless desperation to stay alive. I wonder how many visitors make it to this obscure corner of the city? I paid my respects and I left feeling something similar I’m sure, to people who leave places like Auschwitz. Stunned. Quiet. Mortal.

Posted in Italia 2013 Tagged

Salerno to the Amalfi Coast with Caffeine Withdrawal

Have I told you how much I have read since being away? I am on my 19th book, the majority of them have been the Merrily Watkins series by Phil Rickman, set in and around Herefordshire with loads of identifiable places – and people! I haven’t quite got to the stage of converting to Anglicism and becoming a vicar, but I am enjoying them immensely. So much so, that I wanted to finish one of the books before heading out on Friday and so lost my earlyish  start to the day. By the end of it, I had lost my bearings and near on lost my mind!

Similar to coming down the SS16 on the east coast, the non-motorway major A road, I thought I would do the same going upwards on the SS18 towards Naples and the Amalfi Coast. I don’t know what happened, but somewhere the road split and was not signposted, typical here, and I ended up back in the mountains at Lagonegro. This was, though you don’t realise whilst you are in it, a really beautiful town on a rocky outcrop in the middle of a range of mountains and green, not a lot else for quite a few miles either side of it. And so, you don’t get out your camera, you just get coffee and petrol and try and understand where you went wrong, where the hell you currently are, and how to get back to where you are supposed to be. The only disappointing aspect was a> Hills and b> I can’t share my memory of the place with you without my camera, so have another search for google images.

I don’t know why I am so panicky about hills now. I mean, we have done the Black Forest, single track roads, even reversing down them, the Swiss Alps, the Italian Lakes, Galgano which was twisty turny too. I just don’t like mountain ranges I guess. Though the views when you get there are awe inspiring. It is a combination I think of the hills, the petrol consumption and the fact that you are driving something that is altogether heavier, higher and wider than your average transit van. Add to that Italian roads, Italian drivers and Italian pedestrians and you are on a complete knife edge. Italians recognise they are bad drivers. I haven’t come across a speed limit yet that anyone has stuck to. Usually they are ok at traffic lights, but if you have a junction without lights it’s a case of who dares wins. They will overtake in oncoming traffic and expect you to get out of the way, they beep to tell you that. Even if you have stopped for a car turning ahead of you, they still overtake, and still expect the turning car to wait until they have overtaken all of them. I even had my mirror knocked today by a transit van overtaking me on a single carriage one way street with a line of traffic ahead of me. And I don’t think there is a law against mobile phone use whilst driving over here either. So with all this chaos going on, they are doing it one handed with a phone up their ears. Including one young lady driving a little fiat at basically 15 miles an hour, phone squashed in the shoulder, the other hand out of the window doing the hand gestures you do on the phone, completely oblivious to the tail back behind her after 30 minutes.

So knowing that the Italians know how bad they are at driving, you think that as pedestrians there would be an awareness of mortality if exposed on the open highways of the country. Absolutely none whatsoever. Wont use pedestrian crossings as that’s like conformism (not that the cars actually stop at a pedestrian crossing) so will step out in to the road anywhere. At anytime. And take as long as it takes to get to the other side as if it was a stroll in a country park. No rush or concern of theirs or anyone else’s mortality. But if you do stop or have to break or swerve, the one thing that you can guarantee is the car behind is beeping as he or she is overtaking you.

Back to consulting the Camperlife App and the sat-nav and back on track to the coast. True to form and by now, expectations, the car park isn’t where the sat nav says it is. By now it is getting dark and could do with a coffee so I pull in to a layby on the main SS18, which appeared to be just a wider corner than an actual off roady bit so I left the lights on. 18km behind me or 50km in front, though it was in Salerno and Salerno is kind of one up from Naples in the less desirable Italian resorts apparently. But it is forwards and more towards Florence so I have my coffee and head off, taking 3 attempts to get in to the Sosta Camper on the seafront in Salerno because of the traffic, but I am in.

Well, almost in. There are 3 campers parked on the far side of a metal barrier, padlocked down for the night behind  another row of temporary metal barriers. On the sign it says 1 Euro per hour 07:00 til 01:00 some other stuff in Italian and “Tickets Bar Marconi” hand written on the bottom. I wasn’t particularly concerned about being the wrong side of the barriers, most camping sites do that for late arrivals, you can still use the services whilst you’re there. I set off for Bar Marconi.

After lots of passing around, asking if I was looking for food, being apologised to for them being stoned and session on mobile google translate, we eventually figured out what I was looking for and I was directed back to a kiosk on the adjacent car park. No one in and everything locked up. I assumed that they must have finished for the night, the sign saying up til 01:00am and it was now 01:30am. I figured that they would know I wasn’t here before then so would charge me from 07:00am and if I left at midday that would be just 5 Euros, not a problem after all I would have paid more for just finding it. Though I had been invited back to Bar Marconi, I was knackered so settled down to sleep.

10:00am hammering on the bonnet. Not a little, a lot. Both sides. OK, get dressed and poke my head out. Cars parked either side, a woman with a cool box stood in the middle of the car park, two men dressed in authoritive car park security uniforms, door to kiosk open. Tall man, 50s, straight in my face when I get out of the van, throwing arms around and pointing at the campers. Woman arms crossed looking disparingly at me and eyeing up the space my camper is taking. I try to explain that I went to Bar Marconi, no one else about, no way to get in. He thrusts a 10 Euro note in my face. I say yes 1 Euro an hour as per the sign. No effort to want me to stay or transfer to the camper stop, no intervention from woman going to the beach, no second man interceding to help just Mr Aggressive Twat on the rampage. You want me to move then, ok I will move. I waved at him as I drove off the car park and away. Oh well, f#ck you and your 5 Euros.

Ok so I was now on the road and following the signs towards the Amalfi Coast. Bargain. And a free night that I was prepared to pay for. Well that’s Salerno off my Christmas Card list that’s for sure. Here’s to Amalfi and Positano. And windy roads. And Italian drivers. And Italian pedestrians. And tourists. And me in the camper. And no coffee yet. Bugger!

Thousands of cars all heading for the famous rugged coastline. Thousands of tourists already ditched the cars wandering all over the roads. Hundreds of motorcyclists weaving in and out of you and them and all over the place. Buses, council wagons, rental cars scared of 3 metres space each side of their charge. Add all this to my increasing anxiety of hilly steep and winding roads and it’s a bloody nightmare! Disappointing really that a policeman waved me off the main coast road just before Sorrento and on to a main trunk road towards Naples. Was all very well but to get from the coast to the main road was more frigging hills. Three hours in I just wanted to cry. By the time I was back on the flat and nursing myself with a coffee and a loaf of bread stuffed with tuna mayonnaise, I was just 5km from Pompeii and that was on my to do list…

Posted in Italia 2013