Day 54 Positano, Amalfi Coast to The Gargano Promontary, Puglia

Soft rain was falling as we drove out of Positano this morning, but despite the dreich weather, we still left with very warm feelings towards this little town on the Amalfi Coast. We had found it’s atmosphere charming, all the better for being out of season, and with the exception of the driving, there had been nothing not to like. We both felt it was somewhere we would like to return to, but maybe next time we will visit in a very dented and bashed up hire car. Doing a straw poll of the vehicles we walked past this morning, as we made our way down the hill back to Oscar, not a single one was without a dint or a scrape! Howard decided that there is no way they would offer you ‘Collision Damage Waiver Insurance’ for this part of Italy, so it would perhaps be better to just go with the flow, and drive like a local.
As we sat eating breakfast this morning, the B & B owner was catching up with the election results on the TV. Not surprisingly, there was no clear majority party, so it will be a hung parliament until alliances can be formed. We had read yesterday that there is a clear north /south divide in Italy regards unemployment. Of all the major EU countries, Italy has been the only one not to have recovered it’s economy since the financial crash to a pre-2006 level, and so unemployment is running very high. In the north, it sits at less than 10%, but in the south, it is between 17 – 29%, the latter being in Sicily, which seems extraordinary. But in those under 25 years of age, it is on average 30%. It is no surprise, therefore, that the youth are very disillusioned by politics at the moment, and the prediction was that many had spoilt their ballot papers.
Howard, this morning though, did offer a partial solution to the huge unemployment level – to put them all to work filling in the pot-holes in the roads. It is as if no-one has repaired a pot-hole for at least a decade – they are everywhere, even on the motorways. Two days ago, we even saw a really old man out in the middle of the road with a bucket of grit, presumably doing voluntary community service to try to remedy the problem outside his house. We had a long drive this morning, and after a while, the constant bumpity-bump of the road caused me to nod off for a few minutes. I was suddenly awakened by a change in the road surface, which made Howard laugh – as it was actually the only smooth piece of road on the entire journey.
Once we had left the frenetic chaos of what is the Amalfi Coast, and cleared the suburbs of the Bay of Naples, we at last started to see something which resembled real countryside. It was much greener and more lush than the countryside we had seen in Spain and Portugal, presumably because it rains more. We drove eastwards, crossing over the central spine of Italy, and moved into first rolling hills, then the fertile coastal plain of Puglia. We passed cultivated fields of what looked like wheat, perhaps the durum wheat used to make pasta, more olive groves and vineyards, and then fields of arable crops such as artichoke and cabbage. This is clearly the bread basket of Italy. The land suddenly became very flat, almost as if driving across East Anglia or Wiltshire, and much less interesting.
As we approached our destination on the coast, we came to an inland coastal lagoon, and were thrilled to see a large collection of pink flamingoes wading the the water.
It was still raining as we arrived at our campsite, and our initial thoughts were not entirely positive. We stopped Oscar, and were sat deciding whether to give it a go, or not, when we were highjacked by an odd Italian in a bobble hat, who gesticulated and waived us into the camping area. We tried to explain we thought we would go into the local town to buy some provisions, but he had that one covered too. ‘Mini-mart’ he smiled!
So that is how we have found ourselves here. We really must be more assertive in future, but frankly, it was a long drive, and we didn’t have a plan B. On the plus side, there is a nice German lady staying just along from us with a lovely Golden Retriever – but on the negatives side, we currently have all my white underwear stuck in the washing machine. The door won’t open, and the man in the bobble hat says (using Google translate!), that we have to wait for ‘Boss’ to come.
Howard has gone off for a run while I type the blog. Sadly no WiFi, and still unable to download any photos. Oh dear – I think this could be a long night! Hopefully tomorrow we will see what the National Park of Gargano has to offer. I also trust I can recover my undies!

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