The order of the day was simple: get up, eat up, tidy up, pay up, hitch up, buckle up, start up and drive away. That’s what we did, and in that order, by 10.00. A quarter of an hour took us to the A14 Motorway where we pointed the Audi in the direction of Ancona and off we drove. And drove, and drove and drove. At 12.30 we had planned a stop for lunch so we stuck to our discipline and pulled into a service area where we enjoyed a simple meal and a Coca Light.

Plan A continued back at the car. I fetched Mary her Kindle and she nestled down in the passenger seat for a half hour’s reading while I snuck into the caravan and had a nice wee siesta on the bed we always leave down when travelling between sites. Those 30 minutes did me the world of good and by 14.00 we were heading for Pescara and Foggia beyond.

We were surprised to find the motorway very similar to the Grande Corniche between Nice and Genoa i.e. a seemingly never-ending series of bridges and tunnels cutting through the valleys and hills on the coast. I recall realising that these feats of engineering were necessary as there is no low land at the coast. The hills just keep on going right to the water and then fall in. That’s why places like Cinque Terre are so beautiful. There were of course stretches of ordinary motorway where it swung a couple of kilometres away from the coastline with its gullies and promontories but we did enjoy the number of eye-goggling viaducts we drove over.

Our plan was to reach Foggia before dark but we missed that by about an hour having had to keep an eye on the speed we were doing, especially downhill which is when the caravan can begin to “wander” if you drive too fast. I was relieved to discover that the road from the motorway turn-off at Foggia to our destination, Manfredonia (no, honestly, Manfredonia) was a dual carriageway so it only took us 15 minutes to reach the town and then another 15 minutes to decide we were lost!

As seems to happen regularly to us, fate intervened when we pulled up outside a car park at the north end of the promenade. I got out to ask directions of a policeman I had noticed waiting outside a gate, but when I got there he had disappeared so I just went and asked 2 men who were leaning on a car. My halting Italian clearly annoyed one of them who asked me for permission to speak in English! I consented of course. Would you believe it, he told me he used to go to our campsite when he was a wee boy and that it was on the other side of the town. Not just that, he then argued with his pal as to which way was the easiest to get there and then jumped into his own car, telling me to follow him.

It wasn’t just round the corner either. It must have been a good 10 kilometres away and not all that easy to find, especially in the dark. But get us there he did, safe and sound, right to the door. Fortunately (and a real surprise to me!) we had an unopened bottle of Chianti in the caravan somewhere, so while I thanked this unknown angel for being so enormously kind, Mary jumped into the caravan, searched under the bed and found the bottle which we gave to our friend as a “Molto Grazie!” Life is full of surprises in the strangest of places!

We quickly set up on site then had a meal with 4 other campers in the restaurant. The people at the next table were German, from half-way between Cologne and Düsseldorf, returning home after their annual tour of Italy. Our conversation was therefore entirely in German and that was an excellent practise for us given we are now almost in “Italian mode” when it comes to speaking to others. The meal lasted a good 2 hours or more, then fatigue began to set in so we bid them farewell and returned to the caravan where we tumbled into bed. After nearly 500 kilometres of travel and the carry-on we had finding the place, added to a long meal and the extra strain of speaking German and Italian, the Sandman had little work to do.

“Manfredonia’s been everything I ever had!” (Sorry, Bud!)

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