Central Italy

Milan (Italy), 20.11.2013

The motorway from Rome to Milan is a straight and comfortable ride through an initially very beautiful land and on impeccable roads. I left Rome in the morning after rush hour and was astonished to reach the motorway just 15-20 minutes, usually this takes a lot longer. Weather was OK, and the first 1,5h went by quickly. After many months of driving on anything from bad to nonexistent roads, driving through Italy seemed like a driver’s paradise. DSC_0035At Orvieto I left the “autostrada del sole“, fuelled up, drove up the hill to the old part of town and parked the Evoque outside the city walls. Camera in hand I went for a walk through the small cobble stone roads of this lovely old town of Etruscan roots and built on a tuff stone cliff. I’ve been here many times, the last one several years ago before an earthquake that almost destroyed the beautiful cathedral. For over an hour I walked and walked, from one square to the next and along the city walls overlooking the surrounding countryside. The town is littered with medieval buildings, all beautifully restored. In Italy tourism is a big industry, culture and heritage preservation are highly valued activities, and in many towns north of Rome this has lead to vast restoration, preservation and embellishment efforts over the last two decades. I must say that there are few places outside major cities I have travelled through in recent months where the results are so lovely, inviting, yet not leading to a mass tourism sell-out. Restaurants with local food and wine are everywhere, the towns are clean, old buildings painstakingly reconstructed or recovered from bad past maintenance. As I strolled through this place I thought a lot about the immense difference to so many other sites in other countries where this potential is just not capitalised upon, a true pity. And I felt to be in a very rich place. DSC_0009 DSC_0011 DSC_0017 DSC_0024 DSC_0028 DSC_0031The area I drove through today is my home turf, so I tried to keep the spirit of this journey and went to see some places along the route north, skipping a lot of gems in the area like Civita di Bagnoregio, Pitigliano, Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto, the Bolsena lake, Montepulciano. This area is so full of things to see, do, eat and drink that one can spend weeks driving from one village to the next and enjoy local specialities, culture and countryside. Etruscans, Romans, the Middle Ages, the Rinascimento, the Baroque have all left their traces and I haven’t found any other area in the world with such a density of world heritage. World class culinary delights can be found here, wine being just one of the delicacies produced in huge variety and highest quality. This was one reason why my next stop for lunch was Montalcino, famous for its red wine. And indeed a walk through the narrow streets ended in a delicious little restaurant and in front of a platter of cold cuts, a ragout with beans and a glass of brunello. As I left it started to rain and I got into the car quickly. DSC_0037 DSC_0045 DSC_0050Less then an hour later I reached Siena, another renaissance gem and famous for the traditional Palio, a horse race around the beautiful central square. Bad weather kept me from an extensive walk, but at least I managed to see a bit of the town after many years. I got lost in the small streets and drove pretty much all around the Piazza del Campo before finding my way through the hills of lovely Tuscany towards Florence. It was late, the weather bad, the daylight started to fade. In no mood for city traffic, I decided to head back to the motorway, and in the dark drove all the way straight to Milan, thinking about the many great images of this day. DSC_0053 DSC_0059

Trip data

– Km driven: 634

– Hrs on the road: 9,5

– Diesel l/100km: 10,5

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s