Roccasecca, Monte Cassino and on to San Lazzaro

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May 17th 2017
Published: May 21st 2017
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Roccasecca Roccasecca Roccasecca

Our new cars
What a wonderful breakfast to start the day. The pastries were so light and fresh. The rest of the Italian breakfast was well worth trying. Our host even provided fresh cherries from his tree. They were very nice and a thoughtful touch. We are sure this was as a result of our conversation from the night before about our home town being the cherry capital of the world.

Last night we had a meal in the old town on the hill overlooking the valley so decided to start our trip to the Amalfi Coast with a quick revisit. Arriving in the main street we discovered a market in full swing. We found an empty parking space next to a vehicle that would be useful for my work back in Alexandra. The sight of this vehicle around our home town would cause quite a stir, not sure if it would be appreciated on Tiger Hill. Many of the stalls are staffed by people well set up for traveling from town to town. It was time for a new hat. Many of the Italian made hats had “Made in China” labels but one very nice number, made in Italy, was just perfect.
Roccasecca Roccasecca Roccasecca

Market day
From the main street we could see some very old churches on the opposite hill. After a short adventurous drive we arrived at one of them. This trip is about meeting people. We got talking to a delightful old gentleman, he said his hair was 84 years old, who had lived in London in the 1960s. Wonderful how you meet people in the most unlikely places. We left him to find his car, there were two to choose from, and move it into the shade. The church was closed up but it was certainly very old. Staying in Roccasecca you could spend a week exploring the area. Our fifteen minute visit took an hour and time to move on.

On a previous visit sixteen years ago we visited the town of Cassino and the Commonwealth War Cemetery but not the Abbey. So today the Abbey was next on the list. What a magnificent view from the top after the 8 km zig zag drive. Before leaving the hotel this morning we tried to find the ticket prices for the Abbey. On arrival we discovered it was free. The rebuild of this wonderful Abbey after the unnecessary destruction during WWII
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Old church on the hill
is incredible. We arrived as several bus loads of tourists were leaving and so we could experience the peace and tranquility of the building.

After a brief lunch stop in Cassino it was time to head for our accommodation for the next four nights. The Amalfi Coast has beckoned for some time. Today is the day. A call to our hostess, Elisabetta, confirmed the 150 km journey would take about three and a half hours, or more if we do not drive on the autostrada. We better get a move on to be there by about 5:00pm.

Driving on the minor roads gives you more opportunities to see the country and its people. The other aspect of driving these roads is experiencing the driving skills of the locals. Having driven in Italy on two previous occasions this was not a new experience. Leave a gap one car length long and someone either fills it, crosses in front of you, or pulls out. Speed limit signs are largely ignored both in town and on open roads. It wasn’t long before our driving skills were a match for the locals. As we got close to our destination we needed to
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The cloisters
pass through the residential areas of Pompeii during peak rush our. We drove down a closed off road with one rugged gentleman asking “parlez vous Italiano?” (Our French number plate of course). We followed him on his scooter to the detour to Angri, an appropriately named town. How many lanes of traffic can Italian drivers fit into a one-laned roundabouts. The answer: too many.

Our final drive took us up a very winding road high into the hills before passing through a tunnel at the top only to emerge with a million dollar view in front of us. At some stage we changed the GPS from the apartment address to the co-ordinates. So far all is well. Soon we were driving up a hill with a strange feeling something was wrong. With an angry local tooting every time we stopped we had to keep going only to end up in the garage of a local farmer. Re-setting the GPS we discovered we had passed the apartment near the bottom of the hill. Returning down hill there was Elisabetta waiting for us. After a warm welcome my only reply was “You don’t want to know”.

The joys of driving
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View from the top of the steps
a fabulous new car with fancy electronics and keyless entry means you just close the door and walk away. That is what we were told when we collected the car in Rome. This troubled us somewhat because when the Peugeot is locked the wing mirrors fold in. Ours didn’t. Does that mean we have had an unlocked car for two days? On closer inspection there are two raised strips on the front door handles that must be touched when closing the door. Voilà! The doors are locked. Now the car is safely locked up for the next three days.

Our home for the next four nights will be very cosy. On reflection the day has been full of adventures, some wonderful sights, and we made friends with many friendly locals, including the woman who bent over at the wrong moment while standing talking to the driver of a car. The only damage was one dirty skirt and one clean side of the car. Tomorrow we look forward to a relaxing exploration of this small town of San Lazzaro, our home for four nights.

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