It’s easy to tell when you’ve crossed the border into Italy. The road surface deteriorates, the quality of driving deteriorates, the traffic lights completely disappear and the price of fuel jumps by 25 cents. There are not many official car parks as, quite frankly, people tend to park just about anywhere they like, including the middle of the road, across the pavement and on zebra crossings. Noticeable damage to the front and rear of most cars tells you that people care little about their motor vehicles. They also care little for the white line painted down the middle of the road. Perhaps they think it mere decoration as they swing around the bends towards oncoming traffic.
The road signs are also causing me some confusion. In France the main roads were on green signs with blue signs for the motorways. In Italy it’s the opposite. There are no warning signs giving the height of low bridges and at some junctions there are so many signposts that it’s hard to work out which ones are relevant before some Italian speed demon starts punching his horn. Quick, and occasionally incorrect, decisions have led me through narrow one way streets with cars parked precariously down the side and people wandering back and forth as if they are in a pedestrian precinct.
It’s not only the erratic driving and poor signage that are raising my blood pressure. The Motorhome stops are mainly just car parks for which you are charged an extortionate rate. My first stop in San Remo was shared with several articulated lorries and a non-working fairground. In San Rocco, the large, free car park with the fantastic view doubled as the local “lovers’ lane”. Then, in La Spezia, the parking area run by the Red Cross felt very secure, but was in the middle of the industrial port area.
Finally, on only my third day in Italy, in the small seaside town of Borghetto Santo Spirito, I was pulled over by a small grey car, the occupants of which claimed to be policemen (no uniform and just a quick flash of ID in a scruffy wallet). They asked to see proof that I had paid for my overnight stay. Luckily, I had a receipt, which they mused over while eying up Trixie. When a truck pulled up behind me they suddenly lost interest and drove off. Were they really police officers? Somehow I doubt it.