Italy : 15 to 25 April 2002


Italy, at last !
Italy at last, Europe at last ! After a short night on the Italian registered "Anna Maria Lauro", Christian woke up early to see the sun rise. Soon the Italian coast was in sight and we reached Naples. Docking was slow, getting through customs even slower. On the left, European passport holders, on the right non-European. But we were in no hurry. We filmed our driving on European soil after. Despite having made it to geographical Europe in Istanbul this was special for both of us. 


Our first view of the busy city of Naples (left), a pilot boat guiding our ship into her berth (not a coastguard boat looking for refugees) (centre), the customs line (right)


We soon discovered that Napolitan drivers deserve their wild west reputation ! Few rules seem to be obeyed, streets are small and cars seem to come out from every possible side street. What impressed us most was their speed ! After more than a year in Asia where doing 120 km/h is more than nearly everybody else, here it was the opposite ! Driving with trucks on the narrow Italian motorway lanes meant driving fast. Driving fast meant consuming a lot of expensive fuel ! Driving along the winding Amalfi Coast proved difficult and rather unpleasant because of Troopie's size. 


Naples' harbour (left), stunning views along the coast of Amalfi (centre), a small shop in a village on the Amalfi Coast (right)


The first thing we did when driving South to see Herculaneum and Paestum was to stop for food ! Kathleen entered a small supermarket in Naples to buy some bread, cheese and Italian ham. The old lady in front of her had trouble recognising her newly acquires Euro coins and the shop looked at Kathleen and raised his eyebrows little realising that Kathleen had NEVER used the new money !


The Amalfi Coast


Stock up, son !
To stock up, that was our reflex. Whenever we visited a supermarket during our journey, whether "Crossroads" in India or "Migros" in Turkey, we would buy food for a few weeks. We always had a small shopping list of items we were looking for. In Italy this was all over. We would never leave this world of abundance again. It was difficult to resist to all the goodies we hadn't had in more than a year ! Ham, wine, olives..


The kind of food we had dreamt about for months : Italian coffee, ham and brick-oven cooked pizze !


Caserta and the Italian tradition of silk 
On this journey following the silk road from Xian in China to Istanbul in Turkey, it was only normal that we stopped in Caserta, South of Rome. This used the be a major city producing silk in Italy. Today, only 1 or 2 factories remain. We tried to visit one unsuccessfully. We visited the magnificent Belvedere di San Leucio that houses old silk machines. It has its own website at The Belvedere used to be "an old baronial cottage" that was transformed into a silk factory by King Fernandino IV. Recently it was marvelously restored with EU money.


We're in Italy after all (left), Troopie in front of the Belvedere (centre), a ceiling painting in the magnificently restored Belvedere (right)


A roll of silk on an incredible 5 meter high wooden machine working only by hydraulics (centre)


Troopie in Palestrina, just South of Rome 


After nearly 60,000 km, our road also eventually led to Rome


Camping in Italy
Yes, we did manage to camp in Italy in all places except Rome where we were lucky to be staying with friends ! We had managed to sleep in our car in every single country during our journey. As before, we felt fine sleeping along the motorway or in little frequented car parks ! The safest must have been sleeping in front of a church. After all we had found protection from Allah by sleeping next to a mosque in Aqaba, Jordan !


Camping in the woods (South of Modena), along the motorway to Roma and in the corner of the coach parking in Paestum


Camping with protection, outside Parma, Northern Italy


April 25th : heading North to France and Switzerland
After a wonderful visit of the Alfa Romeo museum North of Milan, we headed towards Turin with the aim of halting for the night in the Aosta valley. As we progressed well, we quickly got excited by the idea that perhaps we could make it to Geneva where Kathleen's parents live that same day. Incredibly we only needed 4 hours to get to Geneva through the newly re-opened "Tunnel du Mont Blanc".


The Aosta Valley through Troopie's cracked windscreen (left), the two images that best symbolise our "real" return to Europe (centre and right)


The joy of knowing we would surprise Kathleen's parents that night by an early arrival together with the crossing a very symbolic tunnel in Europe made this our real return to Europe. At last we felt some strong emotions of being back in Europe. Pride as well of having "made it" through China and Libya. Christian stopped Troopie for a picture outside the Mont Blanc Tunnel which had only re-opened a week or so earlier after having been closed for nearly 2 years. He quickly got noticed by the state of the art camera surveillance and 2 men came running out of their office shouting. With the state of mind we had then, we couldn't have bothered had they put us in jail !


This is home : Troopie at the Southern entrance of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, Italy


We only had one concern with the tunnel : having to stop in the middle of it to take some pictures of Troopie at her 5000 km interval. We were not very far at all of reaching the 60,000 km mark in the tunnel !


Here are our extra pages on Italy : 

Naples's classical sites

Ferrari & Alfa Romeo 


We are doing well !

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