20/02/18 – 21/02/18
When Aaron was at school I remember him doing a Geography project about the plains of Italy. The plains which stretch across the north of Italy, south of the Alps, are Italy’s economic powerhouse, generating the majority of Italy’s wealth. One thing they are famous for is cars; Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati all have their factories in the area. The other thing that comes to mind when looking at the names of the towns and cities is food – Bologna, Modena, Parma all bring to mind well known Italian staples, Bolognese sauce (ragu), Balsamic vinegar, Parma ham and Parmesan cheese.
Did we get to sample any of the food? or visit the famous car manufacturers? NO WE DID NOT. We spent all day looking for a petrol cap for Bertie and not finding one, despite the very helpful staff at the camper and auto spares shops. We continue to sport the temporary cap but wont be actively looking for a new one till we get back to the UK.
We did spot someone test driving a cherry red Ferrari, hearing the deep roar of the engine before we saw it, and we bought a big chunk of Parmesan cheese, which I have started to eat like cheddar (it doesn’t seem to have the acrid smelly feet pungency that we associate with it in the UK). Apart from that we had a day of frustration.
The following day was not much better. We drove from our parking spot outside Bologna to Bergamo where we got caught up in another ZTL. Now that we’ve seen the signs for these in Pisa we are a bit more clued up on them. Generally they are a large white rectangular sign with a red circle on them and too much writing to read from a moving vehicle. Our strategy now is to avoid at all costs, so when we found ourselves confronted with them while trying to reach a supermarket on the outskirts of Bergamo we turned around. Then we tried another supermarket and had to retrace our steps when we found every exit from a roundabout sporting one of these signs. Highly frustrated we continued to try but had to give up and head for our parking spot. Eventually we found our way to a paid parking area in Bergamo where the promised facilities were offline (showers and toilets closed for work, wifi not working) but they still wanted €18 for the privilege. By this time we were frazzled from the number of red circles we had seen and just wanted to hide away so we didn’t argue much.
I completely understand the rationale for the ZTL areas, pollution reduction and traffic control in historically delicate areas is important. I just wish there was some kind of signage earlier, maybe at the entry points to the towns, so that you know you are entering an area where traffic limitation may apply. Some of the zones (i.e. in Pisa) are easy to avoid because they only apply to the historic centre where you wouldn’t be driving a motorhome anyway. But the ones in northern Italy cover much wider areas. If you happen to be driving in Italy this website is useful – we’ve started to look up potential restrictions with every large town or city we come to.