A return to Italy. The sudden spike in heat makes it feel as if the drive from east to west has also been straight from winter into summer (this time last week I was sat in 4°, today it is 26°). The fallout from the past few days’ torrential rain is evident in the rivers’ swollen banks and the speed at which the water boils across flat, characterless agricultural landscapes. I don’t know if the giant pendulum swing in temperature & rainfall is normal in this region for this time of year – the climate catastrophist in me thinks not. I have mixed feelings about travelling through Italy as it is such a polarized experience. Some of my favourite memories are still here pooling across the landscape: sharp hiking ascents in the Dolomites that transformed legs into formless jelly, and still we had to run the final uphill scramble to catch the last return gondola before collapsing on its floor for the descent; walking for endless slow hours around Venice with a beautiful absence of traffic noise; or breathing in the stunning, centuries-spanning art of Florence; but our van was also broken into outside Rome which was a truly traumatic experience. It’s difficult to find good overnight parking in Italy and the water situation is either nonexistent or, in the likes of the generous town of Guastalla, there’s free & delicious sparkling spring water from a communal water station (see link here for info on that). The north is fastidious about recycling, farther south is not so. Perhaps it is that the spectacular in Italy is utterly sublime, but day-to-day living is gnarly & awkward so that we feel no great desire to stay for too long this time around.
Having said that I’m fully aware that our biggest #vanlifeproblem right now is deciding how soon to leave Italy and head for the French Alps.