Dear Diary – Page 70 (Late 1960’s – Italy)

Pete had stopped the car, and we were all looking at this rather small and seemingly deserted border crossing, when a man appeared! He was a small man, rather sloppily dressed in a uniform, and carrying a very large “rifle-type” gun. The gun was probably a standard size but, with him being small, looked very large.

He walked slowly towards us while gesturing with the gun. We all concluded that the gesturing meant that we should turn the car around and go back down the road that we came on! We did!

Pete eventually found a rather busier road that appeared to be heading towards Italy, and so we followed it (successfully) into Italy. He wanted to use the autostradas (motorways) to get to Rome and, as in France, would take the first available exit when the time came to pitch the tent for the night.

If I recall correctly, Rome was expected to be 2 days away however, while Pete had planned on a leisurely drive, he had not planned on a bus from Stuttgart passing us on the autostrada. He had also not planned on a group of young ladies in the back of the bus posting messages to us on the rear window! We quickly had names, and learned that they were also heading for Rome with a brief stop in Florence. We gave Pete instructions to follow that bus!

Our usual practice of stopping, so that Pete could rest and/or we could all stretch our legs and have a break, was totally forgotten. If that bus from Stuttgart was moving … then so were we. Pete did a wonderful job of staying “glued” to that bus and we made Florence in record time, but then it made a number of turns in heavy traffic and, as much as we looked around for it, we had clearly lost it! We had made so much progress following that bus that Pete decided to stay on the road for another couple of hours which would get us to Rome (a day earlier than expected)!

On the outskirts of Rome we pitched the tent (again) on the side of a small road, and (again) were woken up by animal sounds. These were of concern because it was a kind of snorting followed by some ground reverberating thumps! The sound was coming from the rear of the tent so I lifted up the canvas to see what was making such a noise. It was a large bull. It was pounding the ground and clearly not happy with us being there. We immediately vacated the tent via the front and were looking for a logical place of safety when we saw the farmer. He had a long rope on the bull and was clearly in charge of it. He waved us to move to one side as he walked the bull past us and into a field. No doubt we must have heaved a collective sigh of relief as we packed up the tent and headed into Rome.

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