21 August 2015 | LAKE COMO TO OSTIA
Thursday, our vacation over, we packed up the car and set out to return to Moonbeam. With Tomasina (our TomTom) programmed to take the toll roads, she planned out our 6 hour trip back. Even though I have been demoted from my position of primary navigator, I still hold the title of assistant navigator. I looked at my folded map and, at first blush, I thought we would backtrack along the coast to Ostia. Very quickly, it became obvious that Tomasina had other ideas. She started directing us southwest...inland towards Bologna. Based on our her routing on our original trip north, I had trepidations. I doublechecked Tomasina's route with Mini-Muffin, (Google maps on my phone) and she agreed with Tomasina. Obviously, the girls are in cahoots. (It was very funny to listen to the two of them...not simultaneously.) Captain Ken, however, had me look at the map en toto and...yes, he, Tomasina and Mini-Muffin were right. The trip along the coast would no doubt be longer and slower. Sometimes, the fastest distance between two points is not a straight line. (I suggested to Ken that we do an empirical test: that we time this trip, and then go back to Milan and drive back along the coast and compare it, but he didn't think that was such a good idea.
The original trip north along the coast had been scenic in some stretches, but there were many parts which were a little inland and not so scenic. Not so with this trip on the autostrada. It took us through beautiful areas; everyone is growing something...small gardens, large gardens, small farms, large farms, small vineyards, large vineyards. One could say we were driving through wine country but one could also say the entire Italy is wine country. And....they do like their tunnels. Some were more than 2600 kilometers (1/2 mile.) Truthfully, their roads are in really good shape, albeit the lanes are a little too narrow for my taste. On the way up, on the few toll roads we took, the tolls were (I thought) hefty...like €16.50. On this return leg, we were on the autostrada from Milan to Rome on one toll ticket. I was thinking we would have to sell our first born child to pay the toll bill for the 575 kilometer (357 mile) trip. What else do you do on car rides? You make bets. I thought it might cost €70. Ken guessed €50. Since no one was the closest without going over, no one won. The total price? A mere €42...a bargain at half the price, as Ken likes to say.
The Italians are known for their sense of style and design, and even the autostrada had some representation of it. While the basic roads were like roads everywhere, the noise attenuators were all unique and quite stylish.
As for our chariot (pictured above), it was an interesting experience. It was the only small car available, and we agreed to rent it thinking it would be fun. Well....it was fun, particularly since we arrived alive. Driving it on the autostrada, however, is not for the feint of heart. It is not for no reason that we saw very few Smart cars on the autostrada. Frankly, while I think it would be a perfect car to tool around Marco Island..to the library, Publix or the Y, I would not take it on I-75. That said, we did drive 1000 kilometers on the autostradas, rubbing elbows, almost literally with big honkers of Mercedes, Range Rovers, and double trailer trucks. Italian drivers don't have the best reputation as courteous drivers but I will say that the driving was just fine...until we got to Rome. Then, it was a free-for-all with drivers cutting off others with very few inches to spare. Before that, it was very orderly. Cars pass on the left and then move over immediately...not to be confused with the left lane police who populate the highways and byways in Florida. If you drive in the Sunshine State, you know what I mean.
As for the car itself: The luggage compartment held two 21-inch wheelies, two backpacks, (we don't travel light) a tote bag which kept growing along the trip and a cooler bag. (Never go anywhere without food and drinks. There could be a snow storm...). (It also held me, if you remember the prior blog.) However, the seats are not very comfortable. Poor Captain Nap (a/k/a Ken) wanted to push back the seat, stretch out and make funny little noises when I was driving, but that was not possible. It is also under-powered. I would have liked to know what kind of mileage we got, but since I'm married to a guy who is missing the OCD gene, he didn't keep track. I suspect that the good mileage gained by the (lack of) size and (lack of) weight was offset but the need to floor it to get up the inclines and pick up speed. ("I think I can, I think I can"). All in all, this little pregnant roller-skate did just fine!
Boaters will know what I mean when I say there is always a little bit of concern when we leave the boat alone for a week. I'm happy to report, all is well...Moonbeam is just as we left her...and in the same place.