Vasto - Foggia 113.8kms 568’ascent.
We left our hotel this morning to a round of applause which was a first and rather embarrassing but we gave a queeny wave and hit the road for all of fifty metres before stopping to replenish food stocks. The heat is increasing daily and it is impossible to stand without shade so Alan held the bikes under a tree where a curious Italian inspected the trailer hitches and then proclaimed that his really bad limp was the result of a broken hip sustained when he fell off his bike. Just what you need before a long day!
We knew today was likely to be a long ride and so Mr. Master Navigator made a point of saying that we must go through Termoli to avoid the long detour made by the main road. Where did we go? On the main road! Never mind, we enjoyed the shade provided by two tunnels and enjoyed slightly less the several hill climbs involved. The road then crossed inland and we had been made aware by reading other blogs written by those who had gone before, that this was not going to be the most pleasant part of Italy. They were proved right. It was by now around midday and the sun was at its most aggressive. I have never crossed a desert, but this was a good simulation. Temperatures were somewhere in the late thirties and the road continued, apparently forever, without shade or even the relief of a bend. It was the road that Italy has forgotten – neglected with the detritus of years lying at the roadside. Unimaginable amounts of glass, car parts, clothing, plastic bottles and general household waste. On the dusty paths on either side of the road, the prostitutes displayed their wares and were doing a reasonable trade. Without the intermittent garages selling cold drinks, we would have been in serious trouble. It was a sad reflection on those responsible for the upkeep of the highway. Those vehicles using the road sensed the lack of responsibility and treated it as some sort of race track.
After ninety kilometres of riding is not the time to encounter a nostril wind – but we did. The sun had lost a tiddly bit of its fury so the wind chipped in just to ensure that we didn’t take things easy. We finally made it into the outskirts of Foggia and the poverty continued. It was not until we found the centre, that there was some evidence of civilisation as we had come to expect it. Exhausted, we found a hotel which would accept our incredibly smelly bodies and our bikes. Tomorrow? Who knows?