StrangolagalliMarch 28, 2017 in Italy
Managing to avoid the mopeds that treated pedestrian crossings as their own roadway, we left lively Naples behind and joined the toll motorway that would take us half way to Rome, to a town called Strangolagalli where there was a free stopover. We paid the toll for several reasons: we felt we'd done enough difficult driving on the small Italian roads for a while, time was getting tight and we wanted to zip through the area between Naples and Rome because we had been warned it was awful and was referred to in the guidebook as the 'Triangle of Death' due to the strong Mafia presence, finally being so close to Will's TIA there was an increased chance of a repeat occurance or something worse so Vicky was doing all the driving.
Apart from the lack of landslide damage and being able to travel at a constant speed, another advantage of paying the toll road were the 'free' camper van points for emptying waste and filling with fresh water at motorway services. Unfortunately we couldn't get to the LPG pumps because the canoe on the roof rack made the van too tall for the 3.5 meter height restriction.
Arriving at Stangolagalli we were relieved to find signs to the stopover and were blown away with the view of rolling green hills and far off scree slopes of snow capped mountains spread out before us. Instead of tightly clustered towns clinging to hill tops with not much in the way of dwellings between, the villages and towns were far more spread out, with larger homes that again reminded us of Austria.
We took a tour of the town during the afternoon closing time. It appeared sleepy but friendly and was in a good state of repair compared to the places we were used to. We had crossed in to the region of Lazio, where Rome is based and there were (almost) litter free squares with recycling bins and modern stone benches for the community socialise. We were impressed with the majority of what we saw, but the tell tale bottles of water left on people's doorsteps told us this was yet another place without clean drinking water in homes.
We dropped in to a café on the edge of town for a 80 cent coffee and the person serving was so friendly, chatting away in English and explaining that they only did icecream in summer. We returned to the main street the following day intending to go to the cafè for a drink and biscuit before picking up some shopping. We were plesantly waylaid by a morning market that lined the road, selling groceries, fresh fish, household items and clothes. We ended up coming away laden with bags of nuts and vegetables. The young woman at the vegetable stall had positively beamed at us when we began asking her in Italian for some mushrooms. She had seemed so pleased to use a bit of English in return and threw in the 2 capsicum chillis we wanted for free. We continued to a little place we'd seen yesterday that made and sold fresh pasta and as well as the gorgeous looking tray of tagliatelle for two (still covered in flour from the chopping board) we came away with a free crescent of fennel seed bread to eat with it and the ragu we had promised to have as an accompaniment.
On to the cafè and although a different person served us, yesterday's assistant popped her head round the kitchen door to say hello and to jokingly inform Vicky that there was still no icecream! We chose a slice of crostata (tart) and 3 lovely looking mini pastries (with a fourth being added by the assistant). When we'd got ourselves settled at a table with our drinks, she came over and presented us with a cornetto (a large Italian croissant) cut in half and topped with a drizzle of white glazing, saying 'you must try our cornetto, it is a little big but I think you will love it'! We loved it so much that we returned for breakfast the following morning!
We half expected to pay for the extras but they weren't included on the bill that only came to €4! Our minds felt blown away by the warmth and generosity of the people who had gone over and above to make us foreign strangers feel welcome and accepted in their little town.Read more