The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
May 2 - Ostia Antica to Montepulciano

(I write this on May 5th and have to apologize for the delay in posting these pages. My Internet connections are extremely slow and it just takes forever. I spent over four hours the first day just trying to handle e-mail! There may be a solution to all this, but until I find it, I will continue to build up the backlog of photos and promise to eventually get the full story out.)

The original plan today was to wander through the ruins of Ostia Antica but the morning brought heavy rain and we thought better of it. It had cleared up a bit by 11am, but that was checkout time at the hotel and with two hours of driving ahead of us, we decided to save the ruins (and probably the mud they were sitting in about now) for a later time and just hit the road. Perhaps we will be able to stop through on our way out.

And so we dove into the Rome traffic to fight our way out to the autostrade for the trip north to Tuscany. It was stop and go (mostly stop) for about 45 minutes until we got clear of a particular intersection that seemed to be the bottleneck. After that it was just the standard Roman exercise of dodging trucks and Vespas.

Italian drivers have a tendency to pass wherever there is a gap that seems wider than their cars, without much regard for oncoming traffic. They also sit six inches off your rear bumper waiting for those gaps to appear -- very disconcerting until you get used to it.

Once we got on the autostade.. it was a clear shot north. The weather was threatening and we hit a few isolated thunderstorms on the way up, but traffic moved quickly. In proper Italian fashion, the speed limit is 110 kph (about 65) but if you tried driving at that speed you would be run over.

Practically speaking, the speed limit is determined by your car and not by the government. If you were driving a Mercedes or BMW, 160-180 was more common. Passing is permitted, but you do not want to stay in the left lane a second longer than necessary to get aroung the next truck, lest you find an Audi suddenly imbedded in your trunk!

Montepulciano by Night

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