Getting lost is one of my skills. I’ve been practising it again.
We decided to go to Verona, Padua and Mantua, spending a few days in each, a break from a long period skiing in the French Alps. A couple of days before leaving, we discovered our Satnav doesn’t cover Italy. We also realised we’d left our map of Italy back in England. Never mind, Tony had printed off a mountain of instructions.
Verona, first on our trip, was okay. Well, it was more than okay, it was wonderful but from the navigation side of things, it was fine. We stayed in a central B & B and all we needed was a town plan which was easy to buy. A proper map of Italy appeared to be something no-one stocked. So we decided we’d manage with common sense and Google maps. A mistake.
Three days later we set off to Padua. We were staying in the Euganean hills, at a vineyard called le Volpi (the Foxes). It looked idyllic and promised wine tastings. They were not expecting us until around five o’clock so we decided to have a look around the town centre. At this point we didn’t have a town plan and after several circuits of progressively narrower roads and two traffic violations (going the wrong way down a one-way street and then driving in a bus and taxi lane, neither a good idea), we headed back out of town. We found a car park, too far away to be of any use, and stopped to think.
An elderly gentleman was walking by and Tony asked him about parking. He spoke no English but we got the message across. After much arm waving and instructions to go left and then right and then straight on and then left, it became clear this wasn’t working. The old man’s face brightened. He said he would come with us (my rusty Italian was good enough to understand that) and eagerly got into the front seat of the car. He took us with no problem to a convenient multi-storey carpark, shook our hands, wished us a good holiday and trotted off. I have no idea if he needed to be in the middle of Padua or not. The kindness of strangers!
At around half past four, we set off for the hills.
‘You’re navigating,’ Tony said. Words that fill me with terror.
It was going well until we reached the limit of our town plan. All I had then were Tony’s printed instructions which worked until we missed a turning. We knew we’d gone wrong but thought Google maps would help. They usually do but I think there was an element of operator error. (I was the operator.) A passing lady tried to help and we called in at a garage for advice. Neither got us on the right road. We phoned le Volpi and said we’d be late. Five phone calls later, many verbal instructions and a degree of shame at how far we’d strayed from the right route, we arrived. The roads were winding and narrow. It was close to seven o’clock and dark. But our host was most welcoming and said it didn’t matter if we arrived late at the restaurant they’d booked for us. It was down narrower and even more winding roads. They were precise in the instructions they gave us to get there.
The following day we discovered the correct, far quicker route. When we moved on to Mantua, the navigation was again easy as we stayed in the centre of town.
Tony is looking into an updated Satnav.