I am no stranger to sunrises and in fact I am much more likely to see the sunrise, than I am to welcome night time. I am indeed a chronic insomniac, however this is much alleviated when I leave the house with a torch, walk along the beach and listen to the waves as the crack the rocks and wait for sunrise as it chinks through the purple mountains. In fact I was so determined to find the optimum spot to watch it, that I dawdled along the coastal road, swinging my torch in the soupy darkness, when I failed to notice a cats eye in the road and tripped, just as a car came roaring around the coastal bend as I nearly stumbled beneath it. Recommendations for dawn watchers, pick a road with a pavement and even if you are cold, avoid wearing Southern Italy’s requisite black outfits. I always see the same fishing tug out at sea and after a hard nights fishing I wonder if he has time to marvel at the sunset as the sky turns an angry pink against the sloping purple mountains, that look like giant turtles backs bobbing far out at sea? Perhaps not, he is probably shattered, weather worn and pungent with the smell of netted fish, dreaming of a cosy house further inland, one that has not been used as a holiday let.
The coastal road is a haven for farmers produce. The high price tags of British middle class farmers markets haven’t crept in here. The little piaggio vans pluckily park in front of supermarkets and sometimes in their car parks. I like this enterprising spirit. The vegetables are neatly stacked into brightly coloured pyramids and don’t have the plastic sheen or supermarket lights to lure in the customers. Parking however is another matter. This requires expert timing and nerves of steel. The other drivers whip up the side of the coastal road, despite the chatter about speed cameras, most people agree that they can’t afford to maintain them and so there is a general agreement that 8o miles an hour is a reasonable speed. I noticed this when I saw several locals overtake policeman. So first, you need to spy the Piaggio van, then slow down and prepare for wild beeping and gesticulating, sometimes the car windows will come down ( I have foreign plates) this is sometimes an advantage and sometimes a disadvantage. The advantage is that sometimes people keep back a bit ( I mean 3 foot or so) believing you are an irritating tourist who has no idea where they are going. The disadvantage is you are subject to a game of beep the foreigner, which is pretty similar to the game of beep the local. It involves a lot of tailgating and beeping, as one might imagine. Anyway, the trick is to find one that is not on a bend, whack the hazard lights on, slow down, hazards off indicator on, by now they know what you are up to and are furious that they were duped into believing there was something wrong with the car, when really you were after fresh parsley and fennel bulbs.
Cue hand signals and rude language. The problem with this approach is it generally involves driving at the Piaggio van and hoping the farmer or green grocer can hold his nerve until you park at the side of the busy road. I did experience the full whites of a young mans eyes as he waved his arms convinced that his protestation might save him from being squashed between fresh vegetables and a heavy old Mercedes.
I started to visit other vans after that. Nobody like to see their green grocer shaking.