The scenario was a bit complicated: a skipper and his first mate/fiancé were transferring to Genoa, Italy from Montenegro. Their owner wanted his crew to leave his yacht out of the water in Montenegro and move to Italy to look after two more of his boats which were in a marina in Varazze, just west of Genoa. The problem was how to transfer all their possessions in the most economical way, since it is impossible to rent a van in Montenegro and leave it subsequently in Italy? This is where Montenegro Marine Services (MMS) stepped in with the idea of driving them to Italy in a hired van, bringing it back the following day.
So – having loaded the van with numerous bags, two snowboards, a wakeboard and an exercise bike, (it’s amazing what crews can accumulate over time!) we caught a night ferry from Bar to Bari. The ferry was 45 years old, so didn’t have modern conveniences such as “roll-on-roll-off”. Every truck had to be loaded by reversing into the bowels of the ship. The drivers managed this manoeuvre with amazing grace – not one of them had to make a second attempt at parking their highway giants on board.
Although some of the public areas of the ferry had been refurbished at some time in the past, the same couldn’t be said for the cabin bathrooms which were very dilapidated and in a generally poor state. The following morning, we were able to disembark quickly as all the smaller vehicles were in front of the trucks. Google Map took us along the east coast via Pescara, Ancona and Rimini, and then inland to Bologna, Piacenza and down to Genova (that’s how the Italians spell it).
We travelled along the auto route all the way and only paid our €70 toll charge upon exiting the motorway after 980km. And, after an excellent Italian meal and a good sleep aboard one of the yachts, I was ready to start the return journey alone.
This time I decided to return to the ferry via the west coast passing by Firenze, Rome, Naples and across to Bari. The auto route from Genoa to Rome wasn’t nearly as good as the east side, with some parts only consisting of one lane, but the scenery was staggering. Driving at times became extremely difficult because of the sheer beauty of it all. And that got me thinking – it’s not only Italy, but all the coastlines in the northern hemisphere seem to be better on the west side. Maybe something to do with the prevailing winds?
Then it was just braving those ferry bathrooms again before arriving back home after quite an adventure… I’m beginning to take all this continental driving in my stride these days!