Well here we are again. Like a cosy pair of slippers, I am in Italy once more. Starting off in Bologna to get everything together. Well, you have to plan a trip properly. So, fly in, pick up a car, check in to hotel for one night, a beer in the back streets of this impressive city …..
I choose the straightest of straight Roman roads that runs from Bologna to Rimini for at least 60 miles, without a bend or diversion. Straight as a die (what does that mean?). There are three towns on the line. The first is Imola.
Under a blue, blue sky, I wander the almost empty streets, disturbed by the odd cyclist, the small clutter of pedestrians and the building work that goes on ahead of me (that’s a picture of a clock, by the way, printed with the windows on a screen to cover the manky scaffolding). Coffee is good. Almost afraid to admit a visit to the duomo, a worshipper peers out and hobbles off before anyone sees him.
The third town in this straight line to the Adriatic is Forli. A wander to the large, open space of the central square is worth it. On all 4 sides elegant buildings compete with each other for the accolade for the grandest frontage.
However, it is the Palazzio del Poste e dei Telegrafi that wins the prize hands down – a glorious edifice to the time when to be a postie was an essential role in any country that has aspirations on the world stage. Look & admire.
Now you might get a clue from this picture about the impending doom that is about to descend on Forli in the next 10 minutes. The skies darken and darken with every quickening pace back to the car. The timing is perfect – doors thunk as huge spots of rain thwack on the window and a whirl of winds rush and pound and glower and push all around the piazza. In the centre of town the buildings protect cycles & cars from the squally outbursts of torrential sprays from the mouth of the storm, accompanied by thundering claps and explosive lightning.
The real war zone lies on the plane tree-lined avenues leading out of town. Huge cannon balls of weather have blasted their wet, destructive force through the branches and trunks leaving them broken and maimed on the streets and parked cars below. A few of us try to slalom our way around the carnage, lights flashing as we avoid the dangers we can see but very aware that above, the wind still shakes the trees searching for weaknesses to drop down on our convoy.
Peering through the deluge of curtained rain and wooded obstacles, I follow the sat nav through the gloom. The wreckage becomes lighter, the sound of the storm becomes calmer and the rain patters then pitters and the world returns to normal. Having survived 30 minutes of wet, stormy hell and successfully found a way out of town, the road to Ravenna beckons. An hour later the clouds break, the sky resumes its heated blue and reason returns.