THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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The romance of the Alps

Tuscany and back

In the early hours of tomorrow morning I set off to drive to Tuscany. My planned route is below.

As so often, I am in too much of a hurry and will be whizzing by interesting places rather than exploring them. I need to break the habits of a lifetime of time management and take time to smell the proverbial blooms/beverages. I have messed up my planning so that I need to get there in two days. This involves eleven hours of driving on Thursday in order to have a more reasonable six - seven hours on Friday and arrive in reasonable shape to be suitably active and convivial. I am taking three days to drive back, so that I can take some time for photography in Turin; a city I have never visited before.

I am taking such pains to avoid Switzerland because the superb, scenic roads of that beautiful country are policed by an entire nation of amateur traffic cops. I know from long experience that there is no way to avoid tedious compliance with no allowance for even minor error. On a cost/benefit analysis, Switzerland (now that my last friend living there has moved away) is simply not beautiful enough to justify the stress and irritation. I only wish I had the time to go the long way round through Germany, with its civilised attitude to its greatest invention.

There's also the matter of those damned "vignettes" required to drive on Swiss motorways. They are a sensible approach to infrastructure funding if you live in Switzerland, but are inconvenient for an occasional user. You have to pay for a year even if you are only passing through for a few hours and they are incredibly difficult to remove. I have no desire to waste another hour of my dwindling life scraping one off. I have only just achieved a pristine windscreen after patiently peeling off the less viciously adhesive Austrian and Czech versions from my last trip.

As for French motorways, I have an electronic tag linked to my bank account and don't have to stop at the toll booths any more. It can be mounted on the same bracket as my M6 toll tag and lives in the glove compartment when not in use.

I am hoping to stop en route for a coffee with cuffleyburgers, a regular commenter here over the years. If you are also in in my path, I would be happy to have a beverage with you too. If you have suggestions as to places to break the journey for a photo op or other edification, please offer them as soon as possible

The contrived purpose of the drive is a cookery course in Tuscany on Saturday and Sunday. The true purpose is of course "the road".  Thirty-two hours of driving and only four of them on England's congested, under-invested and over-policed roads, is - for me - very heaven. Wish me luck with those roadworks - and the traffic cops. My progress will be tracked - as usual - here

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