I like to think I respect the local laws and customs as much as the next pilgrim but there comes a time when…well let me explain.
I’ve reached the Mediterranean and have chosen to deviate from the Via Francigena and take the coast road. The plan being to have a dip when the temperature rises.
The route took me through an “affordable”, beachside area of Avenzza (after an initial 2 km stroll among the marble factories and truck stops around the port)
Approaching Forte dei Marni the beach restaurants grew posher and clearly more expensive with every step south. The sort of place where impossibly beautiful Italian women and their equally handsome husbands glide by on expensive vintage touring bikes
The sort of place where beer now costs five Euros instead of 3.50
In short the sort of place guaranteed to wind me up
Around mid day the heat was oppressive so I decided to kick back and rest alongside some fountains and under some trees.
“No senor !!” Came a harsh and not pleasant voice.
I looked up from under the brim of my rapidly disintegrating Panama hat to see a retired type motioning me to move from under the trees. Think ex army colonel bored in retirement.
He wore a badge. A Civic volunteer
“What’s up ?”
“Move, move, move !’
I looked to my left where eight thickset construction workers were doing exactly the same as me 20 yards away”
I began counting them loudly in an effort to make a point but the effect was spoilt when I had to give up at six cos I’d forgotten how to say seven and eight in Italian
“Is it cos I is solo…?” I tried to say
“No..it’s too fucking hot,” (it was in fact 36 C by this tine)
“I’ll move when they do..”
He radioed for back up. But backup came there none.
He went to remonstrate with the construction workers.
They laughed at him
I was just dozing off when a piercing whistle rent the air.
Of course. Inevitably, the council had given him a whistle.
When he wasn’t harassing hapless pilgrims his day job appeared to be making people get off their bikes before entering the promenade area
He tried to stop one redoubtable Italian lady. She glared at him. Shouted “Mama Mia”,..and carried on cycling.
He had one job to do……