HERO’s Classic Rally shines a light on the surprisingly little-visited south of Italy aka ‘Mezzogiorno’.
Also, MEPS vote for cross-border traffic fines (see more). The EU draws attention to its also little known 112 pan-Europe emergency phone number. The Schiersteiner Bridge between Mainz and Wiesbaden dropped 30cm overnight; it could be closed for a while. It looks like Helsinki and Tallinn will get a Chunnel-style railway tunnel after all. Another body from the Norman Atlantic ferry disaster is found in Corfu.
VENTURING SOUTH OF ROME
HERO’S Classic Rally opens up the ‘largely tourist free’ south of Italy.
Figures published last year said only 13% of tourists in Italy venture south of Rome.
That doesn’t make southern Italy – ‘Mezzogiorno’ – a wasteland exactly.
Fifteen percent of 50m annual visitors is still 7.5m people but most of them flock to hotspots like Sicily, Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.
One writer describes the rest of the region as ‘largely vacationer-free’.
The Historic Endurance Rally Organisation echoes that phrase in describing many of the roads on its Classic Rally, announced this week for June.
It starts in the Roman city of Lecce, right on the heel of Italy, before heading even further south to Otranto, on the divide between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.
The route then heads north, eventually to Brescia up near Milan, via the east coast and across the mountains along the spine of Italy.
Highlights include the round, stone trulli houses of the Valle d’Itria, Matera with its ancient Sassi UNESCO World Heritage Site old town, and the ‘fantastic’ roads across the Monti del Matese (above).
Otherwise, committed petrolheads should check out Porsche’s recently acquired Nardo Ring, less than 20 miles from Lecce. It’s not open to the public but is so close to the coast that beachgoers relax to the sound of high performance engines pounding round the banked, eight mile oval.
Sybarites might like the late Lord MacAlpine’s famous ‘B&B’, Il Convento di Santa Maria di Constaninopoli, half an hour from Lecce. It ain’t cheap, and dinner no longer includes access to the wine cellar, but there are no telephones or TV.
Rome is 1,000 miles from Calais – and Lecce another 340 miles on – or about three easy days, via the Alps.
roundup: GERMANY. A 20cm wide crack which opened up overnight on the main A643 Schiersteiner Bridge over the Rhine between Mainz and Wiesbaden west of Frankfurt saw the roadway drop by 30cm. The bridge was immediately shut, during rush hour, and the two cities engulfed in traffic gridlock which only finally cleared late morning. Engineers warn the bridge will be out of action for some weeks at least. Opened in 1962, Schiersteiner has in recent years been subject to four times its design load of 20,000 vehicles per day. Forty percent of Germany’s bridges are said to be in need of repair. FINLAND-ESTONIA. A fixed link across the Gulf of Finland is getting consistent airtime recently but it seems the balance is tipping in favour of a Chunnel-style railway tunnel. The 50km tunnel between Tallinn and Helsinki will cost between €9-13bn and open after 2030 says a new study commissioned by the two cities. The EU would be expected to stump up half the cost says Yle News. GREECE. The body of a middle aged woman washed up on a beach in Corfu last week is believed to be another victim of the Norman Atlantic ferry disaster on 28 December last year. It brings the death toll to eleven with another seventeen passengers still unaccounted for reports Ekathimerini.