Italy from BEHIND the Wheel

From courtyard to boot!



Another amazing couple of days. I have thrown scruples to the wind and been DRIVING!! Noto to Motolla to be precise, which is just over 400 miles.
I decided that to get into Turkey from Greece in time to avoid sweltering heat, and knowing what a snail I am, it would work well to speed things up a bit, so there! Thrillingly, I negotiated flawlessly the middle of Messina to the ferry across to Italy and have managed to stay on the right side of the road but for one tiny moment as I left Noto and positioned myself beautifully wrongly on the left; much to the surprise of the oncoming traffic…. oops!

Speed is such a stranger. Landmarks fly by and the desire to take one more photo comes and then goes owing to the difficulty of stopping when on a major road and the flow of traffic conspires to keep one in the groove.
Etna in all her majesty continued to bid me farewell for a considerable way around the southernmost coast of Italy…. her parting gesture was in the rose sunset and her puffing tight little clouds of volcanic activity, just visible in silhouette. Astonishing range of movement in my swiveling neck to catch those precious last moments as well as staying on the road brought a mixture of priority. I confess that safety was only equal first.
Speed also makes it a little more of a challenge to spot likely places to stay for the night, so I was glad to hurtle past and then turn back to an easy but slightly bleak hotel on the roadside last night!

Today I realised I had a CD player in the car AND a copy of my very own recording of the last 3 Beethoven sonatas, on my piano, from the comfort of my front room, with their various omissions and unplanned additions. It made me think. And it was wonderful to be kept company as I drove.

For one thing, my own piano is such a tough teacher. If I am not 100% on the job, she folds her arms and gives me a Paddington Bear look as if to say ‘what?’ and ‘had you thought of opening a fish and chip shop?’ Not at all like the generous and willing little pianos I have met in my travels!

However, if I listen just to the music, I think they are pretty ok really, and no less powerful for all their shortcomings. I was in tears by the time we got to the gorgeous choral towards the end of the last variations in opus 111 and felt again, the enormity of the journey that these sonatas invite one to take.

SO. I am sticking my neck out, and with the generous assistance of ‘Team Dorset’, going into production. If any of you would like a home spun recording, they are now available for £10.
I propose to donate a portion (£5 per disc) to my charity, the ISM members fund (this charity supports musicians who for one reason or another have fallen on hard times. Please see under ISM in the bottom end of the right hand column for more info) and the rest will contribute to costs and coffees or spare tires (whichever type you prefer!) many thanks to those of you who have recently donated.
If you would kindly send your request and your money (£10) in notes to the following address, my dear friends Jo and Steve will go into action and send you a copy. Please remember that it is a domestic recording and reproduced by computer, so if your CD player doesn’t read it for some reason, by all means send it back for a refund.

The address is ‘Beethoven by Bike CD’,
1 Lane Fox Terrace,
Sturminster Newton,
Dorset DT11 I DE (UK)

Don’t forget to enclose yours!

Of course, this means that over the next few weeks I will be attempting to write some programme notes, which you will be welcome to download as an accompaniment to the CD.
It will equally be a commentary on my personal love and interpretation of them. How could it be otherwise?
More to follow.

Finally, I am staying tonight in one of those magical hilltop-clinging towns with marvelous panoramic views of coast and distant mountains. Tonight’s restauranteurs chatted to me and responded to my request for hot water for my thermos and hot water bottle (en bici no problemi ma in auto, malate di anatomia) by giving me my supper! If ever you are a stone’s throw from Bari, you should look them up! PRINCE RISTORANTE, Corso via Emanuele, Motolla. They do a great fruiti di mare and, like my lovely B&B, the Villagio Vecchia, are friendly, warm and happy to oblige.
I have padlocked Sir G. to a metal seat post in the car, and an elderly gentleman whose house fronts my parking patch has promised to guard him! What more could I want?
Good night all.





Farewell to Sicily….. The port of Messina from the ferry.
Italian sunset!
The mysterious evening streets of Motolla (Arabic influence)
Early morning in Motolla….. At the end of the street you literally fall off the edge of the world. Motolla is one of those amazing towns that from a distance look like a bobble of habitation atop an impossible knobbly hill. From the town an immense landscape of the plains below opens out.

PS. Thank you all for such lovely messages 🙂

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