Vexed in Vieste

The Esso station to the left and the giant finger to the right. Vieste, Gargano, Italy

‘Put them back Deb.’

‘No, I won’t! I’ll upset someone. Someone will come.’

‘Yeah, the police!’

‘I don’t care!’

‘You will if they put you in prison.’

‘I don’t care! That’s my fifty euro!!!’ I screamed at the machine.

Thieving machines at 24-hour self-service fuel stations! I ranted and raved like a lunatic then eventually went and picked up all the hoses I had thrown on the ground in a fit of pique and stuck their proboscises back into their orifices still steaming with rage.

It was Sunday. Other than bars and restaurants, the Gargano is closed on Sundays. We had a receipt. We couldn’t read it. The first fellow who rode in shrugged. ‘Tomorrow. You show, tomorrow,’ and calmly rode off on his definitely not so cool scooter.

Tomorrow? We have no petrol now!!! We had driven almost an hour from Mattinata to Vieste along a goat track, through the mountains, along precipitous cliff faces with crazy Italian drivers! We should repeat this? I was a little tense.

Another scooter rider rode in. He was more helpful despite our terrible lack of Italian and his rudimentary English. Actually, he was wonderful. Yes, we would have to come back tomorrow if we wanted our money back. I told him I saw that bowser 2 worked so he put in the fuel he needed and agreed to help us. We had ten euro. It should get us back.

I needed to settle. Time for lunch. Vieste is beautiful. We found a wonderful ristorante, met some delightful people and explored fascinating streets and alleyways.

We drove the narrow winding road through the mountains back along the spectacular coastline to Mattinata and repeated the process the following day. The fellow at the service station seemed to be expecting us. He immediately returned our money and we filled the tank. No problem at all. I wondered briefly what happened to the poor beggars who didn’t have the time to wander back to get a refund. This is a holiday destination and it is remote. Well remote for Italy.

Our time in Mattinata, despite the incident, was wonderful. Our accommodation was clean, spacious and well appointed. It was a resort. There seemed to be about four or five pods each holding four apartments. Our unit was about 35 square metres- a studio apartment with kitchenette and outdoor terrace. There was a large pool and a bar/café/diner/breakfast room. It was good but the wifi was woeful. We were basically off-grid for the four days and we felt it.

The beach close by was deserted while the water was warm, and the sun shone brightly. Even the beach café was open-just for us. The season is limping to a close. There is a sense of a last gasp. We drove to the beach because I was hoping to use wifi at one of the trattoria and catch up on email and my blog. The car park was empty. It was surreal.

We headed for the Lido dei Pini and the little beach bar, settled in and had a coffee. In front of us were hundreds of sun lounges and umbrellas set up and ready to go. It was Saturday. Two septuagenarians tumbled in and out of the water fossicking for pebbles, making the most of the few days of summer left. We chose a lounge set and made ourselves comfortable. We stayed well away from the other couple. I donned my jelly shoes and ventured into the water, enjoyed a lovely swim came out and settled in with my book. Within minutes a couple squats in the sun lounges immediately beside me. Not one or two chairs over! No! Right beside me! And then just to make my day….struck up a cigarette!!! They were upwind!!! Seriously!!!

We went off to lunch. Here we met Ciro. He was from Naples. We exchanged stories and knowing moments about One Fire Beach on the Amalfi and Mister De Mister- the man with a backpack sprayer – misting the supine in the insane heat of summer. Ciro was delightful, the food was delicious and the location fabulous. We were back in the moment and it was good.

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