We’re in chains

If only we could have got going earlier – pre-blizzard. Then we could have got stuck somewhere in the middle of a mountain … in the snow …in a ditch … freezing. It actually started snowing just as we were preparing to leave, and by the time we actually left there was a layer of the stuff over everything. We drove to the far side of town to the servo for fuel, and to ask the guy whether our tyres were winter tyres (they weren’t) and whether we could drive to Sorrento, or at least out of Calitri (he said we couldn’t without chains).

So we turned back into town for chains, which we suspected were priced at a premium on account of, you know, snow. In the time it took us to turn around and obtain the chains and, we thought to turn around and head back to the servo, where we could affix them under cover, the snow had changed gear. Our little Panda couldn’t climb the hill we had climbed 20 minutes earlier, and wheels spinning, we managed to nose into the curb and prepared to do the chains thing, in what was by now heavy snow. Now, shamefully, I’m not as agile as I used to be and getting down to pass chains behind wheels and attach them blindly was the cause of a lot language not normally uttered by me (at least since the sliding backwards down an icy street incident of a couple of days ago).

With Pip’s more agile assistance and more swearing, we managed to get one attached in a limp, badly fitted fashion and set out to the road side of the car to have a go at the second.

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Limp badly fitted snow chains

The second was much more difficult and a kindly old gentleman stopped to offer assistance (probably because he was disgusted with our lack of mechanical anything). He had trouble too, and as the second old gentleman approached I was ordered to sit in the car and let it roll backwards on command – which I was able to do admirably, while Pip sheltered the old blokes with their umbrellas. After a few goes, the first old guy, hauled me out and reversed the car back into a drive, before the other old guy (and the other old guy – me) had to push him out and then watch him disappear around the corner with our car.

We followed and he signalled to us to get in and he spun and slid off up the road. He pulled up near a mate’s auto electrical shop, full of even more old guys. Eventually, one of them managed to get the second chain attached, before turning their attention to the badly fitted original one, which had broken in the space of the drive around the corner. Old mate number four, repaired the chain with wire and pliers and fitted it again – tightly. This had taken two and half hours in the driving snow.

The suggestion of Sorrento had been roundly poo-poohed by all the old blokes – too dangerous they said. So chains attached, soaked through and still in driving snow, we headed back to seek further counsel from the barista at the bar near us, Mario, who spoke English and who also said we should not try to leave Calitri.

Resigned to our snowy fate, we needed to head to the supermarket to lay in supplies for the icy days ahead – challenging enough to accept that all the advice we had received was correct. Shopping done, we faced only a challenging icy, snowy walk back up the path to our place, laden with shopping and luggage.

Spent the afternoon watching snow build up on just about everything and tried researching other ways to get to Sorrento – Mario said the busses still ran in this weather. Eventually managed to contact the bus company and worked out that we could catch a bus to Avellino then another one to Sorrento at 7:57am tomorrow morning. Early to bed for us.

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