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Trip Report ASCOLI PICENO to LECCE'S Piazza S.ORONZO..Due Settimane Splendido

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After many months of planning,aided by the generous assistance of many "Fodorosos",on 24 April we started off on our 2 week journey from Rome's Fiumicino airport due East to Ascoli Piceno,very close to the Adriatic and then down the coast to Trani and the start of our extraordinary Pugliese adventure,with a dip across the provincial border into Basilicata and Matera.From the very start our travels posed elements of surprise and sometimes challenge.At the Hertz car rental desk we were informed we could not rent the Fiat 500 we had requested because we would be traveling in Puglia,where "these cars are stolen".Should we have fibbed about our destination???It never occurred to us.Disappointed,we chose a Fiat Panda,stick-shift which we came to love.We piled our carry-ons into "Panello"....did not know the Italian word for Panda.....mounted our GPS fitted with the Europe card we had used on 3 earlier trips and confidently started for the garage exit,realizing the GPS was "non-funzione."No amount of giggling and re-starting would activate it,and so with the bare-bones directions from the Hertz guy,and a not good enough map of Italy,[the huge map of Puglia was no help here],we started off on the Autostrada towards Rieti on the 235, the Salaria.Approaching Rieti,the landscape changed radically,and we were surrounded by the snow topped Sibillini mountains.The vistas were breathtakingly beautiful and the roads were hair-raisingly challenging with non-stop curves and switch-backs.While my road warrior husband drove I described the little perched villages,the arrows pointing to "terme";he hilltop castles;the roadside signs advertising "Porchetta".After around 2 1/2 hours we arrived in the new part of Ascoli,a larger city than we anticipated,and made our way to Centro Storico.Here ends the first part.I will continue later.

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