As soon as I had passed Salerno it was as if a switch had been thrown. People just evaporated into thin air : the fleets of white camper vans which had been a feature all through Europe disappeared, and I was seemingly the only long distance cyclist in the country. For me it was still mid summer, with temperatures in the high twenties, but the days are noticeably shortening.
I am riding the SS18 which winds it’s way down the coast, in and out of small towns, around empty bays and craggy headlands. It is wonderfully empty and at one point I was riding for twenty minutes totally alone. Out to sea on my right several large water spouts whipped along in formation, a first for me.
The vegetation is looking distinctly more southern and many of the coastal towns have some impressive palm trees. This combined with the heat has you thinking of North Africa rather than Italy, but I suppose in relative terms it’s quite close anyway.
The Greeks colonised this coast, and nowhere is it more evident than at Paestum where three temples remain in remarkable shape, along with most of the city walls. Very few people at this time of year as well.
Across the road in the museum are finds from the site, including this impressive ceramic figure. The decoration is easily associated with more recent history, but the swastika was a device in use centuries earlier.
Another sculpture caught my eye yesterday. Twice life-size, this wire mesh figure had no other visible means of support, and sat staring out to sea, it’s head nodding gently in the wind, as if pointing me in the direction of my final destination.
Finding myself with nowhere to stay last night, I rode into one of the beach resorts which proliferate in these parts. There were maybe six people there and the young manager was happy for me to pitch my tent at no cost for the night. Very soon I had the place to myself, with only Jesus and two lions to watch over me. They did their job because no ills befell me overnight!