Road Phantoms

There’s a strange phenomenon in Italy that I’ve started to notice more and more recently. Spectral traffic. Ghost cars.

You can be driving down a lane and look in the rear view mirror and from nowhere a car appears behind you, you check again and it’s still there pootling behind you. You can continue along the road where there are no junctions, no drives or side roads and you look up again and the car that was behind you has vanished.

This can happen on the straightest of roads, not just the weaving lanes. Today I drove past the WWF Serranella visitor centre and there was no traffic on the road other than me, I came around a bend and looked in my rear view mirror and suddenly there was a black Fiat panda behind me. The car wasn’t travelling very fast and the driver had no intention of overtaking me. WE continued up the straight road through Breccaio, past the houses onto the unpopulated portion of this undeviating road and when I looked up the panda was gone. There was nowhere it could have turned off, it hadn’t pulled over and the road behind me was empty.

I mentioned this to my passenger and his response was, “Yes, it’s weird that, happens to me all the time, where do the cars behind disappear to?”

Finally on a lighter note, I leave you today with a photograph of our current bottle of washing up liquid.


It made me wonder what would happen if during a Duran Duran gig, Simon Le Bon forgot the lyrics to, Rio… could he sing, ‘Her name is Rio and she bum bum de bum bum…”

Ants in Your Plants

It’s been very hot here these past few days, Italy has had a mini heat-wave, but this morning it’s quite cool. I check on the plants growing in my mini orto. There’s some more courgettes, young and tender that need to be picked and a couple of tomatoes have donned their red jackets, so they can come out of the plot, a couple of white onions are a good enough size to harvest . I notice that ants have taken up residence my cayenne plant and as I pick a couple of the orange chillies they dash across my fingers eager to protect. I’m not worried by this, it’s rural Italy and a few ants wont ruin my day. As I walk back to the house the iPod shuffles and the strains of Hungry like the Wolf, by Duran Duran drift out into the Italian countryside.

Back inside the kitchen with my collected bounty I set to, preparing it for storage. I chop it all up and add a couple of garlic cloves, I sweat the onions off and then add the courgettes followed by the chillies and tomatoes, last to hit the pot is the garlic. I add a little water and let it simmer away until the contents of the pan have softened. I don’t season with salt and pepper as I’m going to divide the mixture once cold and freeze it.


Now cold, the mixture is divided up into three portions and popped into the freezer and now I have a sofrito base for three pasta sauces that I can use when the season has ended. A few minutes in the morning will save me a few euros in winter time, and the memory of a summer morning will be released into the saucepan.