Erupting volcanoes: an awesome, terrifying aspect of the natural world, a world in which we marvel when on holiday, dipping our fingers and toes into its beautiful bounty, and dipping its produce into our gourmet gullets. The Eyjafjallajoekull volcano may have re-awakened our respect for the power of mother nature but are there viable alternatives to travelling to Abruzzo or Italy when air travel is threatened?
Driving to Abruzzo
If there is 2 or more of you in the car, driving to Abruzzo is a whole lot greener than jumping on a plane.
For example a one-way trip from East London down to the city of Teramo in Abruzzo’s eponymous, most northerly province, is 1150 miles or 1,838 km. Although Google says it is just a 17-hour drive due to experience we always allow ourselves 2/3 days to do the drive comfortably, with stop- offs that involve a bit more than a leg stretch and time to take in a relaxing dinner or two.
Translated into CO2 this is 1438 1bs of CO2 per medium sized car that does 50 miles to the gallon. A round-trip plane journey works out to be 952 lbs of CO2 per passenger. Obviously if you have a car with 2 or more people this is a much lower carbon footprint, at 719 lbs each return.
The Cost on Your Pocket
For a return journey, the price of tolls and petrol add up to £250, compared to the average return flight from London Stansted to Pescara of £92 return per person or up to £350 return in the summer months, courtesy of Ryanair.
Not a Means to an End but a Grand Tour
Depending on your preferences and how much you like to drive over a certain period you can experience some glorious treats en route. If you decide to go via Belgium, there’s a wonderful excuse for a pit stop in the Ardenne region and a night’s sampling the divinely potent Roquefort Trappist Beer.
Alternatively, if driving through France, try spending your first night and morning exploring the beautiful cathedral city of Metz, where the new Pompidou Centre is opening in late June 2010.There is something delightful about driving through the sparse French region of Alsace Lorraine; one is that you can buy wonderful mustard crisps to enjoy whilst motoring, or for pastry lovers stop off and indulge at one of the local patisseries, hmmmm quiche Lorraine takes on a whole new meaning with the tarts and savoury pastries offered here; particularly good is lunch & a stroll in Strasbourg with its apparently historical toes in both France & Germany.
After a breathtaking drive through the Swiss Alps another pit stop can involve an urban night in Milan or a gastro night in the historic city of Parma before a 6-8 hour drive down to Abruzzo according to what speed you drive.
Train – Costs Mount Up
For those that prefer to sit back and let someone else do the driving, it’s possible to take the train from the UK down to Abruzzo and arrive with 24 hours if you time it right. This way of travelling can additionally offer time in Paris to take an amble: going shopping, visiting a gallery or simply an afternoon cafe break before you board the train. The catch…it’s expensive, even if you count the cost of 1 night’s accommodation in the sleeper train – per person you are looking at a return bill of £338, potentially cheaper than flying to Pescara in the height of summer on Ryanair but for the rest of the year it unfortunately tramples your wallet.
Catch the Eurostar from London down to Paris. Take the metro from Gare du Nord to Gare de Bercy, which is the station that connects France & Italy . Here pick up the Artesia ‘Palatino’ sleeper that leaves at 18.52 to arrive in Bologna at 0558 am. The express train to Pescara leaves at 0950 am to arriving at 12.49. For more infor on this route check out Seat61, a fantastic resource for train travel across Europe.
Cost Based on 2 People Travelling Together
Eurostar Tickets for 2 people travelling – £254 return, Artesia Sleeper Train – £262 for a 2 berth sleeper + Eurocity Train – €160 return. Co2 per person – 774 lbs.
Getting from A-B Inside Abruzzo by Bus & Train
If your idea of a holiday in Abruzzo involves sitting on a different beach each day, the coastal train that connects each town along the Adriatic coast will suffice to ensure that you can do exactly this.
However for those a little more adventurous and wanting to explore inland, it is wise to remember that Abruzzo is not the Amalfi Coast nor for example the Italian Riveria, where tourist buses are laid on for crowds of tourists to explore local hot spots. Abruzzo is a beautiful but sparsely populated region whose local bus service’s focus is on serving those that live in its smaller hill towns and villages.
This means local buses run around the villagers’ professional timetable:
Offices: Mondays to Fridays: 08.30am-1pm and 3-6pm
Banks: Mondays – Fridays: 8:30am -1.30pm and 2.45 -4.15pm
Shops: Mondays to Saturdays: 9am-1pm and 4.30-7.30pm
Most buses will depart early in the morning, bringing those villagers that don’t own a car back for lunch, leave after lunch and make the return for dinner in the evening; Sundays outside the larger cities & towns is a day of rest for bus drivers, so do not be expecting a connecting bus if arriving by coach from Rome or from the airport.
Main city and towns buses do run far more frequently, as do the Express buses to Rome for a day out from each city and their larger town stop offs. However, if you are wanting to get off-the-beaten track and explore Abruzzo without rising early and enduring arduous treks up to local beauty spots, as much as I hate to admit it, you will need a car to do get the most from your stay, as well as ensuring you the occasional option of a lie-in!