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April 01-05, 2014 | Way up North

Monday in Sicily. Our appointment with SICON is not until Tuesday and so we have a free day. We decide to explore the island by bicycle. We climb up the lofty hill town of Taormina, visiting its ancient Greek amphitheatre, and enjoying the extensive sea views. But all too quickly our sightseeing is over and we are back in the saddle. Next morning we set off at 7 o’clock, aiming to be at SICON at 9. After asking for directions a few times, we finally locate the factory and we soon find ourselves in front of four Husky lines.

SICON is the most southerly appointment on the Italian stage of our tour, and now we must turn northwards again. Having already experienced its delights, we definitely want to avoid taking the west coast route on what is undoubtedly the worst motorway in Italy. Instead we opt for the slightly longer eastern route. A wise move, as it turns out. Although we have to navigate some country roads, we make good progress.

The roof of the Sicon factory is covered in solar modules

Our next appointment is with the recycling company Cier, which is situated near Ancona, a busy seaport on the Adriatic coast, some 300 km N-E of Rome. Getting there involves a taxing drive of around 800 km which takes us a good two days. We are making for Roseto degli Abruzzi, a small town on the Adriatic, conveniently located near Ancona. Once arrived at Roseto, we hope to find a campsite for the night. Unfortunately, everywhere is fully booked, and there is not even any space for our Editourmobil to park. Reluctantly we turn around and eventually we find a quiet country lane where we settle down for the night. This gives us our first opportunity to put the gas grill through its paces. Very shortly afterwards, we are dining regally on steak and salad, washed down with a decent bottle of the local wine.

Clean and neatly stacked, PET bottles wait to be taken to CIER to be turned into flakes and later converted into rPET.

At CIER, we learn about the absurdities of PET recycling in Italy. More on that later in the issue. A disappointment awaits us when our appointment with the bottler Rocchetta unfortunately falls through. The only such occurrence on the tour so far. The weather too is conspiring against us, and, seeking a little sunshine, we head for the west coast. But first a little detour to my favourite city, Lucca, before heading for a weekend’s sightseeing in Genoa. At the motorway exit in Genoa, I nearly had a heart attack. The motorway exit is also the motorway access road, and it is a mere 5 metres wide. To complete the picture, it is on a 100 metre high bridge. The deck beams resemble spindly iron bars held together with piano wire. Heart in mouth, I coax the vehicle slowly across, driving in the middle of the road and hoping nothing comes the other way. With a sigh of relief and a few silent prayers we finally make it safely across. I make a mental note that on Monday, we will definitely be taking another motorway.