No sooner do I finish extolling the virtues of the iPhone for travelling that it fails us.
We were making our way from Grosseto to Saturnia. All was well. We had been enjoying the turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone and were talking about how it has made things so much easier. No more spending hours mapping routes. No more maps that you have to unfold and can never fold back up again correctly. It seemed perfect. So much so, that we never questioned the GPS lady on previous days when on two different trips to the same location, she took us on two different routes. We believed in Her.
The first hint of doubt came in when she asked us to turn onto a dirt road from the highway. We thought…hmm this is strange, but she hasn’t failed us yet. Luckily it was a very short road and in less than 500 meters we were back on another highway…maybe even the one we were on previously. We have no idea because we did not and have not looked at the map of how we got here to Saturnia.
At the very end of the trip, we saw a castle on top of a mountain and Meeta said that she wanted to go up there, but on foot, because at this point she had gotten car sick from the windy roads. No fault of the GPS lady, though. Then the GPS lady says, “In 200m, make a slight left turn onto Via Blah Blah. I can never understand the actual street name. I just know I have to make the turn. This, by the way, is how I like to be navigated. Don’t tell me all the boring details, just tell me when to turn and which direction.
Anyways, we make the turn and within 100m, the road turns into a rocky mess. I’m having to navigate the higher rocks to make sure we don’t scrap the bottom of the car. It gets progressively worse and turns into little more than a trail much worse than the old Pali Road Trail toward the bottom of the trail. Those who have been there know what I am talking about. There is a remnant of an old road, but certainly nothing you should be driving on.
At this point, there was no way I was going to be able to reverse the car all the way down the trail without some help, so I trudge upwards. I am starting to freak out inside, but can’t show any of it to Meeta because she’ll just flip. There are parts where it was so narrow that I thought about folding in the side mirrors. All I could think about was not getting stuck and the horrific nightmare of finding the road closed at the top or there being a gate or doorway.
And guess what we find at the very top? A nice arched doorway. It may have been a gate for a horse and buggy, but it was probably less than 2m wide. I see it and immediately say to Meeta in my most calm and cool voice, “We’re not going to make it through that gate.” She yells, “What? Oh my God! You can do it, Nam!”
That was all the encouragement a man needs. His wife telling him he can do it. There was no way I was going to stop now.
So I slowly made my way towards the gate, and I swear we made it though with a few cm. Any rocking of the car would have scraped one of the sides.
The trail led us up to the main road of the village of Saturnia which has 300 residents. I stop for a moment to calm my shaking hands. Meeta and I burst out into laughter. We had only been in that type of situation once before on Kauai, but that was in a Jeep Wrangler on the Power Line Trail, not a BMW station wagon rental car.
We find our hotel and the nice lady asks, “How was your drive to Saturnia?” I told her it was great until the very end when we drove up the trail. She nodded and said “Ah yes, the Clodia. We have tried to contact them many time to correct the problem. For some reason the satellite thinks it is a road. So sorry.”
So, if the GPS lady tells to you to turn onto a dirt road, don’t do it. Just keep going and she will figure out another route. And if you are ever in the area, do not under any circumstance turn onto “Strada Saturnia-Pitigliano”, unless it is by foot.