A day of touring out of season on the exquisite Island of Corfu.
The Island is one full of ex pats. Dutch, American, German, English and even a few Irish. The winter is the secret time when all year rounders come out to play. When the roads are clear of hire cars, when the beaches have no more sunbeds and the olive trees are laden with fruit, peace invades the land.
The mountains are still spectacular, the trees still mostly green and one in fifty tavernas are still open. We can put our noses out, like Moley in the Wind in the Willows after a winter of hibernation, and breathe clear, cool air once more.
In between the parties, christenings and the get togethers, my neighbour offers her car for a trip around the island. A Fiat Barchetta, no less, one of the few hand made cars, before robots took their place in the assembly line. A nhttp://fiat.barchettaeat roadster convertible.
My Greek boyfriend nearly faints at the thought, thinking back to the days when he drove one himself. I get a message early in the morning to say it has started, a minor miracle as it’s not taken out much and the battery gets run down.
We dash up and get hold of the key. My other half is struggling to get into it with the roof in place.
-How could I do this when I was forty? he groans.
We wrap up with woolly hats and jackets, figure out the roof procedure and the engine roars.
On our faces are plastered large smiles, as the air rushes past and the low slung car hugs the road. We feel like tourists.Once or twice the car refuses to start first time, but it always obliges in the end.
We chose the coast road, with the sea to our right, still and azure as ever it was on a calm summer’s day. We explore a couple of deserted resorts – picture perfect villages with their jetties empty, the tavenas deserted. When we drive all the way to the end of the pier and then slightly off it, on to more uneven ground, it is explained to me that Barchetta is the Italian word for a small boat, so it’s only normal to bring it as close to the water as possible. My panicked face breaks into a smile again and we retrace our steps up out of the village.
Then along the north coast, stopping for a grill lunch of souvlaki and beer, then on again this time down the island through the mountain range where we see over to the west side and then slide down, down to the central plain and home. Hugging our neighbour in thanks for an exquisite day driving a true touring car that hugged the bends from sea level to 75 metres above in this concertina of an island.
Still high on the fresh air, we add a new phrase to our vocabulary – a Barchetta Day.