Back into a train, but just down to Bologna; we were to collect a hire car there. One rather good thing about Bologna was the discovery of an automated laundry -- in fact, a laundrette ! Mind you, by that time we'd done no laundry since Valence; so we made camp in the laundrette and spent *a very large amount of money indeed* in getting all our clothes clean at once (AND a very large part of an evening, when we could have been *eating* ! -- if we'd ever discovered any of those famous Bolognese ristoranti ...).
The intention was to drive the Adriatic coast a fair bit, cross overland, and take the ferry to la bella Sicilia, then come back up by the Mediterranean coast. At this stage we were planning to make use of various autostrade -- I hadn't yet found out about them, but I was about to learn !! ...  You see, the thing about autostrade is that they are not infinitely straight; they often curve. And they need constant upgrade and maintenance (read work-gangs). And people in other cars overtake at truly tremendous speeds. So if you're driving along fairly rapidly in your semi-safe lane and the autostrada curves away ahead so that you can't see, you don't know if there's a road gang working in your lane around the corner, and you're also being overtaken by a BMW / Mercedes / Audi doing 280k ... and, well ... you don't cope well. CS had no such anxieties, and had to put up with mine until we decided that the best thing to do was NOT to drive on the autostrade. Red roads for us -- or preferably yellow ones.
Our hotel in Bologna was where we learned that one must never make international 'phone-calls from hotels while travelling; a fairly brief call to Oz cost more than the room tariff. First and last, it was ... Oh, and an intriguing thing we discovered was that whereas our hotel and another one beside it had front doorways next to each other on the same street frontage, it transpired that these two hotels were *one and the same* inside, once you started heading down corridors to the rooms ! -- probably some tax scam ...
On down into Toscana then Umbria -- che bei paesi ! Montepulciano, first; not to stay over, but to buy a 6-pack of a delectable vino nobile from that lovely and ancient town.
Next day, feeling very self-satisfied because every garment we'd brought with us was CLEAN, we headed off in our rented car on or way down south.