Connor Hicks

Travel, Astro, Landscape & Urban Photographer

Italian Road Trip, November 2018

– 9 days
– 1000’s of miles
– Plenty of beautiful derps
– 4 Wild boars running towards us 
– 1 Dead boar 
– 1 Dog chase
– 2 Crazy thunderstorms


After driving through the night from the UK we arrived at our friend Laurens’ house in Belgium. The car boot was full of our belongings  because we were headed to Norway for the winter after the Italian road trip, so we dragged it out and stored it in his house to make room for him and his gear. After playing luggage Tetris for a second time we were made a lovely continental breakfast fit for a king!
Stuffed to the brim we hit the road again!

We finally made it to Mulhouse, France where we spent the night in a dreadful hotel before passing through Switzerland and its beautiful mountains.
On the morning of the second day, we’d arrived at our first location, it was an old Funicular that had been abandoned some time ago at the top of a mountain on the border. The views from the top were absolutely stunning, bright autumn colours and low clouds scattered over the Italian/ Swiss mountains.

We made our way to an abandoned Ospidale a bit further south after exploring the funicular, and admiring the stunning views.

While exploring the massive buildings we bumped into 3 other explorers who were trying to find the way into the chapel in the centre of the grounds. I saw them from the top floor and guided them in the right direction to the access point.

When we were done photographing the gorgeous decayed buildings, Fran and I had a play with the drone to get some exterior footage.
On our way back to the car we were spotted by someone who was driving around the building and had to take cover in some near by bushes because we heard them come to a hault and started to reverse back to our location! After a narrow escape we quickly went back to the car and moved on to the next location…

“Oh look, The girl is driving on the wrong side!”

When we arrived at the last location, an abandoned theme park we were caught up by 2 locals who wanted to visit the site too, they were surprised to see the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car!
We all went in to the park together and were suddenly surrounded by a gorgeous sunset that filled the sky bright colours!
This was a lovely end to the day, unfortunately I didn’t take my camera into the park so got this snap on my phone.

It got dark quickly so we made our way to the hotel, checked in and found a restaurant to indulge in some delicious Italian cuisine. 

The next morning we thought we’d try our luck with a former asylum that we’d failed on our previous Italian road trip the year before.
We parked up in the same place and thought we’d try to gain access around the same area. Unfortunately we failed again and attracted some unwanted attention from some locals, So we all took a quick look at Google Maps and found another potential way, luckily this time it was the right way, and we were finally in, after a year! To our disappointment the place was passed its heyday, but it still featured some nice original gems! 

We explored a few more locations that day, including a stunning villa that featured some amazing Italian architecture in the lobby.
After that, we made our way further down south, exploring en route and unfortunately being stopped by the State Police in a service station. Apparently a guy with dreadlocks down to his backside and a guy covered in tattoos smoking in a service station looks very suspicious 
😂 Luckily there were no issues after they checked our car and ID and they let us on our way.

We had a day to waste before meeting up with a friend Fran and I worked and lived with over the summer in Geiranger, so we went to explore a former Monastery that was full of beautiful frescos and architecture. As we arrived we were stunned by the views, looking over from the mountain at the cloud covered horizon that was lit by an amazing sunrise.
We spent a few hours there and was amazed by the sheer beauty of the place. We headed to a few more locations including the popular Italian hydro power plant that we put off the previous year.

We still had a few hours of daylight remaining so we decided to revisit a power station to get some drone footage. This was easier said than done after the drone decided to fly off on its own because Fran hadn’t performed the pre flight checks properly.
We later found out that it was confused by the GPS. Luckily she regained control of the drone and I managed to safely fly it into the cooling tower without any problems and got the footage I visioned.

As we were near to some Baggers that lie dormant in a field near by, we decided to end the day there. 

Run!! F**king dogs are coming!!!

We drove around in circles 3 times trying to find a way to get to the enormous machines, we found a way after a while and dumped the car at the side of the country road. We made our way across the dense fields until we finally found ourselves stood on what once moved the earth in vast amounts to help with mining.
We had explored the baggers for a short while… Laurens and I were on the big bagger, and Fran was making her way over from a smaller one that was situated next to it…
As I was climbing up higher I noticed what looked like 4 huge Rottweilers racing in our direction in the distant fields, so I shouted to Fran “RUN, F**king massive dogs are coming!!!” this was followed by a loud bang that sounded like a gun shot!

I instantly thought that it was a farmer shooting towards us, so Laurens and I hid in the closest cabin and waited it out for a few minutes. We emerged and looked around the fields to see the animals running in a different direction, they appeared at this point to be too big to be Rottweilers and Fran suggested over the phone they might be wild boar… Not wanting to waste anymore time Laurens and I made our way over to the small bagger to get Fran. We equipped ourselves with some big metal poles because we had no idea what they were and made a hasty exit back to the car!

Laughing and joking about what just happened we started to drive away from the area… When we got back onto the main road we saw a car that was smashed to pieces in the middle of the road, and beside it, lying dead, a massive wild boar! The loud bang finally made sense…

We pulled over to check if the family involved were ok, then ended up helping an Italian guy load the boar into his trailer!

“I’m f**king stuck in the building, can you help?!”

The next morning we went to check out a former school in the area, we were pre warned to keep an eye out for the neighbours, so we went in stealth mode, as per usual… 
Fran and Laurens went in one way while I wondered off, and made my way into the building.
As I was passing through building I managed to alert the dogs in the garden next door. I picked up the pace and made my way to the others in the courtyard in the centre of the school. 
We stood there for a minute trying to decide what to do, when suddenly we heard the dogs dashing across the courtyard in our direction!
Laurens and Fran quickly jumped back over the fence, I panicked and stepped back into the building and slammed the door behind, and made my way to another room to lock myself in…
I quickly grabbed my phone and tried to phone and message Fran, but this was useless as the signal was weak, the only message that got through was “I’m f**king stuck in the building, can you help?!”

My heart was beating out of my chest, sweat was dripping from my forehead… This was the first time I’d been exploring and encountered dogs and the only thing running through my mind was what if a farmer comes along armed with a shotgun, I’m screwed! 

Luckily, a few minutes had passed and the dogs barks were getting further away, and I hadn’t heard any people yet. I made my way to another room to assess the situation… I saw Laurens in front of the neighbours driveway distracting the dogs, this was my time to get the hell out!

I made a run for the courtyard and hopped over the 8 foot fence and sprinted to the place we originally parked and asked Fran to drive back and get me!
I jumped in the car, panting and sweating and we made our way back to the front to pick Laurens up, just as we arrived another car pulled up and a man hopped out, the neighbour…
We approached him and found out that he doesn’t mind people going in and photographing the school, and the dogs luckily don’t bite, they’re just very yappy!

Lovely Perugia!

After spending the morning being chased by dogs, we headed in to the centre of Perugia! 
We were greeted by our friend Laura, who gave us a tour of her beautiful city. She showed us around some of the stunning buildings, and took us to the best views the city had to offer.
It was nice to get out and see what Italy had to offer other than urbex! We’ll definitely be returning for an actual holiday to see more of Italy.

Thankfully the rest of the trip was plain sailing, apart from being caught in a Crazy thunderstorm along the west coast the night after visiting Perugia.
We finished the trip with some more urbex as we made our way back up North before spending another 14 hours on the road back to Belgium! 

This trip was definitely one to remember, with some unique experiences!
Thank you to everyone involved, and a shout out to Jimmy from Albania for the tour of the school

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