Driving between to the twin picturesque mountain villages of Miranda and Pesche there seems little to surprise. The views over Isernia are panoramic as expected, the city sits in the valley below and the distant hills, the narrow roads climb, and wind up the steep mountainside. Old stone built houses, many of which lie empty, and crumbling line the streets, with faded, arched shaped doors and tattered shutters line the streets. Small piazzas scattered haphazardly throughout, small bars and restaurants sit side by side churches, and in Pesche, fortified towers stand guard over the village, it’s all quite predictable.
Then, you come across “The Cadillac Ranch”! It’s difficult to imagine any place seeming more out-of-place, in the medieval surroundings of Pesche, Molise in Italy. At first, it seems like a theme park in the middle of the village, but on closer inspection it’s surely a shrine to America. In fact it’s a shrine to the American open road, and the freedom of the great American roadtrip.
“maybe they’re just slightly crazy”
Cadillacs are obviously important here, but only one was around, the others being serviced. Harley Davidsons and motorcycling is also a consistent theme throughout. This is hardly surprising when the owners are two Italian bikers slightly crazy about the iconic American motorcycle; actually maybe they’re just slightly crazy.
Benito “The Boss” is especially eccentric, the town’s ex-sheriff, fan of the other boss; Bruce Springsteen, American music, a free spirit and hater of Japanese motorcycles. The driving force behind the diner, he originally visited the States and brought back a souvenir, since then he and his partner have visited many times, returning with an eclectic assortment of American paraphernalia.
A museum to the open roads of the United States, overflowing with colourful, and usually brash, garish items, there’s barely any space available. Whenever Benito or his partner return from a trip however, they challenge their regulars to spot any new additions, which seems quite a challenge. Everywhere there’s a quirky item of decoration, under the bar, every vacant spot on the walls, or floors, and it’s genuinely a fluorescent shrine to American roadtrips.
“worth visiting just for the toilet“
There are hub caps, model motorcycles, full-sized motorcycles, saddlebags, oil drums, juke boxes, sidelights, mirrors, and of course dozens of licence plates and signs. It’s brightly lit interior walls are painted in almost neon reds, yellows and orange, and it’s almost worth visiting just for the toilet; a whole new concept in lavatory interior design!
There’s also a hollowed out beetle outside, being used as dining booth, and a Volkswagen camper is to be converted to become the smoking area in the winter months. Even more impressive, all the vehicles; Cadillacs, Volkswagens and Harleys are actually in working order, that’s pretty cool.
It’s location overlooks Isernia, with the sunset view being especially dramatic. Oil drums in the foreground, and the impressive valley as the backdrop makes for a stunning place to share a pitcher of American beer, with Springsteen thumping out from the speakers.
It may seem like a crazy theme park, totally out-of-place in this beautiful part of Molise, but it’s really, very cool, oh and incidentally the American diner styled food is pretty good value too.