A Travellerspoint blog

Italy

To Tuscany, Italy and Sunshine!

Friday 13th August to Monday 23rd August

Friday 13th August

Set off early as it would be a long drive and the rain seemed to follow us all the way! We were still in two minds really as we said our goodbyes to Austria. As much as we wanted sea and sun, we didn’t know how easy it would be to find anywhere in Italy and we would be getting extremely low on funds while there! But hey as long as we left enough for fuel for our journey back, it would be ok!

We decided to head straight for the town of Soave where we had stayed before we had left Western Europe for Eastern Europe all those months ago! We knew it was a nice aire with free water and electric and it was on our route down to Tuscany. It took a very long drive of 500 miles to get there though and it was nearing 10pm when we arrived! On the way down it felt like the rain was following us all the way! Also we were reminded of the terrible junctions Italy seems to have! Still we were back where we had been, which seemed strange!

Saturday 14th August

Woke up to an overcast day, every now and again rain would come to say hello! Still it was a lot warmer here. We didn’t really do much at all that day, but stop in and read. I think the amount of miles we had travelled yesterday we couldn’t be bothered to move!

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Sunday 15th August

The sun was out today, so we decided to head up into the hills and into the many vineyards Soave is surrounded by. It was a lovely walk through the vines, seeing the grapes hanging there. Last time we had been here the vines certainly had no grapes, so it was great to see them now.

Soave Grapes!

Soave Grapes!

Vineyards of Soave

Vineyards of Soave

Taking a break in the sun between the vineyards!

Taking a break in the sun between the vineyards!

Olive tree, fig tree, vines and soave castle!

Olive tree, fig tree, vines and soave castle!

Soave Castle and the many vineyards!

Soave Castle and the many vineyards!

Back from the walk we now for some strange reason fancied a drink of wine! Problem was as it was Sunday no shops were open! And we couldn’t really afford two glasses at the bars in this posh town!

Monday 16th August

Decided to continue our journey down to the coast, but first we had a load of washing we needed to sort out. A simple thing normally using a laundrette, but this morning our progress was slowed and confused by two old Italian women who didn’t speak any English! Eventually we left with our washing done, although not dried. Lorna had the brilliant of idea of hanging it up inside the motorhome to dry as we drove! So we set up two lines and put some of the stuff up. We then set off to a town on the coast we knew had a Sosta (Italian version of an Aire), called La Spezia. The journey there was via many winding hilly roads, but the sun was out!

Arriving there we found it to be a paid aire near the docks! We drove around a little but the coastline was just houses with nowhere to park! We ended up parking back near the Sosta in a small car park opposite the docks! Not really what we had in mind and we couldn’t actually see the sea! Still it would do for today and tomorrow we would continue down the coast in search of somewhere else to stay. The first bit of washing had dried mind in the motorhome from the journey, so Lorna strung the next load up. It saved us money from the driers in the laundrette, even though for two days we couldn’t really see or move much for clothes hanging about!

Tuesday 17th August

Continued south on the coast to check out some other Sosta’s and find somewhere to stay. The journey was slow and the coast of Italy left us thinking we would find it hard to find anywhere! All the way it was houses and resorts, what was worse was we had arrived in August. This is the month all the Italians take off for their holidays, so the coast was very busy! Maybe this hadn’t been such a great idea after all!

We ended up near the coastal town of Livorno, just below Pisa. We did have a glimpse of the famous leaning tower from the road. But decided it would be best to visit it on the way back up, when the holiday month of August had finished! We found a free parking spot we had seen in our book, in a place called Antignano. The book had a great picture of a spot overlooking the sea, but in reality it was a piece of dirt land in-between some housing. It wasn’t the nicest of places and we both thought the people parked there seemed a little strange, to say the least! It would do for today and tonight though.

Wednesday 18th August

Decided although we were in the sun and by the sea, there must be a better spot than this one! So in the early afternoon we set off again further down the coastal road. So far Tuscany hadn’t really been what we were expecting or had seen, maybe we were in the wrong part! Where are all the lovely rustic houses? We decided that they were probably more inland or further south.

Further down the coast it seemed to get better and there were occasional breaks in the housing along the coast. We spotted a few places that we could maybe park up in, but still continued an extra bit more. We then stumbled across a small place called Cecina and a woodland on the coast. Just alongside this between a small road and fields were a few car parks and further down there were lots of motorhomes. We found ourselves a spot and parked up, with a field behind and tree’s in front. Although we couldn’t see the sea, we knew from all the people heading into the woods with their beach towels it was very close. It was just nice to find somewhere not surrounded by houses!

The parking was free and the sun was out, so many Italian motorhomes were taking full advantage. We settled in a spot and after a while took a wonder to find the sea. It was a lovely short walk through the trees, till we came out onto the busy beach. The sand here was pretty dark almost black and the trees right up against the beach were pretty dead! Wasn’t the most beautiful of beaches, but it was better than we had seen so far and we sat back in the sand and enjoyed the sun.

Free parking in Cecina, Italy

Free parking in Cecina, Italy

Cecina Beach, Tuscany, Italy

Cecina Beach, Tuscany, Italy

Relaxing by the motorhome in the sun, Cecina

Relaxing by the motorhome in the sun, Cecina

Thursday 19th August to Monday 23rd August

We decided this would be a perfect spot to stay a while, so after a short bike around headed back to the beach for the day. It was so nice being back at the sea and in the sun. For the next few days we enjoyed the sun and the location.

Wooded trail leading to beach, Cecina

Wooded trail leading to beach, Cecina

the sea, Tuscany

the sea, Tuscany

On Monday morning I found a four leaf clover! Wow we thought, were bound to get some luck now! Later that day we went off to empty the toilet at a nearby Sosta, after emptying I sat back in the drivers seat and turned the ignition…… Nothing! We tried a few times and even roped an Italian into trying to jump start us, still nothing! I couldn’t work out what it was, the battery dial in the motorhome said it was full and the alternator had been working fine on the way over, due to again the dial inside the motorhome and also the lights came on in the dashboard, so the ignition should be ok!??! Well we weren’t going anywhere!

Thank god we had paid to become members of the German company ADAC’s European cover! After a few calls and two hours waiting in the sun an Italian representative came out too check over the problem. He didn’t really speak English, but we found out the battery was well and truly dead! Apparently the alternator was fine but the battery even after a charge still wouldn’t start the engine! It always happens when you are low on money! We would have to buy a new battery and it was a big one! We had the option of following him back to the garage where he could sell us a battery, only problem was it was €225!!! After a word with a couple of other motorhomers, they all said motorhome batteries were around that price, so we sadly followed him back and parted with the money. On taking out the old one, it looked like it was the original so would have been about 20 years old! With the light starting to fade we drove off with our expensive new battery and feeling a lot poorer than we had started the day, so much for the bloody four leaf clover! Good luck, yeah right!

Posted by marklorna 07:27 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

From Cheroscan, Italy to Venice, via Lake Garda and Verona.

Our Northern Italian stroll

Saturday 8th May

Had a quick look around the town and saw some lovely old rustic Italian buildings, I can see why people like Italy.

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We then set off east for a couple of days drive, towards the city of Verona. After another rather dull drive across flat and industrial northern Italy, we stopped in a car park in a large town called Chieri. So far the Italian roads seem bumpy, with strange junctions and constant slow speed limits. No wonder when the Italians get a chance they are all overtaking. The car park happened to be by some nightlife and so all night it was pretty busy and noisy, maybe we should have joined them!

Sunday 9th May

Continued on towards Verona, but headed off to Garda to have a look around the lake.

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The lake is massive but quite built up all around and we struggled to find any free parking. We eventually found a spot where a few other motorhomes were parked that wasn’t paying. We then headed off for a bike ride around part of the lake and a stroll around the old town on the edge of the lake, where we indulged in our first slice of Italian pizza mmmmm.

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Arriving back at the motorhome, I found one of the straps holding the kayaks on had snapped. Looks like 6 months of sun and rain was enough for it. For the time being, till we could find some new straps, I secured it with rope before the rain began again.

Monday 10th May

Continued our journey to Verona and on the way picked up some new straps for the kayaks. We decided to head past Verona and instead go to the small town of Soave, as the aire there was free. On arriving in Soave we were pleasantly surprised to find a castle on top of a hill overlooking the walled town.

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We parked up and plugged in to our free electric supply from the aire, which looked up to the castle. I also found that during today’s journey the other strap had also snapped, so the kayaks had been hanging on with the rope I had fixed yesterday! So with the new straps I secured the kayaks back to the roof. We then had a wonder around the small but lovely town, but had no luck in finding any internet or wifi. We were finding it very hard to find internet in Italy, even for McDonalds we had to register with an Italian SIM card and any wifi cafes seemed very scarce.

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Tuesday 11th May

Woke up to rain, so the trip to Verona was put on hold and most of the day was spent sat inside. When it finally cleared we took a walk up to the castle, then found a trail through the hills and vineyards. It turned out a pleasant walk and the thought keeps coming back to my mind how nice it would be to have our own vineyard!

Wednesday 12th May

Headed off on the bus to Verona, famous for Romeo and Juliet and also known as little Rome. We didn’t really know where we were supposed to get off the bus, so jumped off at where we hoped was a central stop. We started walking to try and find the tourist office for the trusty town map and save us walking around endlessly when almost straight away we stumble on one of the main sights we wanted to see, Juliet’s famous Balcony. We saw a lot of people standing around an archway and turned to find an amazing sight. The passageway was full of pieces of paper pinned or stuck to the sides, all of them love notes.

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This passageway then came out into a small courtyard holding the famous balcony.

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As it was packed with people we didn’t stay long, but before leaving added our names to the passageway! We then continued walking, in search of the tourist office. The city was stunning. Everywhere we looked there were spectacular old Italian buildings.

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I found the architecture capitulating, grand and dignified yet elegantly worn. I seem to have a fascination with old buildings, the look of a grand but rustic place is mysterious and evoking of so many tales that must have passed through its walls. By the time we eventually found the tourist office (near the large Amphitheatre, in case any one needs to know), as there are no signs, we had seen most of the sights anyway. The amphitheatre was very large and still hosts Opera’s, at that present moment they had masses of scenery outside waiting to be taken in and set up.

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Before we left though we indulged again in another big slice of Italian pizza, I could eat these everyday! Getting the bus back proved to be a slight problem, as we couldn’t find a stop that related to our bus number, not even the one we got off at! To make matters slightly worse none of the buses passing actually had bus numbers. After a fair bit of walking around, we found a bus stop with the correct corresponding bus number and flagged a bus down. Turned out it wasn’t the right bus, but the driver was really kind and helpful by informing us we needed to get it at the main bus station. Well this is what we worked out he must of said, as our Italian isn’t good. He then, free of charge, took us to the bus station and pointed out exactly where we needed to pick up out bus, then waved us goodbye.

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Thursday 13th May

Even though Soave was getting ready for it’s Medieval wine festival, we had used up our time allowed at the aire and so headed off towards Venice. On the way we visited many motorhome shops trying unsuccessfully to find an indicator unit for Hymer. We ended up in a town called Treviso and stopped in their aire.

Friday 14th May

I really love the fact of being in different countries, the simple mundane tasks have a different air about them. As we had nothing for breakfast, I popped out to find some bread. I enjoyed the morning walk down Italian streets in search of a bakery. Bakeries abroad are wonderful, they are always full of mouth watering little cakes and snacks eager to be eaten. With a bakery found. I mustered up the words to ask for a baguette and left with bread in hand and happy.

After breakfast we headed around the town with the laptop, again in search of internet. The town was a lovely old place surrounded by a river, but we had no luck with internet. We decided as the weather was good to head off to Venice, well Punta Sabbioni, a peninsula jutting out around the island of Venice. We had been informed there was some free parking close to the water ferry that goes to the city. On arrival though we found that the area was awash with campsites and very expensive parking near the ferries. We had no look finding the elusive free parking spot, that I believe no longer exists, so headed away from the ferry terminals and campsites to find somewhere to stay. After a drive around we managed to find a spot down a small road that took us to a little parking area by a beach and beach café. As the day was coming to a close we settled down for the night with another motorhome parked there. The weather had been good today, so hopefully tomorrow we could venture around Venice, a city I had longed to experience.

Saturday 15th May

Woke up to heavy rain and a sky full of clouds! Putting a hold on our Venice adventure. Decided if we were going to wait around we would find some internet, as we had stuff to check and research for Eastern Europe to do. After driving around wasting petrol and time, not to mention me getting soaked through in the process of walking around cafes, we failed miserably to find any internet or wifi cafes. We then headed back to our beach location to watch the rain and sea.

Sunday 16th May

Woke up to clear skies, so drove to a car park in the next town and biked 3km down to the ferry terminals. We then found the cheapest ferry crossing, although this was still far too much for the short journey it was! Still, it was a great and a fitting way to arrive into the water city of Venice.

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The city gradually got closer and closer till we arrived at the busy port, with all shapes and sizes of boats cramming for space. The city itself is everything you expect it to be, grand, captivating and amazing on the canals edges.

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We spent the day walking around taking it all in, over many bridges alongside many canals. It is very easy but fun to get lost in the squares and streets of Venice, also strange having in a city the only mode of transport is foot or boat.

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Everywhere you turn you can’t help but being fascinated and enthralled by the buildings, grand or unloved, sitting against the canals. The gondoliers were everywhere taking people down the narrow canals, narrowly avoiding small boats.

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The main part of course is full of tourists and as such, full tourist shops but a few turns here and there and your away from it all down a quiet street or beside a quiet canal.

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It truly is a wonderful city and one I would like to spend more time wondering around and seeing what nightfall brings. Now though, after 6 hours walking around, we were ready to head back on the ferry and for the time being at least away from Venice.

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Posted by marklorna 02:37 Archived in Italy Tagged automotive Comments (0)

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