The Road to Rome 28th Aug-02nd Sept

Posted: September 2, 2010 in 3.Italy

The Road to Rome

I fell out of the tent. There’s no other way to put it really, and as it’s a roof tent it @*%$ing hurt (sorry mum). But this is jumping ahead a little.

We left our idyllic campsite in Tuscany on Saturday 28th and headed for Siena for a quick stop before we traveled on further towards Rome. So paranoid were we of not being able to park the car or getting stuck in the small narrow streets of this beautiful city that we ended up parking at the bottom of a 1 mile hill and walking into the city in the midday sun. We didn’t realize that it was a mile away when we started the hike but the sweat patches, need for water and total lack of conversation from either of us signaled that we had made a huge mistake. Anyhow, once we composed ourselves we ventured into the city, sat in the main square, had quite possibly the biggest ice cream in the world and spent a pleasant while watching the goings on. Siena has to be one of the loveliest cities in Italy. Fact.

Walking down the hill involved a lot less puffing and we were soon back in the Land Rover heading towards Rome. The plan was not to arrive in Rome that day but rather stop a couple of hours north and camp overnight before making our way in the next day. We had no campsite planned but after 10 days into the trip I have finally figured out how to use the GPS and one of its many wonderful functions shows you the closest campsite to your location, amazing. So after a few hours driving we pressed the magic button and were directed to a campsite 4 miles from our position. To be honest we did not fully trust Mr Sat Nav, as the roads it took us down seemed to be going nowhere and there were certainly no signs of campsites, but our perseverance was rewarded by a friendly greeting from the manager at Camp Falcone. I will be putting all the campsites we stayed at on another page on the blog so any interested parties can get more information. I’m also toying with the idea of giving them a ‘Maple Leaf’ rating, much like the AA but currently Megan and I are in dispute as to how clean the toilets have to be in order for a camp site to get ‘3 leaves’.

So it was the night of the 28th that gravity once again dealt me a harsh blow. I was in the tent, Megan outside trying to get the fridge working and after all my helpful instructions were met with a ‘Get down here and fix this bloody thing’ I somehow missed the ladder and ended up on my back staring at the stars. The stars scared me, as it was a cloudy, overcast night, which meant the stars I was seeing were actually all in my head. After the initial shock and Megan had finally got over her giggles all limbs and digits seem to be working normally and a lesson was well and truly learnt. I don’t have sixth sense and I must make sure my foot is on the ladder before committing myself to the descent.

Next morning we went to visit the town of Orvieto and determined not to make the same mistake as we did in Siena we brazenly ignored scores of parking places further outside the town and ended up driving the Land Rover into the smallest, narrowest, most complicated one way system known to man. If I say pretty much every bend required a three point turn you’ll understand. The sweat patches, need for water and total lack of conversation from either of us signaled that we had made a huge mistake. After what seemed like four hours (in reality it was probably about ten minutes) we managed to free ourselves from this cobbled street nightmare and finally found some parking on the edge of town. The town itself is famous for its church and although the picture below does not do it justice it was worth the effort required to see it.

On the Autostrada again and a few tolls later we were on the outskirts of Rome, in the aptly named ‘Happy Village’ campsite…

The morning of the 30th saw us venture into the Italian capital via the train, no parking problems for us this time, and we wondered the streets, taking in all the tourist hot spots. I requested an audience with the Pope but we couldn’t find space in our diaries when we were both free, shame. I was very impressed by Rome, totally different to my expectations and we both lost track of the time as we ate our body weight in ice cream and watched the rich and fabulous shopping at Gucci, Prada and the like. Happy Village and Camping had a pool! and after some persuasion I sucked in the belly, and showed off my farmer’s tan, which looks a treat I can tell you, in all its glory.

Pompei was the next stop and we arrived on Tuesday the 31st. That afternoon we wondered into the famous ruins of the town and were both blown away by the sheer scale of the place. So much has been uncovered and it is absolutely massive. I’ll be honest and say this was a ‘Megan idea’ and I wasn’t much looking forward to it but by the end of the 3 hours we spent wondering around I wanted to buy the book, get the t-shirt and start digging in our campsite to see what I could uncover. It’s a must for anyone passing down this way.

I realize that I haven’t written much about the car, and that’s because I don’t want to jinx it. I think we are all surprised that we’ve got this far with no ‘incidents’ and other than the expected constant drip of oil out of the bottom of the engine, so far so good! Fingers crossed this unexpected period of reliability holds out!

It’s now Wednesday 2nd today and we have just got back from Naples, so to summarise:

1.     It’s rather noisy.

2.     Red traffic lights have no meaning.

3.     Great pizza.

4.     There’s not a wall without graffiti on it.

5.     Loads of knock off handbags and sunglasses, I mean LOADS, they were even selling then on the police station steps, brazen.

6.     There are no parking spaces in Naples, all one does is stop anywhere one wants and switches those hazards on.

7.     Pavements are for scooters, not people.

So that’s it, you’re all up to date, now to find a wifi connection…….

  1. Tim M-F says:

    Hi Simon,

    i’ve just found out about this blog and i’m very impressed with the first few entries. Good luck with the rest of the trip.


  2. Nicky Smith says:

    Hi Simon & Megan

    I laughed and then some when I read about Simon’s gravity experiments! Of course what I should have been doing is preparing a quote for a client… I really enjoy reading about your adventures – Bob and I have had similar experiences driving from the house to the office, it’s devillish on the Coulsdon by-pass!

    Wishing you both well from the two of us.
    Bob & Nicky

  3. nicholas says:

    new favourite entry. glad things are still going well. have you worked out skype yet? if so maybe we could chat soon.


  4. Paul says:

    Great write up guys .. really interesting .. two things that made me and Mrs B laugh out loud:

    1. Turning circle of a 110 is truly awful, so I would imagine the 130 is character building to say the least. You get 30mm spacers, but these are debatably not so good for bearings.

    2. The roof tent, they are the rolls royce of places to sleep, very comfy and larger than a kings size bed, but its a long way up there, and its really going to hurt a tumble out of there! Ouch!

    Keep up the good work chaps, its really very interesting …


  5. Helen & Granddad/Joe says:

    Great to see your progress, especially being able to see Siena, Rome, Naples and Ponpeii in the summer months.
    Sorry to hear about your fall from the tent Simon, but we have to confess to unsuccessfully stiflling a smile!! (or two!)
    Interesting that you should choose a “Maple Leaf” rating for the campsites you visit! Maybe you could choose a seperate “emblem” for the toilet rating? since we’re rather fond of the Canadian National Emblem!! and we are from the Top end of the world and not the nether end!!!
    Great Blog – Have fun and have an Italian Ice cream for us!!!
    Love and All best wishes from Calgary!!

  6. Paul bryson says:

    Ha ha – fell out of the tent – plonker!!!!!

    Glad all going well, enjoying reading about your adventures and wouldn’t worry about the oil leak. My dads farmers special landrover 90 has leaked oil for about the last 8 years and still going strong

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