Archive for the ‘3.Italy’ Category

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…….

Tunnel Vision 26.08.10

Posted: August 30, 2010 in 3.Italy

The only way in to Italy was through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, something that I have been excited about driving through for a while, but the 35 euro toll took a little of the shine off and after the first 2 minutes it gets a little….well, boring to be honest. Oh, and there’s also the fact it cost 35€’, did I mention that already?

Tunnels seemed to be the theme of Thursday as we made our way south though Italy and we reckon we must have passed though at least 100 km’s worth of them, none of them charging 35€ I might add. It took 7 hours to drive to the campsite we are presently at, the car performing faultlessly I might add except for making its way though more fuel than the Deep Water horizon pumped into the Gulf of Mexico! (too soon?). The campsite is just north of Siena in an idyllic little town, which looks just as you imagine a Tuscan village should. There is one problem however… Now most people who know me would say that at times I am prone to exaggeration, which I’ve never understood, and being the most amazing guy in the world I find this hard to believe, however, on this particular occasion Megan will stand witness. Within minutes of arriving at the campsite I had been bitten no less than 12 times! This does not bode well for more tropical climates, and insect repellent will now have to be bought in more industrial sized quantities.

So we are currently sitting in the shade of our awning, Megan reading, me blogging with a bottle of the local plonk open, some bread and suitable smelly cheese on the go, basking in the heat of the afternoon wondering if we can really be bothered to go any further…

On a side note, we would both like to thank everyone for the messages of support we have received through the blog, many from people we don’t even know! We really do appreciate it.

And finally, If you see us en route questions you are not currently allowed to ask:

What’s your daily spend these days?

What are those bite like bumps all over your legs Simon?

If you’re not going through Pakistan how much is it going to cost to ship that Land Rover of yours?

Doesn’t Simon’s snoring keep you awake Megan?

What are you going to do once the Cheerios supply runs out, seeing as you can’t buy them anywhere other than Sainsbury’s?