HETTY IS OVER THE HUMP!..23 days in and 22 to go …

We hit the middle of our travels and are now on our way home ..Tonight we head north on a ferry from Civitavecchia Italy to Barcelona Spain ..wending our way through Spain and France for the next 22 days ..

Here in Italy it’s gone from Mozies in Wellies and BIG coats to glorious sunshine and we’re having a day off from wandering ..Reading in the sun in yet another camper stop over by a beach north of Rome

BLUE SKIES NOTHING BUT BLUE SKIES

As you know I read and read and here’s my reading list so far this trip

A A Dhand A trilogy of crime in Bradford featuring Harry Virdee

These have featured the Bradford-based police detective Harry Virdee, a progressive British Sikh who struggles with his cultural identity and family loyalties. Race, violence and exploitation are on the agenda in the Virdee novels, and Dhand has not shied away from controversial issues of tension between British Asian communities and the controversy over such issues as the ‘grooming‘ of vulnerable females by organised gangs of men. Dhand is fairly unique as he sets his protagonists (who are shaped by Asian culture) in a British setting.

A A Dhand book in order ..

Excellent reads

VOX by Christina Dalcher

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial–this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her. This is just the beginning. Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard. But this is not the end. For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.Thought provoking

On a lighter note

Vince and Joy by Lisa Jewell

Vince and Joy is the fifth novel written by Lisa Jewell and published in 2005.[1] Like, her previous books, it focuses on the trials and tribulations of relationships.

NO WAY OUT by Cara Hunter

Book 3 in the DI Fowler collection ..all very good reads

THE SECOND CHILD by Caraline Bond….read the reviews .. Just suppose someone swapped your new born for another child

THE MAKING OF US By Lisa Jewel … as you can gather I love this authorRead review

Last but not least

YOU LET ME IN by Lucy Clarke

Elle Fielding has taken the literary world by storm, with her first book hitting the bestsellers lists and making big money. But now she’s under pressure from her publisher to produce a follow-up that’s just as compelling.

I couldn’t put it down .. many a twist

I read a book by FERN BRITTON so poor I can’t remember the title ..but cannot recommend it as it bored me I don’t do Chic Lit

So what next perhaps MAD BLOOD STIRRING by Simon Mayo … the DJ from BBC radio 2 now gone to Scala Radio

DISCO NIGHT FOR HETTY

Day 22

28th April

GPS 42.439178 11.220443

ORBETELLO

WEATHER WARM

Spotify link to Hettys Disco have a listen it’s fun

HETTY HYMERS DISCO NIGHT

We’re having our first Hetty Disco night with a collection of grand tunes from Spotify not having any or much in the way of Media .. Tunes downloaded to IPhone and the use of a blue tooth speaker is all we need .. mostly The Cooks many playlists is our supper entertainment.. The Driver hates her singing but undeterred a tune even if unrecognisable is rendered

Another form of entertainment is RUMIKUB A game of numbers on tiles ..the object is to use all your tiles and chip first The Cook is very competitive and some times wins …not often just sometimes…

I have added a photo to explain the sausage installation for readers who don’t know the context of “Like San Gimigimano”..well it amuses me

Day 23

29th April

Weather mixed

What shall we do today ..After leaving Orbetello and crossing the causeway to .. We think it’s still Orbetello and has three ways to cross ..very much a holiday destination but as of now all shut up waiting for the season except Porto Santo Stefano which was again rammed with cars .. not a parking place to be seen so we kept on driving ..off the island down the coast to another free to park place 1 min walk from a beach town …

Montalto Marina

GPS 42.321633 11.589109

All again shut .. The volcanic black sand being cleaned by tractors of the flotsam washed up by the last storm ⛈ That’s about it really for today ..Tomorrow on our way south nearer to Civitavecchia for our ferry to Barcelona on 1st May

BLOCKED IN BY THE MARKET TRADERS

Day 20 ish

27th April

Blog by The Driver

Tonight’s sleepy spot at over 2000ft

PIANCASTAGNAIO

GPS 42.8516 11.687295

What a find as we trundled down the road to the west.. Spied 3 campervans in a carpark ..FREE with leccy water and dump for the loo We parked here knowing it was market day tomorrow. The Cook thought we could still get out in the morning but The Driver reckoned we wouldn’t get out till about 3 he was right. No problem as we had a lay in with leisurely breakfast …a stroll around the market which was quite small but the stalls where like tardis’s folding out like giant umbrellas from their roofs.

A leisurely lunch was then taken and a decision to try a visit to Saturnia.

Photos show Top left …Road travelled .. Top Right..Saturnia pools one close one at a distance and Spot Hetty in amongst the market traders …Bottom right

We took the direct route up hill lots of up then across the valley bottom and up again very up it was indeed then we ran out of tarmac lots of sections of the road where missing then back to nice tarmac then more missing roads this was mainly at bends interesting but Hetty coped admirably her off road skill no problem with lots of hilltop villages to ooooh and ahhh at.. Tuscany at her best .. On arrival at Saturni the attempted car park had a height barrier so an interesting 3 point turn with unclad mineral water bathers everywhere …Some in trunks …some with dressing gowns and some in powered wheelchairs.

Safely negotiating an exit we then drove for miles with abandoned Italian cars on the roadside and decided to head towards the coast and find a car park by a coop store for the night .. we don’t know whether we’ll get thrown off but we’ll wait for the Italian Holiday weekend to end then locate a beach spot on Sunday night.

HETTY CLIMBS TO 3000ft

GPS for Fattoria la Vialla (43.5289512, 11.7801235)

GPS for farm @ Anghiria camp site

A two day blog

Days 18 and 19

Weather mixed .. lots of rain and sun 🌞

After our indulgence at La Vialla it was a quiet day for The Cook who was surprisingly well after the over imbibing the previous afternoon ..The journey was more up n up which Hetty took in her stride 3000ft and not a complaint.. over the mountain to Anghiari

We haven’t as yet learned how to pronounce this towns name but it’s lovely (see photo)

We managed to get the last place on a farm site ..not on the main camp site but in the farm yard with perfectly new modern showers .. leccy . Water and cats to play with..

A walk up the hill to the town to find it’s rammed with Italians ..It’s a bank holiday commemorating the liberation after WW2 and the people will take a long weekend making our journey onwards a little less than easy … all the campsites Sosta’s and carpark are full … We tried for the hot spring baths in Cortona a hill town .. it’s full then on to San Quirico d’Orcia ..That’s full so we wandered looking for some where to stay up n up on back road over 90 miles of up .. on mountain roads all very lovely as is the Tuscan country side

Down a hill on a road that’s says it closed we found a gem of a carpark .. free parking free leccy free water and a dump for the loo The town is called PIANCASTAGNAIO

GPS 42.851809 11.687551

Tomorrow is the market so we’ll have a look and report back

THE COOK IS BROKEN !!

Day ?

24th April

Weather fabulous

Last nights carpark sleepy spot

GPS 43.531324, 11.761818

After breakfast of croissant 🥐 bought at the local bakery in a different car park in Castiglion Fibocchi we drove to Fattoria La Viella. Only 5 minutes away and the sun is shining 😎

A stroll around the vineyard.. wine cellars ..olive oil press and store with Francesca our English speaking tour guide dressed in her white apron

. After the tour and a small sampling of new wines we wandered up the hill and sat in front of the farmhouse in the sun taking in the view.

The Cook realised they she had left her camera ..fan and insect repellent behind

The driver was dispatched down the hill to retrieve the forgotten items(The canny bugger flagged down a golf buggy used for deliveries to the carpark to save his legs) and was awarded with a kiss of approval for his fast return.

Vialla then displayed lots of lovely starters and six or seven wines to sample with them . HIC ..Approximately half an hour later we where called to the dinner table and served a four course lunch with a different wine for each course…The Vialla team replaced any empty bottles with new ..After deserts Grappa was served.HIC A small group remained to chat and finish any wine bottles remaining ..eventually only six people where left chattering away until we where asked to clear the table as the Vialla team wanted to set up for the evening meal.

We all meandered down the hill calling at the shop to purchase wines we enjoyed then back to Hetty where The Cook had to be helped to an early bed definitely worse for wear.😱😫🤢

THE COOK NEEDS SLEEP

Day 15

22nd April

Weather over cast

Last nights sleepy spot

Castel dell’Alpi

GPS (44.1844438, 11.2737516)

Last night sleep was sporadic..I suppose when bedding down at a bus terminal and the village recycling centre disturbed sleep would be the norm but the bin men came at 1-25 am ..even in Italy that’s a tad early or late .. which ever suits you .. The Cook was in bed my 9pm and wide awake again at 1am till 4-30am .. 🦉 Owls cracking off all night and The Driver snoring 💤 but a book read .. Need to do a post on books read

Morning didn’t come too early as HE let The Cook sleep in .. Skipped breakfast and off over the mountains .. Narrow roads badly maintained up n up to 3000 ft ..Ahhh Tuscan hills ..Flower meadows.. Wisteria growing wild .. Banks of blue Iris .. Purple Jacaranda trees all as nature intended uncultivated .. 75 mile of these roads with motor cyclists trying to kill them selves .. cyclists puffing and panting up the hills practicing for The Giro Italia

Now day 16

23rd April

St George’s Day

Last nights sleepy spot and another carpark

43.528846 11.5332577

Castiglion Fibocchi We find a carpark by chance near the old town .. searched the car park for a “Thou shalt not park here “ sign .. nothing .. no cash cows with parking tickets all ok till this woman with a face like a slapped arse stomp across the carpark muttering in Italian .. Got into her car parked next to us and drives it 10 yards away .. WHAT !!!! Did she think we were vagabonds or tinkers (I’ve met some very nice tinkers when I lived on the Surrey border )What a way to treat visitors to your village ..The Cook has taken offence and she know where the woman lives ..Cackles wickedly

Poured down all night and after a quick stroll to the bread shop .. Taking a couple of snaps of the village (see photo ) we are off to a countryside beauty (in the rain) spot by the River Arno

HETTY CLIMBS TO 2000FT

Day 14

21st April

Altitude 2100 ft above sea level

We managed a decent nights sleep after moving to the carpark nearer to the town of Calpi .. The Cook was bitten by a bug ..one antihistamine and a glass of wine with the curry..Slow cooked the day previously put her to sleep without too much fuss

The Weather is warm but overcast

Castell Dell’Alpi is our next port of call..

GPS 44.183951 11.274027

A car park with bins as the one we wanted was closed due to building work

Up in the Tuscan hills .. Up is the under statement as we climbed up n up n up giving Hetty a work out .. Alpine is the consensus of opinion as we look for the ski lift .. Yes so far up .. All flora and fauna .. primroses .. wild orchids .. wild anemone are in banks on the road side

My reasoning behind putting all photos in a collage is the data use .. one photo not much data 9 photos could wipe out any future blogging ..

Villages with farm conversions tastefully done .. Some ones summer residence

As per normal the Italian drivers are trying to kill them selves ..Horns R US.. Overtaking on blind bends seem to be ok ..we survived our 70mile drive into the country side north of Florence to a place on a lake ..a tiny village and a motorbike stopping off spot for the riders .. A boom box is thudding sounds out down by the river with more young ens arriving all the time ..possibility of a rave.. after all its Easter Sunday

Do we stay or move on to a quieter sleepy spot

HETTY HAS BEEN VIOLATED

Day 14 we think

20th April

Weather glorious

Today town is CARPI

GPS for new sleepy spot

44.781598 10.877655

A pretty town but the motor homing stop over leaves a lot to be desired ..It stinks ..Pooh…yuck ..I said let’s move on he said “where too” So instead of making a move we went for a walk to think about it .. Into town 2.50 miles there and back only to find there had been an attempted burglary and Hetty has repelled boarders .. The window has been Jemmied (Jemmy is a great word for a crooks activities ) The burglar alarm scuppered the scrotes chances of getting any plunder.. We knew they hadn’t got in because my very expensive big camera wasn’t in the safe and it was still under my seat ..It’s the broken window catch The Drivers cussing about as replacements are few and far between because Hetty is a Classic Hymer and 25 years old (we’ve owned her since she was a baby … only 3 years old !

We’ve moved now to a spot nearer town ..Lots of vans here and we feel less insecure

By the way

Town nice

Church big

Square interesting see photo

HETTY GOES TO MONTAGNANA

19Th April

Day 12 ..We think .. Seems we’ve been away for a long time

Weather fabulous

GPS for sleepyspot

45.237097 11.464386

MONTAGNANA ?

Where’s that you ask .. put a pin in a map and this very pretty Medieval walled town came up with free parking and an added bonus of FREE leccy ..For tomorrow’s supper it’s slow cooker on and a home made chicken curry

Montagnana is south ..It’s 60km from San Guiliano our chosen Venetian camp site and there is a Lidl within spitting distance for fresh croissants in the morning

Montagnana ..Walled town in Puglia

The Cooks thinks her feet have had it .. turned up their toes .. Death in Venice .. poor feet 🦶 but The Driver still insisted putting a good foot forward and dragging The Cook out for her evening constitutional .. A walk says he .. A very short one says She…Only two miles with lots of moaning and groaning ..The Cook says she’s been broken..it’s a lovely warm evening with pasta for supper

Conti is our next stop on our way south to Tuscany

LAST DAY IN VENICE

Day 11

18th April

Miles walked in 3 days 16.5 miles

GPS same as before

Weather glorious

Venice seems one of the safest cities we have been to .. no hassle .. calm .. not a hint of bother but wandering into Cannaregio area and in particular Ghetto Nuove The Jewish enclave of Venice we came upon armed soldiers with a bullet proof shelter ..Why we don’t know We’re they expecting trouble or is it to keep the peace .. Seemingly this area’s bridges are closed at night keeping the area closed off .. We moved on with a feeling of unease.. The word Ghetto History of the Jews in Venice originated from Venice as it was Giti the word for metal working in this area of Cannaregio where the powers that be insisted the Jews live .. so making it the oldest Ghetto in the world

Today mission was to see the Doge’s Palace ..

Doge’s Palace

Prebooked tickets purchased ..A walk to the bus ..a ferry ride to St Marks and straight in to the Palace bypassing all the queues .. spot on .. Another entrance fee to see the Canaletto Collection but worth every penny ..we were both fascinated by the detail of His Venice back in 1700’s and not a lot has changed .. Magical to see without the masses as we were there so early the crowds were still having breakfast in their hotels

On to the State rooms .. just gold on gold on more gold .. Next off to the dungeons and across the Bridge of Sighs ..

View from inside the bridge

Down 3 flights of stairs with dungeons on every level top level had full height doors the lower ones had doors more suited to large dogs.

No sign of any toilet facilities , and what seemed like an exercise yard. Then back up the stairs through the bridge of Sighs which seems to have been constructed two way to prevent the mingling of prisoners.

Thanx go to Pete Turpie for his addendum to My Venice

Time for a bit if Byron….

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs,

A palace and a prison on each hand:

I saw from out the wave her structures rise

As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand:

A thousand years their cloudy wings expand

Around me, and a dying Glory smiles

O’er the far times, when many a subject land

Looked to the wingéd Lion’s marble piles,

Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,

Rising with her tiara of proud towers

At airy distance, with majestic motion,

A ruler of the waters and their powers:

And such she was–her daughters had their dowers

From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East

Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers:

In purple was she robed, and of her feast

Monarchs partook, and deemed their dignity increased.

In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more,

And silent rows the songless gondolier;

Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,

And music meets not always now the ear:

Those days are gone–but Beauty still is here;

States fall, arts fade–but Nature doth not die,

Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,

The pleasant place of all festivity,

The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

We then passed through the judgment and appeal rooms which then led to the ubiquitous bookshop and very expensive tat shop. We nearly escaped to the great outdoors but the driver had to dash back to retrieve his rucksack.

We then wandered around St Marks listening to the orchestra playing Tango music and watching shocked faces of punters paying their bills.The Cook remembers her parents telling the story of them dancing in the square back in the 70’s to a Tango

Then off in search of a reasonable restaurant for a menu della giornata . “Al Graspo de ua ” opened in 1840 on a quiet back alley, 2 courses for €18. The food was excellent, Wine was extra but a very nice effervescent white… tasting a little like Pinot .

For going the dessert and caffe we were given a generous glass of lemoncelo. and off in search of the Grom Gelato shop which is just fabulous and not to be missed . Then a stroll (longer than expected) back to the bus station and home to Hetty. All in all a lovely day and 6.5 miles strolled.

BEST CITY EVER

17th April

Day 12 ?

Weather glorious

Sleepy spot as before

Last nights blog finished rather sharply I couldn’t up load photos .. Decided to collage just the one photo to show my impressions of my favourite city in the world

A trip to the Venice Opera House was a success .. found quite easily just wandering the narrow lanes

€7 for aged folk special rate .. best thing about getting old

A tour was taken ..gloriously ornate having burned down three times

More aimless wandering because we’ve been so many times there’s no urgency to see stuff .. just a leisurely stroll .. feet getting a touch worn out we climbed on board a vaporetto (water bus) and sat down .. off to Lido and back again .. down the Grand Canal and another walk to the stop for our water bus at Tre Arch… 6 miles walked yesterday

Now to today .. so tired we didn’t get going early as planned to visit Doge’s Palace with pre booked tickets .. we’ll go tomorrow was the cry ..The Driver has the idea he would like to see Giudecca the island which looks out over to St Marks The Cook wasn’t fussed thinking it would be industrial but No as she literally tripped over The Hotel Cipriani one of the most famous of the worlds hotel The Cook likes a posh hotel but with the price of a bowl of pasta being €47 even she though it to rich for her taste .. wandered along to a cheaper eatery and spent €37 for lunch with a carafe of house white with a view very similar to The Cipriani guests

Happy Cook

Tomorrow is the Doge’s Palace with an early start .. nite nite ♥️

HETTY LOVES VENICE

16th April

Day 11

Weather hot n sunny

GPS San Giuliano

45.46675 12.28078

The subject to start this blog is TOLLS ..The Cook has been had by a Venetian toll .. Too high to lean out and too low to pay from the window ..Screams and curses come for TheCook as she open the door to pay .. “ It’s blown away” The ten Euros she had offered up to the machine was spit back out but The Cook wasn’t quick enough to grab the note .. nor could she get out as The Driver yelled her to do …he’d parked to close ..The €10 note was floating under Hetty .. The Driver used his brains and got out his side crawling under Hetty to retrieve said note .. The cars behind just smiled at him .. obviously they have A Cook in their lives too…

San Guiliano Sosta is our destination ..A Campervan carpark on the mainland with both bus ..a 10 minute walk and ferry a two minute walk ..to get one to the city of Venice

We walk to the bus stop ..thinking about tired feet walking back after a day in the city and decide we would pay for the ferry ..It’s not the main water bus but a private operation which means we also have to pay the main water bus as well but hey no you’re only on this earth once .. No pockets in shrouds

Once in the city we wander … nothing in mind as we have been to Venice before ..so just wander.. get the feel of this amazing city ..back alleys are us .. The Cook think someone has told her about the renovation of The Opera Theatre … Emma perhaps… look on google and yes The Felice and a tour can be organised ….off we go …more tomorrow WiFi’s crap again 😱😩😡

AT LAST A BLOG

SAILING

Weekend 12th/14th April

Weather”Not good” Big coat

WiFi poor

At this time of year the sailing ⛵️ chums and us .. be it with or without Hetty are in Malta for sun n sailing but this years event didn’t happen😩 .. but amongst the fleet we have people in the know and they knew where we could go 😎 Lake Garda .. The Priestly’s of Fleetwood.. A well known family in the RC sailing fraternity organised a European Regatta at The Andrew Simpson Foundation sailing centre which was set up in memory of Andrew (Bart) who was tragically killed whilst competing in The America’s Cup A charity was set up in his name is a school of sailing for deprived young people and here we are at Campione Italy

Skippers have come from all over Europe and Scandinavia and pay a sailing fee ..

Only expenses are take and the rest goes to the Foundation to help fund water sports This weekend teens from Europe and UK are here sailing WAZPS a foil dingy but they are struggling for wind as are the radio controlled sailors ..

The WAGs (wives and girlfriends)get together and have lots of coffees A scoop or two of Prosecco and laugh a lot

Yesterday it was mooted amongst this growing ( growing as it there are more and more joining us )crowd of ladies that lunch out was the name of the game .. where to go ? Firstly it was a quick bus trip to Limone.. and find a restaurant on the waterfront.. but no we have another much more organised member of the group who lives here in Campione some of the year who took charge of the outing .. Sorting out our bus and even a taxi back ..Well done Diana The plan was to go to Malcesine on a ferry €13 return to the markets ..Up the cable car to the top of the mountain and a bite of lunch ..Sadly the cloud didn’t lift and only three went up the mountain ..The Cook couldn’t see the point as there wasn’t any view.. Shopping was done ..One of our buddies couldn’t resist a leather jacket and a handbag..and on to lunch at a quant rustic looking little Osterea RE LEAR was it’s name and we can recommend it 

The sailing event was won by our own John Tushingham from Yorkshire UK

Ps Diana’s note for the WAGS

HI to all you gals who came to the DF 95 event

I’d like to thank you all for

A) The good company

B)The opportunity to speak English .. a rare treat as I live in the Black Forest and have to speak German

C) For all turning up for our outing.. despite the weather .. when I’d feared half of you would “cry off”

If we are back when you come next year I’ll look forward to meeting you again or maybe at an IOM event Have a good trip home

Best wishes Diana

HETTY NEEDS AN UMBRELLA

April 11th

Day 6

Weather is awful .. it hasn’t stopped raining .. pouring all night and all day .. Fortunately chums have arrived by road and air and no doubt alcohol will be imbibed and fun had and the weather will be forgotten

Blue spot is where we are.. Campioni on Lake Garda

A walk was taken this morning in the rain to see the sailing area .. Ok if it stops raining..benches to sit and watch But I don’t think the supporting ladies will be down in this weather

A meet and greet party held in the local bar was a great success even a USA team arrived and much merriment ensued.. and the rain stopped

Day 7

12th April

Race day 1

The wind did blow eventually by mid afternoon

Moving boats around by tractor fully rigged down the main road tickled me

The Driver now called The Skipper did quite well until something broken… all mended now ..

The rain has stopped still chilly and a need for a big coat

Kite surfing to watch as well

An outing to a local hostelry is on tonight’s plan after sailing

Tomorrow the WAGS (wives and girlfriends ) are off to Malcesine on the ferry for a bite of lunch …some are braving the cable car ride up to 6000 ft .. sadly with the cloud on the mountain The Cook thinks it a waste of money and isn’t going but is going out for lunch with the other like minded gals ..

“CHANGE OF PLAN”


Venice done …our plan was to go to down to Split in Croatia and back via Lake Bled Slovenia…This route could have been done but at break neck speed …So….We are now up in the mountains at Cavazzo Carnico with the Cornic Alps one side and the Julian Alps the other side ..in front Gailtaler Alpen ..sort of surrounded by mountains in an Alpine village with touquoise lakes near by …  We are on our way to The Grossglockner High Alpine Pass in Austria Link to Grossglockner Pass ..People say a once in a lifetime trip ..we will see….just hope the weather holds out ..if not we have the time to wait …

Our last day in Venice was a meander .. A couple of Titians He opted not to go to the Doges Palace ..There’s only so much canvas one can ooh n aar over …So much more pleasing to the eye than the modern art of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Link to Collection of the Mondays outing …A couple drew my eye ..of cause The Salvador Dali’s… She owned two…..The rest ..Pollock and his school leave me yawning …quote of the day “I can do them “..but back to yesterday   A tub of Grom ice cream …and a thunderstorm ..I hate thunderstorms ..The ferry back to Punta Sabionni was a bit of a bun fight I got squashed by the Mother Union and battled em off with mi shawl …phew … Don’t mess with me …

John say the holiday aspect to this trip in now over and we are back to our normal travels …no more restaurants ..and large museum fees ..tonight’s sleepy spot by a mountain stream is free …Tomorrow lots of up an up and hairpin bends..eeeeeek!

“MOVING DAY”

By John
We have decided to save a little money as we have been splashing it about a bit recently with entry fees and lunches out in Venice. The campsite we are on is expensive and even more so due to German holidays adding a premium to rate as well. As we have now completed our mammoth washing pile so after 3 days we are free to move.
We are going to the field nearly next door although still more than we like to pay is over 10 Euros a day cheaper. All our equipment was packed away last night and after breakfast we emptied our wastes and washed out our tanks and drove next door.
I set out our table and chairs plugged into the power and we are ready for another day in Venice. So off to the Vaporetto and we have decided to visit A book shop not your ordinary book shop but one that displays books in Boats and Baths to try to reduce the damage when Venice floodsP1010783

This is apparently not totally succesful as they are using damp books as stepping stones and stair cases. The book shop took a bit of locating but was very interesting once we arrived. S took lots of photos and we then strolled off only to find we had been very close to the shop the other day.
Beer and lunch(Pizza) was taken in the square just in front of the amazing facade of the hospital.P1010787 We watch water taxis and gondoliers depositing rich people and listen to some choirs in uniforms and strange toga style clothing singing in the square ( we assume there may be a choral competition taking place).
After a lazy lunch we caught the vaporetto to the cemetery Island and had a very interesting but warm stroll amongst the graves and family mausoleums. We observed some plainer crosses in regimented lines and thought they may be WW2 or WW1 soldiers but then found they where actually Nuns graves.

P1010829On the return Vaporetto from Cemetery to St Marks the waterbus followed a different route to any we had previously taken, to the cruise liners terminal and back down the main (Large) canal very interesting. S took many photos BUT wordpress is being a nightmare to upload ..
Having now gained experience of Venetians vaporetto boarding style we managed to get prime outside seats for the return to Punta Sabbione.
After our stroll to the new Aire we felt the need for more beer and sat in the evening sun and chatted with a Brit who had moved to Canada 30 years ago having been driven out of the UK by Maggy Thatchers policies. He had been welcomed into Canada to work as a toolmaker and later had set up a successful business. He and his second wife had travelled across the Atlantic via a cruise (about £1000 each for 18 days) and then hired a camper in Germany and was taking a leisurely trip around Europe. He had not tried any Wild camping in Europe and we gave him some pointers and links to several web sites plus good places to visit for the rest of his trip.
Tomorrow rain is forecast and we are having a maintenance morning toe nail trimming etc and we plan a late afternoon and evening in Venice.

WORD PRESS AND SLOW WYFI

P1010668.jpg

I have to add my photos uploaded to face book as the wordpress photo system again has let me down

 We arrived here 4 days ago after an awful thunder storm .John a migraine attack ..and thanks to who ever said to drink an ice cold glass of water to relieve the eye flashes ..It worked and off we went into Venice ..Again as last time the wrong way ..but we turned before the police turn us and off to the Lido Di Jesolo area at Punta Sabbioni and Miramar camping ..which had put up prices because of the German school holidays to €39 ..The most expensive camp site ever ..We move today to one next door at €20 per night

We tried a FaceTime call to Daniel on his birthday only to have the call cut by lightning …I hate Thunder Storms with a vengence…But the sun shone again on the Friday ..We had decided to take it easy in our wanderings and use our 7 day Vaperetto / water bus pass  but again that didn’t happen and after two days one at  San Marco’s and area ..walking as far as the hospital and its glorious facade ..Saturday a boat trip in the blazing heat to Burano ..then Murano for my birthday present of another Troll bead for my bangle ..and a lovely birthday lunch at B Resturant ..worth a visit just to view the floor ..tiny glass picture in the stone flags ..by the time we returned our feet didn’t know us ..

Today we head for the Cemetery on Isola San di Michele as we have heard its a place to see …so off we go ..and a look at the book shop ” Aqua Alta ” which has its stock on boat to save them from the flooding

MORE MONEY THAN SENSE

P1010617

Fun today as we headed back to Castiglione del Lago this massive and I mean massive MH..The size of a single decker bus Motor Home drove into the paid for parking bays ..moved about a bit ..No he wasn’t happy with the pitch ..so off he went ..As did we when my chicken curry was ready in the slow cooker which was on free leccy thnx to the very nice French man..Off we went to our other free parking spot we had used two years ago..Down the narrow street nearly touching the windowsills of houses only to find the German single decker is here ..taking up 4 of the 7 pitches ..How he got down the road I will never know ..Why ?… Because at the other place the trees obscured the signal to his satellite dish and he wanted to watch the News he said !!!!!

LUNCH AT LA VIALLA

Our treat today is lunch at this very special farm up in the Tuscan Hills LA VIALLA at about 1000ft above sea level ..12-30 for a 1pm lunch and yes there is a place to park a camper van over night ..P1010667

Wandering up hill we came across the farm yard with some people sitting out having coffee and were welcomed by one of the staff who told us to have a look around if we wanted before going up the hill to the farmstead where Aperitifs would be served pre lunch ..P1010620

The produce to buy and to have shipped home is all made here ..The wood ovens for the biscuits and breads ..P1010621The sauce makers busy at work P1010623

The girls packing up orders to send to UK or I should think any where in the world ..if an order is over £75 its free shipping and this amount is very easily achieved ..
I first came across this place thanks to my Daughter in Law who gave us a hamper last Christmas …The food outlet is so well managed and publicised it would be rude not to buy the wine , olive oil and honey..we stopped at that ..until He saw the honey and I saw the pasta ..hey ho ..P1010624

The start of proceedings was outdoor sampling of all the sparkling wines with canapés of salamis .. olives.. cheeses.. pizza nibbles “Hic”P1010635

As its not the height of the season with lots of sun and rain had been predicted we were invite into the farmhouse which was set outwit red checked table clothes for around 50 people ..mostly from Germany ..our table companions were Fritz and Petra from AustriaP1010651
with Johan and Maria for The Netherlands both couples spoke the most perfect English so it was a very chatty meal ..We started off with pate ..a new ricotta ..insulata ..peperoni..something with artichokes on it ..P1010647.JPG

Second was Pappardelle with an olive and capperi sauceP1010641.JPG

That was followed by Lamb roasted in rosemary and garlic ..P1010645.JPGJohn didn’t have this as he hates Lamb..but it was served with lots of toasty potatoes and carrots( He had that instead)
Followed by Crostini con Marmellata ..Cantucei e Viallini and coffee
During this feast there were four wines..two bottle red and two white ..and pudding wine called Vinsanto and a Grappa (Italian Brandy) served ..Double “HIC”Im so glad we had Hetty in the MH park as driving would have been very dangerous ..my motto is Don’t go up that road were all the drunk came down at about 5pm ..most did drive!!!!
Now to order our swag ..a case of cloudy unfiltered spumoni for Daniel who birthday it is on 19th May …baby pasta for Ruby and a bottle of new pressed olive oil for Lauren
For us is one case of red ..one of white..a pasta I like a lot called Pici ..I can’t find it in the UK ..One bottle olive oil and honey setting me back around £200..Well we are only here once and as John likes to say there aren’t any pockets in shrouds ..P1010654.jpg

Me looking lost in the wine cellar ..just ordering my swagP1010661.jpg

Farm yard friends P1010659.jpg

“WHAT A NICE MAN”

A french guy in a camper van has just given us his ticket for free parking with leccy ..He had 6 hours left on it ..Now we are parked up in Castiglione Del Lago ..On the lake side with a curry bubbling away in my slow cooker ..well it would be rude not to make the most of free leccy ..This area is layed out for camper vans on the lake side John says there is space with electricity for 36 vans and another 30 without power GPS 43.123585 12.050433..but only three here now ..Italians are back to work

P1010501

Yesterdays visit and overnight stop in Montepuliciano GPS 43.096059 11.788025 was a great success ..the carpark for camper vans easy to find with not a narrow street to be driven up ..€10 for 24 hours and well worth it as we were in a quiet area and managed to get a good nights sleep P1010563

its took a while and a German and John to puzzle out the machine …J looking bewilderedP1010564

It was then walking trainers on and up and up again to the top of the town featured as the square in the film NEW MOON   part of the Twilight Series P1010588

It’s not as hard a climb as some Italian villages are ..with lots of stops to enjoy the view and not too much puffing and panting ..Fabulous food and wine shops to pop in to for a free tasting session ..they are never free as out we came with a jar of topping for brochette at an outstanding cost of €12..But as we say we are only here once ..Twice at the lake as were here two years ago at a great parking place about 10 Km to the north Thnx to J&J of OUR TOUR fame..GPS 43.18408 12.02396 Then there was free leccy and camping ..this time the electricity isn’t there and there was a sign in Italian we think saying only 1 hours parking but we ignored it and stayed over night anyway ..NOT moved on ..P1010596

The well in the mail square plus an old Etruscan sitting on the steps P1010560Perfect Tuscan scenery even though the clouds kept coming and going …

Tomorrow we are off for a lunch and overnight at Fattoria la Vialla …This place is from where Lauren and Daniel had our Italian food hamper sent fro Christmas last year..The food and wine were so good we decided to make a call here and have lunch at the farm house ..see the next blog for all the story

“TRAFFIC AND A NO GO “

Today we decided to leave Sicily
By John

Having no success logging onto the ferry web booking site I decided to head for the ferry terminal at Palermo ( susan said that they did not run ) but I programmed in the ferry terminal as the map said they did…

The journey went quite well until the police closed the road in the middle of Palermo on our route. So turn left and we hit the one way system then it became chaos lots of twists and turns wth Susan frequently saying not enough room to proceed. With parked/abandoned cars plus fruit and veg stalls everywhere. We managed to squeeze through lots of impossible gaps silly car and moped manoeuvres and suicidal pedestrians, finally we managed to find the main road again. Then at the ferry terminal gates we were waved past to another entrance which we could not find. In frustration I abandoned Hetty Italian style potentially blocking several vehicles and legged it to a visible port security guard he gave me directions, but when I drove in he said directions only by foot, but pointed out somewhere to park..
In the GNV office I was told the ferry had left and the next was on Sunday. Back to Hetty apologised to Susan for not believing her …and set off for Termini Imerese ..where they said ferries ran most days.Then the fun started on the road… a dustbin wagon was coming the other way stopping and blocking the opposite side of the road every 20m or so with no opportunity for it to be passed . Our outward bound lane was being frequently blocked by cars and mopeds trying to force a way into the immobile lane. Eventually traffic freed up and we found the motorway and calm prevailed again.

Arriving at the port we initially struggled to find the ferry offices..we could see the big ferry was in. The one we saw in Genoa in 2014 ..La Splendid by name but these GNV ferries are NOT splendid ..a bit rough around the edges but they get you there …Locating the office by asking a local pizza restaurant chef I was able to book passage for tonight with cabin. Queueing to board starts at 23:30 for departure at 02:00 for a we think 14 hour trip. We have parked had a beer and are now in the pizza restaurant for some food before we pack our bags for the ferry….Returned to the ferry to start queuing only to find the boat is broken and not moving till Tuesday. I was told the alternative was to go back to Palermo to catch the midnight ferry to Genoa or tomorrow evening to Naples. I asked for a refund as we will decide after a few beers and a sleep …where to go next…Found a sleepy spot in a carpark near to the terminal 37.98749, 13.70147

“LAVA N CLOUD !”

A circuit of Mt Etna was on the cards ..The route up to the Lava flow of 2002 passing through such towns as Randazzo.. Bronte Lord Nelson and Bronte and Adrano

The peak of Mt Etna is covered in snow and very pretty in today’s sunshine the clinging mist of yesterday washed away by last nights downpour ..That’s another story as HE slept through it but ever been in a tin box with rain so hard it sounded like its was dinting the roof of Hetty ..I DIDNT sleep through it !!!!.Our next port of call was to be Palazzo Adriano ..The location in the film “Cinama Paradiso ” which was somewhat adventurous at 250k but after getting a bit lost which is not completely lost ..John decide enough was enough and headed for the free motorway ..back to Catania and into the hills again on a decent road ..and a decision made and the belly button of Sicily is our next destination and an over night stop in Enna but before arriving we had shower gel incontinuance due to height from sea level to 3000 ft ..hair pin bends and second gear ..Up and Up and Up over such bad road surfaces …the fire extinguisher bounced off the wall taking with it the fixture for the rubbish bin and then the hanging rail in the wardrobe fell off dumping all the clothes on the floor ..yup rough roads !!!

Italian drivers
These people don’t hit you but come very close — be aggressive and go for it or you will still be at the Juction waiting for some one to let you out ..and it’s not gonna happen !!!!

ENNA Info on Enna

Hair pin bends up to 3000ft ..but what a lovely unspoilt non tourist town ..so high it makes your ears whistle …I took a lot of what I thought as interesting photo ..off down an ally to take a pic of an unused ancient church and WOLLOP a bird as big as an Albertros shat on me from a great  hight ….covered …what a mess …need a washing machine for all my clothes ..even camera case got it

Back to Hetty to a New moon before the cloud came down ..giving us a form of fog but it’s clouds ..can’t see your hand in front of you but we are cosy in Hetty on the parking area next to the Castle Lombardio ..and Tomorrow is Palazzo Adriana and Cinama Paradiso

Photos will arrive on this post when internet is not playing at silly so and so..sighs ..the Bain of my life slow uploads

“JUST ANOTHER PILE”

A short journey to Giardini Naxos. By John

This morning we departed Jonio Camping at Catania leaving several campervans lusting over our superb pitch where we stayed for the last 2 days. We emptied Hetty’s tanks paid and departed. €15 per night ..I had plumbed into the sat nav our next location to allow us to visit Taormina as we where frustrated by super expensive parking last time we were here in 2014.As we trundled on our way having taken the non toll road we passed through lots of towns with a superb view of Etna ..some causing Susan to clench her buttocks ( not that it made Hetty any slimmer) due to narrow roads and typical Italian parking ( in the UK it would be called abandoning). As it was Saturday there was quite a lot of poorly parked/abandoned vehicles plus quite a few kamikaze cyclists. So lots of clenching was done by Susan. She called it sphincter exercise …

Taormina from the town square


Arriving in Giardini Naxos but we could not get to our chosen camp site which was Eden Park but we could see it . So I took a roundabout route and dived into a different one (before we located Eden which was our first choice )but this one called Parking Lagani looks very clean and tidy and is €15 so Ok and is only 50m from from Eden we later discovered.

After our lunch and a chat with one of the site people for information about bus times we walked to the bus terminal bought our tickets €3 each and where whisked away by our chariot. I am very impressed with the way he drove us to Taormina negotiating the narrow roads and very twisty roads with many 180 deg bends and abandoned cars with aplomb and an occasional gentle honk .Arriving at our destination we strolled up and up to reach the target of the Greco Teatro… very impressively perched at the top of a hill surrounded by luxurious hotels ,Restaurants, The town and many tat shops and lookylooky men .


I enjoyed wandering around the impressive archeological site ,Susan’s comment was just another pile of stones 🙅🏻.She is not an archeological person ..says it leaves her cold ..

Following our walk around the Greek edifice we strolled into town which was also very nice when we moved away from the main tourist route .We had Tea and Cannolo for afternoon tea and strolled back down the hill to catch our bus back down to sea level …Taormina is about 400m above the sea (no danger of global warming flooding here).Now we are relaxing with a strong vodka and tonic and planning tomorrow’s adventure but via the toll road this time.

Cannolo bottom right hand …The sweet pastry which killed the mafia boss in The Godfather

View from the top ..

“BLOSSOM DEARY”

P1010314.jpg

Some time John comes out with one-liners which mostly go over my head and I give him a look “What are you on about”..This one..Blossom Deary entered my understanding instantly as the perfume from the central reservation invaded my sensors “JASMINE”There are bushes of jasmine planted on the duel carriageway giving off their exotic perfume in the heat of the midday sun as we wander up the east coast from our overnight sleepy spot in Syracuse GPS 37.066072 15.291403 now the free parking spot for two German ladies in a younger Hymer than our Hetty who we met on the beach at Noto marina a few days back ..they are delighted to get a free parking spot ..

I thought our destination was Giardini Naxos for our trip up to Taormina today but John has found this campsite just north of Catania called Campo Jonio and having all the facilities we require .Loo emptying Water filling Washing machines and our own pitch overlooking the volcanic coast on the Ionion Sea cheap in these part at only €15..GPS 37.53180 15.12024 with Mt Etna to the west snow and cloud capped today …She’s quiet at the moment and I can’t see any smoke but in the 17th C the Catania area was completely  wiped out with the worst eruption in her life .There have been plenty more but only minor ones some seen by Emma in Gozo who complains bitterly about volcanic ash on her washing

“BIRTHDAY+WEDDING ANNIVERSARY OUTING”

A peaceful nights sleep at our little harbour near Ognina GPS 36.979548 15.258044 and an easy drive to Syracuse ..Is it because we have been here before ?..It didnt seem so easy an entry into the city last time ..Found our carpark of choice empty ..park any where €24 per day ..ouch …J spies a couple of older vans nearer the harbour …magic ..it’s free there so one of the hippy boys in the old campervans told him so off we go ..that was easy ..this was probably due to our arrival being late in the afternoon at the end of an Italian public holiday and  workers where out of town ..All sorted ready for a beer and supper of smoked salmon fillets ,new potatoes and fresh green beans ..and we are on Ortygia Island, The ancient part of the city of Syracuse ready for our next outing of our celebrations tomorrow which is Star Wars Day ..May 4th and my birthday and our wedding anniversary ..

Ognina harbour


Hetty and John on the harbour in Syracuse …

Syracuse is one of my favourite cities ..it’s easy with its traffic free narrow lanes and ancient buildings now restored to their full glory ..The Piazza Duomo with its Roman Catholic Cathedral in a  golden Baroque veneer built on the original Greek Temple and converted into a church so it’s told,  by St Paul….it’s Greek pillars still part of the main wall ..Small cafes fill the edge of the square ..but not for us as it HOT and for our lunch we need a little shade  ..we are wanderers ..down every interesting alley looking for nothing in particular we came across a Carravagio in a little church.. painted after the artist left Malta in 1608. See link  Painting we found ..

Piazza Duomo


Eventually we decided to have lunch and found a shaded courtyard with sun awnings to keep us cool ..Trattoria Kalliope A sea food starter for me ..John A Sicilian platter ..he’s more daring than me with food ..next a pasta dish for me ..fishy again ..and squid for John …a cheap half litre of cold white wine ..€55.Another wander looking a designer clothes on our way back to Hetty ..a relaxe and a read and that’s about it ..lovely cards from family and a chat with Miss Ruby on FaceTime who sang Happy Birthday to me ..lovely day

“TWO LOO HETTY”

Wild campers need to go to a campsite every 3 days or so to empty the cassette loo and washing water ..but not us ..Hetty has two loos..We can go 7 days with out an emptying facility ..The bike rack is the carrier of said cassette either full or empty .If pushed J can open a sewer drain to empty contents but as yet in all our travels he has only been called back to his job as site manager drainage and that was in The Mar Menors a couple of years back but if push came to shoove he would be very capable of such a task…here endeth the lavatorial blog

We seem to have spent so far on this trip €750 on ferries       €342 on diesel     €58 on tolls.      And € 120 on a return flight home ..making a whopping €1280 since 29th February to May2nd for transport to and from home which if my calculator is correct is around €20 per day ..plus a taxi at £50 to take us back to Manchester airport..I am amazed as I thought it would pan out at much more than this ..

Hetty is now wandering up the coast to Syracuse after leaving the beach sleepy spot at Marina de Noto GPS 36.853102 15. 112105 for my birthday party and has returned to one of our favourite over night camp in place on the fishing quay at Ognina GPS 36.97484 15.25935 we found this spot by accident or should I say getting lost two years back .. Some may wonder why I add the GPS coordinates ..It’s for the other people wandering Europe in campervans looking for a recommended sleepy spot ..

“ONE FROM HIM AND ONE FROM ME”

A thought on Italian dog shit by John
We have noticed that all Italian dogs seem friendly.

Also at night Italians drive to a suitable pooch emptying spot open the car door and let out their four legged friend for matters natural. The owners never leave their cars probably for fear of looking like Susan the other day who walked through the town with a very unnatural gait trying to get dog poo off her shoe.

Are Italian dogs therefore trained to be friendly and lure unsuspecting foreigners to tread in their Poo with the Italian owners wetting themselves watching our antics when we tread on the depth charges(land mines) of their pets….

Statement of the day from HIMSELF

“You wouldn’t have thought there was all that down there now we are up here ”

Driven through a plain at sea level until the town of Comiso ..It seems to be a prerequisite of Sally Sat Nav to take us through the narrowest of cobbled streets …Up hilly lanes packed with cars and abandoned delivery vans ..We wait till the driver shifts the van to the side of the road allowing Hetty through ..We just wait no problem ..We seem to be in the Italian mind set of driving now …No Rush ..

This is a main road ..up and up …and again up the switch back bends …dry stone walls ..goats feeding from the lower branches of the olive trees ..more up to a plateau at around 2000 feet above sea level …and what look like lakes in the sunshine are miles of poly tunnels and green houses ..growing tomatoes corvettes amongst other things we couldn’t determine …then came the Statement of the day …!!!!!

Snow chain signs and viaducts spanning the towns 1000 ft below reminding me of the long legs of the Martian craft in War of the Worlds ..

 .An amazing feat of engineering considering the lesser roads are poorly maintained pot holed apologise for roads as we found out when nearly disappearing into a massive hole yesterday so deep I thought we were a gonna …this is why we prefer plastic plates …crash bang wallop …every thing on the floor ..good thing the eggs were in a lower cupboard ..

We’re now in Pozallo .. And have been put on an earlier ferry to Malta …

Photo to follow when we get to a decent wifi

“THE SUN HAS GOT HIS HAT ON “

Marsala to Gela via some Greek Temples Johns blog
We are working our way south for a ferry early on Wednesday morning to Malta. Trying to fit some sights in on the way.

So a visit to Agrigento seemed reasonable as its famous for the Valley of Temples. After a pleasant quiet night by the side of the carousel for the children we departed Marsala and took the road south with a destination of a free carpark close to the temples. A steady drive through a mixture of fruit trees.. olive trees and vineyards very pleasant but no scent as yet . Then we observed fruit of a different variety Dusky Maidens selling their services to passing lorry drivers or any body who would buy their wares..the first hookers we have seen this trip ..possibly to wet for them to sit by the roadside over the last week or two..

Upon achieving our destination GPS 37.288152 13.582376 we found the carpark to be €5 not free as reported per campervan ( very disappointed ). So the decision made over lunch was that I would take a walk around the area to take photos with Susan’s super camera

 ..She gets templed out easily after her disappointment at the Pathanon in Athens so the one in France The Theatre in Orange was plenty ..she says it’s a waste of money so I go off to these places by my self

Upon leaving said carpark after my wander and sneeking a look at the ruins without paying the entrance fee ..Susan paid in €5 to the carpark machine and received change (bonus €1 to the beer fund)

Overnight stops are few between Agrigento and Gela ..We looked at a few ..one €15 with power ..one €10 without so Gela was our last resort for a free overnight stay. I took a wrong turn and we found ourselves on a poor road to avoid a motorway which then presented the biggest and we found deepest puddle you can imagine…we could not straddle it so opted to put one side 🚐 of Hetty gently through the puddle the other on the Tarmac and promptly emptied our crockery all over the floor and turned the shower on…

After cleaning up the mess …nothing broken luckily…We set off for Gela and now we are at 37.074152 14.215723 This is a carpark overlooking the sea and beach Its close to a giant concrete school desk piece of art. Susan was not going to drink today but after our traumas we both deserve one(or even two)

The wind is fairly strong and on Hettys nose and the sun is setting over the sea . It has been the first day without rain so here’s hoping it’s the start of better weather.

“A SUCK IT AND SEE JOURNEY”

Woke to bright sunshine at La Pinela

  and breakfasted off fresh warm bread and Chocolate Croissants .. Before we packed up for an off to Erice the rain started hurling down .. So Erice was out of the question as its in the rain clouds high above us at around 700 m with a 360 panorama.. No point going if you can’t see your hand in front of you .. Mutual agreement is to go up in May on our return to Sicily … Then it was suck it and see route .. Passed Trapani …no where to park near to Center and it was raining .. Continued sauntering along the coast road .. Had a quick gander at the salt pans ..

  Past windmills (No Don Quixote) J said they are for pumping .. and on to and past Masala finding an over nighting spot but the wind piped up so back to Masala .. A car parking spot in the shore full of travellers of the itinerant persuasion with very flash campervans but after an overnight in Rosslare Ireland with tinkers.. their wives and her boyfriend we thought NO !! They have to much fun / fight at 3am .. Moved one carpark down next to the kiddies roundabout / carousel.. Now closed and quiet

37.79601 12.431200

A walk into Masala where the fortified wine comes from .. Dog shit alley .. Well one turd that looked like a leaf and I stood in it .. Spent the next 10 mins walking like a cripple trying to get the poo off … Rubbed mi foot in a sandy base of a tree and on some artificial grass leaving brown stains .. Was it shit or sand

Anyway .. Stop laughing ! …

Masala is ancient and as per normal in Europe the town Center is intact .. Flash clothes shops .. Ladies in full length mink coats .. This was all very lovely till the thunder storm from hell with hail and direct hit lighting … BANG WOLLOP .. I hate storms .. So said shoes wash at the tap had to be postponed …

Italian dogs roam free nor do owners walking their pooch pick up the poo .. DISGUSTING …

“SUNSHINE TODAY “

The song from the 60’s comes to mind re: the weather and mood swings “Hello Mother Hello Father”

About a boy at summer school and its raining then the sun comes out and all is well again It’s the same here..rained continuously all night on the roof of Hetty..

John said there was a lot of noise around us with scooters,cars and an occasional drunk outside the van .. I hear nothing as I sleep so well when adventuring

Back to the weather SUNSHINE breaks through the black clouds Phew and the temperature rises from 7c to 20c in half hour .. Lovely !!!!

Now to the health of our invalid.. The antibiotics have turned the growling bear back to a pussy cat .. and sanity returns to Hetty Hymer

The over night free carpark on the quay has been at Castellammare del Golfo


 
GPS 38.030861 12.881552

The next place is Vito lol Capo the most northerly tip of Sicily .. Mountainous Craggy landscape Pine forests ..and the sea but once again the sun has disappeared and from 20c it’s fan heater weather

We don’t like campsites but need to do our laundry .. First lot in two weeks .. The campsite we were recommended to is La Pineta GPS 38.17699 12.73408 ..with washing machines wifi and leccy and restaurant ..now the shower room in Hetty looks like a Chinese laundry with stuff drying everywhere .. Pegged out but .. Yes it rained ..

You my lovely reader may throw your hands up in horror at the fact we’ve gone two weeks without a laundry visit but we’ve got a system .. Shower daily .. Deodorant..if cooking wear an apron.. John as well ..eat with your top layer on inside out ..if a spillage happens let said spill dry and pick off residue..then turn right side out .. Look no mess .. Lastly wear black as it doesn’t look mucky !!!!!

“TANTRAMS “

I’ve had a moment .. My idea of an adventure is small roads leading to who knows where … That’s adventuring NOT motorways !! As we bomb on from Palermo on such a duel carriageway MOTORWAY I felt my soul being ripped out .. This yomping on a road bypassing villages isn’t what I signed up for .. It was ok on the toll in The South of France as I knew we were on a mission then   but now we have six days to get to the ferry in Pozallo for our crossing to Malta ..it’s only 180 miles ..@50miles per day even on the back roads is easy ..Ok you say .. I will be coming back again to Sicily in May .. But still I need to see stuff or I might as well take a Saga coach trip .. get my drift ..

All is calm now We’re back to our bumbling ( quote Joanne n Craig) spent the last 24 hours on a beach at Cala Bianca ( thank to our tour.co.uk for the GPS coordinates) 38.05598 12.84011

 We are now in Castellammare del Golfo after a massive plundering of the local Lidl   .. Lovely little town with an historic castle dating back to Arab supremacy
38.03035 12.88132 This sleepy spot is on yet another harbour wall over look what could be a lively bistro and promanade area ..If it’s too noisy we may have to join in .

“TOOTH ACHE AND TRAVEL DONT MIX”

ourtour.co.uk Quote re: Italian driving

Italian Road Rule 1: All drivers are obliged to use whatever means at their disposal to get in front of the car in front. If there is a gap, you get into it, as long as you think other vehicles can somehow avoid a collision.

Italian Road Rule 2: Once a car has gotten in front of you, no matter how close they came to killing you or scratching your paintwork, you are not allowed to crash into them. Easy……….So true ….

Johns blog

These do not mix. My toothache started on the ferry from Genoa to Palermo but as we didn’t dock till 21:00 nothing could be done until the next day. So supper was painkillers and a gargle (or two) with Jamesons (no I did not spit). I managed to sleep till 04:00 then more painkillers and managed a couple more hours at our fish quay sleeping spot before the fishermen started to arrive we where parked among lifted out fishing boats.

 Susan found a nearby dentist on tinternet so at 10 of we went to find it only to find it was market day on the road out so a diversion was required only to find the only way was through road works along the full length of a narrow St ( much honking of horns but I did not participate) .On arriving at the dentists location We could not find it, but a kindly pharmacist showed me to the door on the ground floor of a block of flats (no signs evident at all).

After about 45 mins I was whisked in to see Her (no English spoken but with Google translate and sign language we managed) . The swelling was so large by now she could do nothing but prescribe Antibiotics . So €20 euro lighter( not bad I thought) I went back to the kindly pharmacist and was supplied with the antibiotics (as big as gob stoppers). By midday parked up at a beach carpark I was feeling much better and the gob stoppers where working well. So in 5 to 6 days it may be a visit to a Maltese dentist for an extraction.

“POOR JOHN”

WE HAVE AN EMERGENCY An abscess has formed and burst on Johns back upper tooth ..he’s not a happy bear !!

On leaving the ferry I found a harbour on my maps.me just 5 minutes away for the terminal ..and hoped there would be a parking spot ..In Sicily no one bats an eyelid if a camping car is parked up ..Poor J is in pain and doing a lot for growling ..Not my fault ..I said he should have had it out as it was playing up pre-adventure …Keep stum Susan ..Advise not appreciated.

Yes a parking place in between two large fishing boats layed up on the quay is found( 38.152541 13.375875 ) J throws more paracetamol down his throat and heads for bed .. It’s thundering ..and pouring ..In Hetty I sleep the sleep of the dead but J says he heard the fishing boats set out ..I heard nothing ..

Red marks the sleepy spot but not the weather !!! Cold damps and grey ..

 I have found us a dentist just 1 km away but now we have to get out of this parking / sleepy spot and the market has set up in the very narrow street which was our exit ..more very narrow wing mirror bending streets ..as luck would have it the road works are up and running and just leaving us a 3m bit of road to squeeze through …Its ok J is a superb driver ..its me who panics ..Do you think if I breath in hard it makes a difference ? NO ! But I do …Massive intakes of breath ..and breath ..We manage again not to hit Hettys roof on an over hanging balcony , Scrape her wing mirrors on some parked vehicle ..or be reversed into by a market shopper .

We are now parked up on a mainland road ..Can’t see any “We will tow you away if you park here ” sign

Google is our best friend at the moment + our handy not very strong little Mifi ..in a biggish place works reasonably well …The best signal so far was miles from any civilisation up in the forest above Frejus ..My thoughts on that are there must be very rich people living in the area .

“A DIFFERENT DRIVER TODAY”

The ferry is large ..Cruise ship large with facilities such as swimming pool ..restaurants ..bars..NO ..nothing only one grubby cafe open..

..All the facilities are CLOSED for the winter season The cabin is comfy and as we alway try to book a 4 berth at the same cost to get extra pillows and blankets off the extra bunks   We were ok with our tea and ginger biscuits ..brought from home … Lovely sunset on entering Palermo

 I suppose you are wondering as we are on a road trip why take a ferry the length of Italy

Firstly we have to be in Malta for John sailing event by 16th March

Secondly we love Sicily and need to spend more time here before heading to Malta

Thirdly the cost

Ferry €332                Fuel. €232 …1300km

Ferry from Italy to Sicily €90

Straits of Messina

4 days driving

2 campsites/sosta €30

Food en route €30

Perhaps a toll or two. €20

Total. €402

“PAVEMENT POUNDING !!!”

Today’s walk from the Aire de sosta ,whose ticket machine will relieve us of a grand €16 on our departure for 24hr stay in a carpark without a view, but with leccy for our film night which was The Godfather part 1 .. is from Vado Ligure into Savona ..A walk of 5miles (this was revealed on my return) A walk of pavement bashing with an Icy headwind coming off the snow covered peak we had spotted on our marathon Toll road spree…eye watering and nose running wind ..without a hanky sort of cold ..sleeves are handy …Exercise is good for you HE says ….Mine had gone up from a monthly average of 0.72per week to 2.07 per day This is not a walk of culture or beauty but a walk of necessity to Bl***y LIDL After an incident at the tills keeping the queued Italian masses behind us grumbling ..HE went back to the bread section to add the all important sticky ticket of cost ..sighs ..Lesson learned “Get a Sticker”we knew that but forgot ..it’s an Italian thing ..in France n UK they know the price at the till ..Sighs I managed to stagger back with our haul of goodies …Pizza ,Insulata, Calzoni and other carryable yummies ..and an early Off to the port of Genoa on the narrow but very attractive coast road ..Arriving 5 hours early ..

A confusion with the security guards after we had been sent back from the ticket office with our Ref No ..”No” the guard said ..”go back to the ticket office ..you can’t come through with just your booking Ref No ” so back went a very disgruntled John ..Voila …Printed tickets this time ..At least the Security Guard was doing his job and one wonders what the ticket guy was up too???

“FILM NIGHT”

It was a lovely but very expensive(€32) drive along the Toll road to bypass the Cote D’Azur , Canne,Nice and Monte Carlo..All these places would have taken a week to tour but we’re on a  mission to get to Genoa for our ferry to Sicily

We glimpsed all these famous locations from a distance but the mountain ranges with the snow covered peaks were viewed with awe .. These are the Alps …our chosen route via Grenoble Chambray and south Turin which we declined in favour of a more southerly road as poor Hetty doesn’t have snow tyres .. To much snow for the old girl so the forecast would have it

Not much to say today only I’ve been fighting with my uploaded photos from my very new LUMIX camera to my blog.. I think they are perhaps to big or to many pixels I will need to speak with Erica to see if she can help

We had a super FaceTime with Miss Ruby ..lots of kisses so her Daddy’s computer will need a serious  wiping

A downside to today journey was me witnessing the dumping of our loo at a public Motorhome Sosta (motorway services) an open sewer… DISGUSTING!!!!!

As we’re on our way to Genoa we need to be nearish for tomorrow’s ferry but trying to find a free parking spot for Hetty has been unsuccessful and we’re now in a Sosta de Campingcar

in Vado Ligure near Savona at another €16 per 24 hrs which includes leccy so Monday night is film night ..

  Could be Cinema Paradiso or The Godfather J’s choice (driver concession)and a Thai curry …

TO GOZO VIA FRANCE AND ITALY ..THE OFF 

The map shows the loose interpretation of the intended route by road and sea  

AN EXCITING 24 HOURS

The adventure started well until the first traffic jam ..

 Then the fatal crash on the opposite carriageway .. (Bodies)…

Then the alternator belt started its whine.. This has been fixed .. Oh No it hasn’t .. New alternator New belt Grrrrr HE says its bedding in and needs adjusting.. I say it should be good to go as its a reputable garage that fitted it .. Make my hair stand on end when it screeches

Then the radio wouldn’t work .. No leccy to it .. I blamed the burglar alarm fitter..

THEN the water heater didn’t work

SIGHS

We put a message asking for advice from a Facebook group called Classic Hymers … Hetty is a Classic Hymer

Lots of help came back very quickly.. It’s the fuse someone said ..

Rang Ashley at Pendle Caravan and Motorhome repairs and he talked John though the intricacies of potential problems as he had to open up the boiler area .. Removing drawers and finding the offending circuit board


Yes the fuse had blown .. Now to go off to Canterbury to find a Maplins .. Of cause the store was two bus rides away at the other side of town

Fuse bought ALSO came out with a Dash Cam .. So now we can film the Arse who may run into us ..

Back to Hetty via Canterbury Cathedral .. Magically Spendid

  
Lots of useful info had come in from CH group re: fixing the boiler

A bite of lunch before J started … One hour later it’s fixed .. What a star of a husband I have ..Next the radio.. Wires out … Now fixed so apart from the screeching belt we are fit to travel and having a beer at The Plough and Harrow 51.211853,1.299569. A Motorhome stop over pub 8 miles from Dover ..

Ferry tomorrow 10am Force 8 forecast ..fortunately only a two hour to Dunkirk and we will be in France

Joy of Joys….

We undertook 3 Ferraris …OK OK you say …grins … It was in the road works north of Lucerne as we made a bid for the French border ….and they were stopped … We were making the most of our Vignette (Swiss Toll road payment card €33 worth …this allows the use of all the toll roads in Switzerland for a year and for the Gotthard tunnel !!! I thought the Gotthard would be extra as it’s 18km long but NO!!! I don’t like tunnels ……
Back to the story …We left Rapallo and hit the toll road which was a pre pay …I like prepay as I don’t get a shock when confronted by a machine demanding my Euro’s …Four hours to Como and a campsite just off the toll road …I know you say why not stay in Como I say to tight streets and we have to have places to explore on our next trip which will be Switzerland and Alsace
At the Swiss / Italian border Hetty was shunted into a parking spot by an officious lady border guard ..off HE went to buy the Vignette ..and it must be displayed on the left hand side of the windscreen …stuck on with its own adhesive ..do not take it off or it’s invalid …it’s a years pass ..so we have to come back before June 2015…A Yorkshire man gets his moneys worth you know ….
From Como the road took us to a little village on Lake Lucerne called Beckenreid which was the start of my wander lust in 1961if I remember correctly when my mother was left some dosh by her Aunt Bell and took us all on holiday …my first sur le continent …still looked the same ..the boats we took up and down the lake are still plying their trade as if time had stood still ..
As J is much improved we decided to romp on to the border with France ..one reason for this was our lack of Swiss Francs …and now we in Alsace on a civilised camp site at half the cost of the Italian sites after doing 273 miles today …

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Tolls and tunnels !!!

For a guy on his last legs yesterday J seems to have pulled himself up by his bracers and driven us 350km to Lake Como ..
We decided toll road prices would out weigh the price of the diesel and the cost of camping another night if we did the journey on the Autostrada rather than the free up and up and up windy with village streets scraping poor Hettys wing mirrors so here we are near Como at a toll cost €16-70 … Never mind the wear and tear on the driver unfortunately the passenger hates tunnels .. Most of the journey was through 2km tunnels with lorries on all sides IN torrential rain AND Italian lorries at that.. their drivers growing horns and a tail as they cut us up …. I don’t like tunnels or lorries … But the Po plain was as flat as a witches tit with all your risotto rice being grown there .. Skirted round Milan missing it completely …we have thought on another short trip to the Italian lakes in the future but at the moment it’s full steam home

Poorly boy !

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J is ill
I think it’s to much sun doing the Cinque Terre on Monday ..
He woke with a headache yesterday but we moved on to our next port of call which was Rapallo .. It was mooted originally to go in by train then a boat to Portofino but J thought it better to drive in .. Found a carpark @ €1-50 per hour but hey ho we are only here once .. Just managed to get through the barriers with a bit of scraping of a building .. Whoops..
He didn’t seem bad but quiet .. Off we walked to the bay about 1k .. Lovely town .. Very riviera..perfect day again for a boat ride … He still has a headache .. Got off in Portofino and sat like the tourists we are with our sandwiches in tinfoil watching the super rich getting off and on there motor yachts with Gucci bags …. How the other half live is incomprehensible to me ..
Well we sat in the shade for a while watching the world go by .. This in it self is unusual as he is alway off to look at something .. Taking photos and such … But not today .. He wanted to go back on the earlier boat ??? Sighs … I wanted to stay longer and do more wandering. .. But he says his head is banging so back to the boat and Hetty … Now he starts throwing up … If that’s not heat stroke I don’t know what is … Cold compress and lots of water … Eventually he is able to drive .. I found a camp site 2k away … We got lost and a very kind young man offered to get in his car and show us where it was and we accepted gratefully .. It’s a costa plenty campsite but no other alternative as J hasn’t got out of bed from 8pm last night … No food just water and headache pills ..it’s now 9am….So we will wait till he feels more himself ..
And the moral to this story is wear a hat in the sun ….

A good day at sea !!

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Our base is a motor home storage park in an ambulance depot @ €5 per night in La Spezia
Our thought had been to take the train down The Cinque Terre coastal villages as I have wanted to have a look at this picturesque area for a long time It’s a hop on hop off the train until we found a boat trip was available just one short bus ride away ..

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Off at early doors 8-15 after finding the fridge had stopped working on gas .. Warm beers for our return …bus caught just 100m away off to the ferry terminal .. Handed over our €50 for all day ticket sort of hop on hop off as well… and went the whole way down the coast to the last village Monterosso but didn’t get off here then back to the next to last which is called Vernazza

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What a cracking good village .. Crammed to the gunnels with tourist .. And here we lunched on the harbour wall and again were relieved of €44
The sea built up to a bit of a chop on the return journey wetting all on the bow seating area with waves breaking over the poor tourists with much squealing … J was very wet but he DIDNT squeal .. we hopped off again in Riomagiorie again lovely .. Hopped back on the next boat back to La Spezia at 5pm and the bus back to Hetty and two warm beers .. The walk on the coast route is one that good walkers do to say we did the Cinque Terre .. I think it’s a 6 hour walk from one end to the other on the edge of the cliffs .. Not for me … Tomorrow may be a drive to Rappolo and perhaps another boat to Portofino for a look ..

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Refugee camping Italian style By John

After leaving the still damp camp site in Rome I plumbed in on St SatNav a camp site a lot further north and on the coast ..intending some quiet and rest time beach and pool . After a pleasant journey on the toll road (our favourite now for long journeys to reduce stress on passenger and therefore driver) . We arrived at my chosen camp site with promised beach and pool. We found a pleasant reception booked in ( I was given 2 pool wrist bands to allow access to the pool area )then drove through what can only be described as a refugee camp

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Arriving at a field with caravans ..tents and motor homes. We decided this was not really for us but would be ok for 1 night as only €16. I set up power and awning and we relaxed with a beer. Shortly after a dick of a German rolled up with a loud allo allo and then totally blanked us as he sat next door. He was very loud sang to himself and obviously irritated his very quiet wife. This irritation continued for hours as they ate outside!.
We decided to walk to the beach but had to cross a road a car park (for the Beirut occupants) then started through a pine forest after 10 mins it’s going dark by now ..we turned back as no sign of the sea . On our return to Hetty Susan resorted to putting Gotan Project music on the Bluetooth speaker to try to cover our neighbours noise. Later the children came out to play and it was amusing if Italian noisy.
By 21:00 we where in bed but the adjacent camp site started a disco shortly after.
I woke at 6am and had slept like a log ..it was quiet 🙂
Without any discussion we packed up and left but found that a €2 local tax was also applied to our stay.
I can only say that the camping guide description was written by a cross between an estate agent and advertising executive!!!
If a UK fireman was to see how the Beirut refugee camp area (Susan said it looks like that as she saw the camps in the Lebonon in the 70’s) was set up he would have a fit I could see that a small fire would spread easily and kill hundreds if this is how they holiday I would not like to be where they live…..Here endeth today’s blog …

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Toll roads can be fun …

I would rather stay on LIDL car park than EVER spend another night on an Italian holiday village at€18 for the night …see Johns blog …
Had a very sedate toll road €4-70 but as the LED screen wasn’t working I had to keep throwing coins in…at 4-50 I asked assistance luckily I got an English speaker who said “€4-70 madam ” and goodbye … Most just yell louder …
Next toll was €7-30 and an attending person .. Much easier as I just pushed a note at her … One toll yesterday wanted €9 something and I didn’t have change and could I find the hole for a note Nooo !! HE shouted The voice of the attendant shouted and eventually I got it .. Now to see me do this is a laugh in its self as I have get out of my seat climb over a box of Peroni .. Lean out my window .. Most time I then have to open my door as the lorry pay area is to high and the car area is to low . So there’s me hanging on for grim death … We usually make it eventually . J has been for a walk to photograph the Leaning Tower of Pisa this morning as I have lost my enthusiasm for sight seeing at the mo and I stood guard at the van as we have heard horror stories from people who have stayed in the sosta … Burglaries ..one couple were in bed and they had there laptop stolen .. East Europeans so the police said .. He enjoyed a little time out as did I .. I had a txting session with Dan who sent me new photos of Ruby .. We are now in La Spezia on an ambulance base car park so much happier here €10 for two nights for tomorrow we get the train along The Cinque Terre coast …

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Free beach camp site .. Where the •*+ is the beach

We left damp and humid Rome and headed north. .. Toll road only €3-60 taking us around Citiviveccio the main port for Rome and the Cruise ships and up the coast passing Elba which once tried to imprison Napolian .. HE said he had got a camping site all ready on the satnav .. On the Beach … I checked and it not on the beach .. We can’t even find the beach though a dark pine forest which I think is home to mass axe murderers .. This is your typical Italian camp village .. More like the old fashioned Butlins than any thing we have been to before .. Gaming machines .. Kids on bike .. Staff on golf buggies .. ITS awful … Annoying campers around us .. One chap who likes the sound of his own voice and a wife who doesn’t need to reply to his inane prattle ..still haven’t found the beach … A quick exit early morning is on the cards ..

ARRIVEDERCI ROMA !!!

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Rome day 2 ..
Again off for the 8-30am courtesy bus and then the train and then the Metro then another bus to St Peters Basilica … The queues were massive but J managed to push in front of a tour group with an excusa excusa .. Seems to work .. They think we are important .. Laughs … Any way the queue being 400m long was quick to move today and we were in by 9-30am lot of security and bag checks … And what a treat …
So impressive and free as nothing is free in Roma .. There is a Prayer Vigil being set in in the St. Peter’s square for this evening to pray for Pope Francis and his ministry ..see photo Hundreds of chairs , barriers and scaffolding for TV cameras .. We won’t be there as we haven’t received our invitation as yet !!!

St Peters done ..next The Coliseum … Again scaffolded .. J went for a wander to photograph it but didn’t go in .. Too many tourists off cruise ships mostly Americans doing back to back cruises. .. I listen in to their very loud conversation and if it’s Friday they must be in Rome .. They are a true caricature of how we think of them .. Loud ,boasty with bad taste in clothes but bloody wealthy ..
Coliseum done ..
Off to The Trevi Fountain bit of a walk this time through the popular back streets with lovely cafes , shops selling the top Italian fashions .. But as we are not on holiday the cafés are to expensive for us to lunch .. Instead we have ham cheese tomato and cucumber sandwiches .. Made by my own fair hand post breakfast ..
Back to The Trevi Fountain .. More scaffolding .. No water .. Feel very disappointed ..
Next The Spanish Steps .. Would you believe it the fountain in front is scaffolded… Sighs … Why the hell don’t they do all the repairs in winter .. Sighs again ..
I am again walked off my feet and have released J from any more tourism for life .. We are knackered I need a holiday after this lot … And I can feel an Egyptian one being booked for October …

Rome day one !

Unable to work our how to prebook Vatican tickets online (no printer for ticket ) we set off on the first free bus run by the campsite to the station at Prima Porta at 8-30am ..breakfasted sandwiches made and on it…15mins drive and a wait for the ticket chap who has gone for coffee. !@” WHAT. ! We missed one train and the ticket machine is broken …ticket man cometh and we hand over €16 each for three day pass for all transport in Roma so that’s not a bad deal… Arrived at Flaminio main station and try to look cool .. To look as if we are locals knowing what’s what … Don’t want pickpockets sussing us out . I haven’t a bag as I use an under clothes pouch made from a mans hanky with elastic to keep it up sort of like old fashioned knicker elastic .. I have used this for ever especially my Indian Adventures I keep my passport ,cash,cards ,driving licence and now my IPhone and with it being cotton your stuff doest get as sticky with heat .. I was taught to wear at all times .. Even in bed in India so if you had to move fast you had everything on you …so pouch is under clothes with a couple of safety pins for extra security .. Don’t laugh it works ..HE has his rucksack on his front with water ,sandwiches and his camera so we are sort of pickpocket proof as we have heard horror stories Re: Rome’s gangs .
Today we thought to book tickets in advance for The Vatican but arriving at the queue @ 9-45am The queue seemed to be for pre booking and to buy to go today dicision made we go for it today ..we had a 1hour 24 minute wait .. Lots of amusement on the shaded side of the street .. Especially the walking beggars who suddenly can’t walk at all .. They have all the tricks ,one in in particular had a turned foot and he hobbled so badly with his begging cup untill he had to shift to get across the road .. Guess what NO limp..Gotta laugh ..
We eventually arrive at the ticket desk to be relieved of our €16 each .. No concession for OAP here as there was in Pompeii and Florence where I was allowed in to every thing free of charge …
The museum is massive with the Sistine Chapel at the end of a three hour trek through all sorts of wonderful art Raphael and Michelangelo being the top lads here ..the chapel was so dimly lit and the crowds were pack like sardines inside one couldn’t give the Chapel one total attention apart from being hot I was seriously knackered ..I think if anyone is going to do it try winter ..
Even after we decided to head for the exit we had to negotiate the retail departments to get out and enough is enough as my sence of well being was getting very low .. On exiting e found the Vatican Gardens to have a bite of lunch and a well deserved sit down as I have a blister by now .. Ouchy ..up and at it St Peters is just around the corner .. Well about a km walk ..so off we go to find massive queues once more .. We’ll do it tomorrow was the consensus of opinion . A beer before catching the metro and train back . Ok says I . Mistake .. €16 for two beers .. and they were so welcome .. But that’s Monte Carlo prices so my stepdaughter says .. Live and learn ..back to Hetty for a slow cooked curry .. Can’t wait ..

23c and 1/2inch hail stones

By John
A lie-in and a late breakfast after yesterday’s long drive from Pompeii. Susan has prepared a Chinese for tonight with a chicken curry in the slow cooker for tomorrow. Whilst I did the washing ,which was done in bright sunshine this morning (part of our preparation for Rome need to be clean for the pickpockets and Pope) and by 14:00 thunder lightning and it’s bucketing it down. Most of washing dry but Susan is now under the table because of the extremely loud bangs. I thought that the roof light might break it was being pounded so much. Our pitch has become a lake/river and my crocks (£3 from Asda) may float away. All put together a lovely day with a late lunch and the last 1/2 of a bottle of Pinot. The French couple opposite put up there brolly went to the loo and back ..then drove away in there transit camper! We can see the trees now:-)
The pitches here are quite small with just enough room for Hetty with the awning up and a small hedge to the next pitch. But how else can you stay in Rome for €9 a night each we have power included.
It’s a free bus to the metro station and about 20 mins to Rome. We now have to decide how long it will take us to visit the sites we want…then buy the appropriate metro ticket. It can be a hard life travelling with sun ..beach ..culture and architecture to experience but rest days like today put a bit of vigour back in our step. Another glass of Pinot Dear ?

SAT NAV BEATIFICATION !!!

7am up and ready to DO Pompeii which opens at 8-30am ..I DID it in 1972 and wasn’t impressed may have been my age but I was bored .. Yawns…42 years later the difference inn the site is amazing On my earlier visit the area was mostly the base out line of the structures now whole Villa’s and shops have been raised giving the site an urban town feel .. So we just wandered for 4 or so hours J being fascinated by the buildings click click his camera went … He even came out of the Christian entrance to the massive colosseum ( think I may be the lioness ) grrrrrr !!!!
The crowds of tourist arrive around 11am and as usual we get the hell outta there !!! By the way our campsite is directly opposite the main entrance to the ruins .. I bet there are unfound bodies under us Ekkkk!! Our check out time is 2pm so chairs awning in and down ready for off ..
TOLL ROADS COSTA PLENTI €20 !!! But the coast road would take 2 to 3 days and who the hell wants to drive through Naples NOT ME .. I have been once and that was enough thanks ..very scary place in its poverty .. Either very rich or poor ..
Needing a LIDL shop I looked on line at store finder ( great app) Cassino it said ..just off the main A1 toll road .. What we didn’t bargain for was its situation in the valley below the monastery of Montecassino famed for the battle in WW11 where many soldiers from USA perished .. The monastery looms over the town with an eerie presence as a reminder of much sacrifice ..
J plays Tetris with the fridge after a big shop. .. Big as in beer .. Pironi his favourite .. We have given up on the cheap German crap as we have with 75c bricks of wine .. We are splashing out with €1-29 for good wine now .. He is trying to see how many he can get in the fridge and the food ..
Full of Ham Gorgazola and beer off we go to Rome
BBSN (Bl***y stupid sat nav) has been elevated to Sainthood … In fact Beatified .. She got us off the motorway onto the Rome ring rd and to our chosen camp site !!there wasn’t a cat in Hells chance that we could have negotiated the Rome rush hour with out her so from now on she is to be St Satnav ….

Allied beach landings,Male hookers,A storm of gynormus proportions and a policeman HE SAY NO !!!

Found this spot on a beach after a very very long drive ..503km ..through nigh on every mountain in Italy ..tunnel mania ..some over 2 miles long …I don’t like tunnels …

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Back to the beach ..it’s where the allied troops landed in 1943

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..now a playground for city dwellers ..well it was Sunday …Sailing ..Kite surfers and after dark men lurking ..I didn’t twig they were male hookers of a North African appearance .. And cruising cars ..we had settled down ..had our supper of gnocchi , green pesto and a glass of Pinot …but J became more uncomfortable as I whittered on about various men taking an over active interest in us ..I am always on guard whilst wild camping and this place didn’t feel right ..I was about to get out my secret weapon ..a can of strong hair spray as I didn’t have any Mace with me ..but J quietly got Hetty ready to roll ..we don’t like driving in the dark in this country as the roads and drivers are lethal so HE was concerned …we headed off down the road to a camping area ..just off the road and hidden from prying eyes ….THEN came the lighting …we had seen a storm building over the Amalfi coast

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well here it was …no thunder just fork lightening ..not so near I said …I don’t like thunder storms …ten minutes later and in my bed the storm dropped on us …OMG I haven’t been in one as bad …even J says it’s the worst ever in his history ..we survived and eventually slept ….and set off for our drive along the Amalfi coast …people have said this road is very scary…naaaaaa !!! We have been on much worse ..this road is two cars wide ..laughs …off we trot …up hills round tight bends behind a wagon with a trailer …peace of cake we said …still a bit over cast and drizzly but we are living The Dolce Vita …chuckles …just before we get to Amalfi pulled in by the cops ….show documents …driving licence …all ok …”Sir”he said ” Didn’t you read the signs …NO Camping cars on this road ..break our law it’s a fine of €80 ” OMG …noooooo ….not only didn’t we read this sign …we haven’t read any others as we don’t speak Italian ..we have driven hundreds of miles without understanding road signs …I did look one up after we had a no go day and Via Chuisa means road closed ..
Anyway back to the rather cute officer of the law …he lectured us like naughty senile old gimmers and told us to turn back and go over the mountain ..and he wouldn’t fine us …so doing a bit of cap doffing and yes Sir ing we went over the mountain as he said and are now in Pompeii on a camp site next to the ruins ..and guess what ..another thunder storm ..going to hide in the loo ….more stories soon as later tomorrow off to Roma ..

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These photos are out of Hettys window

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Vesuvius in all her glory !!!

TOLL ROAD AND A MAFIA PLOT!

After our no go to Toarmina we hit the toll road going North .. On the journey south on the coast road (coast road is a contradiction )through one town after another with streets so narrow I got a sore bum with so much clenching and not a view of the beaches so toll road was favoured ..it would have taken 90 minutes at a cost of €1-20 but for a MAFIA plot to con poor tourists out of their Euros .. The sign said take number 5 exit for ferry ..(HE hadn’t plumbed in GPS coordinates) here comes the dastardly plot…NO No 5 on the signs ..missed the turning..pulled into a viewpoint to plumb in GPS .. 27km satnav said .. “WHAT!” he said .. “There must be a turn”I said ” if satnav says so it must be so”with tongue firmly in cheek !! Guess what .. It was 27km to get to the ferry at a cost of €2-40 …plus another €2-40 to get back (I’m sure the toll booth chap grinned ) Mafia money ..but we had a lovely excursion up and up an more up .. Through tunnels 2000m long .. And fuel gauge is flashing on and off .. I said lets put a bit in .. A few litres at any price.. HE has a habit of trying to find the cheapest and my phobia or fear of running out has been an on going factor in our relationship since running out in Morocco 25 years ago in a country I knew didn’t have gas stations at every junction .. “It’s a third world country” .. I said ..He said ” There’s bound to be fuel” NOOOO !!! So we ran out…. On this occasion some kindly French tourist in a car took pity on us and drove J back to Essouria 12km and back again with petrol and we continued out 50km journey back to Agadir …. Back to this story ..We crossed to main land Italy with out any more problem but being Friday 13th there is bound to be difficulties ..Yes ..you guessed ..Fuel … Off the ferry and there must be gas stations on a main toll road … NO it’s 50km of tunnels with one junction off to €1-75 per litre diesel and no credit card facilities .. Guess what .. We are running out of cash .. You gotta laugh .. So into Hetty went €20 worth just enough to get us back to the port to use our Euro Card to fill up € 97 worth .. The last tank fill up did 504 miles not bad for an old girl .. So off we go again camp site plumbed in .. Back through the tunnels with Stromboli (This volcano is on an island just off the coast ) smoke hovering in the valleys and we think we have hit on a great campsite .. Private beach,deck chairs heated swimming pool and a restaurant all for €14 a night that includes leccy … More about this place later …

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ANTS !!! AND QUIET !!!

We stayed in very quiet campsite NEAR the ruins !!!! QUIET AND NEAR were in someone’s wildest dream…(trade descriptions come to mind). It’s 5km to Toarmina and a 10 minute walk to the bus that takes you to Toarmina (the advert in camping book stated in Toarmina )… If the bus is on time a total of an hours journey ..” Not to worry Sir “owner of said campsite smiled “I will take you for € 30 ” again in his dreams .. One night on an ant infested carpark is € 15
Now we come to QUIET !!!
The motorway 50m away on one side and the railway 50m away on the other side ..
AND ANTS !!!!
Up my legs .. On HIS back .. Biting as they climbed ..
Quick .. Pack Hetty up before we have an infestation in the van … And off to Toarmina in Miss Hymer…. B *@” sat nav said she knew of a parking place … Huhhhh ! I am a sceptic …. Up and Up and Up yet again this time with squealing tyres and more up and up .. Yes a carpark .. Will I have to take back my scepticism I am just about to eat my words but …NO!!! €30 for 3 hours parking …so down and down and down again hitting the toll road for a quick exit of Sicily via the ferry …
And as it’s Friday 13th there is more but you will have wait for next story …

It’s fifteen minutes walk SHE said !

Its only 15 minutes walk from the old Valetta to the ferry terminus What Emma Morgan … More like an hour in that heat at our pace … The terminus isn’t in the most salubrious of areas but a good cheap caf with tables on the street did a mean kebab and a can of Cisk ( local lager) … Hopped on the ferry to a mill pond crossing .. Hetty safe and sound her burglar alarm greeting us on our arrival .. Dark by now .. We just drove up to our water side secret parking place .. I wondered out loud WHY the lights were so bad on the vehicle .. I couldn’t see the road marking and was getting worried even though we hadn’t far to go … Take your sunglasses off HE said !!!
SIGHS…..
Parked up … So hot ..dripping .. So we made up the lower bed for me so I wouldn’t moan about being to hot .. Could spread my self out a bit better .. Lol … Slept like a top with only a thin sheet .. HE said it was about 30c … And we are do glad we have done Sicily early .. It’s to hot now ..
Heading home .. Well we are .. Turned north .. Up to Taormina to look at Greek ruins tomorrow .. HIS choice .. Emma says they are wonderful .. We are now in a pretty sosta / camping place …a paid one
!!!! Hecky peck … What next !!
It’s just off the main road and convenient for the bus to take us to Taormina ..

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Rude awakening !!!

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HE said the builders were in !!!!
House being built across from our overnighter on a beach ..lots of banging pre dawn .. Yawned and turned over untill banging on Hettys door
It’s the bl***y Saturday market setting up and we were in a rather big vans place …up we got in flurry .. I growled at the veggy man but its their village so we move across the road for our very early coffee and off to the ferry to Sicily
Driving around the Toe of Italy gave a great view of Mount Etna steaming quietly away and found a fabulous stop for an over nighter .. Perhaps next time …

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We had heard the ferry boarding was chaos .. Missed the turn ending up in town only to find the ticket office in front of us .. Off HE went € 96 for a 20 min crossing … Hells bells … We then went into the ferry queue at the front … How we did it I don’t know but within 5 mins we were on board ..and part of the queue behind us was turned away as the ferry was running late . Sneaky or lucky I don’t know. .

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Manage to clip a lorry with the wing mirror or did the lorry clip us .. Don’t know .. I say to J if it’s to tight a space let the other guy try to get through then it’s his fault if he gets scratched because there is a lot of place to tight to call …
Then we are accosted by Tunisian wind screen washers .. NO we said .. But he cleaned them anyway .. And didn’t get a cent from us. ..
We then worked our way out of Messina J is now doing the bullying as our English good manners don’t work driving here its dog eat dog . Travelled through some very narrow villages hardly wide enough for Hetty as we refused the toll road on the satnav ..now parked up on beach side at Giardini Naxos with super yachts and small cruise ship in the harbour after a good pizza in La Lanturna … View of bay very pretty

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All fall down!!!

By john

Today we left Lido Metaponto early after a quiet nights sleep. Heading for Matera to look at the village (now a large town) famous for its cave dwellings.
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We struggled to find the sign posted camper parking but did find a parking spot almost within the cave area. It was a disabled space surrounded by steps!! So we decided to park here as there where 3 spaces. I cheekily put our blue Pendle parking sign on the dashboard and then off we strolled.

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After 1/2 an hour feeling guilty we returned and I then went to take a few more photos. On my return Susan was accosted by a lady putting up a sign inviting a visit to here church to see the wall painting in the 12th c cript (a cave)for 1€ so off she toddled to look as I stood guard. After 1/2 an hour she returned just as the other spaces where being filled.
The next job was to do a Lidl ..plugging in the co-ordinates off ..we went for about 30 klm back towards the main road to Sicily …we found the road sign saying road closed so we followed the diversion for 4 klm before giving up and turning around on returning to the road block sign …we found locals going past the signs. So as in Italy … do as the Italians do, we followed then up an old road towards Montescaglioso. only to find this road partially collapsed and the new road totally missing below us. Onwards and upwards our road turned to loose stone but lo and behold just ahead the Lidl sign … at the turning into the car park we found Lidl had disappeared too. Oh well a little shop done in town and off to the road to Sicily only to find the other road had gone as well so ignoring sat nav (called Bl***y sat nav) we just headed south with turn around when possible ringing in our ears. (BSN)
As we had plenty of time we decided to do quite a big journey and plumbed in a sosta but on arrival a big camp site .. so no thank you. The next sosta location took us to Rosano and by chance there we found an intact LIDL and finished our shopping. As this sosta was in town we headed for another near the coast trying a port( no not allowed) plus this area looks very grotty (imagine the grottiest town in your own area and put a dirty beach there that’s it) and not safe we then headed for one further on (it’s now raining as well) only to find it’s not open yet ,so we drove past it to the beach road and parked there where I’m writing this with a beer in hand ( and the sun comes out) pizza for tea with coleslaw and salad lovely.

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Horse meat pate anyone ????

Not open for visitors yet !

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Had a good day on the beach at lido di Metaponto ( free camping)  40.355112 16.832947 It’s a road to nowhere again .. Dirt track .. and found a beach bar …loungers Rimini style lay out but it’s not open yetas the season doesnt start till July .. Lots of painting and cleaning going on I am cheeky and asked to park for the night .. Permission granted ..€4 each for a day on the loungers on the waters edge watching a dedger barge doing erosion protection work 100m off shore … Dropping massive boulders to alter the current flow by making an artificial reef … J knows these things ..

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Another bit of interest keeping me from my book were people raking the beach at the water line with a net collecting sea shells to have with their pasta for tea .. Yum yum ..but we had egg sausage baked beans and oven baked potatoes ….

Just wandering … And wild camping

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From our last nights stop by the harbour in the middle of no where on the Adriatic (J points to Albania) we are now on a beach again in the middle of no where looking out to Corfu on the Aegean ..

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( J points to Corfu)
We have been slowed down again by appalling road surfaces .. But who cares we will get to where ever when ever .. Or not ..
The great thing about going down back ally’s is perhaps an Italian campervan will be seen on a rocky out crop Yessss!! The cry goes up from us .. If the Italians can park up so can we .. And that my friends is how we found this perfect little spot (see pointy blue arrow on photo)

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Trani to Trulli

By John

We leasurely left the port of Trani which is a nice stopover ..lovely port and town with a very tall cathedral well worth a visit with interesting bells!!!
Our intended destinations where the Trulli at Alborobello after an interesting diversion to a town without car parking space caused by satnav programming error( me) we arrived at Alborobello at about 18:30 ..

The carpark which is a partly cleared slopeing vine grove was nearly empty . Prices were posted on the gate from 08:00 till 20:00 but no sign of where to pay so we parked and had a beer to calm our nerves ( especially Susan’s as the last 15 min was quite stressful.
Then as dusk started to fall we wandered into the Trulli village and what an amazing place. Lots of joined together small stone dwellings with stone conical roofs , a bit like a mad hobbit extravaganza.

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As the crowds where virtually cleared away we had a good opportunity to peruse and photograph fairly unimpeded. It is a lovely place well off the normal Brit tourist area and well worth a visit. We strolled back to Hetty for a leisurely supper very happy.

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The heel of Italy …johns post

The heel of Italy can be described as a tarts shoe with laddered tights(broken roads
We left Trulli at 8:30 no sign of anyone to pay so a free night 🙂
Traveling towards Torre Del’Orso. We encountered some excellent bits of road interspersed with some very broken bits . The major roads are ok in places and you feel safe at 80kph then if you don’t slow down quickly your fillings drop out.
In Torre we eventually found the camp site ..it’s adventurous description lead me to think it was near the beach but no…It was within an area of pine and Eucalyptus trees very shady . We set up very early due to the getaway and I then went to reception to sign in and locate the washing machines (as this was one of the reasons to come here( plus empty the loo)) I was told that they did not have washing machines (they did according to the CC guide)but a service wash was available ..but not today as it was Sunday …so Susan and I had a leisurely reading day with an evening thunderstorm but not much rain . Monday arrived with the sound of leaves and pine cones falling on Hetty’s roof and I chased up the promised 8:30 service wash by 9:30 our clothes etc where on there way with our 12:00 departure guaranteed. By 10:30 our bedding etc was back but sopping wet !! So out with the clothes line and other bits of rope. Luckily it was a bright windy sunny day (they did not charge us for the wash) and by 13:00 and after lunch it was all nearly dry .

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So I paid for the 1 night €14 with electric( big charging of leccy gadgets done) we packed up and headed for the coast road…I had to force the satnav to shortest route to keep on the coast road ….We only went down one farm track but I had to reset the wing mirrors as the trees where so close on both sides they where folded back.
When we found the sea …it was very interesting as this holiday area is still closed with lots of hotels ,bars and beach areas coming out of hibernation and some looking dead.
We are now parked close to a small harbour watching fishermen launching refurbished boats (getting ready for the summer rush for restaurants etc we assume) with a beer in hand reading on the rocky shore the car park is payable but they have taken the machine away….

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Trani .. and really rich man .. Yawn

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Trani was quite a place ..Sea front lime stone cathedral crazy bells calling the faithful to Mass.. Political rally .. Fireworks…fishing boats… Fish quay.. A meal in a seafront restaurant
and a chat with a really really rich boasty chap from Essex ( he actually said he was really really rich) who had just sailed in from Greece where he stores his 56ft yacht with its own washing machine on board built for him in Taiwan What a plonker as his opening gambit was to laugh at our accents this being from someone who sounded like an eastender barrow boy
When he realised we knew a thing or two about sailing he stopped bragging about his millions and his rather plain ageing wife stopped looking embarrassed .. They were off in their FIFTYSIX FOOTER to Slovina for the summer
Friday night parked on the quay was a tad noisy as well ..
Today a LIDL shop ..Fuel fill up and even though we have managed eight nights free parking .. A saving of about €160 now back in the red by € 64
BTW J got 35 to the gallon Whoo Hooo
Off to see the bee hive houses later after a lovely lunch and read on an unnamed rocky shore watching boats fish and yachts head off to Greece whilst we head off to the toe of Italy

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Saepinum a Roman town plus roads not as good as Roman

By John
Today after leaving our stay at an abandoned sosta we went to the remains of a small Roman town with a nice theatre and lots of structures which were fairly recently excavated. Though it had been known about previously as the local farmers had incorporated some of the structures and stone into their houses and Barns.
It was a lovely morning for a stroll and the stones bedded at 45 degrees on the main walls was unusual and it looked great. Where it had recently been excavated/recovered the features where in excellent condition the roads and town square where as good as towns we have recently visited.
Several of the features have been simulated with new items which I feel did not fully reflect what the original had been.
After a couple of hours we went back to Hetty to continue our journey to the Adriatic coast. Some of the main roads where pretty poor and there where some very long viaducts and long tunnels and steep long climbs where lorries struggled up in front of us only to find long descents with no over tacking opportunities . When leaving on tunnel the gps did not recover quickly enough and we missed our turn Susan was not amused!!
After a diversion we where back on our way.
The sosta we where aiming for was about 5km away when we where diverted down a poor narrow road with Susan twitching a lot. After 10 km of diversion we gave up and reprogrammed for Trani.
The roads did not improve and actually got so bad in places that the Tarmac had disappeared completely.
When we arrived at Trani the satnav took us down some town streets only just wide enough for us and when they widened the parked cars where lucky to keep wing mirrors and paintwork intact . After weaving about and refusing some directions offered by the satnav we eventually found our parking spot at the quay side. Only to find I had left the shower dripping and an empty water tank but a walk around the fish key soon produced a water point which we shared with an Italian motor homer who said it was good water as we both filled our campervans and he filled his water bottle so we did as well.
Trani is a lovely town with a smashing harbour and marina with lots of quay side resturaunts as well . we had another pleasant stroll after a beer and snack ( Susan had been asking for a lunch break for at least 2 hours ( she says at least 3) before this , but nothing appropriate was found) !!
The Sun is now setting and our evening meal is being planned By Susan some grumbling about the quality of our white wine till she remembered we had topped it up with a brick last night to chill in the fridge 🙂 it’s pretty bad but cold and alcoholic.
Tomorrow we plan to visit the cathedral just behind our parking place. It has some interesting chiming bells !!

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Saepinum

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A road to no where…

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Woke this morning to snow falling !!! Blue skies and snow .. Get a grip .. It’s the seeds from anonymous trees .. Like cotton wool falling from the sky ..

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It’s every where .. On your clothes and even down my throat .. Whilst chatting to my wingman in the market .. Must have drawn breath .. And in went a dollop of the stuff … Cough splutter and had to be taken to a cafe for water .. Thought my end was here …Lunch bought on the market .. Home grown everything.. Tomatoes to die for and nearly did !!!!
Next place to look at is up and up and up yet again.. It’s a slow scenic ride through Golo di Sagittarius a rocky gorge that squeezes the road like a natural vice and up again to Lago di Scanno for lunch with Bears,Wolves and Lynx .. Again didn’t see any..
http://www.viaggioinabruzzo.it/abruzzo_parchi_riserve/gole_sagittario.htm

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Up and up to the snow line and ski resort of one hotel at 5000ft …on we trekked until a sign “via chiusa” ..Road closed??  On the road we wanted to use ??? Now who would come to Italy without a Italian/English dictionary or paper road map of said country ..The Sharmans would .. iPad map ! No signal .. Where are we .. So after a lovely ride and tempers frayed we headed back the way we had come … 25k back found a main road and now we are somewhere!!!! Enough said !!!
Off to Roman ruins tomorrow and the heel of Italy … But Hetty has a knocking sound eeeekkk !!! CV joint was muttered by the driver

White knuckle ride ..

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From Spoleto to Sulmona it was a white knuckled ride .. Up and up again .. Let’s see the mountains we said …through national parks with 6000ft snow covered mountains all around us .. Across to Monte di Spoleto where the mountains open onto a high alp like plain with every spring flower you can name

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Down again to the earthquake hit L’Aguila where the old town is still a no go area .. Still very broken after five years .. Seemingly this plateau is called Italy’s Little Tibet .. Wolves inhabit Parco della Majella with its high altitudes .. We didn’t see any !!!
Down again to Sulmona which nestles in a valley with the Morrone Massif as a back drop .. This pre Roman village is famous for its “confetti” the sugared almonds given to guests at Italian weddings .. It’s market day tomorrow so off we will trot to buy some more edible goodies for our house/ cat sitters.. Grins

No St Francis ..

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Assisi is very difficult as the village is perched on a cliff / mountain without parking for campervans and as we only intended a flying visit we did it blue bottle style .. Landed .. Had lunch .. And took off again. .. There wasn’t any way to do it  without staying on the plain .. Organising a tour which meant 2/3 days stop over and time is getting short .. So much to see .. I wish we hadn’t put a time scale on this trip as it now seem impossible to do what we wanted ..
Hill villages every where .. Just lovely ..but the roads are appalling .. Rough pot holed afares some falling off the cliff into the valleys

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Stopped over night in Spoleto .. Not much to look at but had a big shop and J is now playing Tetris with the fridge to get all the goodies in which include very cheap beer ..yuck..

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Sail training ..!

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It’s the weekend and we are at Lake Trasimeno No sight seeing .. Just R&R after a lot of pavement pounding .. Two day of sunshine and an evening shower … We are on a Camping car spot  (N43.18408 E12.02396) with FREE leccy as well as water by the side of the lake .. What a find thanks to ourtour.co.uk .. We have been stalking their journey through Italy .. if we can’t find a spot the cry goes up ” internet on and have ourtour been here “so this weekend has been Susan’s learn to sail radio control yachts .. You didn’t think we had come away without a boat or two in the wardrobe did you? … We have two with us and all the equipment to sail ..So I put together Susan’s yacht and she took the transmitter and started to control her yacht upwind and downwind a little confusing for her as she is used to feel the real yacht through the tiller. By the second day she started to get the hang of it. So after a total of about an hour of practice she could sail it by herself. We will get them out again soon but will have a boat each next time. … Tomorrow we are off again to LIDL first then just off as our next location hasn’t been verified yet …

Volterra and Siena

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€8 car park … And up and up and up 300 steps to the start of this town on top of another Tuscan hill .. Much bigger than San Gimignano and less busy with tourist but it was 6 pm when we started our ascent … It’s ancient …said to have been continually inhabited since the end of the 8th century …home to the fictional Volturi a coven of powerful regal vampires ..I thought wrongly that Twilight New Moon was film here No just set here and filmed in Montpulciano (on the todo list)

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And on to Siena after a disturbed night in the carpark
Yes it’s the correct spelling.. Sienna is the colour
Another carpark and a bus into town .. And a wander through the streets with a few oooohs and aaaaghs ..

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Piazza del Campo

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WE had a lovely time and off to find the bus stop back .. After walking the wrong way for a mile or so about turn to the area we thought the bus ran from only we couldn’t find it .. Asked a few people who sent us back to the bus station but NO it doesn’t go from there .. Eventually an off duty bus driver gave us better instructions … And we bought a ticket at the tabac shop unlike on the way in NO ticket but no inspector either so got away with that .. Phew .. We have driven through more rolling Tuscan country side with castles and ancient hill hamlets than you can shake a stick at and now we are having some R&R by a lake by the name of Lake Trasimeno free camping + free leccy an added bonus

San Gimignano .. Hypnotically enticed!

We are here at GPS coordinate 43.5555 -11.034700
After a lovely drive through rolling Tuscan countryside and not a hill to be climbed and trying in vain to find LIDL in Poggibonsi (love the name of this town) we found a farmers cooperative selling local produce as well as international .. Stocking up again on Chianti.. Parmagano ..beer..nochi .. Ravioli Oh and salads no seriously we are eating very well even though meat is off the menu .. Lovely pastas and home made sauces ( John is turning his hand to these culinary delights )
Back to San Gimignano
We could see the towers from the roundabout and had a GPS coordinate for a free off road spot when a little scooter pulled out in front of us waving us to follow !!! And slowly ..hypnotically led us down the road away from our preferred and may I add FREE parking and like the Pied Piper he led us to the Area Sosta camping @ €22 per 24hrs now we sit and watch other unsuspecting prey being bought in …

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San Gimignano is Etrusian by origin pre Roman and rises up with its 15 towers like a medieval Manhattan .. Seemingly it had 72 towers and a sign of a man wealth was to build taller than the neighbours (things don’t change much) the film “”Tea with Mussolini” was about this village and the fight to keep the towers from being blown up in the war .. Another of Dame Maggie Smiths epics

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Off to Volterra later where the setting for the Twilight films principle Vampire coven was filmed

Florence V Venice

Venice wins hands down …. My vision of Florence pre adventure was of a romantic cultured city and yes it would be without the traffic .. Where as with Venice a week wasn’t enough …24 hours slogging the streets of Florence is enough
As with Monday we bused in and went straight to The Uffizi Gallery with the tickets bought in Monday
It said in the guide books even with pre booked ticket to avoid the 4 hour queues one would have to wait in line but not for us 9-30am and in we went
It’s recommended in “the books” to climb the wide stone staircase to get the full feeling of the size of the palace I did but in good company with a few ladies of a similar age had to make a pit stop after four floors to regain our breath
It said take a turn to the left and old masters hit you in the face .. Your gold Christmas cards with Madonnas and Child are there to be studied at close quarters ..

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The books say give yourselves 4 hours to see all ..it took us 3 as I don’t have any interest in the lumps of carved marble or ancient rocks ..I know a bit of a Philistine but it’s the paintings I went to see .. My favourite amongst Canaletto’s .. De Vinci .. Titian…Then i found an artist I hadn’t come across before Gheraldo delle Notti ( real name Gerald van Honthorst ) he acquired the of the Notti..Night.. name because of his use of candle light to add light and shade to the painting..I was very impressed

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After 3-4 hours I had enough culture and needed a sit down .. Back on the bus .. Our bus number yes ..but the circular … So in stead of a quick 15 mins ride 1.5 hours later and seeing most of Florence’s suburbs we arrive back .. Packed up for our drive to San Gimignano ..

A flirt with Florence

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Just about found the Sosta (motorhome camping) .. €20 per night and free wifi … Just another carpark for campervans .. With locked gates at night … Very cosy … Packed solid with few spaces left at €20 a day 35 vans in now .. Sounds like a very profitable outfit ….Arrived early to get a space .. Bought our bus tickets and off we went … I walked and walked .. Lovely Palazzos and churches …and the Ponte Vecchio… all places seen in photos .. What we didn’t know was how hard pavement walking is .. The chaotic traffic and more so Japanese tourists … Scooters and buses in streets never made for motorised transport … No wider than one bus width but with bikes scooters and walkers all trying for a slot in the system …
A rubbish Pizza lunch in Piazza della Signoria with staff just not interested in the clientel as they won’t have to see em again ..
http://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_della_Signoria
Bus back to rest very tired feet

Observation …

Road side hookers on the Rimini road …all female …no male ..is this sexual prejudice
Blue and white zebra crossing in San Marino .. Why ..so you know when you have left the Principality?
Johns obsession with diesel prices via satnav which tells him of a garage coming up every 500 m lowest €1.26 in Spain Highest €1.84 in Italy ..sighs and clenches teeth
Sat navs new name is BSSN (bloody stupid sat nav). Wrong roads up dead ends at 4000 feet eeeeek ….
Smart cars like mine rule in Italy ..even more so than their little Fiat 500 …cheaper I suppose ..
Chiantishire is so named because so many Brits have moved there !

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A little photo of Greve in Chianti ..

HE is too young !!!

Said the man at the ticket office for The Uffizi in Florence …Sir you have to be 65 to get a free entry …te he ……but madam you can have free entry …see it’s paying to be old …I get to sit on special seats on buses and ferries and discount on Galleries ,Museums and such like …
BUT John may be looking for a new wife as he is trying to kill this one with some walk or other usually up and up and up….today’s was up to Piazza Michelangelo to see the view of Florence ..

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..it was ok when I got my breath back ..but lots of clouds and not much sun ..the colour weren’t at their best sadly …Grabbed a bus back to town for more sights

20140512-191157.jpg..and lunch in Piazza Della Signoria…pizza and a Spritz ..€33 ..over priced but what can you expect ..with the lovely view of the Statue of David in your face …yummy …that’s the pizza ..chuckles

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Dead ends and more up and up and up

Mountain climbing again ..Hetty Hymer had to wear her boots today and use her first gear !!!
We decided to travel towards Firenze (Florence) but slowly to avoid the weekend crowds plus we need to find some free stopovers as we sort of bankrupted ourselves in Venice. Initially our thoughts where to head cross country towards the national park thinking the roads would not be too bad how wrong can one be… ending up in a nice village but the through road said no entry(we were about 3500 feet above sea level..on one track roads ..satnav has had a new name for a while ..Bl***y stupid is one prefix … so a 2km double back required then found a water main burst???at 3000 feet .. interesting ! Eventually a proper road was found …a bit of relief …a dual carriageway towards lunch at a possible sosta but wrong again BSSN (bl****y stupid nat nav )as it was not at the given co-ordinates so lunch was taken under the elevated dual carriageway … HE found a light fitting on Hetty falling off the wall (obviously the roads rougher than previously encountered so out with the screw driver)
Then followed the national park route …again steep AND windy but at least had a lane for each direction (where the road hadn’t collapsed that is). We passed compulsory snow chain signs plus a fine for not having them sign ..mmmm ..lucky we are out of snow season 😉 With lots of cyclists going up very impressive as it’s summit was 3500ft …lots of ear popping for us …heart popping for them ..Plus plenty of maniac motor bike wankers rushing to a hospital (we saw many bunches of flowers where presumably they kill themselves ).It was extremely interesting with lovely views but hard work with lots of low gear and steering wheel action both up and down the other side. We noted a few likely stops but too early to pull over :-((
Decided to shorten our destination to Bibbiena …did not locate the Sosta HE was knackered by now so pulled into a car park with a view over the valley towards tomorrow’s mountains 🙂 ?! Instead.photo

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Weight Watchers nightmare

Not that I am doing WW but start with a light break ..cereal ..then to the ferry and a walk to All’Arco,s who invent Venices best Cicheti from the daily finds in the Rialto market ..ours consisted of Sicilian tuna tartar with mint ..Sardines with sliced pickled onions ..baby squid ..and finely sliced truffles with artichokes and a Spritz each ..€11 all in …small but delicate mortals of food …

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After what seemed like hours of trudging willingly I may add through every ally and ginnell ..need to restore the soul with a slice of the best but very pricy pizza we have had as yet ..pricy because we were at the Rialto bridge when hunger struck ..Costa double Sir …yes it did ..and then we hit Groms …www.grom.it ….as it says in The Lonely Planet ..to lick the landscape of Italy and more ..Galati (more than ice cream) made from strawberry lemon but mostly chocolate ..J bought me a double I think just to get me back to the ferry as my legs definitely are worn to the knees

We are seriously in the red now ..readers of this blog  will know we are trying to run this trip off €40 per day …Venice has put payed to that ..but I will claw back as the days follow with NO campsites …wild camping again …
The only people who seem to be doing Venice without a care for the cost are the Chinese …here in droves…only ones to afford the cafés in St Marks Sq and the Gondolas ..even saw a couple (Chinese again) in their wedding attire on a canal in a gondola ..
We have been frugal as far as the ferries are concerned ..buying a weeks pass for €50 each we are already €186 up if we had taken the boats paying for each trip …

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That’s about it for Venice ..we were going in again tomorrow but we need some serious R & R so off down the east coast ..wonder what Rimini is like at this time of the year …if we get there I will tell you ….

MURANO AND BURANO

MURANO AND BURANO
You can keep Murano and it’s glass ..most you will find on car boots in UK ..throw outs from the sixties ..there wasn’t a thing we would have bought even if we were rolling in it ..and one has to be around here ..but….
BURANO is a different kettle of fish …colour every where …

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Spent most of the day island hopping ..off back to St Marks to find the famous Harry’s Bar with its Bolini,s at €15 a pop …what a disappointment ..no balcony over looking the water ..just up an ally …as you can gather we didn’t go in …
Tomorrow we will a couple of churches to see the Titian paintings and perhaps the Peggy Guggenheim Art Collection..out for lunch at All’Arco a well recommended Osterie ( cafe) for their Cicheti (tapas) then off to find the Aqua Alta book shop …see link ..
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187870-d2208448-Reviews-Libreria_Acqua_Alta-Venice_Veneto.html

Vaporetta rides …..

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3rd May.. Our first Vaporetta excursion photo of water ambulance ..
By John

Today we bought ourselves a 7 day ferry / vaporetta pass for all of the Venetian lagoon . A bit expensive at €50each but as we plan to stay in Venice for longer it’s ideal. We took the ferry (using the camp sites free bus service to the quay). Then into Venice to St Marks square and a stroll around visiting the Rialto fish market which has been in business since time in memorial .. When Susan stared lagging we jumped onto ferry No1 ..This particular ferry does the whole length of the Grand Canal so we took it to the terminus ..you can’t stay on for the return journey so off we popped and re queued catching the next one back to the park to eat our sandwiches then a ferry back to St Marks for the big ferry back to hopping off point near our camp site on the Lido Jesolo side near Punta Sabbioni
I had sussed that the No1 ferry started at the Lido which is our second stage on the way into Venice . So we planned to get off there tomorrow as some of the service No1 ferries have seats at the front to get a great view going up the Grand Canal. This would be ideal for Susan’s birthday tomorrow

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4th May.. Star Wars Day( Susan’s 70 th Birthday.. and our Wedding anniversary 20 years )
By John
Opened the presents given to us before we left UK (thanks everyone) then took Camp site coach to ferry jumped off at Lido and worked our way to the front of the queue ..not too difficult as mainly locals in front of us. Bagged two front seats and off up the Grand Canal for a sight seeing photofest . Bagged front seats for the return ferry too to catch some sights from the opposite direction it’s not quite as good this way. We had looked up a lunch spot and I programmed our satnav to walking directions so jumped off the No1 just before St Marks and walked for a bit ..some confusion due to narrow lanes disrupting satnav and a couple of back tracks later.. lunch spot found. Excellent meal ..We had a selection of the local tapas called chicheti in Italy …Susan had squid and polenta ..I had a seafood pasta and a bottle of local fizz (Prosecco)

Then a stroll through the back streets with a lovely gelato (more than ice cream)each to the hospital( no not that we needed it ..it was just there) then a ferry to Lido ( this was a commuter ferry and no good for sight seeing).Then big ferry back to the camp site. After a bit of a read( perhaps a snooze too) we went to the local restaurant for a spritz ( the local cocktail ..lovely) and probably the best pizza’s we’ve ever had.
It’s a regroup day tomorrow ..think we over did either the Spritz or the walking
…a bit of a supermarket shop ..running out of cheap booze ..Had a lovely meet up with some fun chaps from Australia..a drink or three and a laugh … So this finished the Birthday off beautifully …

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I may do some ironing ….

REGROUPING DAY !!

It’s absolutely pouring down .. Not just raining but hurling down ..
Today was supposed to be our first foray into Venice to look see .. A bit of a ride on the vaporetto(small passenger ferry) up the Grand canal we thought but not in this rain .. Then a thought occurred to me why do we need to rush .. We have all the time in the world ..this isn’t a two week holiday where you have to do stuff how ever inclement the weather … So we regrouped .. Did the laundry .. Cleaned the bathroom .. Tidied cupboards .. And the thunder nearly sent me to hide under the stairs until I realised we don’t have stairs .. I am so glad we didn’t buy the weekly boat ticket .. That’s a job for tomorrow ..
See photos of torrential rain ..

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Woops .. And the police turned us away …

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We left Verona ,John diving deep into those Yorkshire pockets and paying (I might add without tears) for the Toll road to Venice saving us 100klm of torturous narrow hilly roads … And after two hours of uneventful scenic driving with the Dolomites on our left we had smiles as the toll only came to €8.60 … Magic

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Our chooses route was around Venice on the Treiste road and down the backside of the Lagoon to the Venetian lido .. Woops That stupid sat nav .. Sent us across the causeway into Venice itself until a lady copper shook her finger saying NO … John then did an Italian U turn .. Only one lot of honking from the locals .. Then back to the road we were supposed to be on … Another hour with solid traffic ( we think it was May Day holiday and some motor cyclists trying to get to hospital quickly .. What dreadful drivers .. Only to find the campsite of choice didn’t have a laundry and was over priced so went another 100 yard down the road and found another which had every thing we wanted including curtesy bus to the ferry and we got OAP discount which made it cheaper than the other one .. Super.. Set up now ready for our Venetian Adventure

VERONA AND CAMPERVAN AIRES

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VERONA
Sosta(Italian) or Aire (French) are for campervans / camping car / motorhome ..all different titles for our Hetty and her van pals .. An Aire is a parking spot within a city or near a site of historical interest .. Usually parking is allowed for no more than 48 hours ..sometimes free as in the Spanish ones we found and sometimes charged as is this one in Verona €10 and it’s within walking distance of the Arena and The Juliette house with compulsory balcony ( Romeo & Juliette.. William Shakespeare )

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These camping grounds are usually a carpark with facilities for campervans .. Water fill up .. Loo emptying point .. Washing up water tank emty point and some times leccy … There are a few rules .. No camping chairs out .. That made use laugh as in Spain lots of Germans were sat out with beers in the sunshine so we followed suit .. I suppose rules are there to be broken ..
It’s now 5-30pm and this one is full .. With about 30 vans here .. We arrived at 10am to get a spot after a cold damp journey past Lake Garda .. There was a thunderstorm over night and the rain poured ..
We managed to walk into Verona when it was drying up so enjoyed all the sites including PAYING to enter the Arena .. Bus pass worked again .. Half price ..a lovely city and as yet uncrowded I can’t think what it would be like in mid summer .. Overpowering Now the heavens have opened again .. It’s cold and the heating won’t work .. Brrrrrr
We have bought a Vodafone mifi to keep us in touch with the world .. So let’s hope we can get it to work…

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Bum clenching !!!!

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Bum clenching mountain road!
Need I say more about our drive from Genoa to Cremona .. Yes ok .. It’s expected of me to have more to say …
Genoa’s traffic had been described as horrendous but HE says our timing was right getting there from the ferry with its impatient honking Italian drivers ..sleeping in a secure carpark near the harbour and getting away this morning without much fuss … One expects to be cut up by motor cyclists in Italy but we nearly had one mounted on the front bumper as our figure head .. As we left Genoa following the river on a gradually narrowing and climbing switch back tree clad road with occasional tunnels which turned out to be the only straight bits ..some so long one couldn’t see day light at the other end .
Once Hetty crested the highest point with over an hour of non stop climbing to a height of over three thousand feet the vista opened up only to see the sheer drops into the valley bottoms at every turn of the switchback down to the lovely spring flowered pastures with its Tyrollean style villages below ..The top third of the ascent would have been compulsory snow chains less than two weeks ago … No snow for us
Cremona … Whose heard of this town .. You will probably say no .. But wait a moment … I bet you have heard of Stradivarius … He made his now priceless violins here..
The town piazza is considered to be the best preserved medieval squares in Italy and having just returned we can concurs with that .. Superb
Off to Verona tomorrow …

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