Day 15 – Friday 23rd March 2018
A sunny morning in La Spezia. For this morning’s walk I decided to see what lay to the east of the site. Not much; just some run down shops and a military marina. Very Italian.
In the afternoon I decided to get Zippy out. I’m a little wary of riding in Italian cities but I thought I could handle a small town like La Sprzia while I got used to the Italian way of driving. I like to leave a good gap in front of me; Italians see this as an invitation to overtake. They are buggers for overtaking, even on blind bends. And Italian towns have far more pedestrian crossings than we have in the UK but many of they are completely faded and have no traffic controls, people just step out on them and traffic stops. You certainly need your wits about you.
We went into town and parked up easy enough and had a pleasant look around and had another ice cream. On the way back I thought we have a look at the village a few miles into the countryside but I chickened out at the first tight hairpin. A tight hairpin bend when you are two up on a 125 isn’t a whole lot of fun and I know the first time Julie gets some road rash will probably be the last time she gets on Zippy.
All in all a nice relaxing day without any drama.
Day 16 – Saturday 24th March 2018
Took a boat trip to the Cinque Terre towns. It was a beautiful day full of sun with hardly a hint of a wind. This was the boat’s first trip of the season and it was in beautiful nick. The trip from La Spezia stopped at Portovenere, Riomaggiore, Vernazza & Monterosso.
We got off to have a look around at Riomaggiore, Vernazza & Monterosso. Julie couldn’t resist some calamari & chips at Vernazza.
She’s on the lookout for a cat key ring and she goes into every tat shop on this quest. You might wonder why she spends so much of her time in this search….
She secretly bought these in Aix-en-Provence and they now live in the van. She wants a cat key ring to complete the set!
Vernazza was my favourite town as it was stuffed with places selling great Italian food.
There was a foot race on today, the Sciacche Trail. Only a 47km run up and down the mountainous Cinque Terre coast finishing in Monterosso; If only I’d known I would have brought my trainers.
All in all a very pleasant day out.
Day 17 – Sunday 25th March 2018
The day started well enough. It was sunny and we had a good plan; get to a resort near Pisa and check into Camping Paradiso. From its website it looked open but Italian camping websites are not to be trusted. Never mind as there are about 8 campsites in the area and as it’s flat and by the sea the access is good to all of them.
They were all closed. What is more Park4Night was down. My first choice was go back to La Spezia and wait for Easter when a lot of the campsites in Italy will open. Julie had an app on her phone that said Camping Semifonte was open. It was between Florence and Siena and only 49 miles away.
Stupidly I put motorways back in Doris’s settings and we set off. About half way there we did indeed join a motorway – what a nightmare.
Italian roads can be awful; badly laid and poorly maintained you definitely need soft suspension. Nelly’s suspension is very firm but a dent in the road at 20 or 25mph is not too bad. At 50mph they are a nightmare. The motorway we were on today was full of dents where the sub-structure had vanished and the tarmac has sunk a few inches, literally 100s of them and all in the slow lane which we have to use because of speed restrictions due to Nelly’s weight. I am never going on an Italian motorway again.
Thank fuck camping Semifonte was open, We are the only people here; absolute fuckin’ bliss. The old part of the nearby town, Barberino Val d’Elsa, and the views from the campsite are stunning. Tomorrow the lad on reception is going to clue us in on how to get the bus to Siena & Florence. I think we might be here for a while.
Day 18 – Monday 26th March 2018
A chilly morning in Tuscany. We had a walk around Barberino and took in some of the beautiful views of the surrounding villages which sit on the surrounding hills.
In the afternoon I went to get some more water but discovered they have a siesta here from 1pm till 4:30pm, what a life.
Back at camp I sat around in the sun reading my kindle as Cfor snook around under the van. A perfect lazy day. Tomorrow we are off to Florence.
Day 19 – Tuesday 27th March 2018
Florence – Firenze to the locals – is 30km away so rather than take Zippy we took the bus. The driver gave a master class in how to throw 7 tonnes of metal around these twisting Tuscan bends. He only ever slowed down for bus stops. Bends were taken at full speed with the occasional pap of the horn on tight ones. Obviously he knew the roads like the back of his hand but having struggled with Nelly a few days beforehand I was very impressed. Julie less so.
The traffic in Florence was unbelievable; far worse than Genoa and lots of road works too. Later our guide would explain that when they were digging up the centre of town’s main traffic junction by the train station and bus station they discovered some old Roman ruins and it’ll be a couple of years before the archaeological excavation are complete and the junction can be finished.
We were due to take a free walking tour around the old part of Florence but we conspired to miss it, we stood outside the wrong bloody church.
Exiting the Hard Rock Café Julie wanted to see some old bridge, the Ponte Vecchio, she’d read about. When we arrived there it was… an old bridge.
I like getting lost in cities it’s a great way to get to know them. Florence is a traffic filled mess of an Italian city. Filthy too. We walked around for an hour or before we came across the church we should have waited in front of for the morning tour. Fuck.
We took the afternoon tour and it was very good. The guide talked about the history of the city and how it was run by powerful bankers who built themselves vast palaces. How little things change.
By the time the tour ended I was frazzled by the sun and Julie was jiggered with all the walking. It was back to Nelly and feet up. I’d like to go back to Florence and go in some of the many sights we saw today but fuck me the queues were worse than Thorpe Park and the prices were stupid; €16 to go into the Pitti Palace to look at a few old statues and another €10 to see the garden there. I can think of much better ways to spend and hour and £25 and most of them involve Pizza, chips, ice cream and cold beer.
Day 20 – Wednesday 28th March 2018
A very lazy day, sat around in the sunshine reading my kindle; read the weather forecast for Reigate and smiled.
Day 21 – Thursday 29th March 2018
To Siena. The old part of Siena is much nicer than Florence as it’s pedestrianised. Also the tourist attraction being the city itself it is much cleaner.
We had a walk around the Piazza del Campo where they hold the infamous horserace. I noticed you could go up to the top of the big tower so I bought tickets. The first section was okay but the last two thirds were too claustrophobic for my liking. What a wimp.
Had a huge slice of Pizza for lunch then we pottered about the town for the afternoon. Julie found her cat key ring….
Siena really is a beautiful Italian town
Of course no day out in Italy is complete without and an ice cream….
and a photo of some penis pasta…