It seems a lifetime ago but we left Italy in early August as the 38 degree heat defeated us, and we were scheduled to meet with Karen’s brother for his 70th so we headed for France but had skipped a few places on our bucket list. We have damaged the water tank on ‘Buster’ and Elddis have arranged for a replacement to be shipped down for us to a dealer near Lucca where we can stay with a friend while it is fitted.
A month later and the weather certainly has changed, it has rained everyday for the past week and for the first time since March, long trousers are required. We still had places to see and had to take the plunge and hope the weather gods might smile in our general direction. The Italians seem to be doing ok during Covid, with lots of German and Dutch visiting and their numbers being much lower than France. Finding campsites is more difficult than wed expected and more expensive that we would like, needs must, and we left Finale Ligure, having stayed on the Aire there €20 is a lot for an Aire. But as what we wanted to see were in the top spots on the Italian Riviera the budget must be stretched.
The area around Portofino is legendary with Hollywood stars visiting in the 50’s and 60’s when the phrase ‘Jet Set’ meant something. We found a campsite (Miraflores) near Rapallo and it became our base for a few days. The family that owned the site were beyond helpful letting us know where we should go and how to get there. The weather still seemed to be against us as we set off to look at Portofino, but amazingly as we set off on the boat to take us to see what genuinely can be called a gem there was a glow in the sky.
I will let the pictures tell the story plus we again treated ourselves to a meal out, after all if the budget is being blown it is blown, and it was worth every penny. But now we were thinking we would not be able to come close to the nearly perfect setting that Portofino offered.
The next day, we set off on the train to a town called Camogli hardly mentioned in the books. Our hosts at the campsite had told us this was their favourite town and had the most atmosphere. We took our first Italian train and we extremely impressed, this commuter train had plugs for phones and laptops on every seat, spotlessly clean and very efficient.
The rain continued to fall and as we hopped off the train we found the market in full flow and we able to find the fish themed throw for the bed in ‘Buster’ we have been looking for something slightly warmer as the autumn chill starts to be felt here. I don’t know where this fish theme has come from but it’s there and we will have to be careful not to get too much more as I don’t think ‘Buster’ can take too much more stuff.
As for the town, it is lovely, and again I will let the pictures tell the story. Amazingly the weather gods smiled, and the rain stopped until we returned to the campsite. But if you are in the area do make sure you visit.
Upon retuning back home the rain started again, and we needed something to warm us up. Our beloved Elddis Encore 250 has a fantastic kitchen, and Karen produced a wonderful Cottage Pie the top baked to a slight crisp in the oven. Winter food heaven, we love our home it can be so like a safety blanket sometimes.
The next day we set off to the Cinque Terre, we were using the Auto Strada as though we had to pay tolls the time saved was worth it. Plus, the mountains here make the roads so impressive there are tunnels followed by viaducts and tunnels again. My views on Italian roads have changed the terrain here is so tough it is amazing that there are any roads let alone motorways. On our way down we crossed the new Genoa bridge that replaced the one that collapsed in August 2018, a hugely impressive replacement taking only one year to build.
Out next stop was a town called Levanto we had tried to stop here earlier in August, but all the campsites were full, and it was 38 degrees. It was still quite busy with German and Dutch visitors, but the weather was cold and wet, and we were here to see the legendry Cinque Terre. The town itself is not part of the Cinque Terre but close to it, we took a walk down it was, disappointing but to the German surfers it was heaven.
The next day it was on the train to Corniglia, the middle of the 5 Villages that make up the Cinque Terre, again the weather gods were kind in that it was not raining, but boy was it windy and sea was angry giving a different perspective of this coastline. As we wandered around the village, we could see just how tough it would have been to live here in the past. No roads or trains, now trains bring in most things the roads are only for small vehicles. The views are extraordinary and seemed to get better as we set off on a walk to the last village of the five. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of this walk, a narrow track climbing up the cliff faces and then descending again. Revealing amazing views that seemed to just get better and better as we moved on. Normally you must pay a fee to walk the path, but for some reason on the day we did it, it was free! But pictures paint a thousand words so here are a few thousand for you.
After what my phone said was 12.3 KM and 144 floors we arrived in to Monterosso tired and exhilarated, on this trip Italy has kept on giving and beautiful country with great people with a sense of humour and fantastic food, some of which Karen has cooked!
As I write this, I am in Marks home in Lucca before we bring ‘Buster’ for his new water tank, Karen has cooked a curry and explained to Mark you can make this from dry ingredients. We don’t know how long we will be here, but Mark has a list of things he needs sorted. But the TV is done and his phone and watch now work. I do hope it will not take too long, we will head back to see the other villages of the Cinque Terre this week and visit more places around Lucca. At the end of the day it has to be said Lucca is the loveliest place in Italy and you could spend a lot of time here and be happy!