On our previous Motorhome adventure in 2017 we did not get on with Italy, I don’t really know why, perhaps it was so early in the year or that in the south it seemed everyone wanted to rip you off. Or just maybe we had fallen in love with Spain and Italy was not in the running. Here we are, in 2020 a new normal and Italy is fantastic! So what has changed?
As you know we started the week with Mark helping him set up his new home in Lucca. Last time we bypassed Lucca due to time constraints, and perhaps that was the problem. For the past four years people that know, have said that if you missed Lucca you missed Italy. I get that now, a medieval town that still has its complete city walls from the 17th century that you are able to walk, run or cycle on today says a lot about a place, it has everything lovely shops, walks, streets, churches and restaurants. I think if we had spent some time here last time Italy would have been competing with our year in Spain. Though a tourist must see, it is a real lived in town with real people, as we walked around getting the little things a house needs to become a home for Mark it reveals its charm and fun side, people who cared and loved their home town wanted to show it off.
If you visit you must climb the two main towers the Torre Delle Ore the clock town and Guinigi with its trees growing in the sky with views to die for. I would recommend you do them in the order above as seeing a medieval tower with trees growing on top is odd to say the least. If you have not visited Lucca, you have not visited Italy.
We had to head back to Pisa to visit the leaning tower as Karen had not been before and when I visited back in the 90’s it was a work in progress to stop it falling over. Well it was magnificent and picture perfect, with the new normal there were not the number of people around so very accessible, and on top of that Pisa town is not as bad as some would have you believe, not to be missed would be my rating. On the other hand, Lonely Planet’s rating of the Pizza restaurant was way off, maybe a stared rating means you stop trying. But it was edible and we had things to do.
An issue we was the €63.50 fine for not having taken our toll ticket when we lefty Florence, we had to wait an Italian hour in the unforgiving heat at the toll office and explain my co-pilot issue. The very nice man at the counter took a look at Mark and understood the issue and the fine was lifted, only recommendation to have better co-pilot in future.
Mark’s penance was to have to go back to Ikea, and get him a TV stand for the apartment and a few other bits and pieces we had missed the first time, it is hard to believe he had lived his life having never been to a furniture shop, let alone Ikea. Anyway we finished the shopping squeezed the bits into a Fiat 500 he had rented. As there was no way ‘Buster’ could drive into Lucca drop the stuff back to the apartment!
With Mark’s apartment fit for habitation and he needing his space, and the temperature climbing it was time to say good bye to Mark and head inland to cool down at a ski resort about 2 hours away from Lucca, called Abetone / Val Di Luce at 1500 mt we had two glorious nights of cool sleep. I have not snow skied since 1978 and looking at the blue (easy) and Red (intermediate) slopes with no snow on them as we walked between the villages, I concluded that skiers are nuts. The easy slopes are 25% slope or less and intermediate up to 40%, I do not know if I could try it again. It was a hard walk with over 30,000 steps, and 101 floors for the days walk.
Cool it may have been but we had to move on, and we decided that despite the mad temperatures we had to visit the Cinque Terre and so we set off across the mountains, being only 50 km rather than going back the way we came a 150km journey, this was BIG mistake. Essentially it was a one track road filled with mad Italian drivers who would not take any pity on poor ‘Buster’ and after a number of heated moments we made it to the other side with not too many new marks to show for the adventure. But our day was not nearly over after we arrived at the Cinque Terre, all the sites were full and the streets crazy and it was near 40 degrees. We pulled over and looked at the map for another stop, we decided on Finale Ligure a town on the Italian Riviera and a campsite that though was expensive has all 5* ratings. This would take us through Genoa where the main motorway bridge collapsed in August 2018 and amazingly the replacement is due to open next month. But as we got close to Genoa the Google maps app told us we could save 38 minutes by diverting through the centre of Genoa. Though Google maps is great if we have any doubt as to size restrictions we use another app called Co-Pilot, but it has an ugly interface so in this case we arrived to a roundabout and a sign saying max weight 2.5 tonnes, well our 38 minute saving added another two hours to the journey, after 9.5 hours we finally arrived at the campsite and parked up. Price was now €8 extra for August but we were tired and hungry, and it was back to 40 degrees!
We decided to have dinner at the campsite me Frito Misto and Karen., spaghetti with clams, this being Italy fresh ingredients and taste sensation at a campsite, happy days.
It is still hot, but we have cycled along the coast each day averaging 30km each day, you have to love the little kick electric bikes give to your run.
It was intention to eat in to cut costs given the price of the site, but today I managed to leave the keys of the bikes on a wall outside a coffee shop, this added an extra 12km to my day so I treated us to a meal out at a restaurant I fancied in the town from our walk last night. Well it is a winner so if you are coming by you must visit Osteria Grotesque, great food, and service. Here in Pictures!
Now with the temperatures soaring all over Europe we will move inland to explore Piedmont. The adventure continues and we hope you can enjoy it with us.
Below is the Polar Steps view of the tour it has lost of photos of each stop, hope you enjoy.
Viva Italia loving it
Motorhome tips For the Week
When you see a restaurant you like the look of take a chance!
If the app says 39 minutes saved don’t believe it!