Motorhome holiday in Italy…

A motorhome holiday in Italy was Adam’s parents holiday they would most like to experience as part of their 60th wedding anniversary celebrations.  We have visited Italy many times in our VW camper van so relished the idea of returning and sharing some of our favourite places in Italy with them.

So off we went with a vague plan for a motorhome holiday in Italy.

After picking up the motorhome (from Hertz in Lyon) and filling it with all of our plates, bedding, provisions and our two man tent for us to sleep in we set off south for a day in Provence.

A wander into the nearest town to search for local wine and a morning coffee brought us to a beautiful tranquil squareA day in provence peacefuland made us linger a little longer than planned as the beautiful light, colours and stylish, Provence locals distracted and intrigued our group of people watchers. A day in provence styleWine rack stocked with Provence Rosé next stop Italy.

We drove via Piemonte and one of favourite places for motorhome stops in Italy, a basic campsite in an olive grove just outside of the lovely hill town of Olivetta San Michele (which has a fabulous food shop with home made savoury pastries!)motorhome holiday italy piemonte

Finally the motorhome holiday in Italy started fully.  Along the coast though and into Tuscany for a few days of amazing home-made pasta and of course some lovely Chianti wines.motorhome holiday in italy pasta

During our stay in Chianti, on a walk to the local town of Marcialla we found a fantastic delicatessen selling wines produced on the surrounding hills.  You could buy the wine to take home or, for the same price, chilled to enjoy on their terrace with a view.  We couldn’t resist!motorhome holiday italy chianti

On this motorhome holiday in Italy, as always, we had so many amazing food experiences, too many to mention here.  One in particular was in Umbria; a wonderful foodie find with the local food shop in Civatella del Lago.foodie motorhome holiday Italy

During our ten days in Italy we managed to get as far south as one of our favourite places, Paestum, and treated Adam’s parents to Mozzeralla direct from the buffala farm and a beer by the Greek ruinsten day motorhome holiday Italy Pastum

We were half way through holiday time and so time to head north and towards home.

Herculaneum was far too busy and hot for us to wander around this time unfortunately but it was fascinating to stay above and see the ancient and modern cities together.Motorhome holiday Italy Herculaneum

Stopping at Solfatara campsite just outside of Naples was a steamy and smelly as alwaysitaly motorhome holiday Solfatara

and a little more challenging getting in to and out of the campsite in our motorhome versus our VW campervanIMG_4606

One final stop in Italy, parking the motorhome down a tiny street in Courmayeur and finding a great local restaurant (one we hadn’t found on any of our ski trips in winter), a great find with amazing views.IMG_2157

Ten days was not really enough in Italy in the motorhome but we managed to share some of our favourite places and find a few new ones that we will be sure to revisit on our next motorhome holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camper vans and camper van people

We can no longer deny we love camper vans (well ours anyway) and so we our camper van people!  We have had a month attached to laptops back in the UK, focussed on what we know we needed to do but always with an eye on the weather in the Mediterranean.  The promise of an Indian Summer and its arrival was not enough to tie us to our bricks and mortar ‘home’.  We missed our ‘home’ on the road, we missed camper van life and we missed the heat of the sun, so we packed our laptops and flip flops and headed south again.

As usual we set off without a plan, booking our slot on the Channel tunnel as we threw a few shorts, t-shirts and jeans into our bags. We only knew that we couldn’t escape completely ‘off-grid’, we would need to have time, space and connectivity for laptops so wanted to keep it simple.  Still we sought a different route through the alps than we had travelled so many times before; we had stopped briefly in Piedmont a few trips ago and enjoyed the wine and food of this stunning and varied region and so, on the French autoroute, we planned to go over into Italy through Piedmont.

First stop a strangely nice campsite near Fontainemore, squeezed between the quiet road, which wound its way up through the Gressoney valley, and the river that tumbled noisily along the gorge over stark, smooth white boulders.

Gressoney valley beautiful moutnain river

The only other camper van people we saw during our stay were two melancholy, empty handed, fishermen who trudged up from the river, heads down, into the campsite at sunset.  Our spot for the night a little grassy oasis between two empty, permanently pitched, vans with an amazing view one way to the mountains beyond and the other down to the river.   We didn’t mind at all having this place to ourselves, our own little camper van peace of heaven.

An evening of wholesome food and relaxed chat, the otherworldly feeling of this peaceful valley I think had physically and emotionally disconnected us from distractions that may lurk in our laptops, topped off a long day of travelling beautifully.  When the Italian stews of local sausages arrived in their rustic pots, along with a huge portion of polenta baked with Fontina cheese, the conversation did halt for a while as we let our taste buds explore and were delighted once again by the enjoyment we can always find in simple but extremely well done local food.

The next evening’s stop was a complete contrast, equally as strange yet so different in many ways.  Trieste was unavoidable on our way to Slovenia and on to Croatia but not really top our list of places to stay (having both visited on business) however as we approached along the coast (seemingly devoid of campsites) we spotted several campers in a car park by a small marina.  Luckily there was a space so we squeezed our little van between the slab sided motorhomes and investigated.  For an unknown reason these 10 or so spaces, at the coastal edge of a car park, are designated for campers.  It’s a great spot just north of Trieste by a lovely harbour and a long promenade which stretched back up the coast to the Castello di Miramare.

Certainly not the usual secluded and peaceful ‘camp’ we search for but we had a great view, a place to walk and jog and most fascinating, the people we met during the evening… the row of campers as diverse as their owners.

Trieste camper stop

So the camper vans and the camper van people we met…

Two, very swish second-home type vans, who travelled together,  whose owners spent most of their retired time out of the uk exploring.  For several years exploring Spain and Portugal, they had decided to try Italy and Croatia.  We thought it very inspiring and amusing that one of the couples had the lady’s 97 year old mother with them.  ‘She’s in a wheel chair and has a colostomy so can’t go particularly fast or far from the van,’ John explained with a smile ‘we told her she could either come with us or go in a home!’ and so they travelled together, very happily it seemed, the three of them and their funny little dog.

There was another British camper van that had travelled through here before and used this as a base for Trieste city. He was very clued in on local parking etiquette and held us and others decipher the ambiguous signage.

A Luton van, converted into a custom camper van, belonged to a young guy who had set off at the beginning of the summer from Headington in Oxford (a very small world since we moved from there only a year ago). He had made this space by the harbour his ‘home’ in his camper van and was keenly learning Italian, probably driven by his beautiful, ever present, Italian girlfriend.

An Italian lady had discovered the parking spot on the internet she told us and was a little disappointed that she couldn’t find a space.  The car park was a local’s favourite too it seemed, as car after car filled the spaces around us spilling out sprightly couples in running gear, who jogged and stretched (in a stylish way that only Italians can) and then disappeared again.  The Italian lady’s van and a couple of German campers circled like vultures, grabbing the spaces as soon as they were vacated and then they too joined the motley club of camper vans.

The most intriguing camper people were those in the van next to us.  A battered old Italian camper van that looked almost rooted to its space.  The dusty windows were open but it remained dark behind the nets that wafted in the sea breeze and none of us ever saw a soul, though we all had our imaginations painting pictures of who our mysterious neighbours might be.

We shared stories and tips, finding something in common despite the diverse backgrounds and ages of the ‘camper people’. John came back to ask us more about Croatia and then beckoned his navigator / wife, ‘ I just drive’ he said ‘I have no idea and no say in where we actually go!’  Pauline swaggered across, it looked like she had enjoyed almost as much wine as we had, dragging their little white dog behind.  We pointed to a few places on the Croatia map, ‘Hang on, I need my glasses and my notebook’ she said and before I knew it I was standing in a car park in Trieste, between two big white camper vans, holding the lead of a little white lap dog!

In the morning we explored as far as the castle, Castella di Miramare, with a jog along the promenade and a quick dip in the sea before all the camper vans, almost in unison, set off and all went our separate ways.

Trieste Italy camping Barcola harbour