ITALY is a beautiful Country and the Italians are very friendly and go out of their way to help you. There are a lot of different areas some more known than others. All the campsites we visited were very good with excellent Showers and Toilets etc., I will start my route at the French/Italian Border on the south coast, work my way down the East to our furthest point South and up through the middle of the Country to Venice.
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This extremely old and fascinating town was just over the border into Italy and was completely unheard of to us. We loved it and wandering the old town was a joy. The area was covered with like, small holdings, growing mostly flowers so quite a few glass houses. Lot of the inhabitants were Dutch or of Dutch decent.
The site we stopped on was owned and run by a Dutch Family and is an ACSI Camping Card Site Campeggio Bella Vista No 1720 in the CC Book.we found it also in the Caravan Club Europe 2 Book. http://www.campeggiobellavista.it/ You could drive easily down to the Sea or drive into the hills behind, which we found very pretty.
Albenga Center and looking along the Wall.
This area we visited on our first trip to Europe in 2004 and was found by complete accident. The site we stopped at was at Deiva Marina named La Sfringe and it was the owner there who gave us this booklet on arrival, which was our first ACSI Camping Card Book with the card in it. http://www.campinglasfinge.com/
This was the first year the Camping Card was introduced and if I remember rightly there were only about 100 sites in it spread all over Europe. Different today with 1.891 sites in Europe and no doubt this will increase next year 2011.
If you drive down to the Railway Station and leave your car there do have a walk around the little village on the sea front then take the train along to the other beautiful villages of the Cinque Terre that hang off the cliffs and are only accessable by walking the footpath or by train. You can get on and off the train to visit all the villages and you will not regret this unforgetable trip the five village names are Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia and Riomaggiore an interest website to look at is www.lecinqueterre.org/eng
Coast at Deiva Marina.
Tuscany is one of the most beautiful parts of Italy and has some wonderful Towns and Cities to visit. On our first visit we stopped at Camping Residence Amiata in Castel del Piano, Listed in the Caravan Club Europe 2 Book. This was situated away from the coast at the foot of Mount Amiata in a lovely rural setting. For more information go to http://www.amiata.org/ and to our first trip to Europe in 2004. Listed below are some of the towns/villages to visit in this area of Tuscany. Incidently, you will find nearly all towns and villages in this area at the top of a hill, some are accessable by car others by lifts, escalators or many, many steps walking up hill. There are usually good adequate parking places for cars where ever you have to leave them.
With a population of just over 56,600 inhabitants the City is surrounded by Olive Groves and Vineyards of Chianti, set on 3 hills drawn together by winding alleys and steep steps. The Piazza del Campo is a famous landmark of the city, wonderful buildings housing lots of restaurants overlooking the shell shaped square where the famous horse races are held on July 2nd and August 16th each year. A visit to the Duomo (Cathedral) is a must which is just wonderful inside and out. In the right hand photo below note the shadow effect on one of the buildings. This is actually being renevated with scaffolding all over the front on which a painted screen of the actual building is hung from. Very effective and ingenius. We have seen many buildings with this all over Europe but never in the UK.
Piazza del Campo Siena. Duomo
On Site Part way up Mount Amiata.
This is a lovely small town with a population of about 2,300 people. Situated on the top of a hill you can drive up there and leave your car in a carpark just outside the town and walk in. It is quite easy to walk around the town's narrow streets and into the main square where the Duomo stands. Have a coffee look in the interesting gift shops and food shops then take a walk around the wall to view spectacular views of Tuscany and Mount Amiata. Friday is market day here and worth a visit. It was at the nearby monestry that they film part of the film, The English Patient.
View of town approach Pienza. Typical View of Street
Well you cannot go to Tuscany without visiting Pisa and the famous leaning tower, though the other buildings of the Duomo and the Baptistery, in the Campo dei Mircoli, are beautiful. Lining the roads around the Campo are rows of stalls selling memorabilia of the famous tower. Pisa itself is a University City with 60,000 students, the city has around 90,000 inhabitants.
A very wet day first visit to Pisa 2004.
Here is another very interesting City, with a polulation of 85,000 inhabitants, not on the top of a hill, but has a wonderful wall surrounding it. It was in 2004 that we visited the city and I cannot remember a whole lot about it. We parked the car outside the wall and did a long walk around the city and it was a busy, bustling place with some nice shops a lot of which sold very expensive clothes.
Central Square in Lucca.
Here is a really wonderful and interesting hill top, walled City to visit. 334 metres high above the Elsa Valley with its 14 surviving towers from the 72 tower-houses built by the patrician families as sybols of wealth in the 11th and 13 centuries. Some of them are up to 50 metres high.
We always drive right up to the top of the hill up to the main gateway to the City then if you turn to your left there is quite a large carpark from where you can walk back into the City. On the left just a few yard in the gateway is a nice cafe for coffee and cakes of the region and then you can walk up the narrow street viewing the many towers and shops and into the main Piazza where on a Thursday you can enjoy the many stalls of the weekly market.
I think this is a must City to visit with its just over 7,000 inhabitants and famous towers which can be seen from miles away.
Views in St.Gimignano
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The 8th Largest lake in Italy is very attractive and we stopped with the caravan right on the shore named:- Camping Porticciolo. ACSI Camping Card Site No. 1714. Listed in C.C. Europe 2. www.porticciolo.it The owners of this site were very friendly and helpful. They run a bus up to the town and railway station where you can catch a train for Rome, journey time 55 mins. The town has a well preserved medieval castle is situated in Lazio and is 30 km from Rome and has a good selection of shops. Population is roughly 15,500 inhabitants. From the site you can make a trip right around the lake and also visit the Sutri Amphtheatre.
Rome of course is a must City to visit we caught the train there and was met by a niece who lives there, who took us on a whirlwind tour of the city in one day so we did not see all unfortunately. We did go to the Forum and Coliseum plus to the Vatican City (population 920 inhabitants) to view St. Peters and the Vatican. I might add we do not spend much time in Cities we prefer to see the countryside of the countries visited, but always do a 1 day tour of the most famous.
Lake Bracciano Bracciano Center.
Camping Porticciolo. Forum Rome.
The Guards. Rome St. Peter's.
Pope's Apartment, Vatican.
This wonderful building stands on the top of a mountain above the small town of Cassino on the side of the Rome to Napoli Autoroute. You cannot help but want to visit it when you are driving past. We drove past twice in 2004 to and from Napoli but the next year made for a caravan site in Cassino recommended in Caravan Club Europe 2. Situated behind the railway station we had to take a sharp bend under the railway to get to the site which was a bit hairy. Luckily we had a smaller van then Coachman 520/4 Amara. Do not think we could have made it with the Elddis twin axle 8 metre van we have now. It was quite spooky when we arrived no one in the office on the gate a gardner, who did not speak English, signed us to park where we wanted. The grass was about 10" high and toilet block very, very basic. Two hours after setting up an oldish lady came along and asked for our passports, we were reluctant to give them to her, but had to. Off she went and 30 minutes later returned with the passports, a sigh of relief was made by us both. We were the only van there when we ventured out in the morning to visit the Abbey.
What a wonderful place. Built very early and destroyed by fire in 577, rebuilt and burnt down in 883, rebuilt and destroyed by earthquake rebuilt again and destroyed on Feb 15th 1944, during the 2nd World War, to a heap of rubbish in 3 hours many people died. It took over a decade to rebuild and was purely financed by the Italian Government. It is a very Holy place and silence is asked for while visiting. What a history for such a lovely, holy building. When we returned to the van in the evening after the visit to the Abbey and then to the Coast there was a large ring of 8 to 10 Italian Motorhomes. The occupants would come and stand to watch us and look at the van as if we had come from another planet. It was quite un-nerveing and we were glad to move on the next day.
View down on Cassino Town and. Polish Cemetary.
Views inside the Abbey Walls.
Further south, past Napoli towards Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast is a lovely fishing village Vico Equense. It is a winding road down from th main road to the port and the caravan site we have visited twice and really enjoyed. Sant Antonio is a 4 star site and is listed by Caravan Club Europe and takes the ACSI Camping card. Website:- http://www.santantonio.it/ The site is owned and run by a lovely family named Maresca and the caravan's are situated in a large garden of Orange, Lemon, Walnut and Olive Trees which give ample shade in the hot sun. The on site Restaurant is excellent serving dishes of the area. WiFi is available now but I do not know cost I am afraid.
This is an excellent spot to visit Napoli, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento, Positano on the Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri. The owner of the site will run you up to the station, by car, to catch the train to Sorrento where you connect with a free bus service to the port to catch the boat to Capri and I can recommend this trip and allow a day on this beautiful Island. Of course Pompeii is not to be missed or a trip by car down the Amalfi Coast stopping off at Positano and Amalfi buying fruit and veg from the stalls on the way. Plenty of places to visit but we did not venture into Napoli were worried about pickpockets etc.,
Vico Equense Harbour. Sant Antonio Site.
Versuvius from Site and at Pompeii
View of the Square Capri.
View of Amalfi. Fruit Stall along the Road.
For the 2nd part of the Country go to Italy Info Part 2.