It seems a lifetime ago since we left Italy in early August, as the 38 degree heat defeated us and we headed to the cooler climes of Switzerland to meet with Karen’s brother for his 70th. Since then we have happily explored France, including the wonderful Puy, Aigue-Mortes and St Tropez. But we’ve also damaged the water tank on ‘Buster’ and Elddis have arranged for a replacement to be shipped down for us to Caravanbacci, an Erwin Hymer approved dealer near Lucca, where we can also stay with a friend while it is fitted.
A month later and the weather certainly has changed. It has rained every day for the past week and, for the first time since March, long trousers are required! We still had places to see and so took the plunge, hoping 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 R-numbers being much lower than France. Finding campsites is more difficult than we’d expected and more expensive that we would like, but, needs must, and we left Finale Ligure, having stayed on the Aire there. €20 is a lot for an Aire. However, to see what we wanted to see and to be in the top spot on the Italian Riviera, the budget must be stretched.
The area around Portofino is legendary – the in place where Hollywood stars came to play in the 50s and 60s, when the phrase ‘Jet Set’ really 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.
Rapallo visited by W B Yeats no less
We treated ourselves to a meal out - in for a penny, in for a pound – and even with the budget-busting Riviera prices, it was worth every penny. By now we wer thinking that Portofino could not be bettered.
The next day, we set off on the train to a town called Camogli – a place hardly mentioned in the guide 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 were extremely impressed. This double-decker commuter train had plugs for phones and laptops on every seat, spotlessly clean and very efficient!
The rain continued to fall but as we hopped off the train we found the market in full flow and we were 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 now we have it. We will have to be careful not to get too much more as I don’t think ‘Buster’ can handle any more impulse buys or shopping sprees (read: Karen and shoes!!)
Yet another fish themed item!
As for the town, it is lovely and was a good recommendation. Amazingly the weather gods smiled, and the rain stopped until we returned to the campsite. If you are ever in the area, do make sure you visit Camogli!
Upon returning 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 motorhome home - it can be so like a safety blanket sometimes.
The next day we set off to the Cinque Terre, using the Auto Strada as, although 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 an unbearable 38 degrees back then. It was still quite busy with German and Dutch visitors. Despite the cold, wet weather we were on a mission to see the legendry Cinque Terre. The town itself is not part of the Cinque Terre, but close to it. Not a lovely town but the surf was up and the Germans loved it.
The next day we took the train to Corniglia, the middle of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre. It was not raining, but boy was it windy and sea was angry giving a very 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. 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!
We arrived at the last of the Cinq Terre villages, Monterosso, as it was battered by the sea. We were told that the wind and waves are very rare and we were lucky to see it.
On this trip Italy has kept on giving. It’s a 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 take ‘Buster’ to Caravanbacci for his new water tank. Karen has cooked a curry. 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’s not long before we’re reunited with Buster, as Mark’s list continues to grow!... We will head back to see the other villages of the Cinque Terre this week and visit more places around Lucca. There are worse places to be - Lucca is the loveliest place in Italy and you could spend a lot of time here and be happy!