France/Italy Part 6: Venice- Pisa – San Remo – Monaco

Bluebell the motorhome is parking overlooking the one and only Mediterranean Sea. We had a fantastic 3 days covering about 500 miles! We hadn’t really intended on travelling so many miles at this stage in so little time, but there were a few reasons why, come Monday morning, we adjusted our route to swing by the French Riveria a few days earlier than planned. The main being the heat- we had a terrible nights sleep on Sunday after our day in Venice mainly because of the heat, but also because we’d managed to pick the sosta which was about 300metres from a bar, which at 11pm at night turned from quiet bar in the middle of nowhere, to rave bar which I’m not exaggerating here, attracted probably 100+ cars traipsing in and out until 4 am. Usually we would have left, but we were trapped in the parking area by a height barrier, which allowed the cars in and out, but not us! So we had to grin and bear it, and eventually drifted off as the sun came up, but woke feeling terrible!

We made the decision to fuel with coffee and croissants and hit the road to Pisa. It was a long old journey (4hrs on the motorway) but we were sure we were doing the right thing, as neither of us had been to Pisa. We found the sosta in Pisa easily, it was very well signposted for a change! Before heading into town to see the famous tower, we grabbed 40winks which helped. It took us a little while to actually locate the tower once we’d made it into the town itself, but once we did, words can’t describe how exciting it was! I think we were both wary as we had heard that it was a dump there (especially the outskirts) from various people- I can honestly say, we didn’t find it like that at all. The piazza where the tower and cathedral are are beautiful, and the rest of the town has its own charm, along with the usual touristy shops and fashion shops. The tower itself was worth every single mile we drove to get there. Seeing it for real, not on tv, or in a book, is just so cool. We’ve read every tour book going, we’ve even watched a documentary, but seeing it for real, and how it defies gravity is just mesmerising. We stood looking at it for at least an hour, then spent another hour trying to get the right angle to take the famous pic of us pushing it up. On the way Keith said to me “I’m not sure you should do that picture, it will be embarrassing”- as soon as we arrived all you could see were tons of people doing the same thing! Haha!

We had a good relax at the sosta that night but it was so hot and muggy. It was evident we were going to get a storm. And my gosh, did we get a storm! It lasted about 3 hours, from 1-4am and was great to watch, but we were hoping to have a good nights sleep, and this just never happened!

Next morning, we were due to stay in Lucca just down the road. The storm hadn’t cleared the air at all, and it was 35 degrees at 9:30am. We both we craving a different sort of heat, it was just so humid down there, so we made the decision to leave Lucca for this time, and drive all the way up to San Remo, on the Italian Med coast. It was another long drive, but as soon as we arrived at the sosta in San Remo, we knew we’d done the right thing. Although it was still 35 degrees, there was a nice sea breeze and we had the most amazing view of the sea and palm trees from our van. We enjoyed a cycle down to the main bit of San Remo, was was traditionally Italian and the coastline was so pretty. We had a great nights sleep, which was overdue, and woke feeling fresh as daisies! Today’s plan was to follow the coast round to Monaco, and then Nice.

We managed to find the motorhome parking ok in Monaco, but it was definitely down to luck rather than signs! The motorhome parking area is underground- Monaco is obviously way too posh to have big white boxes on wheels parked up!!! We had a fab time wandering round the harbour, celeb spotting and trying to figure out who owned which huge boat. We then head across to an aire just outside of Nice. It was ok, but didn’t grab us, so we filled with water and head on- our book indicated there was an aire at nearby Cannes, and failing that there was a France passion near too. Leaving that aire was the biggest mistake we have made all holiday. We promptly got stuck in a 2 hour traffic jam on the way to Cannes, then the aire was non existent, the town grotty, amd no parking whatsoever! No problem, lets try the France passion site- oops, another 45 min traffic jam, the France passion site was nowhere to be seen. By now, it was gone 6pm! We’d left Monaco at 2pm and travelled 25 miles!!! We decided to leave that area and carried on a bit further round the coast towards St Tropez, towards an aire that was in the book. Unfortunately luck was not on our side, well it was coming up to 7:30pm- the aire was crammed full, so we’ve ended up just down the road on the sea front with 5 other vans who tried the aire unsuccessfully! We did however manage a dip in the sea, we’ve got a private beach here, and the view is pretty good!!

Until next time

Lx

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France/Italy Part 5: Lake Garda – Verona – Venice

Bluebell the motorhome is parked along with several other European vans on the outskirts of the one and only Venice! Today we crossed over the 1500 miles milestone, and we are thrilled we’ve made it this far! Amazingly, we’ve only used 4 tanks of fuel- so were averaging around just under 400 miles per tank- we’re happy with that!

Yesterday we spent a day mooching in charming Verona, which we thoroughly enjoyed, and we got another freebie on our overnight parking as when we pulled into where the sat nav told us the official sosta was, we saw 10+ vans in a huge car park next door. We pulled in and asked a French motorhoming family a) was it possible to stay here overnight and b) how much? We were pleased when they said it was ok and free, and celebrated by having a pizza lunch in the main square. Verona is a lovely place to spend the day, we enjoyed taking in the sights, including the amphitheatre and of course the famous balcony from Romeo and Juliet (however my guide book told us that this is infact not true, it was erected by Verona council in the 1920s to boost tourism!) it was still a great sight to see, and we thoroughly enjoyed it there, despite the 40 degrees heat!!

We had a chill (or rather bake) in the evening and slept well, despite the temperature in the van remaining stable at 30 degrees all night!

We set off this morning for our sosta on the outskirts of Venice! We both were very excited, I’ve been before but Keith hasn’t! We arrived at 1030 am and set off to find our water bus to the centre. It was great exploring Venice and showing Keith all the sights, but my god, its hot!!! Jazz dealt amazingly with the heat, but what he really enjoys is laying under the tables in European cities, watching the world go by! So, to treat him, and us, we treat ourselves to lunch at a trattoria near to Rialto Bridge, and we had the most amazing calzone pizza! We’ve both been impressed with the prices over here eating out. Today obviously has been more expensive as we’ve been in Venice, but yesterday we had pizza for 6 euros each in Verona overlooking the main square and arena!

It’s boiling again tonight, but it doesn’t matter, bluebell so far is doing great and we are finding plenty of free water so we can shower to our hearts content!

Tomorrow we are heading towards Pisa!! We may miss San Marino this time, as its a 160 mile detour, and we are thinking of swinging back to France for the last week to enjoy some cheaper fuel, but also have a look round the French Riviera! The joys of motorhoming mean we can change route right at the last minute! For now though, I’m looking forward to getting to Pisa, and having a couple of days in Tuscany! 🙂

Until next time

Lx

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