Green Green Grass of home…… 20/6/15

So, with a slight change of plan I flew back to the UK last Saturday leaving Keith to enjoy Lake Garda (although he didn’t actually get a chance to see it) for a night before driving the motorhome home through Italy, France, Luxemburg and Belgium before briefly popping back into France to reach Dunkirk.

As some of you will know my father was treated for Lung Cancer last year and despite an amazing recovery and the ‘all clear’ from the consultant two weeks ago, he was admitted back into hospital last Friday night. Several scans later we have been told that he has four lesions on the brain that are cancerous, thankfully it sounds like the lesions are small and they believe that they can treat them with radiotherapy but we are waiting for confirmation of the next steps.

So, I am afraid that the blog is going to have a little down time over the next few weeks whilst Keith and I play chauffeur (My mum has just had a hip operation and can’t drive either), dog walker and general ‘daughter’ and ‘Son-in-law’….

24 scoops and counting….. 13/6/15

Perugia2_20150607We arrived at the Aire in Perugia just as the market alongside it was finishing so it looked a little like a war had just taken place but thankfully, it soon quietened down and got cleared up! The Aire ‘Il Bove’ (18 euros/24 hours inc elec.) was clean and tidy with all the facilities (including a shower and toilets) but it was next to a fairly busy main road – quite a change from the last few nights of tranquility. As Richard (Gonzo) wasn’t arriving until Sunday we took the chance to catch up with the laundry and shopping ahead of heading in to meeting him on Sunday lunch time and spent the next few days exploring the city both from a historic and gastronomic perspective 🙂

Perugia9_20150607Perugia is known for its chocolate, but as it was far too warm to eat chocolate in its standard form we opted for the ‘gelato’ …. mixing a bit of Chocolate (white, milk and even dark on occasions) with pistachio and on the last day Keith even found a Liquorice flavour….. they were all delicious. We have managed to turn someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth into a fully fledged Ice-cream eater, on the last day Keith and Richard managed to polish off 24 spatula’s worth between them…. must be some kind of record – oh and I should probably add that the majority of those were after they ate 1.5kg of florentine steak between them 🙂

Moving on from Perugia – well we didn’t want to eat them out of house and home – we made a quick pit stop at a motorhome place as the taps in the bathroom stopped working before working our way through the mountains to San Marino.

‘E7 Caravans’ was roughly 10km south of Perugia and despite it being close to lunch, they pulled the necessary pieces apart, realised that it wasn’t what we originally thought (which was lucky as the parts they had didn’t fit anyway), did a bit of soldering and we were on the road again within the hour…… amazingly helpful, dropping everything to fit us in.

Fully fixed we hit the road and the journey across the mountains to San Marino was stunning, at some points looking down onto lakes, others at stunning rock formations or forest rolling away down into the valley, although a long windy road, well worth the trip.

We arrived at P13 – yes that was its name – where we parked up a couple of hundred meters below San Marino town itself and settled in for the evening looking out over the valley and mountains beyond.

San Marino5_20150611We woke to bird song and beautiful (although a little hazy) views, and after breakfast headed up to have a look round the town of San Marino. San Marino is an interesting place, not part of the EU, but allowed to use the Euro as its currency, it is the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitution republic in the world, has a population of approximately 32,000 and although you wouldn’t think it whilst there, is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP. The capital (also called San Marino) sits at 760m and the historic center, which is beautiful contains a castle and three three separate towers

San Marino9_20150611in addition to perfume shops, jewellery and arms shops ….. yep, machine guns, pistols, knives, swords, tasers – you name it, they have them – obviously this is where you come should you want to buy any kind of weapon you want as the licensing laws are non existent, and as there are no borders to get back into the rest of the EU …. what more can I say???  It was a lovely place anyway and well worth the visit.

After another very peaceful night we travelled all of 16km back down to the coast to Rimini (Area Settebello 10 euros / 24hrs) where we walked along the coast and around the old town in the hot and humid 30 degrees it had to offer us.  Rimini has miles and miles of beach, where every 30m or so a different cafe/bar/restaurant/lido promotes its private beach,  the only difference appearing to be the colour of the sun loungers and parasols – not our cup of tea, but the town itself was attractive ….. ok and yes, it had a good gelato shop 🙂

Back in the beautiful rolling hills of Italy… 5/6/15

Despite being very large and slightly over populated, the campsite was really well run, had great facilities and was incredibly peaceful considering the quantity of kids running around, so we ended up staying four nights. The airshow wasn’t such a great event unfortunately, in fact we ended up seeing more on the Saturday afternoon in the ‘warm-up’ than on the Sunday as shortly after the display started, two planes collided killing one of the pilots. Thankfully they collided over the sea so there weren’t any more casualties, but from what I found on the internet Italian airshows are definitely to be avoided as they don’t appear to have a great record for safety.

As we had decided not to move whilst Italy was enjoying its ‘bank-holiday’, we took advantage of the downtime to get some nice coastal walking and cycling in, and as the beaches and the sea were so welcoming, we even went for a dip J – This is definitely the nicest coastal location we have visited in Italy if you want beaches and tranquility, everything was clean, neat and tidy and all the accommodation looked smarter than we have seen to date … obviously a place for the slightly wealthier Italians to come on holiday.

AscoliPiceno1_20150603On Tuesday morning we set off into the mountains again, a slightly longer route than originally planned, but our SatNav definitely has a mind of its own sometimes ….. dirt tracks really????

We stopped for lunch in a town called ‘Ascoli Piceno’ which has a very pretty old town with many of the buildings constructed in the same stone and valleys acting as its defence on either side, before heading on to a small town called ‘Sarnano’ where we parked up in the large car park/Aire at the bottom of the lift to the old town.

Sarnano has a small but beautiful walled old town all built in a red brick and unsurprisingly when you look at the views it doubles as a Ski Resort in the winter

Sarnano2_20150603Awaking to a market not too far from our doorstep, we thankfully managed to get a quick Tabata routine in before our section of the car park also filled up with cars, obviously taking advantage of buying some additional fruit and veg from the market before heading off.

Pievebovigliana3_20150605With a little bit more wiggling through the beautiful rolling hills of Marche we got to Pievebovigliana, another free Aire just outside the village in the middle of walking and mountain biking country, where the welcome signs states that it is the ‘home of honey’…… we have searched high and low, and although we have found hives we can’t find any honey ….. we have one disappointed bear on board 😦

It has to be said that some of the best Aires in Italy have been free, although we can still count them on one hand. We are the only people here, but it has everything, including electricity (you do need to pay for it though) you need and apart from the birds (and the odd outburst from a donkey), its pretty quiet!

We are only able to stay a couple of nights unfortunately as we need to get to Perugia tomorrow, but got two good walks in yesterday and today and I had a lovely tranquil run this morning…. Definitely a place to come back to.