We’ve now reached a point in our journey that’s both exciting and sad, with Florence will be the most southerly point of part 2 of our European tour. We’ve taken the decision that we’ll leave the Amalfi Coast and Rome for a holiday. Both places not striking us as motorhome friendly destinations due to the volume of traffic, and in Amalfi’s case, coastal roads that are better suited to Fiat 500’s. Its exciting as we can’t believe we got this far. Over 11,000 miles travelled since March, but it’s also sad because it means we’ve now turned and are on our way home, ish.
We weren’t aware before we arrived that the mountains overlooking Pisa had been ablaze for over 24 hours. It was only when we drove to our camper spot and saw two aeroplanes dropping water in the distance that we discovered (via Google) that 800 people had been evacuated from villages, and local flights had been cancelled. It was a strange sight seeing the planes swoop in and try and dampen the flames. Thankfully, there had been no reports of fatalities when we checked. Let’s hope they managed to put it out!
Other than the infamous tower, we hadn’t a clue what to expect from Pisa. We had picked up a map from our campsite office but had taken a bit of a wrong turn, which lead us around the edge of the City as opposed to through the centre where all of the shops and bars were located. Mind you, it did make the sudden appearance of the tower in the distance even more dramatic. Its just a crazy thing to see. It literally looks like it could topple over at any minute and as you’d expect, everywhere you turn people are lining up pictures (like the one above!) Its not too many years ago that engineers (lead by a British expert) excavated 70 tonnes of soil from below the North side of the tower in order to keep it standing for years to come. It’s hard to imagine that back in the 1990s the towers ‘lean’ was even more pronounced!
Once we had finished gawping at the tower we made our way through the main centre, and the old town which had a really nice feel to it. With Pisa having a respected University its quite a studenty place which means lots of cafes and coffee shops. Worth a visit if you’re passing, but we wouldn’t recommend you booking a fortnight there. After a few hours you’ve seen all you need to see, well, we had anyway.
The scorching humid nights appear to have now gone which is great as it means we can now sleep. It’s nearly cool enough for the duvet to come out of retirement. A moment I’m personally looking forward to for some strange reason.
Our next stop was a place called La Spezia, a large industrious port town 90 minutes north of Pisa. The ‘Sosta’ camping spot was cheap at €6 for 24hours but not particularly pretty. It looked more like a scrapyard to be honest. The positives of it being cheap, safe and looking like a quiet spot for a kip far outweighed it’s less than pretty appearance.
Packed lunches prepared, we set off on the 3 mile walk in to the centre to find the train station. Our destination, Cinque Terre, a Unesco heritage site consisting of 5 traditional villages set in to the cliffs overlooking the sea. We’d seen a couple of reviews suggesting we shouldnt visit and having now been, I can only think that the writer of said review was having a really bad day, the village we stopped at, Monterosso, was absolutely stunning!
Although each village is quite small, they’re perfectly formed. The beaches and the restaurants were nice and busy, but you could imagine the place becoming rather crowded in peak season. Its easy to see the appeal, turquoise sea that’s crystal clear, picture postcard views and an abundance of bars and restaurants. What’s not to like.
We had hoped to walk from Monterosso to the next village along. However, that plan was scuppered as 20 minutes in we came across a ticket office on the walking trail. I guess its only like the National Trust back home and it must cost a few quid to maintain the paths. We opted to turn back instead and happened upon a steep climb which delivered us a gorgeous view over one of the bays. We could definately see ourselves coming back here for a weeks R&R at some point. We’ll have to do some work to justify it first.
Other than a packed lunch, we weren’t particularly well prepared for such a gorgeous beach. With no costumes, or budgie smugglers with us, we could only watch on with envious eyes, and warm legs. Whilst out and about we did spot a few motorhomes so we might see if we can get down there in the next few days. Although, after our recent periless mountainous journeys in Gerty we may save a return to Monterosso for when Thomas Cook is driving!