25 degrees and rising…. 4/5/15

FoceVerde1_20150430After four and a bit weeks of travelling inland through the beautiful rolling hills of Tuscany and Umbria we decided to head to the coast to a little town called Ladispoli – what a disappointment, don’t do it – it isn’t worth the trip. I am guessing it is a popular place for Rome weekenders, but it was run down and dirty and although black sand can look beautiful, in this case it just made the town look even more dilapidated and depressed. It was an odd place, when we arrived on Sunday lunchtime there were hundreds of motorhomes stacked into campsite after Aire, after campsite … but by about 8pm they had pretty much all disappeared leaving three of us on our site, none on the one next door and a handful on the one after…. what brought them here we cannot say as there was very little in the town itself, but we stayed the night (Aire Sosta ‘Lady Beach’ 10 euros) and continued on our way in the morning deciding to head back inland to a volcanic lake just south of Rome.

We arrived at Albano Laziale mid afternoon having had a surprisingly good journey round Rome and parked up near the sports stadium with a couple of other Italian Motorhomes and an enormous multi-coloured plastic recyclng machine – I appreciate that it is slightly odd to comment on a recycling machine, but I swear it must have been placed there by one of the candid TV programs that like to catch people out as it made some very strange noises at opportune moments. However, despite the recycling machine and the high volume of cars coming and going (it was also next to a school) it was actually pretty quiet, had all the necessary services (assuming a bus wasn’t parked over them when you needed them) and was free. Albano Laziale is a commuter town for Rome but also has its own sites of interest, with two volcanic lakes close by and a number of Archeological sites – not to mention a number of nice looking cake shops and interesting butchers.

We managed to have a walk round the town on Monday afternoon before the rain set in getting back to the motorhome without being soaked through, however once it started it didn’t stop raining heavily until Wednesday morning…. I guess it is the price we pay for having had such good weather over the last couple of weeks! Watching the rain pound down, we settled in for the evening, breaking out ‘Settlers’ (a strategy game in case you haven’t heard of it before) after dinner and took advantage of the slightly cooler, greyer weather to use the last of our Birds Eye Custard powder mixed in with a few prunes…. back to basics 🙂

On Tuesday afternoon having spent the morning in the motorhome, we made a run for it, trying to take advantage of what we thought was a gap between showers to walk to one of the volcanic lakes and Castel Gandolfo, thankfully we took our waterproofs with us as the skies soon opened up again – what we could see of Castel Gandolfo and the lake was beautiful, they were just buried in the clouds.

With the sun shining again we decided to continue the journey south, stopping at a place from the Fattore Amico book, ‘Valle Maggio’ on the edge of Anzio. Valle Maggio is a farm producing fruit, vegetables, buffalo mozzerella, honey and hard cheeses as well as having a restaurant at the weekends – we bought some of the fruit (including some fresh strawberries), veg and a really nice, slightly spicy hard cheese with peppers. The strawberries went down really well after the enormous hamburgers I made (they had to be big to fit in the huge rolls that we have been making recently as they rise more with the warm weather). We had forgotten how good a home made burger can be – it has been a while! The family who owned Valle Maggio were very friendly and welcoming despite us turning up whilst they were eating lunch, even offering us coffee before we left despite the restaurant being closed.

Our even slower than normal meandering over the last week has been due to the two national holidays that Italy has had (25th April and 1st May) as we didn’t want to get down to Pompeii and Sorrento when the world and his dog were there. So, wanting to get through this weekend before we hit Pompeii, we headed to the coast again to settle for four nights at an Aire in a small place called Foce Verde (Area Camper Altea Marea – 15 euros a night Inc. Elec.). We arrived on Thursday lunchtime and there were three other motorhomes on the site but by mid-night there were roughly 70 and there was a constant slow trickle that continued to arrive during the day on Friday – you can tell that we are still quite amazed by the Italian migration routine!

On Friday morning we woke to a buzz which was constant (except the tranquility between 11:30pm and 9am) until Sunday late afternoon, each motorhome must have had five (I exaggerate a little) children in it, the atmosphere on the Aire has been incredible with children of all ages running and cycling around without any restriction, not molesting anyone whilst the adults ate, drank, chatted and played the odd game of football or volleyball – I guess it is modern day camping with all the conveniences helped by the good weather. Like last week at 6:30 on Sunday afternoon all I could hear was birdsong ….. they had pretty much all left in the same style they arrived, just leaving us and a couple of French motorhomes who arrived yesterday to take in the last of the days’ sunshine – I am sure that the kids will be going home knackered and the parents rested.

In contrast to the Italians who didn’t move off of the campsite over the weekend, we had quite an energetic few days – on Friday we set off on the bikes into the Circeo National Park doing a 70km round trip to San Felice Circeo, Saturday we walked through a wetland within the national park and today we had a 44km round trip to Nettuno on the bikes again. The national park is pretty as you get a good combination of sea, wetland and mountains – but unfortunately the rest of the area is really not that attractive.

We have been in Italy for 6 weeks now and have experienced dramatic changes in the scenery ranging from some of the most beautiful countryside we have seen on this trip, to some of the ugliest and dirtiest. As we have headed further south and specifically got closer to Rome, we have noticed that there are an increasing number of derelict houses, abandoned factories and bags and bags of household rubbish scattered at the sides of the road – it is a real shame, we can only hope that it is localised to Rome and will get better when we get south of Naples.

As it is the beginning of the month I thought I would update the distances …..

Walking/Cycling:               4104.5km

Driving:                                 8100 miles

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