Thursday, 5 April 2018

A few more days in Italy



We stayed in Verona for 3 nights, there is so much to enjoy in the city. On Sunday we headed off for Vicenza, another city we visited in 2014 when we drove overland to Greece. Vicenza is best known for it’s buildings designed by Andrea Palladio in the 16th century and when we visited last time we were impressed and spent an enjoyable day wandering around. This time though we were just looking at the same Palladian buildings we had seen before and failed to discover anything else to entertain us. We stopped in a large car park with dedicated motorhome parking and water and waste facilities and from memory it cost us less than €10 for 24 hrs (N45.542844 E11.559511),its a fifteen minute walk into town.


On Monday we set off for Ferrara for no other reason than it’s on the way to Ancona and the centre boasts a mix of Renaissance and Medieval architecture. The Este Castle, in the centre of town is particularly impressive. A large manor house with four massive bastions and surrounded by a moat, it was built in 1385 both to protect the town from external threats and to serve as a fortified residence for the Este family. We crossed the moat via a still working drawbridge into a courtyard but the queues to enter the castle snaked round and round (and admission wasn’t free) so we didn’t stop too long. But we walked for miles around the town and into the Cathedral of Saint George which was consecrated in 1135 and renovated many times over the centuries resulting in a mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. The  brick built city walls which were mostly built between 1492 and 1520 have been restored and now circle the town for a distance of 6 miles. We didn’t do the circuit. We nearly didn’t stop in Ferrara at all. Arriving at the motorhome parking area we discovered the most complicated means of access we have ever encountered! We needed internet access to log onto the site and fill in a load of forms (in Italian) to gain a password. Then back into the website to indicate how long we wanted to stay, pay by credit card and eventually obtain a QR code to present at the barrier. We did this parked up in a tiny access car park and when we finally were ready to access the site we couldn’t get to the barrier because of the vans parked up with the occupants scratching their heads and trying to work out how they could get in. Eventually after I asked them a few times they backed up and we were in. In addition to the €10 fee for overnight parking all other services had to paid for, waste disposal, fresh water and electricity. Water was 50c but once you had put the coin in the machine the water poured out with no tap, so if you were filling up using containers rather than a hose by the time you had collected 20 litres and poured it in the van the other 80 litres was on the floor. I got a bit of a system going with a German guy but even then we wasted more water than we obtained. Here are the coordinates if you fancy a challenge (N44.835590 E11.611110).


Tuesday we drove the 50 miles to Castel San Pietro Terme, a lovely little town which we’ve visited before and in which everybody is so friendly. The motorhome parking overlooks some well tended allotments, it’s free and there is fresh water and a waste dump (N44.39795 E11.59341). The butcher supplied us with some delicious meatballs and seasoned pork escalopes. The Co-Op supermarket provided everything else we needed and we decided to stop a couple of days. On the Monday night I realised that the 12gb data SIM card was exhausted! How could we have used that much data in four days? The lass in the Vodafone shop in Verona had told me that when it was nearly empty I would receive a notification with links to top it up but that hadn’t happened. On the Tuesday lunchtime I walked up into town, found some free WiFi and bought another €20 credit from the Vodafone website. I wondered how many Gb the €20 had purchased so wandered around for an hour or so until I found a Vodafone shop which was closed for lunch. We went back in the afternoon and whilst I was asking the question of a lady with limited English and using Google translate a young lad came in who had been studying in London and spoke perfect English. To cut a very long story short I had been mis-sold the incorrect card in Verona which I could not top up, despite Vodafone happily taking my €20 a few hours earlier. Between us we decided the best thing to do was start again but as I was using so much data I’d be better off with a 35Gb deal and anything left on it could be used, hopefully, when we return to Italy in June. “But what about the €20” I kept wailing. After several phone calls it was agreed that it would be credited against my new purchase.


But the mystery remained as to how I had used so much data and after a bit of research on our phones and pads we reckon it was the background app refresh function. Put it this way, when we turned it off we weren’t using anywhere near the same amount of data. Lesson learnt.


So after a couple of pleasant days in Caste San Pietro Terme we set off this morning for Cesenatico on the Adriatic coast about 25 miles north of Rimini. We are parked up in a motorhome car park with water and waste dump and it’s free (N44.198782 E12.391332). We’ve had a wander around and whilst it’s pretty enough we didn’t think there would be enough to keep us occupied for more than a day but I saw a barbers, popped in for a trim but he can’t fit me in till 1pm tomorrow. So we’ll have to explore some more tomorrow. I’ve had haircuts in France, Spain and Greece but never before in Italy. Wish me luck.


A few thoughts on Italian sostas. Whilst we always endeavour to find free places to stop overnight or for a day or so we don’t mind paying if that’s the only option and if the facilities are ok. But it doesn’t seem to matter whether you pay €20 or nowt the facilities always seem to leave a lot to be desired. I won’t go into the details of toilet cassette emptying, you may be eating your tea whilst reading this, but anyone who has a motorhome knows what is needed and we rarely find anywhere that’s maintained or serviced. The other thing we’ve noticed is the number of motorhomes parked which look like they haven’t moved for weeks or months or even years. Some of them held together with gaffer tape and expanding foam. Sometimes we see folk going in and out of them and some look completely abandoned. It’s strange because we don’t see this anywhere else in Europe. 

Finally you may wonder why I was obsessed with getting some WiFi urgently. Well, Arsenal play CSKA Moscow tonight and that’s a must see match. If we win tonight and I get a decent haircut tomorrow I’ll be happy.




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