Ravenna, San Marino, Assisi
140 days away
326 miles / 525 km since last post
7,579 miles / 12,197 km total
After a few days in Italy of unsuccessfully withdrawing money from an ATM, we finally solved the mystery on Tuesday. It turns out that we can only withdraw half of our credit card limit as cash. Phew! At least that problem was easily solved - paid off credit card, and cash successfully withdrawn! Finally!
We packed up to leave our site in Venice at the checkout time of 1pm. Unfortunately, the reception closes for lunch (promptly!) 1-2pm, which meant we had an hour wait before we could leave, as they had retained our passport during our stay. We decided to use the time productively though. Stu climbed onto the roof to clear the masses of leaves which had accumulated over the past few days, and we made some lunch too. Once reception opened, we were off. It did seem a little daft to close reception at the checkout time though.
Unfortunately, just as we left our site and joined the road heading for the motorway, we also joined a massive traffic jam! After about half an hour of extremely slow moving traffic we realised that the slip-road to the motorway entrance was closed ahead due to some sort of incident, and we had to follow the continued slow moving traffic through the town of Mestre to the next motorway entrance point. Finally, we joined the motorway around an hour after leaving our campsite, and we could properly get going.
It was a fairly long drive to our next destination of Ravenna anyway, especially because of the traffic jam, but this also wasn't helped by the condition of some of the roads. Generally the motorways tend to be OK, but the some of the other main roads and smaller roads are in terrible condition. I realise that we feel it a lot more driving a motorhome, but the amount of pot-holes and bumps is unbelievable. I would never have thought the roads in Italy would be this bad - the roads were in better condition in Eastern Europe! So, the condition of the roads means driving slower than normal, which obviously means journeys often take longer.
It was dark by the time we arrived in Ravenna, and we found it quite difficult to locate our camper stop. After a couple of times of driving around the same roads we opted instead for a massive car park. There was ample space, it seemed pretty quiet, and Italy seems to be tolerant of camping anyway so it wouldn't be a problem.
On Wednesday we rode our bikes into the old town of Ravenna. It was a nice enough town, with a few early Christian monuments sights dotted around. We had a good cycle around, and then found a small restaurant on the main square to have some lunch. We were tempted to have some dessert too, but by that time the lone waiter was serving around 19 different tables by himself and we decided it wasn't worth the wait.
We decided to push on further to the micro-republic of San Marino, arriving late afternoon. We opted to treat ourselves to dinner at the local Pizzeria, located right inside the campsite. The food was superb, and I'll even go as far to say it was probably the best pizza I have had so far, and great value too.
On Thursday we decided to have a day relaxing. We had a few bits and pieces we needed to sort out with banks etc. so it was handy to get that all done using the internet. On Friday we decided to go into San Marino. The camp reception sold bus tickets, but it turned out the bus wasn't running for some reason. Fortunately they ran their own car service for just a couple of Euros more than the bus. It actually worked out really well as the driver was clearly training to be a race car driver!
The Republic of San Marino is quite a curiosity. It is the third smallest country in Europe, after Vatican City and Monaco, with a size of just over 61 km2 (24 sq mi) and a population of over 30,000. It lays claim to being the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world, with origins of a monastic community founded on in 301. After being dropped off at a car park near the bottom of the main part of the town, we made our slow walk up the steep pathways. San Marino has no natural level ground, so we were walking up and down the whole day. The town streets and buildings were nice enough, and it was great to walk up to the Three Towers of San Marino, located on the three peaks of Monte Titano. There were great views across the town and landscape below. However, we were a bit puzzled at first by the shops. There was the usual tourist tat that you get in many places, but also an unusual number of guns, knives and samurai swords! We figured that it must have something to do with the tax situation of San Marino, as there were also lots of shops containing jewellery, leather goods and watches. It got a bit boring after a while to be honest, and it didn't really take too long to visit each of the towers. We were pretty much done by around 3:30pm, but still had nearly two hours to kill before our arranged pickup. We managed to find a cafe selling some tasty looking cake (a lot harder to find than we expected) so settled in and spent the rest of the time planning our next destinations in Italy, before getting our pickup back to our site at 5:15pm.
On Saturday we left San Marino and headed to Assisi. We made a brief stop along the way for some food shopping - our first non-Lidl food shop in quite a while. It made a nice change to be honest, even if it was a bit more expensive. It was nice to have some variety.
We arrived at our camper stop in Assisi (as in, St. Francis of...) after dark and we were situated almost directly below The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi (St. Francis) - lit up beautifully in the night. The camper stop seemed OK, but was next to a busy road. We also encountered a motorhome next to us with a generator - a first for us. It was rather annoying that they kept it running until 11pm!
This morning we both had a big lay-in, after not sleeping incredibly well. Once we felt properly awake we took a walk up the steep road to the Basilica. A pretty awesome basilica it is too. We had a good walk around the basilica itself - which had an lovely interior but unfortunately didn't allow any photography. I'm sure it's so they can make a bit of extra cash selling pictures in the shop!
After that we took a walk a bit further uphill into the main part of the town, past the shops. It reminded us a little of San Marino with all the hills, although we found Assisi to be much prettier. The shops themselves were much nicer also, with no guns, swords and cheap tat, but delicious delicatessens, meat shops, art shops etc. There was even a local food market going on while we were there. A very pretty little town.
Once back in the motorhome we left our camper stop in Assisi and drove the fairly brief drive to Perugia. Again, we found ourselves a camperstop near the centre of town. Our book advised us that it was a free stop, but it turned out not to be. On the plus side though, they have electric, toilets and showers and free wifi, so not too bad.
We needed to fill up with water and drain our grey water when we first arrived, so headed straight over to the service area. We were quite disgusted to find that people had been emptying their toilets into the grey water area. Anyone who has ever had a motorhome, campervan or caravan and has used campsites of any description knows that you only ever put grey waste water down the drain - especially a drain with small grating. There is always a separate disposal area for chemical toilets, and there is no excuse here as the correct disposal is right next to the grey water disposal. In our whole trip - including previous trips in other parts of the world - I don't think we have ever encountered this before. Shocking really. (Stu note: aside from China, where I saw every toilet spectacle conceivable)
And on that bombshell...
The Detroit Experiment
Theme from Sprite
A Lot Of Love
Oh My Lord
Burning Down The House
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Things Behind The Sun
The Only Way