Sperlonga, Sabaudia, Pisa & Barga

After the bustle & hustle of Naples, we were looking forward to staying in the "wild" again or as far off the beaten track as we could. We were quite sceptical though as to how far off the main roads we could get to as Italy had proven a little difficult in terms of "wild motorhome camping".

Luckily, after searching through the great "CamperContact" app, we headed to the pretty hilltop town of Sperlonga. Sperlonga mixed-parking site (to read its review scroll down to bullet 7 under Italy) was as described on the app; by the long sandy beach and port with clearly marked walkways leading up to Sperlonga. Apart from a few surfers enjoying the waves and a handful of locals enjoying a Sunday stroll; it was quiet and beautiful. A perfect spot to free our legs and stop for the night.

The wooden walkway to Sperlonga's beautiful sandy beach.

The picturesque hilltop town of Sperlonga.



Like most Italian villages, narrow streets and steps adorn the town.


Our stroll along the beach would have been perfect if it wasn’t for the many jellyfishes stranded on the sand... As most people I don’t particularly like them, but Jamie has quite a phobia as well as with most shell fishes; walking along became comical – from afar one would have probably assumed Jamie was drunk or doing his own version of a rain dance routine as he was jumping aside everytime we came anywhere near one of these slimey transparent tantaculians creatures. It was like a mine field. We quickly headed back towards the port and had nice coffees at Bar Del Nibbio on the main little square (Piazza della Republica) up in Sperlonga.

Quite an ugly creature, isn't it!



A nice stroll en route to Sabaudia and Circeo National Park.



Our next stop’s probably one of the off road/ motorhome wild camping spots I loved the most in Italy: Circeo National Park (read our review, bullet 8 under Italy). Right by the beach – we woke up every morning by the sound of the waves and sea views from our top cabin. We were so happily shocked by the fact that we could stay overnight in the National Park without a problem or having to pay. For the first time during our tour of Italy, there were no height barriers or signs forbidding motorhomes/caravans to camp. 

Izzy, the motorhome parked in our beautiful off roading motorhome spot in Circeo National Park.
A ten-minute walk away from the 1930s Art Deco town of Sabaudia, it was also a locals hang out – families, elderly and young were coming and going for just looking at the view, a nice stroll, a picnic or even kitesurfing and surfing. Bright blue sky and hot on Monday morning, we went for a dip in the sea – I couldn’t believe it, we were nearing December! The water was quite cold, but it was still lovely. We washed the salt off passing our shower head through the bathroom window – Jamie went first as he’s quicker than me. Unfortunately for me, by the time Jamie helped washing my hair, the water went cold! I screamed the F word a little whilst jumping – I was properly awake then.

11am on Monday 25 November, time for a swim!

And Jamie too!
A few locals had seen the whole scene smiling. We ended up chatting to one of them, Claudio. In his early 30s like us, we talked about our travels, but also Claudio’s work as an art curator in Sabaudia, his life in Italy and the economy and the political turmoil in the country. It was nice and really interesting to be able to have a full conversation with an Italian of the same age – to hear his views on what’s been happening in Italy politically and economically. Although the country’s government’s in a mess and youth unemployment’s rife, Claudio’s path sounded promising. After studying art and working in Turin, he’s now back home in Sabaudia running his own cultural /artists association with one of his friends, Cantieri D’Arte. They put on regular shows, talks and evenings in the area. Unfortunately, we had to give their last show a miss as we had to start heading back up North.

We finally got changed and drove into town for coffees, snack and provisions, it’d started getting  much cooler and cloudy by then. As we sat down in the local youth hang out, the small Bar Lo Spuntino facing the main square, the weather turned drastically – rain and then hail battered down the streets. Buildings, vehicules and streets were quickly covered in a thick white layer. Cafes’ tents/awnings had to be quickly put out or shaken for them not to collapse! It was crazy, locals in the cafe couldn’t believe it – one of them kept going out to take pictures with his Ipad. I just couldn’t stop thinking I was wearing winter clothes at 3pm when I’d been in the sea at 10am a stroll away from here! Crazy.


Some of the many art deco buildings in town.






Cloudy...

Crazy hail storm!

Looking a bit like snow...

And sunshine again!

After being spoilt in Circeo National Park, it was hard to get back to the normal parcheggio communale and sosta camper stops. After a couple of days driving, we stopped in Pisa for the afternoon – we couldn’t not miss it. We left Izzy, the motorhome, in Pisa’s sosta camper stop (it used to be next to the tour buses as listed on Motorhomefacts.com, but has now moved. It is sign posted, but we asked our way at the old sosta.). For five euros, it was a bit expensive for just a couple of hours parking, but a safe option. Jamie had read blogs and posts in forums about motorhomes parked on the streets of Pisa being broken into. The main plazza with the Tower was busy and going up was expensive. We happily mingled around embracing beautiful views of all the historical sites and took many pictures.



The old viaduc en route to the town centre.


Many old buildings on the way to the main square and the Tower.

The old university.



We had to do that picture, but it didn't really work for us.

The Baptistry of St John on Pisa's famous main square, The Field of Miracles.

Duomo Di Pisa (Pisa's cathedral).

Walking back along the river to the parking lot.

The evening didn’t continue as well as it took us ages to find our next sosta camper stop which had water and electricity. The GPS coordinates we had for the motorhome parking in Borgo a Mozzano weren’t right which we drove passed it several times before realising it was there at the end of town along the main road next to a small office/ porta cabin-type where the tourism office is and a petrol station/garage. Facing the main artery made it noisy, but we were tired and it was only for one night.

Half an hour later a big modern motorhome pulled up next to us – I must admit the first thing I thought was – are there enough electricity points for them to park next to us? How selfish, isn’t it?! Anyway, there was. George and his girlfriend, Kate had just been to Pisa and had had their window broken as people had tried to get in. It was the second time they’d got broken into since the start of their travels, three months ago when exploring Sarajevo. They told us campervans being broken into in Bosnia was the norm! They got everything stolen from passports to electronic goods they could put their hands onto. They’d parked their motorhome on one of the main streets. How awful! As they’d fitted some metal bars across their small windows, this time around nothing was taken as the robbers couldn’t actually get in. George and Kate were in their early 30s like us and from Australia on their start of their two-year travelling journey across Europe. They’d bought their motorhome (an A-Class Cityvan) in England, which was the one previously owned by Chris Dory and Meli George, authors of the motorhome bible: “Go Motorhomingand Campervanning”! We exchanged tips about WiFi connections, apps, books and good websites to follow.


They left us a lovely note in the morning to let us know they were going to Lucca so we may meet up there. But we headed to the small mountain town of Barga. It would have been lovely to spend a night together. But it was Jamie’s birthday soon (29 November); we were aching for somewhere to settle for a few days, where we could relax and cycle before heading to Bruges. We were meeting our couple of friends, Steve & Lisa and Daz & Lara on Thursday 6 December for a long weekend. Jamie would then go on to Kent to get the van MOT’d and stay with his sister, Jo and the family in London and spend Christmas in Tarifa, Spain with his other sister, Sallie and her family. During then I’d be in France with my family.

For the moment though, we parked in Barga’s great sosta camper stop for three nights. Free with all the facilities including shower and great views onto the towns and the mountains, it seemed the perfect place to spend Jamie’s birthday. We walked around the historical town and the new part and had a yummy birthday meal at the Trattoria Di Ricardo. A beautiful restaurant, it had been visited by Spike Lee in 2008 whilst filming in the area. The owner and waitress who served us was lovely and quickly accepted to put a candle on Jamie’s birthday chocolate fudge cake topped with vanilla ice cream! 

Beautiful views of the mountains from the sosta camper stop in Barga.

The "British Grotto".


Amazing starter at the Trattoria Di Ricardo.

We went on for a few drinks and ended up at Pub46 which had Wifi. It was owned by an Italian couple whose wife had lived in Scotland in her childhood. We got to know the lady a little as we came back the day after to have a few drinks and use the wifi. We needed to book Jamie’s ferry and my train ticket to Paris. After facebooking one of our Glaswegian friend, Manish who’d visited Barga, we learnt that the town had more ties with Scotland than any other cities in Italy. One of the little cafes we went for lunch, Bar Pizza A Taglio had every typical English product for sale – Cadbury’s chocolates, Marmite, Walkers biscuits, English tea, lemon curd, chutneys etc! It wasn’t Father Christmas’ grotto, but your own “British grotto in the heart of Northern Italy”!

Jamie looking happy after his birthday night!









On our last day, we enjoyed a great cycled ride all the way up to the hamlet of Bebio. Up there, the temperature was cooler and parts of the ground were covered in snow! We cycled back down a little to a forestry/refuge-type building to eat our packed lunch overlooking the mountains. It was such a great way to finish our break and tackle the road again. We knew this would probably be our last cycle ride together until we’d see each other again after our Christmas break on 8 January.


Eating our packed lunch.

Beautiful view on the way down.



Some of the pretty houses cycling down the main street back to Barga's town centre.




For now, let’s hit the (snow-covered, see pictures below) roads! Steve, Lisa, Daz and Lara, here we come!









Comments

  1. Haha I feel famous making it onto your blog! Seriously though, you helped us out a lot and comforted us after our breakin so thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Wow I did not know that was my google profile photo...

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    2. Hi George (& Kate too :)), Oh yes, you're slowly becoming famous... I'd definitely wear hats and sunglasses if you plan on visiting the UK (most of our readers are from there); hordes of fan will be waiting for you in Dover... :)

      Well we hadn't thought we'd done enough and even wondered if we'd made you feel worse. It's great to hear from you anyway. We're heading back to Tarifa tonight. We're in Assilah, Morocco as I type this and we'll be driving up to Tangers Med around 2pm to catch our ferry back to Algeciras. We'll be in Tarifa tonight at Jamie's sister's. We'll stay there for a short while and then head to Portugal.

      If you have the chance to do so, you should head to Morocco! It's beautiful. I will be blogging about our time there in the next week or so. Let us know about your travels when you have the time.

      Take care and stay safe,
      Sylvie & Jamie

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