Our drive from Ravenna to Florence on Thursday, unlike the previous day’s pretty boring schlepp down the totally flat and straight E55, Strada Romanae (Roman Road- and it was, in all senses!) was an awesome one – around a seemingly endless series of S-bends, on recently resurfaced road (turns out this is one of the mountain stages in The Giro D’Italia! Explains a lot!), up hill and down dale, with very little traffic to worry us….until we hit Firenze (Florence!). Yes, folks, we were back in the land of insane traffic, suicide jockeys on motorbikes, scooters and bicycles harassing poor Sebo, all made worse by the major roadworks in the City centre and an ever increasing temperature, both inside and out! After several failed attempts, we finally managed to find Lidl and top up our supplies before finally landing at our chosen free sleepy spot, the car park of a huge park, just a short hop from the River Arno and a 40 minute walk from the historic Old Town.
We managed a fairly peaceful night, despite the heat and humidity and the constant onslaught of battalions of mozzies and awoke on Friday morning all ready to immerse ourselves in what Florence had to offer. In reality, after walking Harley and opening as many roof vents as we could in an attempt to keep Sebo’s interior cool enough to leave said pooch inside whilst we mooched around The City, it was with an overriding sense of anxiety that we left , rather than excitement! With the temperature reaching 34C, we were both drenched by the time we’d walked in and worrying about how hot Harley was! So, with this dulled enthusiasm, we meandered around, admiring the architecture whilst trying to avoid the hordes of other tourists (there were lots!), decided NOT to join the mega queue for Uffizi tickets and, in any case, tickets for the only other two attractions we might have actually paid to see, The Duomo and it’s Bell Tower, were already sold out until Sunday! We found a nice wee bar/restaurant, ate a bite of lunch and then headed back to Sebo, resolving to return to Florence in the autumn when both the temperatures and visitor numbers should be greatly reduced.
On Saturday morning, Team Sebo headed for the Tuscan hills, hoping for cooler temperatures. It’s funny how things turn out – had we not made an earlier than planned departure from Florence, we would never have discovered Pratevecchio Stia. Not only was this one of the prettiest towns we’ve come across so far, but their forward-thinking council have been good enough to provide free motorhome parking spaces, with full services and FREE 16amp electricity just a two minute walk from the town centre! How good is THAT, heh? We were delighted! Needless to say, we made full use of the free electricity and immediately put everything on charge that needed it – laptop, toothbrushes, vacuum cleaner. We also made use of a perfect drying day and handwashed the contents of our laundry bag and hung them out to dry before mooching around the town and sampling the most delish ice cream we’ve had so far! No need for a campsite for the foreseeable future now!
On Sunday morning, we had yet another amazing (albeit short i.e 20km!) drive up more winding mountain roads to Campigna, and parked up alongside a dozen or more Italian motorhomes on the car park of the ski resort. Located within the Casentines Forest National Park, which straddles the Tuscany/Emilia Romagna border, this is a superb place for indulging in our favourite pastime – hill walking! No sooner had we parked-up and had our lunch, we were hitting the marked trails – of which there are many to chose from, all well marked and all giving we non-map owners (!) a clear indication of the time required to do them! Our first outing, on Sunday afternoon, took us up a ski slope, alongside a very long (and steep!) drag lift and up to a viewpoint which gave us the most awesome view across the San Benadetto Alps and then on to the summits of both Mont Falco and Mont Falterona.
Thankfully, though the day time temperatures up here are still on the high side, the night time ones are somewhat lower – last night, it fell to 12C before midnight and, since we took off the summer duvet last week and have been sleeping with just the duvet cover ever since, we ended up sleeping with our dressing gowns as blankets last night and still managed to wake up in the night shivering! Can’t win, can we??
We’re going to stay here until Tuesday and avail of more walking today before starting to head towards Bologna for my Dublin flight on Thursday.