Week 5 – Croatia to Italy

For trip index look HERE, and for all pics look HERE

Week 5 started with another bike ride to the town of Krk – but this time planned some more roads!  Mostly quiet and some with cycle paths, and this worked out much better – and Mels battery just about got there and back despite some climbs. 

Krk is similar to Trogir and Zadar in its old layout and cobbled “streets” but soooo much quieter, calmer and enjoyable.  Very much worth a visit even if its nothing new – but just nice seeing pretty parts of Croatia without the mass of tourists. 

The route back provided epic views over Krk and trails through ancient farmland and olive groves.  Fortunately the rough terrain was down hill this time so much less work!   Our final day on Krk was a lazy beach day.

Very much recommend a visit to the island, just hope the new bridge and easy access doesn’t make it too popular in the future.

So goodbye to Croatia, a nice ending, and hello again for a one night stopover in Slovenia.  We found a vineyard in Slap who made Rouna wines, and they allowed overnight camping as well as running a wine and food tasting session. 

There were 3 staying over, us, French and German – and funny how the Slovenian guide just spoke English to everyone!  This is why its hard for us to get good at any other lingo.  After a bike ride to a castle (note to self:  castles are always on hills!) we enjoyed the wine tasting and food and bought some bottles – making it the most expensive night of the trip so far!

So then goodbye to Slovenia and into Italy.  Despite roads and driving standards plummeting, the population density increases as does the ease of motorhomes.  Pretty much everywhere has sufficient free motorhome parking and this makes bumbling around so much easier – Slovenia and Croatia do not allow overnight parking outside of campsites so you always have to have a target planned, and the places are generally not motorhome friendly so not overly easy to just think “we’ll stop here and have a nose”.  So its nice to be free again in Italy!

Our first stop was in Palmanova – an old Venetian 9-pointed star fortified town.  Well worth a visit and an excellent centre but not exciting enough to stay – not least because there was a large MTB race going ahead on the following day so parking was all removed.  We then moved to Portogruaro which again is worthy of wandering – just like so many Italian towns!  The old town at least was picturesque with its own wonky clock tower.  We had considered overnighting and getting the train into Venice, but some research showed that it was peak school holiday time and some sites we checked near Venice were full suggesting Venice was going to be heaving….  It was due to be 32’ again and with Mel still needing scooter it was a tough decision be decided to skip it.  Probably not viable to scoot around a hot and busy Venice with all its cobbles and narrow tourist filled streets

The van was vvv hot, and deciding not to stay we needed somewhere with a swimming pool and not full of holiday makers – and our database showed is a perfect motorhome campsite, really high quality and with a nice warm pool.  Not quite aire pricing mind – but very much needed to cool off.   Randomly around 9 miles north is Asolo which is described as “The Pearl of the province of Treviso” – so that’s another bike ride sorted.  We paid for “24 hours” so will be able to do the ride, come back for a cool off swim and shower, and move on to somewhere cheaper.

The ride was a little boring, there was a dedicated cycle route but that added on too much distance for Mels bike – but Asolo itself was a little gem.  The castle at the top was only €2 each to get in, but we didn’t bring any money….  We bought drinks with phone but castle wasn’t possible which saved us a further hike.  The place was full of cyclists and was very much a good visit.

After a further swim we moved on and randomly stopped in Suave – mostly as there was convenient campervan parking.  Surprisingly the town and castle was superb – very busy but really very picturesque.  It was quite big so embarrassingly we took a ride on the tourist train to see the place in full then settled into a bar for a drink, and a lovely eatery for dinner.  A superb stop and highly recommended. 

Italy has lots of Agritourism places, and our next night was at one outside Mantova on a farm house with lots of chickens and cockerels who, surprisingly didn’t squawk early.  We managed a bike ride into Mantova on the riverbanks, which was fortunately flat as we really pushed Mels battery to the limit.  So our tour of Mantova was short and sweet just in case, but again incredibly impressive place which huge old plazas and forts appearing from nowhere.  Not sure we saw it all – it was much bigger than we expected but lovely nevertheless.

The driving through Italy is challenging at best, the roads are the worst we’ve seen, and the driving standards debateable.  Many speed cameras and there must be many more unregistered cars who don’t care.  Not easy driving whilst trying to avoid the pot holes – but at a food stop I noticed one of our tyres a little flat.  We pumped it up a few days earlier when doing normal checks, but didn’t see anything wrong.  But this looked a bit wrong so pulled into a tyre place.  Being Italy they were at lunch from 12-2 but after that were incredibly helpful, jacked the van up correctly (unlike the French on the old van….) and managed to find and remove a huge bolt from the tyre!  Repaired, pressured correctly and nuts torqued correctly.  €15 and on our way. Could’ve been a lot worse!

Moving on, we popped into an old medieval town – Castelle Arguaro which was nice enough but not worth a detour, so we moved on to another Agtitoursim place in Sparano – who offered free campervan parking and optional wine tasting….

They offered 3 tasting packages and we opted for the bigger one at €20 each which included local food throughout and fair to say it was a brilliant deal.  It filled us up and was lovely, and the wine samples just kept coming.  Not tight samples, some bottles got left on the table if wanted!  Some we didn’t like, and some were superb.  Of course, you can buy the wine with the prices a reasonable €4.50 upwards – totally recommended!   Our order was barrowed to the van in the morning and made it the most expensive free nights stop to date!  But perfect night, the setup, scenery and quality was second to none.  Brill.  Fantastic end to week 5.

To week 6, 7 and 8

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