Week 3 – Lake Bolsena to Sperlonga 1


On leaving Lake Bolsena we headed to Rome to a campsite called Camping Flaminio just north of the centre. The information on this site looked impressive, and even off peak the standard rate was over 30€ a night. Fortunately they accept pre-pay Camping Cheques which are supposed to cost 14€ – though I paid £10 off someone from the Internet – so we got a bargain. The site is superb, very clean (we even saw someone clean a lamp post!) with facilities that I’ve not seen anything come close. Well worth staying. The first day was chore day, a few loads of washing, cleaning and other chores.

We met a Canadian couple (Dawn & Ryan) in their late 20’s who are touring Europe for 2 years and working whenever they run out of money. They’ve bought an old ’84 VW camper and have been living in it touring for over a year! They seem to be having a superb time and have had loads of adventures and encounters and going to places we’d not dare to do. All without the aid of satnav, GPS, POI’s, or even camping guides – just Lonely Planet guides! A lovely couple who we shared a few beers with before they headed back north to the UK to sell the van to pay for tickets back to Canada! Now we get emails from people saying we give them inspiration to get out and do it – but really, these guys know how to do it and wish we met them years ago!

The following day we started with a short 6 mile run along the Tiber then headed into the city on the tram using tickets given to us by Dawn & Ryan and met some friends from home who were having a city break. As it was their last day they knew the layout well and guided us to a load of sights. After a beer in the sun followed by some good local food (Pizza and Pasta obviously!) and a good catch up we went back on the train not knowing how to get the thing to stop at the request stop. Fortunately it stopped on its own!

For the next day we cycled into the city which was around a 7 mile ride to leave the bikes near the Vatican. Riding in Rome is “interesting” to say the least – even the cycle paths are a challenge! We made it, and spend the day touring more sights, and entering the Colosseum and other sites (Saint Peters Square; Pantheon; Tomb of unknown soldier; Trevi Fountain; etc). We’ll leave the details for the guide books! Needless to say after walking miles and cycling back we are knackered!

We decided Saturday would be a simple day of rest in Rome, and simply enjoy the sun, read, relax, and look at the map for the next stage of the adventure. The next morning, we did a 16 mile run along the Tiber right into the centre of Rome. Quite a run at a better pace than normal, and after a shower we went to visit Tivoli. Most of Tivoli appeared to be chaos and tatty, but as we were knackered we settled in their free aire and visited Villa d’Este with an old villa and superb gardens. Lots of steps in the gardens which we didn’t really need, but the gardens are full of loads of really old and majorly impressive fountains and water features. Well worth a visit. The quiet aire turned into a hugely busy car park in the morning so we escaped and went to Lake Albano to enjoy the views and rest some more. The town (Castel Gandolfo) provided motorhome parking (10€ per day) which was rather cheeky as cars were charged 5€ a day. So we instead found a free wild camping spot with a lovely view over the lake and relaxed to books and music. After a beautiful start to the day we drove up to the centre of Castel Gandolfo and used their free camper service to empty waste and top up tanks and enjoy the lovely old streets.

Setting a scenic route south to Naples we came to a 2.8m height restriction on a railway bridge. Our guestimates for the van are 2.8m high taking into account the TV aerial etc – so this was going to be close! Knowing I normally err on the side of caution I wasn’t worried enough not to try, but we did go under very slowly with me poking my head out of the roof vents. Lets just say we’ll not attempt anything below 2.8m!!!!

The scenic route was slow going due to lorries but in return we were given some lovely scenery. We decided to stop for lunch and we spotted a sign for the beach and turned off to what appeared a private drive. It wasn’t and opened out into a lovely car park with little trees next to the beach. A 2.1m height restriction (but not enforced) – and 3 other campervans tucked in. We decided to have lunch and explore this random place of Sperlonga which turned out to be a lovely small town which is being tarted up for the summer, and a stunning little beach. Deciding to stay here for the night we spent the afternoon with the kite on the beach with an ice-cream in town. A great end to week 3 of this tour – though I guess week 4 will start with an early morning beach run…

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