Italy Road Trip
Travel dates: 28. 8. to 11. 9. 2015
28. 8. It was dark outside, when we drove from Prague and finished up at the Šumava (via Vidlákova Lhota). There we found an alley, which turned into a rural road leading into the fields. We prepared our beds. Unfortunately, when we were in darkness and settled we found a few meters away from us is techno (big techno) party. In other words, we didn´t sleep much.
29. 8. After the dawn, we packed encampment and rode away. Techno was still in full swing. We drove through Vimperk in Šumava to the borders. Forests there are magical. We drove all day. We passed a piece of Germany (we drove through the center of Passau), the greater part of Austria (around Innsbruck) and especially the middle of the Austrian Alps. They have made the roads that lead right through the mountains. Countryside around us was beautiful, but there were a lot of traffic. All the rivers that we passed until the arrival of the Lago di Garda were clean, with clear sky-blue water. Some rivers were slightly whitish in color (they have an admixture of local alpine rock). On the way we stopped two times, we ate and swam in rivers. On the second stop, we soaked our clothes in the water. After we putted oud it beautifully smelled. We did not believe that the river could be so clean somewhere. In the afternoon, we reached the Italian borders. All the way we avoided the toll roads and motorways. We drove through villages in the mountains where were steep cliffs several meters deep, with paths where only one car can pass without restraint. It was a spectacular view. In one village they had a beautiful waterfall that flowed through. It was reinforced with wood pieces and barreling straight from the mountains right down into the valley. In some areas we drove along highway. On our way weren´t a traffic jams.
In the evening, but still under the day light, we reached Lake Garda (Lago di Garda in italian). We have to find a place to sleep tonight as soon as possible. It was very hard here. That place lies in the mountains, there is only a small village directly along the main road near the lake, where are exclusively departments and hotels. It seemed impossible to find a place to stay. For a long time we drove around to find at least a place to leave our car. The way always led to some resort or olive groves. After 30 kilometers of searching we found a place where we left the car and went to see around. Not far from the car, across the street, we found a place to sleep overlooking the lake. We had there a perfect privacy. We unpacked our sleeping bags and went to sleep. At night the local squirrels were running around, whistled and played around in the trees.
30. 8. In the morning we packed up and washed with water. Then we went to the beach by the lake. The sun was just rising and no one was there. We brewed there a tea in saucepan and ate steak with bread, our meal from Bohemia. We could not stop looking at this lake surrounded by high mountain peaks. The water was so pure that was seen about 2 m on bottom. We thought that the water is cold, but it was quite warm. We spent all morning on the lake shore and bathed. In the afternoon we drove away to the sea. We drove through Verona. We left our car for free on site in the suburbs, went to put into McDonald´s ice cream and went to town.
Verona is breathtaking. I couldn´t imagine it might be so beautiful. It’s very old city. We visited the castle, which was also a church and a bridge in one. We saw the historic city center – there are lots of churches and houses of wealthy burghers, fountains, ancient Roman amphitheater, plazas and also a famous place where in the 13th century was born and lived Juliet Capulet. She was the model for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Information on the wall told us that such a girl with a similar fate really lived there. We took pictures of everything. The great thing about this town was the fact that most monuments were accessible without entering fee, at almost every street were fountains with drinking water and the rivers were equally clear with whitish-colored water like rivers in the Alps. In the evening we went out from Verona and drove towards Venice. Again, we could not find a suitable place to stay. We stopped at a rest stop on a highway, but there was a very big ruckus. On one side was the highway and on the other side rode trains every 10 minutes. Moreover, it was in the middle of the abandoned houses that were overgrown with ivy. It looked pretty weird. Also there smelled a carcass. We cooked a dinner on the landing and cleaned the teeth and wash up. Then we saw some homeless man climbing into one of the barracks and so we went away from there. We drove for a long time and then we just put the car to the side of the road and slept in the car.
1. 9. In the morning we washed, ate a breakfast and went to Venice. Mainland of Venice is absolutely awfull – the sea there is full of tankers, silos and factories. You must pass a 6 kms long bridge, then there begin the real Venice. When we crossed this long bridge, we found that there are three car parks, where visitors have to leave their car and parking costs nearly 30 euros. So we turned around and drove back across the bridge, leaving the car in the car park of nasty mainland part where it costs only 4 euros for the whole day and it was still behind the fence and we went on the bus that took us over the long bridge. Since there was everything written only in italian language, which we did not understand. Therefore we did not know how to get a ticket, we took this ride illegally. But we didn´t meet any tickets controlor.
Venice was also unique. The main street were clean, there were lots of beautiful buildings. We visited the church where lies the body of St. Lucia that was exposed to visitors. In another church they had exposed a few hairs of John Paul II. Or a piece of bone of Faustina Kowalska. Almost every church there had some relics. Also, we had a lunch at a local restaurant in the city. We both had authentic Italian pizza. It was delicious, but we have eaten better pizza in the Czech Republic.
We had no map, we walked as we want. Sometimes we get tangled. But it wasn´t so tragical. We visited some extraordinary places. There are also fountains with water at every step. We were surprised how clean the water in the canals is. There were a lot of fish-fry and a lot of large fish. All creatures lived there in the water of the canals.
In outlying streets smelled urine and they were not as nice and clean as the main tourist zone. We were also surprised that there were no parks and greenery was only in pots. But there were a lot of little lizards, they seemed similar as salamanders. Late in the afternoon, we again waited for the bus back across the bridge and drove away from Venice towards Ravenna. Along the way, we drove along the sea, through vile and devastated industrial areas. We arrived southly from Ravenna to the sea, where we spent the night on the beach.
2. 9. Mosquitoes matured us, but otherwise it was fine. The beach was beautiful, sand crabs and billions of shells of all shapes and colors. The sea was clear and clean. In the morning we went to the beach, we made our breakfast – porridge and coffee – made a morning hygiene and spent about an hour with just hunging out on the beach. The place was full of Czechs. People were nice. But there, in the distance, were the big ships, maybe some tankers. So we had to go ahead and look for a better beach. We went to see also Ravenna. Ravenna was announced as the Italian Capital of Culture for 2015. We visited the tomb of Dante Alighieri, Palace of St. Teodor and a lot of churches. In one of them visitors could even go down to the crypt of the bishops. Ravenna is also known as a city of mosaics. In each temple, which were very old, mostly from the 6th century, were preserved mosaics. The city has also plenty of shops, which are associated with workshops, where are mosaics directly manufactured and sold. We visited the fountain, which was called Fontana Purpurea. It was made of thousands of images of different themes, shapes and colors, which gave the feeling of wholeness.
From Ravenna we drove to south looking for the perfect beach. On the way we stopped at a local shopping center, where was hypermarket Conad. They had there a lot of things that we have never seen before and did not know that we can buy them in the mall – for examole big lobsters and shrimps, prawns …. They had everything, there we bought food and drinking water for the next day and we were refilled water for washing etc. We drove into the mountains. Beyond the mountains were the cliffs and the sea. It was already dark and we needed to find some place for overnight stay. So we went to a deserted road in the middle of forests and hills in search for a place where we could spent the night. We arrived to private restaurants at one port. They were surrounded on both sides of cliffs and beautifully illuminated. In a corner on the pier we ate our diner – real mozzarella from buffalo milk with local pastries. We had to go on, because there was everywhere parking only for guests of the restaurant. It seemed that the guests were mainly Italian elite – the very expensive cars parked there. We found a nice place where we were off the road few kilometers away. We made a bedroom from the car, wash ourselves and go beddy.
3. 9. We woke up, and after we went to see the hill under which we slept. There was a beautiful view of the surrounding area especially to the Apennines. After morning hygiene, we went in search of the perfect beach. After about 4 km we found it. We drove through the village in the hills of Castel di Mezzo and in another village Fiorenzula di Foccara we parked the car. All the places we chose by navigation. We already wanted to bathe. In the parking lot, we left the car and went to the beach. The beach was located about 3 km away. The beach was sandy, sometimes with pebbles and there was the alluvial wood. It looked as Jurassic Park, plenty of bleached wood. The beach was littered with house structures. People built from that wood tents to have a shadow. There was also plenty of sea shells and pieces of unworked marble. We found one such construction, and rebuilt it into a sunken.
We spent the rest of the day at the beach. There was a shallow sea and was pleasantly warm weather. There were also quite a few people. In this town, Fiorenzula di Foccara, was a beautiful outlook to countryside and about every 200 meters were fountains with drinking water. There we tapped water. This time we went there already at the day light, so I cooked some swill, wash it and went to sleep. We went behind the bushes, so we were not seen from the road.
4. 9. This day, soon in the morning, we went back on the beach with our sunken. The morning was warm and it seemed like the whole day will be nice. Also, we had the clothes in our car on the top of the parking lot and went down substantially only in a swimsuit. But! When we got there, clouds covered the sun. And the rain started. So we bathed in the rain. We had a tarpaulin, on which we wanted to lie – we gave it over us and watched from a sunken the rain. For a moment the rain stopped, and so we went hunting. We caught 3 pieces of driftwood shredded plastic (it had been previously a big bag), and put them on the roof, so there was less of water. The advantage was that we werethe only people on the beach, so we were there naked. That was nice. We felt like castaways. It was an adventure. We swam in a storm and we did not that. We spent that whole day. In the evening we bought at the local Allimenti (little market) something to eat and we drove from the parking lot (at this parking lot was forbidden to sleep). We parked the car in the village of Castel di Mezzo, just below the local cemetery.
We seal the car and we were going to sleep. In fact, however, we heard moaning. It did not stop all night. Victor went to see what´s happened (it was in the bushes near the cemetery). He said that it is about a cat. But it was not a cat …
5. 9. In the morning we went to look that way, which we heard the moaning. It was very pleading. We followed a hydrant and lifted him. In that time, the kitten that lamented there two days, escaped. It was a beautiful, wide silver with white ears and was crying for mom cat. We set off the hydrant quickly, so we did not manage to catch the kitten. At the cemetery was a sloping hillside overgrown with ivy and airstrikes. The kitten was not even visible there. Somewhere out there, in the area of 50 m2 was hidden. Kitten was still lamenting. We wanted to find him and take it to our home. We hunted this kitten about an hour. Then we went back to our Jura beach. This time also rained, but with more sunshine. The problem was that winged ants biting attacked us. On the beach, we even cooked a meal. Their raids were so annoying that we left this place and the mainly our sunken. We went to explore the other side of the beach. We found out that there is a broad and long beach with gentle sand and with no seaweed and pesky ants. We stayed there until the end of the day. When we left this place, we went through village Fiorenzula once more. It was Saturday, and everywhere was a lot of people. There were several weddings (we saw 3 wedding couples in one our). Streets were filled with crowds of people. Men had suits and ladies had beautiful dresses. Cars were parked everywhere, up to half a kilometer outside the city in the slopes. We struggled to pass among the crowds. The atmoshphere there was georgeous. The small town have totally revived. Then we went back to the parking lot below the cemetery. The kitten was still pitifully meowing there. It had to be very exhausted. Again, we tried to find him, but with no success. At the evening a lot of people came to the town. Ladies were in evening dresses and men were in shirts. They all came here to enjoy a Saturday evening at the local restaurant.
6. 9. The kitten was meowing overnight, but only a little. It was impossible to find it. Viky and I did not hear him in the morning. We think the kitten died. We were so sorry, we really wanted to find it and we looked forward to travel with it. After morning hygiene Viky even tried to look for the kitten, but found nothing. We decided that we’re going to look into San Marino. It was about 40 km from here. Towards the end of the journey we drove to the very steep hills and hairpin bends. But it was worth it. San Marino is the smallest independent state in the world. This state is placed already in the Apennine mountains. It lies in the hills. There is a wonderful view of the surroundings. We parked our car in the parking lot and went upstairs. Highest area of San Marino consists of an extensive fortifications of the 3 castle towers.
It’s the highest point of the state. Without exaggeration, we can say that the castle and its fortifications looked like Minas Tirith from LOTR in a smaller version. From the top you can see the sea as at your fingertips and also the mountains. This city charmed us. Everything was clean, all buildings in the same architectural style and unity. We visited there an emigrants museum and learned about beggining of an independent state of San Marino. It is the least democratic country in the world built on ancient democracy and culture. We have seen also a circuit where the Great Prize of San Marino is happening every year and we drove after a piece of this road on the way back. The night before departure we went to San Marino´s McDonalds and had a decent meal and a cappuccino and ice cream. Viky loves the San Marino most of all cities of the world. On the way to the castle they had a replicas of swords and weapons. We wanted to buy a copy of the elven sword Andúril. But we did not buy it. At one booth was a lady who knew how to say Hello in Czech language and she liked Vikys fivefingers boots. Overall, there were people dearer than elsewhere, where we were in Italy. There were lots of ripe figs which we ate on the way to castle towers. After we crossed the border with Italy, right now the road was completely broken. Along the way, we still wanted to visit Florence, which is a great city in half of the width of Italy, in the Apennine mountains. So we drove through the mountains. The path led through forests and essentially the entire 150 kilometers we drove through the very sharp bends. It was completely deserted landscape. Along the way we met a live porcupine. He/she was walking down the road as if nothing could happen to him/her. We often drove around the houses, but it was evident that they were abandoned for long time . They were ruins. Because it was dark and time to sleep, we sought the place to stay. But the area of forests, abandoned houses and ghosts villages was scary. Several villages that we passed were completely dead without inhabitants. Nowhere in the houses were lights and no people weren´t there, shutters were nailed. But there were scattered chairs with tables for seating at restaurants stationed outside the houses. Forests were endless. Finally, we found a place to stay near by the road. There we spent the night.
7. 9. We arrived in Florence in the morning. The whole town we drove through the length and breadth, but we coudn´t park. There was the worst traffic of all Italian cities, which we passed. There were rivers of cars and motorcycles zigzagging between them. People there use motorbikes everywhere, especially to their journey to work. We met a lot of women who drove in a skirt or suit and high heels. Finally, we put the car in the underground garage. It was quite expensive, for 4 hours we paid 12 euros. In Florence we saw the square with a statue of David by Michaelangelo and lots of beautiful sculptures, fountains and town hall. We wanted to go to the museum, in one of the museum was exposed original painting Birth of Venus by Botticeliho, but there were all terribly expensive admission fee (25 euros per person in a museum). It was possible to buy a Florence card that is valid to all museums and also applies to public transport, which stood for three days 72 euros. It would be worthwhile only if we wanted to stay longer. All the monuments, in addition to churches, we’ve only seen from the outside, but we did not mind it. One would have just had to stay there for a week to do everything he could, go through and enjoyed it. We bought food at the local bakery, we arrived at Piazza Pitti, a large square with pigeons and sparrows. There we stopped and fed the pigeons. We liked little sparrows, there was also a flocks of them. When Viky fed them, they sat down on his hands.
We walked across the bridge and where were booths with windows. Farther we went to see local bazaar with typical leather goods. Then to the car and drove out of town. Along the way we nearly collided with an Italian one, which drove directly to our car and at last moment turned away his Ferrari. Italians are great people but generally drive very badly. Much of Italian cars on the road is indeed new, but battered by precipitation. On the way from Florence we have seen two big smash. We stopped for shopping at the mall and bought the best stracciatelu the world. Soon we reached the Ligurian Sea and less than an hour we were in Tirrana, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. The beach was fine sand, long and wide, and especially tidy and clean. The sea was also clean and there were big waves. Helen enjoyed the big waves. On the beach evening we were almost alone in the evening. Unfortunately there was quite windy. We found the alley leading to the forest, where we stayed overnight.
8. 9. The whole day we spent by relaxing and sun bathing and swimming in the sea. There were a lot of Afroamericans who were selling some accesories. We went to sleep on a deserted alley in the woods. Before going to bed we went for a walk and noticed that at the end of the road is high fence guarded by dogs. We cooked our meal on a fire and were chatting and enjoyed the rest of the day.
9. 9. In the morning we moved to Pisa. The journey passed quickly, it was place just a few kilometers distant. Miraculously, we found a place to park in the center of Pisa, so we did not have to pay. We came into the Information Centre and took the map. According to the map, we went through the main pedestrian zone and sometimes we went inappropriate and got alongside the walls up to the old Roman baths. Then Leaning tower emerged from behind the walls and also bright white dome. We came to the precinct. There were a lot of tourists everywhere and everyone took pictures of the Leaning tower. Of course, we also made several funny photos. The Leaning tower is a part of the whole district, where every building itself was interesting. It was a novelty for us. There was a building for the monks (monastery), baptiserium. We were inside of the cathedral, where was a corpse of St. Ranieri and black statues of angels. Furthermore, there was the Leaning tower (which is really much inclined) and an inner garden cemetery. All the buildings were made of pure white marble. It was beautiful there. Inside we were to look only at the cathedral because there was free entry. The Leaning Tower has a separate entrance at the price of 18 euros. We regret it, but we couldn´t spend nearly 1000 CZK just so we could say we were on the top of the Leaning tower. In these places, we spent about 2 hours. so we could say we blazed the leaning tower, we did not want. In these places, we spent about 2 hours.
Then we walked slowly toward the car. Along the way, we have seen a lot of sights and enjoyed the magnificent ancient city of Pisa. In Pisa is famous school of sculpture. Merchants were selling exquisite pieces of marble and alabaster, from small gifts to large vases, columns, statues. Then we had rode toward home. We wanted to sleep after we leave the borders of Italy. We had almost no petrol, but we did not want to fill up in Italy, because there was horribly expensive gasoline. So we drove first through the Apennines, which are wonderful, and even across the Alps. Around midnight we crossed the border with Austria, refueled and started looking for a place to night stay. We were very tired so we just parked on the edge of the road and went to sleep.
10. 9. We could not wait for morning. It was probably the worst night of your holiday. We had not realized that we were in the Alps and the car was warmed while driving. I slept only in the shirt, as I was accustomed in warm Italy. About an hour later I woke up because of cold and noise from cars. Viky woke up because he thought the car slowly moves toward the river below us. Well, somehow we reached the morning. Just after six-thirty we drove away. In the morning the thermometer showed 2 degrees in the car. Definitely it had to freeze during the night. After a few hours of driving we arrived to Innsbruck. There we looming great mountains and we took a break at a remote mountain road . We washed, dressed, made hot chocolate and had breakfast. And we were deeply impressed with the mountain view. We just sat and looked on the scenery before us.
We drove through Salzburg and we wanted to do a walk through the city, but we could nowhere park for free. We stopped to buy into the supermarket and there I used employers toilets. The staff behave very kindly. So we went back and stretched. We found one lake that looked like from a fairy tale. It was called Wahlersee. It is also surrounded by mountains and it is great. We walked up to it on the beach. Everything in Austria is clean and tidy, unlike Italy. And this was crystal clear, full of freshwater clams. Interestingly, those clams lay their eggs on rocks. When little clam grows inside the rock and become bigger and bigger, it makes such a corridor to until it is large and can burrow into the bottom of the lake alone. The entire beach and lake bottom was dotted with so cutted stones. Two of the nicest stones we took home. We ate there and drove away. Then we crossed the border with the Czech Republic and found themselves in the Bohemian Forest. I always wanted to visit Kvilda, so we drove there now, we had dinner and spent the night in the forests of the Šumava National Park. This time we were on that winter night well prepared. We took all clothes we had upon ourselves, we had turned the heater car to the maximum, quickly cleaned our teeth and grounded car. This time we slept until morning to eight o´clock.
11. 9. We went for a walk through the woods, we came across the Otava River, which flowed near us. We cleared our teeth there and rode on, now directly on Rabi. We arrived at Rabi, went for a walk, have lunch at a restaurant, waiting for the premiere of the video where Viky played Wayfarer. Rabi Castle is gorgeous, it is the largest castle ruin in Bohemia.
Thank you for your attention and sometimes again at the next part.
Gasoline: IT and Germany: an average of 1.5 euro / liter
Austria: 1.18 euro / liter
Food: IT: everything about 2x to 3x more expensive (even obchoďácích, the local little shops, not to mention)
Austria: prices comparable to ours
Inputs on the monuments: IT: there is little in the interior for free (churches have free entry), usually do not accept student discounts. Most interesting things are buildings, which can be viewed at close range for free.
Internet and electricity: IT: in cafes and restaurants are sockets for flat pre outlet where you can charge the laptop. This way, we only charged the camera. Internet was available, but to connect for free you had to register (an Italian law on security on networks) and for succesful registration need a final confirmation via SMS authorization code. The problem is that this code can be sent only to Italian, German, Austrian, English telephone number, but not Czech. So, we basically could not connect the internet. Even in tourist towns have free wi-fi points, but everywhere with registrations. Throughout, we did not connect to the internet.
The budget for the entire holiday, including insurance: 9 500 CZK