Etroubles to the Italian Riviera 3 to 6 August 2013

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August 8th 2013
Published: August 11th 2013
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Etroubles to the Italian Riviera 3 to 6 August 2013

Our campsite at Etrouble was green and terraced but facilities were OK. It was called Camping Tunnel as it was at the end of the St Bernard Tunnel (about 16 kms). And yes, the St Bernard dogs originated from this area.

I don’t think I would like to use their showers etc in the winter as they was not a lot of protection from the weather. However, it was a quiet Park and the town was distinctively Italian. In fact as soon as we crossed the Italian border, we knew we were in Italy – grey stoned buildings and slate rooves, differently decorative buildings and chaotic traffic (sorry – drivers!) and highly emotional people, and many roundabouts.

Etroubles was a mixture of Swiz and Italian. It was Sunday after staying at Camping Tunnel so we went for a walk across the enclosed bridge to the main part of the town. We then spotted a market which happens every Sunday. It had local produce (particularly cheese and breads) and clothing.

Inside the enclosed bridge there were large posters telling the story about various events and features of the town. Locals were also looking at the posters, obviously recognizing people in the posters.

We then packed up and headed south-east along a secondary road rather than the motorway. Tom was driving. The road was through many small villages with many roundabouts. I was really enjoying the interesting scenery, the people, the houses, the decorations/hardscaping of the roundabouts and suddenly Tom said he was sick of the villages. I guess the driving was made difficult from all the speed restrictions and roundabouts. SO we headed across to the motorway at Ivrea.

We drove to Torina (Turin in English) which is a big city. We found a park and had lunch and kept driving further south. Even though Torina was known for its Baroque Basilica, we decided not to stay for any longer.

We drove south on the Motorway to Mondovi, then south-west to Cureo before heading due south again and stopped for the night at Vernante as it was 4.30pm. We actually stopped for a break from driving but decided to stop for the day as it looked a really active little village with a Festival happening (trying to interpret the posters written in Italian). We also saw a parking area with lots of campers that looked as though they were set up for the night. We worked out that this was one of the ‘wild-camping’ sites that was not a caravan park but just a spot were campers stopped. We set up our camper in the shade of a tree and went for a walk through the town.

There was a long park running for about a kilometer along the river which was a spot where multi-generational families were picnicking. They were playing bocce, soccer, card games, playing on playground equipment, skateboarding, or just sitting on picnic rugs and seats enjoying the day.

We found a beer garden to have a cold drink and to watch everyone go by. We also tried an iced cappuccino which was made of coffee ice-cream and chocolate – very sweet. There was a market in one of the old streets.

We had dinner at the camper and then went back into the main square of the town where there was a lot of singing entertainment. There was a large dance floor in front of the singers and 6-8 little girls started to do their ‘creative’ dancing and having a wonderful time. They reminded me so much of Gemma – I am missing her xxx

When it got too cool, we left and went back to the Camper. It was a good night’s entertainment. This was also the 1st time we used everything in the camper – including the toilet!!! We I know it is day 85 of our trip but Tom was OK with the emptying the canister now.

The next morning we were off over the mountainous national park, driving through a small piece of France and on the way down to the Italian Riviera. Again the scenery was spectacular. The difference with this scenery was the shier cliff faces. In places it was a bit ‘hairy’ dodging the cliff overhangs, particularly when you have to dodge crazy Italian drivers and motorbikes coming towards you who are overtaking cars.

We spotted the Riviera coastline at Ventimiglia and turned east towards San Remo. We hit bumper to bumper traffic. We had been warned how busy the French and Italian Riviera was in July and August. There was people and cars everywhere. The sky and sea was brilliant blue and the temperature was about 34 degrees.

We were still not happy with the brakes of the car so we found a Fiat service centre in San Remo who was excellent. We found we needed the master cylinder replaced. Tom really wanted this to be done the 1st time the brakes were worked on. We now have 4 new brake pads, new brake fluid and new master cylinder. Before the work was done, they had to order the parts so we drove off for the night and was asked to come back the next afternoon (6 August). The wife of the owner/head mechanic spoke excellent English (and German and Italian) so all went well.

While we were waiting for the mechanic (Carlos) to diagnose what was needed, I worked on the computer.

We then had the task of finding a camping site that wasn’t booked out so after seeing that all the Camping Parks in the popular areas were full we headed further east towards Imperia and found a terraced camping park away from the beach, called Camp Il Persiano. It had a swimming pool and restaurant. After getting set up, I went for a swim. It was magnificent after a very hot day. We also did a big wash.

The next morning we were talking to our neighbours at the camp site (who were Dutch!) and they asked us if we slept well to which we answered ‘yes’. Apparently they didn’t sleep ‘a wink’ as the tent next to them (4 girls) were entertaining 4 boys. Tom and I heard nothing. The 4 girls packed up in the morning as they learned that this was the wrong camp site for them!!

We packed up and drove the car to the fiat service centre at 2.00pm and we went into San Remo CBD. It was extremely hot and humid so we went from restaurant to restaurant. We found the CBD was like to Gold Coast, without the waves and buildings much older and squeezed into a smaller space with more people. We have always made it our practice not to compare places with Australia, but in Sam Remo we couldn’t help it. One thing San Remo has got is a lot of glass houses which are mainly for growing flowers. It looks unusual having glass houses in amongst high rises.

Of course it had a very Italian feel about it. The sea was definitely not cold, and it was a brilliant blue and very calm. We learned that this area doesn’t snow so that is why so many Europeans come here for winter also.

At 6.00pm we went back to the Service Centre. The car wasn’t quite ready but we had a good chat with Carlos’ wife. After Carlos took it for a test drive it was ready and brakes working beautifully. We drove to a Camp site which was full but we spotted over 20 Campers in a large open area, next door and on the beach, so we stayed there. By the end of the night there were 33 campers.

We heard some entertainment at the next door camping site so we went to investigate. They were awarding prizes for winners of soccer and other competitions they had during the day. We then decided to use their shower which was excellent.

The evening was beautiful, with a breeze blowing and mild, less humid conditions.

The next morning we drove to Monte Carlo and Nice.

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