Italy 44 - The Tuscan countryside

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September 15th 2012
Published: September 15th 2012
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Castellina in ChiantiCastellina in ChiantiCastellina in Chianti

Underground passageway
Being newcomers to this motorhoming lark we are having trouble trying to make our holidays totally work. If we were free agents and I didn’t have to go back to work we could amble our way across Europe picking and choosing our destinations as we travel. As it is work gets in the way and we still find ourselves trying to either pack too much in or find ourselves with not enough to occupy us. We read other peoples blogs and ideas come to mind but we need the time to follow their trips in Suzy.

Perhaps we should have stayed longer at Lake Maggiore, the camp site was Ok, there was quite a lot to do and the weather was fine. Possibly if our last campsite could have been transported nearer to civilisation we could have stayed longer there. Florence is just up the road but as both of us have been a few times we felt that it wasn’t a destination we wished to go to again. The only thing I have not been to is the art gallery. This is somewhere I would like to go to as I remember being a pupil at grammar school and on one of our walls was a copy of Venus rising . It was placed there to uplift us and of course she is displayed in Florence and I could get to see the original. .

In the end we decided to move on just down to the road to what is affectionately known by the British as Chiantishire. We were still mulling on going south but the Cinque Terre which interested me had no nearby campsites. Ravenna and Moto GP was another option but time seemed to be what we didn’t have enough of to make the trip from the west of Italy to the East across the spine of Italy with its poor roads and endless tunnels. For the future we have to try to remember that nowhere is too far away and even in three weeks we can make good progress. Perhaps with hindsight this year we should have gone to the east coast first and then come down to Rome but you learn by your mistakes.

Suzy is filthy and we spent part of our day cleaning her. It takes up such a long time but it seems worthwhile to clean the worse of the dirt off her exterior and to dust and clean the inside at least once a week.

Our first stop today was Castellina in Chianti a small Tuscan town. Parking was relatively easy as we found the new aree di sosta quite close to the town centre. The town, unlke Montalcino, needs to be congratulated on their foresight in providing a huge car park within walking distance of the town. It costs 1 euro per hour or 10 euros per day to park and on site are toilets, fresh water and a waste dump. An excellent facility which on our day of visiting had one overnighter already parked and two day visiting motorhomes.

There isn’t much in the town although it is pretty and typically Tuscan. The shops are full of tourist tat including the usual wine, fridge magnets, scarves and handbags but there is also a post office, a few shops where we bought bread and panforte. We are devotees of panforte and it is a treat we indulge in when we are in Italy. There is also a very interesting underground passageway to one side of the main street and four Etruscan tombs just a few minutes walk out of town.

Second stop Radda in Chianti. All along the way we saw ironwork signs of the cockerel the emblem of the wine of the region. We found a small car park behind the local Co-op and parked up on the side of the road. Again a similar Tuscan town to Castellina with a town hall, a large church and extensive views across the Tuscan countryside. Again a good selection of shops including supermarkets. And more vines than you can count rising up every available ground space .

Third stop should have been Gaiole in Chianti but this time there was nowhere to stop. We couldn’t find a decent parking space for a motorhome and decided that as we had seen two of the main towns of the Chianti wine producing region we would give Gaiole a miss. It did look pretty though filled with flower troughs and pots of geraniums everywhere.

We stopped the night at Camping Semifonte in Barbarina D’Elsa which is an ideal spot for touring the region. However when we got there the campsite was closed from 12.30 – 3.30. We read the sign on the door which suggested that you could park up and pick your spot and then register when the reception re-opened for the afternoon. Again the site was based around an old olive grove on terraces. We found a reasonable spot although under the shade of trees and on a narrow plot and I went off swimming. It was so hot a dip was much needed. At 3.30 we walked back to register and were greeted by the most miserable receptionist you could ever wish to meet. With no hint of a greeting nor a smile she told us she was in the ACSI book but was not going to let us in for 16 euros. Her price like it or lump it was 29 euros which we felt was too high a price to pay for the facilities on the site particularly as we had stayed at better for 16 euros. The only good thing to say about the campsite was that Kathrein the Great got BBC 1, BBC 2 and ITV and we caught up on the local news before moving on.

In the end we drove a few miles further up the road to Sovicelli to what looked like a better campsite. This campsite is a little out of town but had larger plots and a pleasant helpful reception. We smiled as the older receptionist was working in the shop and her assistant was outside sunbathing. With our limited Italian we worked out that she shouted to her assistant to get her a**e into gear and get working. It was an ACSI site so cost 16 euros per night. There was a small shop on site and a bus stopped at the campsite to take you directly into Siena. Despite both of us visiting Siena many times the pull was instant and we booked tickets for bus for the next day WiFi cost 3 euros for 1 hour. All the showers were open and clean. All night the thunder rumbled in the distance but no rain came. There were a few Brits on site and we got talking to a older couple parked opposite us. He had worked for BT and taken early retirement some years ago when BT was privatised. He got a good payoff as many of the workers did and decided not to work again. Lucky man. He was on his 5th motorhome. He also had a small 125 cc motorbike which he and his wife used to get round and about. We discussed bikes with them and what weight they added to the motorhome, knee operations and places they had visited . It appeared they had been as far south as Dubrovnik and as far north as Denmark and Sweden. Through the early evening we were entertained by a Dutch guy strumming a guitar. Well strumming was perhaps being kind to him – he sounded like he was practising from Bert Weedons Play in a Day -one chord at a time. Hopefully tomorrow he will be able to play more than one or two chords.


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