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Published: July 12th 2011
Monday 27th June
So today we planned to do all the proper sights and museums and churches of Verona and set off for town to buy our Verona Card that would, for a one off fee, get us entry to all sights and use of the towns buses. Hmm the first sight, the museum of Modern Art with a good photography exhibition....shut. Hmmm, the 2nd sight on our list, shut. Ooops! Everything is shut on a Monday rather than a Sunday as we thought, so that they could make more money from the weekend tourists. So we looked at all the sights from the outside instead. We found Juliette's Balcony and her statue with lots of people rubbing its right breast for better luck in love.....the way I see it, they are all gathering germs from the several thousand other sweaty hands that groped it. We didn't find the suspended whales rib in Piazza Erbe but we did find an open air market. Just walking through Verona was beautiful. Always a fantastic building or church to look at. We managed to find a really cheap local shop and bought in lots of lunch, why hadn't we found this a few days ago??!! We found the train station and the bus stop we needed for tomorrows day trip to Venice. All set, time to cool off at the campsite.
Tuesday 28th June
After getting up at 5.30am, we still missed our bus, watching it leave as we came round the corner. On with th half hour walk to the train station. We wolfed down a coffee and a brioche - the typical brekkie here, we made the train with 3mins to spare. After buying a detailed map of Venice, we headed over the first bridge into San Polo and got lost. Venice was everything I (Lucy) had hoped it would be! The style of the houses, lots of alleyways and bridges and canals, it didn't smell either! We got ourselves an icecream and hopped into a Gondola. Our chappy was singing all the hits such as "Hola! Hola! Gondola! Coca Cola!" We went from lovely narrow little canals and then out onto the Grand Canal, crossed over it and came back across it and back to the start. Talk about rush hour! I thought we were going to be run down by all the bigger boats! We strolled over to the Carneggio area as we read it was the quietest and prettiest and has a great little trattoria for locals serving local food. We found it! Lunch took us 3 hours!! We both had local dishes to start - Gary, a shellfish pasta and Lucy, Venetian style pasta....black spaghetti. A plate full of normal spaghetti turned up with a black sauce...and full of squid. Not what I was hoping for....oh well its good to try new things. Another new thing to try was Grappa. Blimey! Firewater! So after our 3 hour lunch we tried to find a boat that would take us to Burano to look at the brightly coloured houses but time and a more expensive Gondola ride than we expected cancelled that idea. We walked through San Marco, past the massive cathedral and up through San Polo and home. Note to all - don't wait until after lunch to get a Gondola, everybody has that idea and all the peaceful idyllic little canals were full of hundreds of gondolas trying to get past eachother, nothing romantic and surely you would get less distance in the same time and same expensive cost! After a train home we decided to take a night time tour of the suburbs of Verona by getting on the wrong bus which headed in very much the wrong. direction. We used the cunning tactic of staying on the bus hoping it would loop back to the train station. It did - and it. then jumped itself onto the route we intended to get on, we had got on the right bus but on the wrong part of the figure 8 route it took. Eventually we made it back to the campsite at half past midnight, had a beer for dinner and fell asleep.
Wednesday 29th June
We packed and paid €85 for our 5 night stay - what a bargain. Fuel, an expensive campsite and a load of buses into Venice saved by this little gem of a find! Now on to Bologna and a campsite with a pool wooohooooo!!!! It turns out not only the Italian road signs are odd but their addresses on websites are squewiff too! We made it to a residential street with the right number house which was very much not a campsite! Again, eventually we figured out where we needed to be and got to the campsite. We pitched up, hot and sweaty and in mozzie metropolis - great. We managed to get the campsites restaurant chef to let us have lunch 5 mins before they closed. Lasagne and a cold beer can cure all hot, sweaty grumps. Time to hit the pool and cool off the mozzie bites.....hmmm lots of guests walking around with polka dot legs from mozzie bites....not looking forward to tonight..... This little crappy restaurant amazed us by the meat and cheese platter that came out for our dinner - wow!! A very unexpected place to find what we came to Italy for - amazing food. We made a decision over dinner after finding that the cheese, meat, balsamic vinegar and wine tours were very expensive to not tour them, just to buy and eat them and to go and book in to the hotel that we are going to stay in after the MotoGP early so we can get some air conditioning and no mozzies. We also bumped into the "pack-o-pasta" girls from the Verona campsite. I nodded in acknowledgment and they looked at me with the same dour faces. I almost felt like reminding them that their parents weren't dragging them round and that they were travelling for fun.... But then a massive clap of thunder and fork of lightening got me running back to the tent. Only for Gary to say "I wasn't going to tell you when we planned to camp but...it's going to thunder and rain tonight" lol
Thursday 30th June
So after booking in for 3 nights we arrive at the front desk, fully packed asking to pay - teehee! Fing mozzies! Lucy went from 17 to 47 bites and Gary went from zero to 77!!! In one night!! Gary isn't itching tho!! Lucy's pizza legs itch so much it hurts even after over-dosing on antihistamines!! We drove through Bologna....very glad we didn't book a room in town. It's not the prettiest of towns....or have we just been spoilt to far?! We got to our hotel by 11.30 and they didn't have a room till 2pm so took our luggage off us and sent us away. We found a little local shop in Pianoro to buy lunch and went for a ride. As soon as you take just one road off the main roads here you are in hidden beauty! We went past the village of Zena (warrier princess) and had lunch overlooking postcard perfect rolling hills - the kind you draw as a child, even complete with the little house on the top of the hills. We then decided to go for even more of a ride and headed south. We made it to a little town called Loiano......what an amazing rolling road AGAIN!! So Gary's hitting the gas somewhat while Lucys on the bag with a bag of grocery shopping hurtling through the lanes. After a double machiatto each we head back to the hotel. The hotel room was clean but hot, after a kicking, air conditioning decided it would work. More meats and cheese and bread and oil and vinegar and salad and local wine and beer made for a very chilled, very air-conditioned, mozzie-free night.
Friday 1st July
Today we took a day trip to Modena, home of balsamic vinegar, on the hunt for another little local trattoria that our lonely plant book advised. The trip took longer than expected. The Italian signs were at it again "Modena is in this direction......now you go find it!" We strolled around the town and stumbled across a massive fresh produce market, row upon row, stall upon stall of the freshest looking veg, salad, meat, cheese, fish, bread, ready made antipasti platters, ready made pasta and rice dishes. If you weren't hungry before seeing it you were after! We then happened to leave the market just at the right exit to start our search for the trattoria on the 1st floor....in the market. Which could have been anywhere. We walked straight out of the market and were looking at it. Result! The book says "the kind of food you'd expect from a no nonsense 1950's Italian Mama" oh my word!! How delicious??!! Everything melted in our mouths - heaven! We headed back to Pianoro and our hotel but jumped on the autostrade this time to get out of the heat. A car pulled alongside us at one point and 2 people were waving like loons - it was the couple from Verona camping who were going to the MotoGP. What are the chances?! Then the thunder rolled in again and we got wet. We didn't bring our waterproofs out with us today 😞 once back at the hotel our friends had arrived for the MotoGP and we all had a feast in our room....avoiding the high costs of the hotel restaurant.
Saturday 2nd July
Our friends let us put all our luggage in their hire car and we all headed out for Mugello and the qualifiers. We went down the fun SS65 again, rolling around the fantastic roads and all caught up again when we couldn't find the right turning. We drove on all together for a while. Dave, our friend is a racer and you can tell by the way he was making his way through the country roads! We chose the right way to get there, the autostrade was busy and when we came out of the hills and down to the track we could see it from up high - wow! We're nearly there!! Without realising, we managed to get one of the closest carparks there were! How jammy are we?! We made our way to the track, lots of junk food and merchandise stalls everywhere and already people were revving up engines. We got to our seats an hour later....must remember that for tomorrow's race! Qualifying was ok but most of it was rained off - can't believe its raining at Mugello! It never rains at Mugello!! After qualifying it was time to hunt down some edible food. There were people properly set up with their camper vans, they had tables for lots of peopl, awnings between them all, massive BBQs full of their own food. Great hunks of meat and racks of ribs. Oh if only we had brought a BBQ and ten tonne of meat! We saw people with bags of shopping...must be a supermarket in the nearby town......oh dear we accidentally ended up in a pizzeria eating big plates of pizza - how did that happen?? We then found a nice bar to have a swift round of Grappa or firewater before heading back to the track to watch the evenings festivities. There were people racing their bikes and scooters through the crowds, people burning out tires and clutches and engines left, right and centre. Various stages played different music, some rock, some rave, some camper vans with PA's trying to compete on volume. Random young girls dancing on the stages. The rave girl lost all her appeal after continuously hoiking up her trousers after showing off....no not a sexy thong but over washed granny pants! Lol! I don't even want to mention the state of the toilets, that's better forgotten for life! What an experience the whole night was! Somehow we managed to be on a campsite with no one revving engines?? How did we manage that?? Still none of us got sleep apart from Gary who was.......well......comatose!
Sunday 3rd July
Race day!!!! We packed up tent and headed in to our seats. It took us forever again and we sat down just 10mins before the 125s. Good timing! and a scorcher of a day! We met up with our friends by the food tent after the race and all got incredibly dry sandwiches, mayo "acquiring" ensued. We all sat back down to watch the Moto2. Very good race, Scott Reading was at the front for a while, lots of proper racing going on. We were sat next to some right grumpy so n so's. Every time the race came round the corner we were sitting on everyone stood up to cheer. They nearly came to blows with the people infront of them as they wanted to remain seated. Why on earth did they come to a race then?? Stay at home in your comfy sofa if you want to sit! Then finally came the MotoGP. The riders all did a lap of waving to the crowd, our lot (including us) went mad when Rossi came past - we were sat in the Rossi Fan Club section tho. Another fantastic race - lots of battles for positions going on, everyone booed Stoner when he was in the lead heehee! Now the moment to try to get home. The camper vans were all at a standstill and the people walking not much faster so we found a tree to sit under until the rush died down. Once we got back to the car & bike you could see there was no chance of getting out of the carpark so we settled down for a snooze under another tree. The decision about dinner was made for us, the supermarket was shut. Oh dear, we had to go out for dinner a second night in a row with our friends. There were about 60 flavours of pizza and 60 flavours of pasta to choose from. We all had massive bowls of spaghetti. So delicious! Gary had a "Pacino Pasta" there were other pasta's called "De Niro" etc. Nice night had by all.
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