Italy begins 30th
What a difference a kilometre makes.
For several days we have enjoyed the visually mind blowing but long drive along the Corniche des Maures and then the Cote D’Azur to Menton ( it’s a nice drive but only those driving the Monaco GP would anyone ever an average speed above 30 kph, so its relieving to get to the end of it.
Not much free camping in this area. Visiting the French Riviera in a camping car is not easy.
We saw only one or two wild camp spots along this end of the coast- totally full.
And not many commercial camping grounds either. This is the reserve of the Monte Carlo filthy rich plus that army of camp followers who would be if they could be m but are content to pose and posture like they actually own the wheels on that clapped out Renault.
Just pulling up for a few minutes on an esplanade in Cannes bought a visit from the Municipal Police who in a friendly way moved us on before Pat could boil the billy.
Next after Menton is Latte, across the border in Italy.
Fortunately we found a camp ground just on the Italian side of the border.
What a different show. I had just that morning drafted my blog about French camp grounds saying how aesthetically smart they are. Well our first Italian campo was a little different.
Luigi runs a 2 star camping show on the edge of a hill dipping down to a gully.
As soon as we got near mi parked in the driveway. Partly because I could not get down the steep driveway and to the 180 degree turn at the same time. And partly because I could block the driveway so that if there were limited vacancies, we might cut out the competing campers. My strategy proved to be the correct one. Pat ducked off to deal with Luigi. Luigi had only one space left, but by the time Pat returned to the car , there was a traffic jam of Italian proportions. No one is drawn to chaotic traffic in proportions like flies to a cow pat better than Italians.
Then we get the camp tour and are shown Luigi’s last site. Well it’s not really a site. It’s just an extra bit of space at the end of a driveway in which half a dozen or so other camping cars are parked in on one another. When we pack in its as if we are the lock in a rugby scrum – there to keep it all nice and tight.
Luigi is an enterprising bloke . I have to admire his ingenuity. He does advise that a few apparently blank spots are pre booked. Also on his site he has some humpies occupied probably permanently. Maybe comparing the humpies to the back streets of a South East Asian city might be a bit cruel. But think of packing case timber, but not planked parallel, and second hand roofing iron that has not only had a stressful life, but pulls up short where it is fitted, all built into the side of a steep hill without good excavation know how or a level. As we weave Skippy into the back of the scrum, a signal must have sounded. Directly residents of the humpies are out to watch and witness the inevitable crunch. For sure I will ding another vehicle.
Well as it turned out, noting got hit. They retire inside short changed of their afternoons entertainment.
Later I notice Luigi speaking with a customer, when one of the humpy residents (who might be the site’s self appointed chalk board monitor) darts out to him to tell Luigi that this guy (pointing to me) did something wrong. Maybe it was where I parked or maybe it was the fact that I failed to hit another car. Luigi pacified him. It’s all OK and he disappears.
Luigi gets the award of the day for his helpfulness and enterprising spirit. Maybe he breeched rules in getting so many packed into his site. But as he advised us, this is a long weekend in Italy – a public holiday for the Republic, and campsites are all booked out. His site might hardly ever get past half full- but he knew to make hay while the sun was shining. I cannot imagine many French men going out on a limb and working late to help so many.
We set up camp, and observe various differences between the French and Italians.
Well for a start it’s like we have to learn a foreign language. Then the way the Italians drive, it feels like a foreign country.
On a more serious note it does appear the Italians are less concerned about order and symmetry. The French can generate and handle lots of chaos. The Italians possibly cannot live without it.
One thing we have observed is how the French like to strictly adhere to the 35 hour working week their government imposes. So it is frustrating to do business with them when they close up business not just for the 2 hour daily lunch break, but other random times as well, like Wednesdays , maybe all day , maybe half a day. I do not understand how they can grow an economy by holding it back.
Despite systemic procedural difficulties, both peoples are enormously friendly and many have gone out of their way to help us.
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