Before this blog post starts, I wanted to inform you that this hughe text was translated by DeepL. Usually I translate the smaller ones by myself. But this hughe text would have taken several weeks or even months to translate manually. In order to provide this post in English as well, I decided to use the translator to help out. In case of any mistakes, please let me know to correct them. – Thanks!
Finally, the time had come – the long-awaited summer vacation with the camper was imminent.
During our short vacation in the Ortenau district in May, we were already able to familiarize ourselves with the previously unknown situation. Since this short vacation with the motorhome worked without any problems, nothing stood in the way of the big road trip.
From the number of photos I uploaded to the gallery, you can already see that we were in many different places this time.
In total, I have this time – despite mostly merciless mucking out – over 550 photos from the 12 days road trip in the gallery uploaded.
While browsing the photos will certainly quickly notice that some photos – actually – would not have been uploaded in the first place. The photos while driving were taken with the cell phone and a Bluetooth remote trigger. The cell phone was clamped in a holder, because I used it in parallel also for navigation. Therefore, there are reflections of the windshield in some photos, or the suction cup of the cell phone holder can be seen in the lower left corner. Unfortunately, this could not be avoided. Of course, I could have cropped all these photos, but this time I wanted to publish the blog post as soon as possible. Therefore, I decided to leave these photos as they are.
But enough of the prefaces and here we go with the blog post about our road trip through Italy!
Day 1: Turbulent Arrival – Sunday, Sept. 10
Drive to the pitch “San Giuliano Venice“
Early in the morning at shortly after 6, the starting signal for our road trip was given. Since the school vacations were already over almost everywhere in Germany and Austria, it was correspondingly empty on the highways. Accordingly, we moved forward quickly.
Meanwhile it was shortly before 9 and so slowly hunger made itself felt. We were already close to the Austrian-Italian border. Traditionally, we have been driving for years to the nearby forwarding company Maurer in Hermagor to refuel. There you can also refuel by car. This is the last gas station known to us before the border crossing. So again fill the tank up to the top with diesel, so that one comes as far as possible with the “cheap” fuel from Austria. Refueling in Italy is known to be much more expensive than in Austria.
Man and machine were strengthened, so it could continue in the direction of Venice. There was another highlight a short time later around 9:45. The lake Lago di Cavazzo was visible on the horizon. That is, one last time a tunnel passage is in store before finally crossing the Alps and entering the flatlands of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Immediately after the tunnel exit, there is the next highlight: you cross the last classic wild river of the Alps – the Tagliamento. At its widest point, the riverbed of the 170 km long river measures around 1.5 km. The actual water-bearing width of the river is considerably less. There is an interesting Wikipedia article with further links.
Our drive, which had been smooth until then, was interrupted by a traffic jam just before Udine Nord. The delay according to Google was about 15 minutes. In fact, we were in the traffic jam for over 1.5 hours. From then on, however, the trip went without further incidents. Only when finding a parking space it took 3 attempts until we finally found the right place around 13:00. The place before as well as the passenger car parking bay behind our parking bay were signposted – only our parking bay not. At this place our stay was only one night, so we only had to connect the electricity.
finally arrived – off to Venice
Since it was our first stay in Venice with our child, a visit to the island could not be missed.
So in the afternoon we took the streetcar from San Giuliano to Venice (Piazzale Roma).
Shortly after arriving in Venice by streetcar, we decided to have our afternoon meal at the Al Bacco Felice restaurant. Afterwards, we strolled around Venice a bit more.
In the late afternoon we went to St. Mark’s Square, because I want to go up the St. Mark’s Tower for years and take photos from above Venice. But the last times the tower was closed or the queues incredibly long. This time I was almost alone in the queue. With a proud price of 10€ per person for the ride to the top, then of course you stay a little up there and enjoy the view. Wife and child were in the meantime on St. Mark’s Square on the way, because an entrance to the tower with stroller was not possible.
Island “Saint Giorgio Maggiore“
View over the east of Venice with the island of “Murano” in the background.
Just before sunset, so around 19:00, we then took the Vaporetto – the water bus in Venice – from St. Mark’s Square back to Piazzale Roma. On this occasion I could also take a few photos of the sunset in Venice. For lack of time, however, this was only possible from the water bus.
Evening red on the Grand Canal
Since the trip with the vaporetto took a long time, and our streetcar stopped so long that it left with 10min delay at the starting station, we were back at the pitch only sometime after 9pm. There was therefore only cold cuisine with the things that we had previously bought in Venice still in the supermarket.
Day 2: Continuing on to Emilia-Romagna – Monday, Sept. 11
The sunrise at 6:30 could be enjoyed comfortably from bed. Although the view was obscured by neighboring mobile homes, but you could see him wonderfully. Since it was very late the night before and we had several hours of driving ahead of us again today, I did without getting up extra for the sunrise.
In the morning we had breakfast in a bar near the “Punta San Guiliano Mestre”. It was a small place at the end of the shore overlooking Venice and the landing planes and passing “mail ships” with numerous packages for Venetians.
bar without name
Landing plane at the airport “Venezia Marco Polo“
Ride from the pitch in Venice to Cervia to Camping Adriatico
Well fortified, we drove on from our pitch overlooking Venice at around 12 noon to Emilia-Romagna for a few relaxing days on the Adriatic. We were in for a 3 hour drive. The route took us along the Venice lagoon over the “Ponte Translagunare“ bridge at Chioggia, through the “Parco del Delta del Po Veneto” nature reserve, resp. via the “Ponte sul Po“ past the protected landscape area “Valli di Comacchio“ and the town of Ravenna to our campsite “Camping Adriatico“ in Cervia.
After about 3.5 hours of driving, including a fuel stop, we reached our campsite for the next days around 15:30.
As tempting as the weather and the urge to go to the beach were – the priority was to set up the table, chairs, awning, etc.. In addition, it was time for a little snack.
In this region of Italy it is not common for the campsite to be directly on the sea. Instead, there are so-called “bagnos” directly on the beach. The bagnos (in the sense of “bath”/”bathing”) are comparable to small bars or restaurants with an attached private beach. Here you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas if needed. Or you can make yourself comfortable in the first row with your own equipment. Shortly after 17:00 we reached a public beach section, which could be used free of charge.
Neatly exhausted we were around 19:00 back at the place and have it us in the restaurant “Al Paguro“ of the campsite let taste.
Day 3: Just chill – Tuesday, Sept. 12
After 2 days “on the roads” it was time for a break. Just relax on the beach with delicious Focaccia Romagnola. Already in the late morning we were back on the beach to find.
The walk from the campsite to the beach took only about 10 minutes, but we would have had to pack everything again and later unpack and set up again. Therefore, we had lunch at the “Bagno Balmor 156”. This bagno was equipped with a large playground, so our child could run around to his heart’s content.
It took a lot of convincing to get our offspring back to the campsite.
After showering we took an evening walk to Cervia center.
We were advised to try ice cream from the “Gelato Goloso” ice cream parlor. Unlike what is common in our country or in parts of northern Italy, in the rest of Italy the ice cream is not sold per scoop, but per cup. Here you can usually choose from 2-3 sizes. Depending on the size of the cup, you can then choose up to 2 varieties in the small size, for example. This cup then costs 2-3€, depending on the variety.
On the way to the “restaurant district” at the harbor, a crafts market was set up.
Street market in “Viale Nazario Sauro” at the port of Cervia.
We had our dinner at the restaurant “Peccato Di Gola”.
Due to advanced time, our little companion fell asleep after a short time, so we walked along the promenade back to the campsite.
Since our last stay in Cervia was in 2013, we immediately noticed the dilapidated Grand Hotel Cervia. Already when we were there the last time in 2013, the hotel had already closed.
As I read in an Italian blog, the operator of the Grand Hotel Cervia, which opened in 1931, went bankrupt back in early 2012 and since then the hotel has been closed. According to the blog, the hotel was auctioned in 2015 for 4.2 million euros. The further future is uncertain.
The “Grand Hotel Cervia”, now abandoned for several years.
Only the magnificent fountain, created in 1929 by Giuseppe Casalini, is still in operation.
According to the comments of the blog linked above, the 3 ladies are a model of the daughter of sculptor Giuseppe Casalini, Francesca Casalini at the age of 16.
There is also a separate post on the blog about the fountain and its history.
Day 4: Beach & Night Market – Wednesday, Sept. 13
Of course, the persistently good weather had to be exploited again on the beach – even if it became cloudy already at noon.
Once again we had our lunch at “Bagno Balmor 156”.
In the evening we wanted to cook on the specially purchased gas grill. In the process, I noticed that the counter plates for the grill feet are at home. Without further ado, the grill was placed on the side table.
After washing up, we walked to the southeast of the city in search of a “gambling den”. However, everything was already closed. As a venerable substitute, there was an ice cream instead.
Day 5: Stopover in Umbria – Thursday, Sept. 14
Visit the weekly market
Early in the morning the alarm clock rang, to promptly by bus to the city center to the weekly market. Wärend the wife strolled through the market, child and I let ourselves enjoy in front of an ice cream parlor overlooking the harbor.
Another short stop at the local supermarket to fill up the supplies. Then about 3h of driving awaited us to reach today’s destination.
Ride from Cervia to Passignano sul Trasimeno to “Camping Kursaal”
Departure was around 14:15 at the supermarket in Cervia. Despite numerous road works on the route and unclear speed limits (if any), we made good progress.
The closer we got to the finish line, the worse the weather became, until it even rained at the end.
Our route took us along the E45 (SS3bis) with a stop directly at the “Lago artificiale di Montedoglio”. At some point, even the best seat meat is used up and needs rest.
Break at Lago artificiale di Montedoglio
Because we had missed the exit in Pierantonio, we had to make a short extra round through Umbria (via Foligno). Despite the detour, we reached our intermediate destination around 17:45.
On our way, we have already briefly crossed the province of Tuscany, which was immediately recognizable. Of course, it may well be that it also looks like this in Umbria.
Here, too, only the most necessary things were set up, since we will continue the following day in the direction of Tuscany and drive off some photo spots there.
Pitch with a view of the lake.
The approaching storm created a gloomy atmosphere over the lake before the rain poured down.
In the evening we had dinner in the restaurant of the campsite Kursaal.
Day 6: Horror Trip to Tuscany – Friday, Sept. 15
Ride from Passignano sul Trasimeno to Saturnia to the campsite Alveare del pinzi A.A.Camper
In the morning we took some time to go to the pool before we left around 11:30.
Actually, we left much too late – for the stops ahead of us. But you also have to relax a bit.
To shorten the driving time, I crossed a few photo spots off my list. In the end, this decision was not so wrong, because it saved me quite a bit of driving time. The following stops were omitted:
1) Siena -> worth not only for a side trip.
2) Montalcino Castle – too far from the main route
3) Bagni di San Filippo (Thermal) -> too off the route, moreover, in principle the same as the spring in Saturnia, our destination for the day.
Unsuspecting, we followed the suggested route to the first photo spot. It was clear to us that the trip would take longer. After all, a few classic photo spots were driven off.
Shortly after leaving the campsite, you quickly realized that you were approaching Tuscany. The area looked exactly like in the photos and movies you know.
Crawl photo spots
On the way to the first spot, the Villa Baccoleno, arose shortly after each other 2 unplanned photo motifs. First we stopped at an avenue of cypresses, which one has seen so – or so similar – several times and are one of the “trademarks” of Tuscany.
No sooner had we set off than we found another spot: an abandoned train station. According to the inscription on the building, it is apparently the old station of Trequanda. However, the center of Trequanda is about 7 kilometers east of this station.
former Trequanda Station
The station is one of several old stations on the original route from Asciano to Monte Antico.
This line ran via Torrenieri and was closed in 1994. More information can be found on Wikipedia (in English). Also, in July 2000, ferrovie.it, an Italian online magazine about railroads, published an article about this railroad line.
A little while later we reached the actual first photo spot – the Villa Baccoleno
On the way to the second spot, Tuscany revealed its true face: potholes and moguls as far as the eye can see. Approved for up to 90 km/h, which is sheer madness.
40 minutes later we reached the next photo motif. It was the podere Belvedere. At first I thought we were wrong or not close enough. I knew so far only the photos from the Internet. The only thing I found were prohibition signs for cars as well as the explicit reference “private ground” – from this I concluded incorrectly that I must delete this goal. When I had stretched my legs a bit, I then happened to find the place where the photos on the Internet were taken.
The strains begin
The next destination on the route was the Zig-Zag Road in Monticchiello. On the way there, the bad roads stood out more and more. Often you had the feeling you should have turned somewhere else at the last intersection and are somewhere on an asphalt dirt road. But it should become even more blatant, but we did not know at the time.
Half an hour after leaving the photo spot near podere Belvedere we reached the said zigzag road in Monticchiello.
Surprisingly, we were the only ones at this spot. At the two previous ones, there were a few other visitors. It was all the more beautiful to simply enjoy the moment of silence and let our gaze wander. The loneliness did not last long and more visitors came. So we had at least someone who could take photos of us.
We had one last stop on the list – another cypress avenue, the country estate “Poggio Covili“
After a 20-minute ride, we reached Cypress Avenue.
Access to the country estate through the cypress avenue.
A new level of asphalt moguls
Shortly after leaving the last photo motif, we had to leave the main road and climb up a slope. I felt a little queasy when I saw the sign “10% incline”. The feeling didn’t get any better when the Audi SUV in front of me suddenly shifted into reverse and headed back to the main road. From now on it went forward with a maximum of 30-40 km/h – if at all. Willi bravely struggled uphill and downhill across Tuscany. Instead of the initially calculated driving time of about 3h for 130km we needed – including 4 photo stops – about 5h for it.
Nevertheless, it was a very interesting ride scenically.
You have reached your goal
Finally we reached the pitch Alveare del pinzi A.A.Camper around 17:00.
At this campsite we also stayed only one night, so the setup was done relatively quickly. For the first time I had to use the drive-up wedges, because the place is on a slope. As a highlight we walked to the thermal spring (about 15min) and ate there in the restaurant. A relaxing bath at sulfurous 37°C let the frustration quickly forgotten.
After wife and child were in bed, I drove with the e-scooter again alone down to the old mill for night shots with tripod.
Day 7: Back to the Coast – Saturday, Sept. 16
After a restful night near the thermal spring, it was time to make up the miles again today. There were only about 50 km of mountain roads ahead of us before we could cover the remaining distance on the highway. In order not to lose too much time again, we decided to leave early in the morning. At shortly after 9, we therefore already left the parking lot.
View of the thermal spring
Ride from Saturnio to Marina di Massa to “Camping Partaccia 1”
Marina di Carrara with the marble mountains in the background.
Since we were staying at the campground for the next few days, we replenished our supplies again at the nearby supermarket before settling down at the campground.
We therefore arrived only around 14:45.
After the rough setup was done, we headed to the beach.
For dinner we had pasta with grilled vegetables.
Day 8: Relaxing on the Tyrrhenian Sea – Sunday, Sept. 17
Today, Sunday, did not offer too much exciting. In the morning there was homemade Trammezzini for “breakfast”. At noon we grilled or cooked again. Afterwards we explored the campsite.
In the afternoon we went to the beach again. Because the beach is shielded from the sea by breakwaters, there was a lot of algae on the shore. Otherwise, it was a – for a Sunday usual – quiet day. In general, there would be so much to do – the least, however, is suitable for children or you would have to drive. Only an amusement park would be “nearby” and possibly reachable by bus – but we also have such amusement parks at home.
For dinner we tested the “Ristorante Marilyn” at the campsite. After all, it would be a good alternative to cooking yourself in the evening. The ordered food convinced in any case.
Day 9: Italy and the Buses – Monday, Sept. 18
Since today’s weather was not too nice, we wanted to make an excursion by bus. We originally wanted to go to Carrara, among other things because it is known for its marble. On the recommendation of the reception of our campsite, however, we went to Massa – that was a mistake, as we found out later.
The bus that we wanted to take to the center of Marina di Massa at shortly after 11, simply drove past us, although we were well recognizable waiting at the stop. When asked at the reception if you have to “stop” the bus somehow, it was only said “no”. It was then said that the next bus comes at 11:25. Unfortunately, the said bus did not come, because the reception obviously had an outdated timetable, as we discovered. The next bus at 11:45 came 10 minutes late, but stopped.
In Marina di Massa we had to change to another bus for the onward journey to Massa – all without any problems.
The stay in Massa was rather “naja”. Nothing outstanding, for the fact that in the neighboring town world-famous Carrara marble is mined. Of course, you can see marble used on all corners and ends – whether on building facades, fountains, statues, paved sidewalks or even curbs made of marble.
But beyond that, we couldn’t find anything else. Usually there are any souvenirs or the like in a wide radius around a special place. Not so in Massa. Actually, I really wanted to bring something from marble for home – but we found nothing.
In the meantime, we had stopped for lunch at the “Osteria Tradizione”.
The portions were manageable, but the taste was all the more convincing. In retrospect, it was probably the best meal during our entire time.
Traditional “Torta di riso”
Since it started to rain, we took the next best bus back to the center of Marina di Massa. Shortly after getting off the bus, we were more excited about this part of town than about Massa, so we didn’t go back to the campsite right away. The rain had also stopped again in the meantime. After a small ice cream we went to the nearby pier.
From there you could see white stone blocks in the breakwaters – possibly marble? In fact, marble, among other things, was used for one breakwater! Conveniently, a few smaller pieces were scattered around everywhere.
The “return journey”
Since it was already late afternoon, we wanted to take the bus back to the campsite. We had to walk to another bus stop, because in the meantime we had already skipped our transfer stop from the outward journey. To be on the safe side, we checked the schedule again to see when the next bus would leave. The waiting time was manageable. However, when 20 minutes later – another line should have already come – we began to have doubts. Some time later we decided to go to the next stop – but far and wide there was no bus to be seen. So we faced our fate and decided to take the 30 minutes or so walk on us. We had already been walking for about 20 minutes when we spotted a bus in the distance. Of course, we were right in the middle of 2 bus stops, so the first bus in our direction (actually, it would have been the third, but the first two never came) passed us. “Fortunately” it passed the waiting passengers, so we didn’t have to fret about missing the bus.
In the evening there was again something from the restaurant on the campsite.
Day 10: Stormy seas – Tuesday, Sept. 19
For several days now we have been trying to get filled doughnuts from the restaurant in the square. So far they were always already gone, no matter at what time we were there. But today we were finally lucky and there were doughnuts for us – a last one with vanilla cream was even still there!
As we set off further towards Lake Garda the next day, we still had the leftovers from the fridge on the grill: pasta with a cream pesto sauce and a beef steak already bought on the day of arrival.
Afterwards we relaxed extensively on the beach. Unlike yesterday, the sea was very stormy today, so we could only briefly go with child in the sea. However, it was all the better for me to photograph.
Thus, it was also clear that I would like to capture the sunset in the evening in front of this backdrop – so far I had not photographed a sunset. That was to change this evening. The swell actually lasted until sunset in the evening. Shortly before the sun disappeared, the opportunity arose to photograph another photographer at work.
In the evening after dinner we packed the first things, because tomorrow Wednesday we leave Tuscany and go to our last destination before the journey home.
Day 11: On to Lake Garda – Wednesday, Sept. 20
Drive from Marina di Massa to Camping Continental to Bardolino
This morning we had to pack the last things. Since our diaper supply was on “reserve”, we still had to go to the supermarket. In order not to arrive therefore again in the late afternoon at the destination, we left already at 9:30. Due to a taking place weekly market it was however impossible to park with a camper over several parking lots. So off on the highway and to Lake Garda. Since the breakfast against expectation failed, followed a short stop around 10:00 at a gas station for breakfast.
Booked out! The last night of the road trip
The pre-selected Camping Serenella in Bardolino was unfortunately fully booked – the first time in the whole time of our road trip that a pre-selected place was full. We had never booked a place in advance, but always went on good luck. Since we were traveling in the off-season, I got me from ACSI the ACSI CampingCard & Pitch Guide 2023 including CampingCard app. This time we had to reschedule. Since it was only for one night, I first found a pitch in Garda. Due to lack of internet connection – despite full reception with 4G+ I could not continue looking for a pitch at the lake. So we went first to the pitch in Garda.
Garda on Lake Garda
Fortunately, the connection was better there, so we then finally called the neighboring site of our original campsite and checked in. The place was unfortunately not represented at ACSI, so that there was no discount with our discount card here. The way to Garda was thus free, but we had so again an impressive view over Lake Garda.
The 4-star campground was very well maintained and had brick cottages to rent in addition to the pitches.
Since it was our last day in Italian waters and the clouds were rolling in, we headed to the lake immediately after checking in.
Towards evening we walked along the lake to Bardolino. Fortunately, there was a Ferris wheel on the shore. The ride was not quite cheap, but you could turn 3 rounds and had a nice overview of Bardolino and the surrounding area.
Bardolino from above
Finally, we went to the restaurant for the last time, directly at the lake. This was then also noticeable at the end on the bill. But it was the last evening of our vacation.
Before we headed home to the RV, we took the “train” through the old town.
Day 12: Everything has an end – Thursday, Sept. 21
The last day of the vacation was also one of the two longest days on the road. Pure driving time would have been about 5.5 hours. With various breaks, I had expected about 6.5 hours. In addition, we still had to refuel and wanted to buy a few things for home. We are therefore already against 10:00 from the place gone.
Somewhere on the Brenner freeway A22 between Lake Garda and Bolzano.
A bear “ghost driver”
Short break at a rest stop between XXL terminal blocks.
Saint’s Sepulchre Church in Bolzano directly above the highway.
As expected, there were numerous delays due to traffic jams. Our final arrival was only at 18:00.
When clearing out, one always realizes how much unnecessary stuff one drags along. …but you could have used it… maybe… obviously not this time – but next time you will…?
Even if you resolve to pack or buy less useless stuff next time, it’s guaranteed to be even more.
Findings & Conclusion
This vacation was different from the usual ones. From the beginning we were aware – especially me – that it will not be such a relaxing vacation as a classic vacation where you do not move from the spot for 1 or 2 weeks. We have always had this kind of vacation so far. By the given possibility to be able to make vacation with a camper, this vacation was designed on the fact that we will drive far around and will see thereby in addition, much, which would not have been possible otherwise perhaps. Whether the change of location from the Adriatic – via Tuscany – to the Tyrrhenian Sea, the various viewpoints in Tuscany, or Cascate del Mulino in Saturnia (the southernmost point of our trip) – all this we probably could not have looked at.
But it was also clear that we can not go somewhere else every day. Because our child also has vacation and does not want to be somewhere else every day. Therefore, we have spent several days both in Cervia (where we were last 2013 without child) and in Marina di Massa (where none of us has been so far). Simply to come down a bit, bring in peace and also sometimes have the whole day at your disposal. Due to the constant change of location – in the truest sense of the word – a lot of time falls by the wayside.
We have decided for us not to make such a big round trip again for the time being. Maybe in the next few years again, but then only a change of location and also again 12-14 days. Nevertheless, it was a unique and special experience.
In this yet very comprehensive blog post it was impossible to reflect all the collected impressions and to include the photos. As always, I have included interesting pictures in the post. All photos that were taken during these 12 days (and are intended for the public), I have – as mentioned at the beginning – published in the gallery. In total, I have this time – despite mostly merciless mucking out – over 550 photos from the 12 days road trip in the gallery uploaded.
♥️ Thanks to everyone who supported us directly or indirectly in the background of this vacation ♥️
And thanks also to all those who have read through and watched all of this to the bitter end.