Tarquinia, Lazio

Selina found this stopover at the last minute after we decided that the leg from Porto Ercole to Rome was too long.  For the first time, we tried an Agriturismo stop and we have to say we are really impressed! It is 10€ per night including water, sewerage and electric, which is amongst the best value we have found. Essentially, a section of the farm is set aside for camping cars.  There are fresh water and electric on each pitch and a separate area for grey water and black water – just like a proper campsite.

We chilled out for the afternoon and the next day we spent the day wandering the town.  A highlight was the Monterozzi Necropolis.  There are believed to be 600 burials on the top of the hill just outside the town. These date to the Etruscan period – around 500 BC.  The burials are about 15 feet underground. Around 50 have been fully excavated and a handful are able to be viewed. They are underground caverns hewn from the rock and then plastered and painted with murals depicting Etruscan life.  Well, Etruscan death really.

The excavated tombs are empty apart from the murals – the sister museum in the town holds many of the artefacts discovered. Although many of the graves were already robbed during the last couple of thousand years, there is still plenty to see of the Etruscan burial customs!  So that was the afternoon gone!

Next, we set out for Rome!

Porto Ercole, Grossetto, Tuscanny

We arrived in Porto Ercole and immediately found that the ‘open all year’ aire was shut until March.  Great. The other formal locations that appeared in our apps were all shut so we resorted to car parks where overnight stopping was – if not formally allowed – then at least not prohibited.  We found a secluded spot outside Porto Ercole at the top of a steep hill and through the main town (which has no campervan signs!) The app told us that a campervan had stopped only a few nights previous.  Although it was just by the road, the road only lead to the secluded and uninhabited end of the island, and we had a very quiet night. IT was also really dark – it was odd to have no light of any kind nearby.

Next morning and T got in a couple of drone flights over the sea and then it was off for the next stop on the hike towards Rome.


Pisa, Italy

We researched the route better for this journey. Getting to La Spezia we had a couple of brown trouser moments including ending up in a 2.5-tonne limited road, a narrow backstreet while looking for the motorway from the SS1 and going under a low bridge (3.5 meters – where T has measured us at 3.4).

So we thought we knew what we were doing at the La Spezia end and we checked the route into Pisa including street view for the roads to the camping stop.  All good we thought…

…And to be fair it was not too bad. We got directed down two roads with height limits that the satnav didn’t know about and the campsite was down a one-way road with a 3.2-meter viaduct at the start. But it worked out fine, the viaduct had 3.2-meter signage but was closer to 3.5 so we *just* fitted!

So, we are learning to ignore the satnav warnings in Italy.  Our satnav is a special motorhome one – basically, it is a modified truck satnav.  It supposedly has all the road widths and length/weight limits programmed in as well as all the bridge heights.  So it’s smart enough not to send us down roads where we can’t – or shouldn’t – fit. But it’s been a nightmare in Italy.  So from now on, we are navigating best as we can the night before each journey to make sure the route seems safe!

Anyway, the aire at Pisa was quiet – it has space for 60 vans, but there are only four others here when we show up.  It’s 12€ for the night and we save a few euros by not having the electric hooked up.

Straight out for the afternoon to the tower, there are other things to do in Pisa, but we only had half a day, so to cathedral square it was!

Around Cathedral Square there are a number of attractions.  The tower itself was 18 euros each (trying to recoup the £200 million spend reducing the lean!), so we decided that was too rich for us. The Cathedral was free and it was 16€ to do all the other attractions for both of us.

So we wandered around the Cathedral, the Baptistry, the Composanto and the museum.

The next morning and we met up with a lovely brit lady – we had seen her van before in St Tropez – it stands out as it’s an ambulance conversion and we chewed the cud for half an hour. Then a reasonably early start towards Rome – We have a couple of overnight stops on the way.

La Spezia, Italy

This was just a quick overnight stop that is convenient for Pisa in the morning. It was a long drive down.  We did mostly the toll road, but just for a change we also tried 40km of the SS1 coast road that winds along the seafront.  The wonderful twisty roads were wonderful, but we could not face 200km of it!

The motorhome aire is down near the docks at La Spezia.  The aire is run by the local ambulance station. The area is a little run down, but the juxtaposition is that lining the docs are the shipyards of some of the great superyacht companies such as the Ferretti Group and Sanlorenzo

The ‘small ships marina’ (in quotation marks because some of the ships are of course superyachts) at Lotti Porto, was a really nice affair.  Looks pretty exclusive and must cost a pretty penny to moor your boat there we think. Great to be able to walk along the jetty without locked doors everywhere!

Also in attendance was one of the Sea Shepherd boats.

La Spezia
La Spezia
La Spezia

Dolceaqua, Italy

Dolceacqua (https://thatsliguria.com/en/dolceaqua-the-place-that-enchanted-monet/) sits on the banks of the Torente Nervia about 7km up the river from our campsite at Vallecrosia.  As we had a cycle path right outside the campsite, we got the bikes out for the first time in a few weeks and had a lovely ride up the valley to the village. As we cycled up the valley we were facing huge mountains topped with snow.The whole route was separated from the main road so we felt great bumbling along.

As we did not do extensive research for this visit, we were not really sure what to expect.  I fact we nearly missed out this stop as we were not sure what the village had going for it. So glad we didn’t.

We were presented with a picturesque town on the banks of a mountain river.  The two sides of the river are joined by a gorgeous high arched 15th century bridge (among other more modern bridges).  On the far side a ruined castle (Castle Doria) sits on a high ridge and below the castle is a labyrinth of narrow and steep cobbled alleys lined with lovely narrow but tall houses.  Many of the house are joined by buttresses and in some places fully enclose the alleys making a maze of tunnels. We were completely flummoxed by the beauty of it and we have hundreds of photos that somehow all seem to look the same.  We spent three hours wandering around the small village.

In 1884, Claude Monet visited Dolceaqua and three of his works cover the view of the bridge. Art is still very much in the way of life here are there are many art studios and galleries buried in the maze of twisty passages.


When we tired of the cobbled lanes (YOU ARE IN A MAZE OF TWISTY LITTLE PASSAGES, ALL ALIKE) we crossed the river and found a wonderful restaurant,Casa e Bottega (https://www.ristocasaebottega.it/), and had a fabulous slap up meal. Pasta with beef starter, Rabbit main, Apple crumble for pud.  We had a village produced red with the meal that was so good we asked if we could buy a bottle to take away. The best meal we have had in a long time.

And then a slow bloated cycle back down the valley to the Mothership.

Dolceaqua was one of the places suggested to us by family and friends:  when we had our 100th birthday bash, we asked people to mark wonderful european places on the map any many obliged – we have around fifty extra places added to our map!  When we were writing this up, we thanked Em and Luke for the Dolceaqua and they say they’ve never been, so that’s us confused. If it was you that suggested Dolceacqua – thank you, thank you – please let us know!

Blog updates in the van in the evening and preparing for a long leg tomorrow to La Spezia.

Vallecrosia, Italy

Our first stop in Italy and it was a day of compromises on the journey from St Tropez.  We have had loads of warnings about the awful Italian roads: Narrow, windy, and full of bad drivers. And we already knew that the coast road from St Tropez to Monaco was not going to be fun in a big camper.  So today, for pretty much the first time in five months, we had Sally set to allow toll roads.

On the A8 we sped past the major French towns of Cannes, Nice and the Principality of Monaco. This was fine for us – we visited many years ago and found the opulence kind of vulgar really, so we didn’t miss them.  Maybe another trip when we have more time and inclination, we’ll see how the Côte d’Azur has changed in the 30 years since we last visited!

So 30 Euros later we arrive at the village near the campsite and it’s narrow and bumpy straight away – not a great omen for Italy. But there are big campervans in the same campsite as us, so we shrug it off.

A lovely van built pizza and we also enjoy a little satellite TV.

The site at Campersite Nervia is almost empty – it’s a 50 pitch campsite with a few statics too and there are about 6 other campervans.   It’s not great weather and it starts pissing down so no exploring the first night. The campsite is throwing a very loud birthday party too in it’s large function room so we sing along to the mainly English language hits until the early hours.

The next day we had a lay in and then went out for a stroll down the seaside about 500 meters away and through the town.  The promenade hosts a weekly car boot sale with tons of interesting junk to look at.

The only bummer on the day was that the whole town is littered with dog muck.  Maybe there is not a law in Italy – we’ll keep you posted!

Ramatuelle, St Tropez

The Cote d’Azur does not seem very camper friendly.  We are out of season so most of the proper campsites are shut.  There are very few camping car aires, so we had to take what we could get.  The location we found was out in a national park, close to the Sea. The road was easy but the weather was dreadful – howling winds and pissing down so we elected to sit it out for a further night plus we both felt pretty rough – colds not shook off yet.

Anyway, in the end, the location was great, it was a mere 50M from the sea front and set among bamboo beds.

The next day and we went for a wander along the sea front and up into the national park in the hills above the camping area.  We were about 5km around the promontory from St Tropez proper and there was not much here. Apart from the campsites we found a gated community ‘Village de Pecheurs’ saying ‘go away’ in no uncertain terms so we stayed away. Unlikely to actually be any fisherman living in that place we think – it even has it’s own no drone flying zone!

Next it’s a 150km hike along the coast and into Italy!



Marseilles started off very bad!  As we normally do, we used Sally to help home in on the site.  Sally is a ‘Smart’ motorhome satnav that knows the height, weight, width and length of the Mothership, and she avoids roads that where we either won’t fit or are legally not allowed such as a 3.5 tonne limit.

Ok, with that background in mind, the Marseille stopover was a bloody nightmare to find.  We followed the satnav until the time when we were halfway up a mountain and the road narrowed to 2.5 meters.  We could not bloody fit. We don’t have the dashcam footage as the power lead had fallen out, but suffice to say that the 300 meters of reversing down a VERY narrow road was a fecking nightmare!  Even once we found a route out, we were stuck down a two way road with room only for one. It took half an hour of sweating, swearing and worrying of both navigator and driver to extricate us. PHEW.  After that and the easiest thing to do was ignore the 3.5 tonne limit and find out that we had been circling the site and sure enough we arrived just fine in ten minutes.

What had we done wrong? Well, the important thing to consider is that the weight limits apply to specific roads.  Off those routes *shrug* anything goes. So what happened was that we were directed off wide easy roads that happen to have 3.5 tone limits to ever narrower roads that eventually became impassable – but which in the satnav don’t have any legal limits applied. Our only fix was to turn off the weight limits and to use Google maps alongside the satnav to guide us home.

The frustrating thing is that when we arrived we noted that many heavy vehicles were travelling down the restricted road, so from now on, more research needed for city locations! And for the second time on this tour, we learn the lesson that 3.5 tonne limits should be considered advisory 😉

Next day and it was a bus into town then the metro for the historical centre. We had a wonderful afternoon exploring the town surrounding the old port and the fort plus a great steak dinner overlooking the marina.

The schedule prevents us spending another day here otherwise, there is a lot more to see and do.