48 Italy & Germany
ITALY Jul - Aug 2013
Islands re-visited (after 44 years).
We entered Italy at Trieste from Slovenia.
In the city of Ravenna we were reminded of the charms of Italy; like Basilicas with exquisite wall mosaics; in rich greens, brilliant gold and deep blues – and delectable “gelato”!
Dipli “collected” his country no. 105: San Marino, one of the world s smallest states and the oldest republic in the world (Since CE301). We ventured up the narrow streets to the Castillo and down again to a park.
Military Police (Even though they have no army!) came to check that our visas and car docs were in order, while Jan was doing tlc on Dipli.
Tunnels and autostradas-in-the-sky took us down the length of the boot-shaped country to the toe. At Reggio de Callabria we took the ferry to Messina, Sicily
In Taormina the maze of narrow lanes prevented Dipli from reaching the Greek theatre but at Syracuse we could sit on the seats of the pearly white 5th c. Teatro Greco.
Papyrus reeds grow near Syracuse. An exhibit showed sandals, baskets and writing on papyrus from the 15th century BCE.
Volcano Mount Etna was smoking but we did not hike up it this time, as we did in 1969. Along the shore you could not see the beach for umbrellas.
At Agrigento we slogged up in the severe heat and then down to our overnight parking from whence we had a view of 5 illuminated Doric temples on a ridge, where they were erected as beacons to sailors, 20 centuries ago.
We drove through olive groves and vineyards beneath spectacular medieval hill-towns.
Set in the midst of wild, desolate mountains, the huge 5th c BCE temple with 36 giant columns is a magical site. Segesta’s never-completed Doric building is remarkably well preserved.
The overnight Ferry runs from the coastal salt ponds of Trapani, Sicily to the palazzos (mansions} of Cagliari, Sardinia.
From Cagliari coastal roads afforded spectacular views over aquamarine waters. Leone researched on the internet the ideal places to snorkel. Driver and gps navigator obliged. However, we were hardly in sight when, for kilometres, cars would clog the approaching road.. The prettier the place, the worse the congestion. Peak season! We got the 2nd last spot at a campsite to, at last, enjoy the nearby beach and warm blue sea.
Inland many mysterious bronze aged stone towers, Nuraghe, are found. We climbed the circular staircase to the top of a stone tower built 1500 BCE. That night we were next to it underneath a cork tree at full moon.
The island is French, which means fresh baguettes at the filling station; also excellent wines, cheeses, home grown fruit and home-cured meats.
It has astounding geographical diversity; from beaches and glittering bays to peaks and breath taking valleys. We stayed in a forest with wild domestic pigs and drove the partly single lane track close to sheer cliffs and multi-coloured boulders.
The ferry from Bastia to Livorno on a week day cost 1/3 the price of week ends.
Along the Italian Riviera to Monaco, Dipli s 106th country. We struggled, but managed to photograph him in front of the Casino of Monte Carlo, in the same place as the photo of our 2CV in 1969.
Leone at "Monte Leone"
First over Simplon Pass and then Grimsel Pass led to the picturesque villages of the Swiss Bernese Oberland. The chalets on green hills had window boxes cascading with flowers.
We used the GPS to stay off major routes which require a SFr 40 Vignette.
1 Aug is Switzerland National Day. We were entertained by a firework display over the Rhein river falls at Schaffhausen.
We Drove all the way East to Zittau. There in 1999 at the Robur factory we had camped for 3 weeks, where Jan had bought Robur axles to replace the Landrover ones, which had so frequently broken, while driving up Africa.
There is now only a spares depot. However, there still were 2 trained mechanics who replaced rear side shafts, front brake drums and adjusted tolerances on the front axle after 230 000km of good service
The rest of the time in Germany we visited friends and enjoyed beers at lakes and monasteries and beside palaces. We gaped at treasures the rulers had accumulated in the centuries up to 1918. In Munich the Bavarian Wittelbach kings and in Dresden the Saxons. How can one imagine one 18th C sword and scabbard with 2060 diamonds!
Thanks, once again, to the ADAC camper parking book, we found a spot near Koblenz, on the Rhine river where we could sort and pack for home.
We parked Dipli at our friends’ workshop in Aachen. He took us on a boat on the Ruhr Lake and showed us the new revamped ex-military area of the Eiffel National Park.
We were kindly delivered to Brussels air port at 6 in the morning on 31 Aug. 2013, for our annual 6 months home visit.
This journey up to August 2013:
Time on the road (excluding home visits): 7 years 2 months
Kilometres driven: 289 000 Countries visited: 106 (with Dipli). US States: 49