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Friday, 21 June 2013

Ere you sure it's this way?

We finally got our "Are you sure it's this way?" European tour under way on 9th June 2013 and 13 days later i am getting ear ache that I haven't put anything in a blog so here goes with a few photographs.

We didn't do any sight seeing on the way to our first major stop which was Certaldo, about 30 miles south of Florence. So France was a motorway blur and Switzerland the same but more expensive. Still, it would have been rude not to take a few pics in the Alps and I wish we had time for time!

A beautiful place to stop for a spot of lunch.

The weather up to the Alps was awful. Drizzle and overcast. Once on the Italian side the heat hit you like a hot wet blanket. It was like landing on another planet. Now there was a real sense that we were away. The campsite in Italy took a bit of finding but worth it. We were upset that we couldn't stay longer. Tenuta Squaneto in North west Italy was well off the beaten track, but with fantastic facilities and unbelievably a pool. Run by a very friendly Dutch couple, Barbera Witschge was particularly helpful in giving us directions to a local garage when I realised that I had left the locking fuel cap behind in France when we filled up! We found the garage ok but because we have long range fuel tanks we do not have a standard land rover cap!! The guy who owned the garage was fantastic. He spoke not a word of English but wouldn't let us leave without hunting high and low for a temporary replacement. Then responded with a firm shake of the head when I asked 'How much?'

Camping at Tenuta Squaneto

Then we found one of the delights of continually going round in circles trying to get back on our route. A beautiful stone bridge and field of wheat and poppies.

We finally arrived at Certaldo on the 4th day of travel, staying in a room at  Casachianti about 8 miles from town. We have stayed here before and it was great to meet the owner Cristina Chiti again after 10yrs. This is a great place to stay with a marvellous restaurant attached and magnificent sunsets:

The view from the terrace at Casachianti

The scenery around this part of Tuscany is terrific for photography and this time we got well off the beaten track. Unfortunately this often meant ending up in someones back yard but no-one really bothers. We just smile and say we are English and everyone understands.

Certaldo is a beautifully preserved medieval town that prides itself on it's greatest father Giovanni Boccaccio, the 14th century author of The Decameron, and takes every opportunity to celebrates his lifeand work. On this particular ocassion we were attending ‘A cena da Messer Boccaccio‘ (“Dinner with Boccaccio”) which was celebrating the writers 700th birthday.

As we didn't want to stagger far after the banquet we stayed at the Il Castello hotel which sits right at the bottom of the street the banquet is held in. A good plan eh?? The trouble is, when the banquet concludes, there are another three or four lively bars to negotiate before seeking refuge in a hotel room. This resulted in an extra night in the hotel to "aid recovery".

Next stop will be Comacchio and then Venice.