Well Christmas Day has been and gone, and the best bit is there are no decorations or tree to take down. We had decided we really didn’t want a traditional Christmas dinner, so we went mad and got a pizza from the parlour here – the way ahead for sure, zero washing up on Christmas Day equals bliss.
Whilst technically it wasn’t Boxing Day in San Marino, for some reason all the shops were shut and there wasn’t any public transport. We guessed they were taking a sneaky extra day off as a country so we decided to up and out of there and head on with our travels.
We didn’t really have a plan of where to go or even how far, but after 10 days inland we both agreed it was time to head to the coast. The road through Rimini was quiet as the Italians had also all apparently taken up the Boxing Day idea too, in under an hour we had our first glimpses of the Adriatic Coast. There is a toll road right down the coast but we ignored that and stayed on the main road which threads its way through the numerous holiday resorts. Between the road and the sea runs the main railway line, so to get across to the sea at any point you need to go under a bridge or over a level crossing. The majority of the bridges were too low for us so we flitted in and back out from the sea at the crossings.
Overall, it’s all a bit Butlins crossed with 1950’s Bognor. It’s certainly clean and tidy, to be fair everywhere we have been in Italy has been beautifully maintained.The promenades are immaculate with good cafes and restaurants but it does lack a little of the Italian glamour and style we saw on the Mediterranean coast. The beaches were mainly pebble and the road by the sea is dotted with hotels and campsites for mile after mile. The road is much easier to drive than on the Riveriera, there is a 3.5 tonne weight restriction so no major problems with traffic and it is a much less windy route as the road is fairly straight right down the Adriatic coast.
The campsites are in plentiful supply, hundreds of them, obviously none of them actually open as that would mean the not small number of motorhomes about would have somewhere to stay. We checked ACSI and there was a campsite open 8 km inland. Worth going for the total difference in scenery, rolling hills with olive groves and stone villas. Campsite had a gigantic welcome sign stating they are “now open all year” – but no they weren’t, everything was locked up and you could see no one had been there for months. The lady at the house opposite reception was sweeping up leaves from her porch and trying to totally ignore the motorhome parked outside her gate. As she wouldn’t catch our eye we gave up and decide to go back to the faithful sostas.
We have found that on the coasts sostas are pretty few and far between, and a bit rubbish to be totally honest. As soon as we move inland they become more plentiful and more inviting to stay on. We picked Mondavio as the village has a sosta for five vans, and its free and to be honest we wanted to recover some of the money we spent on site fees in San Marino. Less than half an hour later we were at the bottom of a steepish hill, walled village above us and we are feeling rather smug that yet again we had found ‘the most beautiful village in Italy’ (there must be a factory that mass produces that sign as they all have it). It’s five bays on a small car park below the walls, there were apartment buildings around us and a few cars parked so we felt safe enough and park up and head off for our Boxing Day walk.
Mondavio was another gem of a find, it must be that every village in this country is on a hill top surrounded by a wall and looks pretty amazing. If this were the UK it would be a tourist mecca, here there doesn’t seem to be anyone much giving it a second glance but could be its much busier in summer. Of course there is a the medieval castle, as always, built in 1492. Remarkable for the fact that it is largely intact, the moat between the castle walls houses some pretty over the top looking battering rams and other artifacts that had some connection to war and destruction but were less easy to name. Every single building looked like it had been renovated in the last few years, more likely the village is kept in pristine condition at all times. It should be once you have seen one of the villages you have seen them all but that really isnt the case. Each one has something very different and we could easily spend the next 10 months just visiting cutesy Italian hilltop villages.
In the centre of the square was an old church that had seen better says, from outside we could hear cheesy Christmas songs being sang, we found a door in and were in the centre of nativity scene heaven, from simple scenes made of paper right up to elaborate displays with lights and sounds and pretty much everything in between. We did walk around the town but it was absolutely freezing, our noses were glowing so we gave up and headed back for a warm up. A peaceful evening until midnight, when a stream of cars starting coming and going. It seems we were parked where the locals come for a drive and chat late evening, no-one bothered us at all but its hard to sleep with car doors banging every two minutes. By 1am it had started raining which quickly turned to hail – things quietened down quickly then as they all cleared off home, thankfully.
The big debate on our route to Greece has now been resolved. This morning we set our nose in the direction of Ancona, being totally unorganised we had no idea where the port was, no maps and no gps but reasoned that there would be pictures of a ferry on sign posts and that would get us through. After a few tours around we found a said sign and were onto the docks with minimal fuss, a very modern little area to check in and buy tickets, not a massive old fashioned port as we had expected. The advice we had was to shop around for a good price, we tried Superfast who offered €450 including a cabin but no space until Tuesday. We were the only people at the counter and I could see a much bigger queue at Mimoan Lines so I believed it would be a better deal. We tried there next, kerrching – deal 🙂 We can’t sleep onboard in the motorohme as its winter, so they will give us a free cabin instead – total price €259, we snapped her hand off. She then muttered price change and we thought we had looked to keen – price dropped down to €252 so we could breathe again. The price we have is €50 less than the one we have from Brindisi which is a good 400-500 km from here so we are feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, lets hope that is still the case when the ship docks and we see what we are sailing on for this bargain price 🙂
So as I type we are sat in the boarding lanes on Ancona docks. There are several motorhomes waiting in the queues, a couple of Italians, one Finn and a few Germans. We sail at 4.30pm and its a 22 hour crossing, so that is going to be fun :). The lady in the office told us to go to the purser when we get onboard and he will give us some discount vouchers for food, not sure what to expect but sure it will be fine. We have a couple of campsites pencilled in on the map for when we arrive so fingers crossed when we get there they are actually open, failing that we might just follow one of the other motorhomes and chance our luck they know where to go.
Arrivederci Italy its been ace, too short a visit but another one that is on the list to visit again.