Final thoughts from Italy…and into Switzerland 

We left Levanto this morning with a lemon tree for Jacky and and Olive tree for Kim. Interestingly they were 25% cheaper than yesterday. It might have something to do with the smart, elderly lady leaving the lovely elderly man in charge.

Here’s a list of the things we will miss:

Gelato (apart from licorice)

Little three-wheeled trucks, in fact there’s a strong chance that Kim and Jacky have squirrelled a couple away in the vans!

Fiat Panda police cars, great for catching the mafiosa. We set Stan the challenge to repurpose his.

We’re heading north out of Italy, skirting Milan and Monza. We believe we’ve been past Como but it was hiding shyly in the fog. We came across the Swiss border rather suddenly, with Kim worried she could be illegally importing an Olive but, after paying €40 for the privilege of driving in Switzerland, we sailed through.

Lake Lugano looks fantastic, if only the fog would lift. John was last here in the late 1960s so he’s the expert!

This is what it could look like….

This is what the view does look like….. We realise that we’d been very lucky with the weather so far on our trip.

And this is the van with the new olive tree, see if you can spot the tree

It’s pizza in the site restaurant tonight before heading off to Freiburg in the morning. We now have a day in hand and it’s unlikely to be spent here!

Cinque Terre, Lemon and Olive trees

Off to Cinque Terre National Park for the day but not before Kim and Jacky explored the garden centre for Lemon and Olive trees. The plan is to bring them back in the vans’ showers.

The National Park runs along the coast for 25 miles and only accessible by train or walking. We opted to take the train which was covered in graffiti and interesting decor. The backs of all seats were peppered with bullet holes. We wondered if this is where Sicilian trains retire.

We took the train to the first Cinque Terre  village, Monterosso, and decided to walk to the next one, Vernazza. How difficult could it be? We were warned of ‘many steps’.

The walk was about 3.5 miles and one of the hardest we’ve ever done. We went up about 180 metres, along  very narrow paths through vineyards and citrus trees. Then we went up some more before descending back to sea level. There were many, many steps!
Along the way we were entertained by Ken singing songs from his youth, much to the amusement of the Americans and Portuguese that we kept meeting along the way.

We discovered a hillside sanctuary for feral cats. There are shelters and bins of food with a request for walkers to put some food out for them, mornings only.

Lunch was overlooking the harbour at Vernazzo where we relaxed with the local aperitif, Aperol Spritz, a mixture of Aperol and Prosecco

After lunch, we hopped back on the train to the last of the Cinque Terre towns, Romaggiore, where we stopped for a welcome cuppa.

John and I headed back to Levanto for a wander round the town and a final Gelato. John chose licorice which was not a good flavour! We were all so weary from the walk that our final Italian meal was in the newly opened pizzeria on the campsite.

An early night for us all, hoping that the clock chiming every 15 minutes wouldn’t keep us awake again!

Latest update from Matt is that he’s snowboarding in the Alps listening to ‘Days like these’  from The Italian Job by Matt Monroe


Finally, we’re by the seaside. Levanto is very pretty and this is the first place we’ve stopped that Kim has wanted to live

Debate of the day has been which is best – Ice cream or Italian Gelato. They both taste great but apparently Gelato wins – technically its creamier, smoother, lower in both fat and calories. We’ll have to try a few more samples just to make sure we agree.

There are toads the size of dinner plates mating in the river just outside the campsite. Kim is fascinated by them. Jacky can’t stop shuddering at the thought of them and the noise they’re making which is competing with the chiming of the church bell every 15 minutes all through the night.

However, the most unusual wildlife award goes to the seafaring mallards. We didn’t know you could could get salt water ducks!

The latest addition to our motorhome knowledge relates to red and green stickers on the wing mirrors. Apparently Ken was fed some line that you use them to help position the van on the road. Our friend Colin says it’s just so the factory know which way to put the glass in…….we tend to believe Colin

Latest from Matt: snow is harder than it looks!

Day 4 – Levanto and Cinque Terre

We had a surprisingly good night in the car park but we’re disappointed to learn that we’d completely missed the annual antiques fair in Lucca. A fellow JustGo motorhomer had picked this trip, and specified the biggest van, just so he could fill it up with Italian antique bargains.

It’s bye bye Tuscany, hello Liguria.

We were heading to Deiva Marina but a recommendation on Facebook for the site at Levanto caused a change of plan. It was just over an hours drive from Lucca, using the motorway, before the hairpin bends down into town. The campsite is busy, the facilities are lovely and we’re parked between olive trees. Alarmingly, we’re starting to spec our own motorhome!

We plan to head into Levanto this afternoon and take the train into Cinque Terre tomorrow.