Saturday 4 July 2015

Bologna and Lago le Tamerici

Italy, 9th – 12th May 2015

Our plan before we left the area was to have a look at the east side of the Lake Iseo so we drove up as far as Marone. It was much the same as the other side so we turned off and took the main road south heading towards Bologna. On the way there we came across a 2.3m width restriction on a bridge at Camatta which I thought we’d attempt being only 3cm wider
(not including the mirrors), but as we got within a couple of metres it looked like it wasn’t going to be do-able so I had to reverse back between cars approaching, looking like complete and utter tourists, and go back the way we’d come taking a detour to be able to get across the river at another point. We drove along flat country lanes with fields alongside and hardly any cars, it was very different to the mountainous terrain we’d been encountering so far, and was more like French countryside. It would’ve been a good area for cycling but we continued on thinking we’d pass through similar areas again (which unfortunately was not the case). We stopped at the Sosta in Borgofranco sul Po (N45.04775 E11.20524) which was on a grassy area in the village with picnic benches and next to a play park. It was a very pleasant spot, we had lunch here sat out on one of the picnic benches before emptying our waste tanks and continuing on our way.

We stopped in Modena for the night in a free car park (N44.65318 E10.90992) next to a large park. It would’ve been a nice park previously but the grass had been neglected like it was in most places in Italy and was about 2ft tall. We had a walk around the park and looked at what was going on at the other side where there was some sort of demonstration fayre going on for all the local children’s sports clubs.

In the morning we drove into Bologna looking for a place to park, and after trying one car park that had No Motorhome and tow truck symbols, we managed to just fit for width into some street-side parking bays that we had the GPS for. Whilst just about to put our  money into the pay & display machine, a friendly old Italian chap stopped us and pointed out the no charge on “Festivi” which must’ve included today (a Sunday) so that saved us €7.50! It was quite a long walk into the centre where we looked around the main square and the Quadrilatero, which is the old historic centre of Bologna that in current times is a cluster of streets filled with restaurants and delis that sell regional products such as parmigiano reggiano, Parma ham, and Modena’s aged balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico di Modena). There was an interesting food hall building with counters along each side, each selling a different type of Italian food. We chose a restaurant for lunch to sample some authentic Bolognese, aka Tagliatelle Ragu, before some more walking around.

The Palazzo Communale
Basilica di San Petronio

Bologna's Le Due Torri in the University Quarter:
Local superstitions say that anyone who climbs the tower will never graduate
Inside the Palazzo Comunale
(Used by the city council, and also for exhibitions and art galleries upstairs)

Heading towards our next destination of Pisa on the none-toll route took us along small twisty mountain roads before stopping for the night in Montecatim Terme in the stadium car park (N43.88286 E10.76386). There was a railway passing directly behind us but luckily the trains stopped running for the night with it being a Sunday.

We were running out of clothes so went onto a campsite to be able to do some washing, plus to relax as we’d been busy with all the travelling and sightseeing. We used our ACSI book for the first time and chose one that was based next to a small lake. On the roads there we saw 5 accidents including a tipper lorry that had fallen into a deep trench in the roadworks where it was working and as we were about to leave Lidl carpark a car hit the side of an Italian motorhome on the crossroads. Campeggio Agriturismo Lago le Tamerici (N43°38’14” E10°22’3”, ACSI €16 + €1.50 pp tourist tax) was quiet so we could choose any pitch, we got the best one facing onto the lake and set up camp including using the awning for the first time ever. Rather than paying for the washing machine we made progress on our full laundry bag doing it in a bucket which took most of the afternoon. When our washing line was full we went for a paddle on the lake in the kayaks that were free to use which was fun. For dinner we got the Cadac out, another item given its first use, and I cooked a very nice Jambalaya on it that we washed down with a bottle of Prosecco. We stayed sat out until it started to get dark and the mosquito bites started.

Our pitch at Lago le Tamerici
Jambalaya time!

As we really liked the site and we hadn’t had much time to relax due to most of the day being taken up doing the washing we decided we’d stay another night. While Jo read I finally got my windsurf board put in its bag that we’d had inside the van from the UK and been moving about between the shower, the bed and the cab. An English couple, Paul & Suzanne, arrived with their Vespa on the back of their motorhome and parked next to us. They were touring Italy en route to Croatia for an international Vespa rally. I spoke to them for a while and they leant me a book about a family that had toured southern Europe in an RV so I read the sections in it on Pisa, Florence and Rome later on. Jo and I went for a paddle in the kayaks again before setting the Cadac up in BBQ mode to cook very tasty chicken, pepper and onion kebabs that we had with homemade potato salad.

It was like a mini holiday at Lago le Tamerici and we were then ready for our next round of sightseeing.

- Matt

A few more shots (click to enlarge):

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