Italy was frustrating because there is so much beauty but once we came out of the mountains and went further south the drivers got crazier. Honest to goodness, I would much rather drive in Mexico. Many of the drivers straddle the center line…….even when passing. We decided to go to France now, the country that we have most wanted to see.
But before we drove to France we made an attempt to see the towns of Cinque Terre along the Mediterranean. Every campground we stopped at was full and we were told we should make reservations now for next year. One campground was underneath the pillars of a freeway where we had to back up a steep road in order to leave. And the owner said he owned another campground that was also full. The views heading up into the hills from Genoa are magnificent. The Italians put different sorts of screens up along the highway so that the views aren’t a distraction.
The highways are very nice but expensive to drive as far as tolls. Driving up into the mountains is quite easy because there is tunnel after tunnel instead of winding up and down and around.
We climbed up and up on a four lane highway and then took a shortcut to southern France on a two lane road. What a drive! It was raining and at one point the fog was so thick we could barely see the road. Just breath taking. So break taking that when we reached the top of the pass on a road that was not in very good shape, both Steve and I let out a deep sigh at the same time. The view above is looking at the town of Briancon, France. The drive was so pretty that I would do it again and hope for better weather.
This imposing fortress was in Briancon overlooking the town.
I have waited too long to write a post and don’t know where to begin because we have been so many places. Plus, from time to time I have writers block. This is just a quick post and will try to catch up with more later.
Driving to Lake Garda which is in northern Italy south of Milan.
We stayed at an Aires (1/2 EU per hour) just a few feet from the lake and in the town of Riva. There are so many flowers blooming in the town that it smells like a perfume factory. There are bigger mountains than these that rise straight up out of the lake.
Constantly, there are castles and churches perched upon hilltops and mountains always making us think of the hard labor that went into building these structures.
We drove up to this castle in Ivrea near Turin only to find out it was privately owned. We were able to walk around outside a little bit though. Parts of the castle are an exclusive hotel and restaurant.
View from the castle overlooking the town and mountains in the direction of France.
We took a wrong turn in the town and were in an area of streets that were one way. No matter which way we went we got further into trouble.
Finally, we said to heck with it and went the wrong way down a one way street.
Ivrea has a McDonalds with free Wi-Fi. The only problem is that to get on you have to start an account that needs your name, birthdate, place of birth, address, passport number and an Italian phone number. Several places that we have gotten on the internet took our passport and then there is a system to record the time accessing the internet and what sites were visited. Everyone says that this is because of September 11th. So far I had only heard how hard we make it for visitors coming to the U.S.
I had my follow up doctor’s appointment today and he wanted me to stay in Garmisch a week to 10 more days but we needed to move on. This is a valuable traveling time of year because the weather is nice and also it is before everyone starts their holidays. He was a great doctor and didn’t even charge for today. So we left this area with so much beauty and interesting houses, many with painted murals, and drove over the Brenner Pass to Italy.
Vehicles that are over 3.5 tons (us) are required to buy something called a “Go Box” for travel on Austria’s roads. Enough money to cover our travels would have to be deposited up front and then whatever is left over is returned when leaving Austria. One couple we know paid $350 just to drive through Austria from west to east. We elected to cross Austria where the distance was the shortest but because we weren’t on a major road entering Austria there was no place to rent the Go Box. Instead, we bought the vignette that vehicles under 3.5 tons use which cost 7,90 EU for 10 days of travel in Austria. We were probably in Austria just an hour.
There was also an additional toll to drive over the Brenner Pass and Italy charges to drive on it’s major highways too. Then, and this is no exaggeration, we went to five different Aires (overnight camping spots) that didn’t exist any more or maybe I don’t know how to put coordinates into the new GPS we had to buy because our other one died. Steve almost ran over a bicyclist and then he pulled out in front of a line of traffic. I wanted him to drop me off at the nearest airport.
Well, then we drove by a campground that is in the most wonderful setting. It’s in south Tyrol in the town of St. Lorenzen near Brunico. This part of Italy belonged to Austria before WWI and the people have their choice of going to a school where the teachers teach in German or to one that’s Italian. But whatever school the children go to, they are also taught the other language. So far, everyone we have heard speaks German. We have already walked into town and looked around and gone into the church. Now this is a tiny town that’s probably not on a lot of maps but look at the inside of their church:
This is just a small part of the painted ceiling.
And this is our view for tonight. There’s a castle in the other direction that I haven’t taken a picture of yet. Actually, we saw many interesting castles just from the roads driving here. As you can see, we have already done laundry too. It was a busy day that ended well.