We hot-footed it out of Mafia country and headed for Rome, an altogether more civilised and calm city! Our first stop was Camping Tiber, as the name suggests, on the River Tiber 20 minutes from the centre of Rome.
Our first day in the city proved action packed and very warm! We worked our way around the Piazza del Pobolo, Piazza Navonna, Castel S’Angelo, Campo Di Fiori, The Pantheon, Bernini Elephant, Basilico S’Ignazio and finally the Parliament, by which point both Dot and I were ready to drop! It was sooooo hot.
On the way back to the campsite we stupidly didn’t check the times of the bus and ended up waiting for an hour in the hot sun! However it did mean that we met lovely Maisie, from Kingsgate in Kent, and a student at Kings College, near us in London- it’s a small world! She came and joined us for dinner that evening, then another couple from UK (Paul)/Oz (Maddie) came for drinks, a great wee night!
Next day we headed back into town in the late afternoon, hoping it would be cooler, to see some more sights and have a tasty Italian meal somewhere. It turned out to be a bust! The Trevi Fountain was closed for restoration, The Spanish Steps were covered by millions of tourists/scaffolding and the tasty Italian meal was a burnt pizza, which they got very stroppy about when we complained!
By this point Rome had worn us down and the ants at the camp site were so virulent that moved on to Lake Bracciano, 40km northwest of Rome. Despite the welcoming cool lake nearby, it was weird! Weird owner, weird rules, weird campsite, weird toilets, so we packed up before breakfast and moved 2km along the road to the fantastic Camping Roma Flash, and here we have stayed.
We have lucked into a lakeside pitch, and 5m from our door is the cool, clear, welcome, water. We have spent 6 days doing pretty much nothing except BBQ ing, swimming, reading, drinking and relaxing. On the hill above lies Bracciano Castle, where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got married! We have met lovely people Christine & Andy from The Shetlands, Will & Dieter from Arnhem, Colin & Dianne from UK/Oz who have been our partners in crime! We have even managed to hold my traditional birthday bbq with all these people and plenty of booze, although it wasn’t quite the same as London, it was still a lot of fun.
Dot managed to make friends with a group of Italian children, Valeria, Ricardo, Frederico, Sarah (all 5 years old)and Allesandria (8) who came to watch Dot doing some painting at the caravan and then joined in. They were great for helping me learn Italian! Their parents fed us amazing rum, cheese and mini pizza. We reciprocated by teaching the kids Dobble and Uno (hilarious they played it as ONE!) They also, very kindly, had Dot round for lunch, the first time we have had a meal without her for 4 months!!
Yesterday we took the bull by the horns, and made our final pilgrimage into Rome. We headed straight to the Vatican and St Peters square. It truly was worth the visit without seeing anything else. We then headed into St Peters Basilica, again another amazing experience, to be in the largest church in the world. Such huge ceilings, chapels, decorations and paintings. This on its own was spectacular enough, however we decided to climb the Basilica dome and cupola, because you all know Al likes to get to the highest point! I decided that as we were in the Holy City, and have not loved Rome, that I should try seeing it at its best. What a climb up tiny spiral steps in 35 degree heat, firstly reaching the dizzying heights of the inside platform of the dome, with tiny ant like people praying beneath. Then the even tinier and sloped spiral steps of the cupola, finally arriving at the circular viewing balcony outside. Wow! It was incredible. The view over the city took in all the sights we had already seen but also the Vatican gardens, the museums and Piazza St Pietro from above. It was a fabulous way to see it all.
Next, for our non catholic sins, we went to the Coliseum, by which point we were very tired, very hot and fed up. We wandered around it in a heat induced coma and then jumped on the cool, air conditioned train back to our little piece of Italian heaven! Next stop Sienna via Umbria.