Trials and Tribulations in Tuscany

This was a week we had been looking forward to for a while as Ali’s dad and step-mum were flying in to join us for seven days in Tuscany. Because it is now high season we decided to book ahead, reserving a pitch and a small mobile home at Camping Colleverde in Siena. We arrived, slightly apprehensive as it was in a built-up area, and the pitches were set out more like a car park than a campsite. Somewhere to spend 24 hours, not a whole week! Things went further downhill when we discovered a convoy of Irish travellers had arrived the night before. We were frantically wondering what to do next when we noticed that the owners ran another site nearby at San Gimignano. We went to check it out and we were allowed to transfer our booking over without losing our deposits and got a free upgrade to a better mobile home. Result!

Boschetto di Piemma was a fab site in the heart of Tuscany. The drive in from the motorway was beautiful, and the views of the town and surrounding country from the restaurant terrace were stunning. It was a small, new site, and we bagged a shady pitch under the trees as the thermometer was off the dial. Keeping cool is a major struggle at night at the moment. Dot was happy to escape every evening to the air-conditioned second bedroom in Allen & Linda’s mobile home!

Everyone who worked here was fantastic throughout our stay, including the manager who we nick-named ‘superman’ for making our swap from Siena so easy.

The weather was hot hot hot so we alternated sight-seeing with days by the pool, still managing to take in Florence, Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, Volterra and several local vineyards, who all do free samples. Which then led to a purchase or two… hic!

Florence was touristy and despite the impressive buildings and the famous Ponte Vecchio it wasn’t the highlight we thought it would be. Siena was better, with its atmospheric Palio – oh to have been here seven days before with the horses charging round. Dot and I (of course) climbed the 503 steps to the top of the tower. San Gimignano was wonderful – we waited until later in the day when the crowds had thinned and stumbled upon a free concert by a Dutch youth orchestra in the main square. What a memorable setting, and the self proclaimed ‘best ice-cream in the world’ was pretty good too. We only stopped in Pisa long enough to take the obligatory snap of the famous tower – another world-famous site ticked off the list!

The week flew by, and it wasn’t long before we were dropping Allen and Linda back to Pisa airport, hitching up the caravan and moving on. We had arranged to meet friends in Lucca for dinner in the evening, so we were in a bit of a rush.

There are lots of campsites by the sea 20km from Lucca; unfortunately almost all of them sound like total dumps from the online reviews. Camping Luna was the only one with good feedback – we phoned ahead and were told abruptly that we couldn’t reserve a pitch and that the reception was shut between 1 and 3.30. Despite Ali flooring the accelerator on the motorway we pulled into the site at 1.05pm. In our haste, we took the entrance corner too sharply and jammed the caravan into a hedge, with the rear hanging out dangerously over the main road. Great. We were facing a two and a half hour wait just to find out if we could get a pitch when the apologetic restaurant manageress appeared and told us the site was full. Luckily we met the only friendly Italian camper in the whole of Italy, who helped us push the van off the road to safety. More pushing and pulling was needed to manoeuvre the caravan 180 degrees so that we could escape. We were directed us around the corner to another site where we set up, had a quick swim and a snooze then headed to Lucca. Pauline and Robert were staying in the most amazing apartment, tiny, but with a roof terrace to die for over-looking the main square. What a fab place to enjoy a cold glass of wine.

Back at the site we decided to move on. Camping Taimi had no view, no atmosphere and a busy road at the front, but they had the nerve to charge us 52 euros for our pitch, insisting that Dot pay adult rates. We had planned for 2-3 days here, but being on a budget, we packed up first thing and headed North in search of somewhere better value for money.

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