Almost all of the adrenaline-fuelled activities are to the north of Lake Garda, where the lake cuts spectacularly into the Italian Dolomite mountain range. But we had no intention of adding to our Family Adventures . So no white water rafting, kayaking or climbing, this time we'd be adding to our Bike Adventures alongside the south-east corner of Lake Garda, leaving our well placed campsite at Piani di Clodia and heading for Lazise & Sirmione.
The rambling 5-star Piani di Clodia campsite, spread along the shores of Lake Garda, Italy, offers four different ways to escape the summer heat... a huge water park, gentle swimming pools, a dip in Lake Garda itself or through the spacious, shaded grassy pitches. So if you're looking to book your next summer camping holiday, you could do much worse than try one of Europe's best campsites by a lake or river. Think less sand, more a combination of sun, aqua parks and great food and loads of opportunities for family fun!!!.
It's been an eye opening view into another side of European culture for our girls. Full of new adventures with plenty of new friends met along the way. It's been full of 'wide eyed' stares at the poverty witnessed in Poland or Hungary, yet these are often the places with the warmest of local people... We've seen the impressive canals of Venice, climbed the steep cliffs of Split and been staggered by the beauty in Budapest, Vienna or Prague.
Does your family love to explore new cities too? Need to escape for a few days? Want to compare weekend breaks to top cities such as Bordeaux, Dubrovnik or Copenhagen? Well, our European Cities Experiences page might be right up your street.... but today's article saw us visit the 'City of Bridges in Venice, Italy. A city renowned for its Venetian glass, lace, art, carnival masks, churches, palaces and public squares....
A new star was born in the camping world over a decade ago: The fifth star! Luxury campsites could be set apart for the quality of their facilities, location & accommodation... So having seen other Leading Campings sites including La Marina (Spain), Turiscampo (Portugal) & Camping Krk Resort (Croatia). We were excited to discover just what made Union Lido, the first ever Italian '5 star' Campsite, as we drove from Croatia to Italy, and the stunning location of Venice.
Heading north from the Gorge du Verdon (after another brilliant family adventure hiking up to the spectacular viewpoint at Point Sublime) We've headed northwards in the hope that we'll eventually get to see the famed Aiguilles de Midi.... but not before some spectacular winding mountainous roads through the breath taking Haute Alpes region.
One of those posts to let our pictures do the talking.... more pictures also on twitter including Positano...
Amazing drive from Pompei, through the tunnels, over the bridges and onto the Sorrentine peninsula... take the SS145 and follow your nose... Across the cliffs on vertiginous cliff hugging roads with crystal clear water beneath... the calmness, tranquility is something to behold.... Try and squeeze a few more miles along the coastal roads past Sorrento and beyond... sadly the motorhome has its limit and we had to turn back....
But if you get a chance, take a boat ride further along the coast and take in Positano and the amazing views!
Visiting Pompei.... a thought provoking place with a tangible sense of history that simply surrounds you
Perhaps a first, hopefully not our last.... Wonderful stay inside a caldera in our Adria Matrix van... surely that's a first for both Adria and ourselves...?
Naples was not bathed in sunshine today, like yesterday, but despite that we sauntered the 25yds across to the heart of the caldera after an hr long photography lesson.. Perhaps a favourite lesson of the trip so far, as you could visibly see them improving across the hour... and it helps when you have photographic evidence to prove it :)
So after watching various Youtube clips of how and why volcanoes form, it was off to experience it at first hand... the sulphurous fumes, the pumice stones around our feet and the realisation that mother nature is so much more powerful than us!!!
With steam rising from all 4 corners that surrounded a bubbling hot pool of churning mud.... it was atmospheric to say the least.... but it was the sheer heat from the pores in the rocks that really made us consider the magnitude of the place....
With many thoughts to commit to paper, we headed back armed with facts from the plentiful information boards and a chance to reinforce the learning from today....
Naples awaits tomorrow before we hopefully experience the splendour of the Amalfi coastline over the next few days....
Having spent some time researching prior to departure, the Lonely Planet guide came up trumps here... We prefer the Discovery series as it is far more visual, great for kids to read with us!
So after a quick drive south from Bracciano, we arrived in Ostia.... situated right next to the main Rome airport (Fiumicino)... it is perhaps one of the most well preserved roman sites (maybe rivalling Pompeii...)
Unexpected bonus.... Italian Super Cars on an Italian lake shore.... One for you petrolhead... Just for the record, the girls choose an older Ferrari over the new ones... #vintage #ferrari red
Thankfully, the museum more than matched the supercars and for a free entry, it really is brilliant!! Chock (!) block of flying memorabilia dating back to the Wright brothers and before... all the way to the present day jets used in civilian or military action..
From sea planes, to helicopters for the Pope to travel in... it really is a worthy detour!!! Enjoy!!
As too was the Bracciano castle, Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, this stunning castle is surrounded by cobbled streets from the old quarter of Bracciano and sits imposingly over the lake's edge.. Sadly time eluded us so although we had brief walk around, we just didn't have time to enter!! One for another time! as too the caldera nearby!!! I'm sure we will pick this one up when we visit Naples in a few days!!
Motorhomers heading for Italy might want to consider this little gem of an aire on the shores of Lake Bracciano...
This fantastic Parcheggio near to the lake is run by a wonderful family who simply couldn't have been more helpful... with wifi/mifi issues, they didn't hesitate to take a few hours out of their day to help by ferrying me to the local 'Three' shop... truly brilliant service!!
And even better... the site and views matched their hospitality... we simply had to stay for 2 days!
So well rested after bike rides, watching bike rides and from meeting a new friend for the girls... it really was a well needed break in what has been a very busy journey so far...
For anyone who has never visited Florence, us included, it simply blew our minds!! Stunning architecture, vibrant piazzas, uniquely interesting museums and art galleries... It almost has it all!
Having traipsed down via Siena (sadly not as impressive as we thought it might be...) we arrived late at the Pacheggio Gelsomino just outside of the central walled area of Florence (Firenze). More than adequate for 15 euro a night and an easy bus (number 11) into the city...
Making a beeline for the Leondaro da Vinci museum, we practically ran through the streets towards this novel and informative museum... Lottie was so inspired, we have another video blog entry in the final stages of completion as both girls marvelled at the genius's inventions...
With rumbling tummies, we headed into the Piazza del Duomo for a bite of pizza whilst overlooking the Santa Maria Cathedral... with pigeons flying perilously close, we left for the Piazza Republicca and a carousel of all things... both girls loved this!!
Sadly time got the better of us, so we raced through to the Uffizi and a chance to see the statue of David.... if we had more time, we would have visited for longer but we needed to head south before nightfall so back we traipsed to the aire/parking... this 20mins walks allowed ample time for some food shopping and a gelato...
Before arriving back and descending south for Siena and eventually Lake Bracciano, Rome
Both girls throughly enjoyed their opportunity to create this video on the Leaning Tower of Pisa to help their cousin Izzy's school topic on Italy...
After a decent night at the Parcheggio Camper site, just a few minutes walk (10-15mins) from the centre of Pisa, we were ready and rested and couldn't wait to go but.....
Schoolwork was needed... so after a morning of Italian lessons, Mathematics (equivalent fractions) and some geography... we headed into Pisa to discover just what makes the tower so special...
We were certainly surprised to see just how much it leans - both from the ground and when we reached the top.... a little disconcerting to climb the 250+ steps of marble to then feel you are being propelled over the edge by gravity (and the severely sloping balconies).
After a decent visit to both the tower and the cathedral it was back to the site, via the panning shop and a well earned sandwich.... nice to chat to fellow travellers at the site (both the Just Go families who were making their way back to the UK & to Edgar/Marceline who are undertaking exactly the same route as us.....)
Florence awaits in the morning..... art history lesson methinks!!!
Safe to say this was a day in the van..... in the pouring rain for over 7hrs!!! a journey that was necessary but arduous!!
Some lovely sites on the way, great coastal climbs followed by beautiful seaside villages before heading into the highly industrialised Genoa...
Suffice to say, we are now well acquainted with the Autopistas and can honestly say we were impressed with the amount of well constructed bridges and tunnels... some 50+ tunnels line the route from San Remo to Cinque Terre.... quite a feat of engineering!
Sadly Cinque Terre was both cold and wintry and had very little to suggest we needed to stay... so after a quick foray (by car and not train sadly..) we headed south in the now blustery conditions....
Pisa and the making of a video for the girls cousin Izzy awaits in the morning!!! We will know all about the Leaning Tower of Pisa come tomorrow night!!!
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