Author: Mrs A
Location: Ventimiglia, Italy
As we packed up to depart this morning we met two sets of interesting fellow campers. The first a British couple, fellow Hymer owners (also members of the owner’s group), Steve and Kathy, permanent travellers who offered many great tips for our foray into Italy. Secondly the German couple parked beside us who were travelling with their gorgeous camping cat, a friendly 12 year old tabby. It was almost enough to make us stop a second night.
We moved on regardless, onto the toll-road that was to take us along the coast into Italy. We filled up with diesel and then had the daunting task of filling with LPG gas. No two filling stations seem to be the same, and on this occasion I had to pre-authorise an amount in the shop before anything would start. Sensing confusion, an attendant came out to help Mark connect the French/Italian adapter and we purchased our €12 of gas – no nightmare fill up like our last experience in the UK, thankfully!
On we drove, the temperature dropping down to 15 degrees centigrade as we climbed into cloud. Before long we were back down by the coast and passing through the border in to Italy – no passports checked, but a few military vehicles around.
We wound our way along the coast, spectacular views in front of us, and before long we were arriving at our campground in Ventimiglia.
It always amazes us how you can cross a border and instantly the culture and look of an area changes. Although there has been much Italian influence in the French Côte d’Azur it is nothing compared with the real Italy.
More than one in ten people in Italy is unemployed (compare this with 5% in Australia and just under 4% in the UK and USA) and it was immediately obvious with young men hanging around and our first sight of people begging for money. Reading the forums, it seems that Italy is also the location where many motorhomes are broken into. We felt safer leaving our Truffy parked up at a campground with good reviews on the outskirts of town and taking the shuttle bus in for a look around.
Friday is the day for the big market in Ventimiglia, and we had great hopes for picking up some fresh fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately there were few food stalls, mostly selling cheese, sausage, fresh pasta, sun dried tomatoes and pasta sauces. We bought some pecorino and sausage, Mr A trying out his Italian.
The rest of the stalls were a repetitive mix of cheap clothing, shoes, handbags and homewares. Nothing unique or artistic…while this was on the scale of the market at Edmundi in Queensland, Australia, it was nowhere near the quality or variety.
After a good look around, we wandered over the river, deciding to explore the old town. It is high up above the water and dates back many centuries.
It would have been great to have taken a tour, there are dozens of interesting doorways and clues to past building uses but for now those stories remain hidden.
After a good explore, we called our campground shuttle bus and they were there in 5 minutes to collect us and take us back to Truffy for the evening.
Of course our first meal in Italy was pasta, together with pesto, vegetables and some of the delicious spicy sausage we’d purchased. But no wine. No, we are still recovering after the excesses of France!