Leaving “Magaluf”, our next country was in our sights. It was only a short trip up the motorway to Italy, but not before we headed slightly south to the little coastal town of Piran. We had heard that it was very pretty and worth a visit, so 45 minutes after setting off we arrived and attempted the task of parking! This can be a little challenging in the BFG at times and sadly this was one of those times! The park-and-ride would not allow campervans, we nearly got stuck in a small car park and the only other spaces were ‘permit only’, so slightly dejected, Italy beckoned.
Apparently the roads in Italy are not the smoothest and after only a few miles it seemed to be true! A brief stop at a tiny (and slightly scruffy) looking motorway cafe to check that we still had all four wheels attached and for what may be the strongest, but smallest, espresso to date we continued along yet more bumpy and unfortunately ugly motorway in search of the beautiful country that we hoped we would find.
Turning off the motorway although the roads didn’t improve much the scenery certainly did, with pretty fields and towns in sight and hills starting to rise towards us. Another stop for a quick bite to eat, this time at a little bar on the roadside, reminded us that our Italian language skills needed some improvement as we tried to order sandwiches and coffee. We got the coffee bit right, but what we hoped would be a nice parma ham and mozzarella ciabatta came out as a toasted ham roll……..some work to be done there then!
Further pretty, twisting and hilly roads lead us to our stop for the next few days on the shores of Lake Caldonazzo. Having settled into our stop it was time to explore! After checking out what the site had to offer and a short walk by the lakeside whilst savouring an ice cream, we arrived back to the site to see that they were showing the MotoGP race on the TV at the bar – much to my delight! A beer and very exciting race later, it was time for food and to plan our next couple of days.
Waking to our now default of blue skies, we fueled up for a walk to a little hamlet at the other end of the lake. After following the flat cycle path to start with the first climb in the heat was a bit of a shock to the system, but lead us through pretty lanes lined with fruit trees and a massive cherry tree plantation offering great views of the lake. We climbed on stumbling upon a small-holding owned by a friendly local who insisted that we pick as many cherries as we could carry as he has too many, before showing us all the other produce that he was growing, from tomatoes to beetroot and even fennel and figs!
Bags heavier with the sweetest cherries that we’ve ever tasted we eventually made it to our highest and halfway point in a tiny hamlet and sat in the welcome shade of a pretty church to eat sandwiches and……cherries!
The decent back to the lakeside was through pretty woodland, with little history lessons along the way about the long history of mining in the area, complete with drawings of old miners that made them look like extras from the Hobbit! This kept us entertained for some time! Hot but pleased with our day of exploring, we returned to the site ready to replenish our energy in the form of pizza and wine – purely to check the authenticity compared to pizza back home of course!
Yet another hot morning greeted us and I decided to explore more of the local hills by mountain bike, leaving Blaise to make sure that the swimming pool was up to standard! Map in-hand, I headed off on a ride that was to take me around both Lake Caldonazzo, but also its smaller neighbour Lecco. What appeared on the map to be a nice, viewpacked and mostly off-road ride turned out to be nearly 100% on-road and not quite as viewpacked a ride as I’d hoped! Back to the BFG for lunch and a water fill-up, an afternoon route was planned whilst Blaise confirmed that the pool was of a good standard so she would spend the afternoon testing the effectiveness of factor 30 suncream!
For the second ride of the day I’d devised a route, combining part of the previous days walk, plus a few more hills – or as it turned out, a lot more steep hills!
A few hours later I returned, happy with my exploring and finding some great off-road trails, but annoyed with myself that I’d tested the limits of hire-bike grip on the last descent of the day. Fortunately the only damage was a few minor scrapes and a knock to my pride! Blaise in the meantime was happy to report that factor 30 suncream does work very well!
The remainder of the day was spent fetching a couple of beers to help my wounds heal (well that was my excuse anyway!), and planning our next move north to the mountains…