The Way is the Goal - Sicily #1
Yes, a white Christmas, a nice Christmas with the Griswolds and red cabbage stains on the tablecloth...every year. Or not. Because the last time it snowed at Christmas was when I was very small, so the amount of snow seemed relatively large. Chevy Chase is watched on demand these days and red cabbage? Some things only become good when you let them be good.
We are going to Sicily
Therefore, the plan for Christmas is to escape to the front, or rather south to Sicily! Instead of wet grey to sweet gingerbread and Last Christmas on continuous loop, rather warm rays of sunshine, exquisite food and La Dolce Vita.
However, the largest island in the Mediterranean is not necessarily just around the corner and the way from the Alps is correspondingly long. With a distance of around 1800 km, you can make the road alone your destination and plan detours along the way. Fortunately, with the camper you have maximum flexibility and only drive as long as you feel like it. If you only have a week, you might want to consider a destination a little closer to home - because you really need to be able to sit still. We had almost three weeks and therefore had the peace and quiet. In total, however, we were only on the road for a little over two weeks and headed home again due to a nasty change in the weather. And for us, the cost-benefit ratio was tiptop.
The way to travel is through the stomach
Our journey begins in the early afternoon, about a week before Christmas. The roads are still fairly empty and we just can't resist...taking a 200 km diversions to our favourite pizzeria in Bassano del Grappa. At some point we lost our heart to this wondrous place in Veneto and well, we just have to "return home" every now and then. For campers, there are many possibilities to spend the night at small campsites or at various pitches at restaurants and inns.
Bassano del Grappa
Bassano del Grappa lies at the entrance to the valley of the unrecognised Val Sugana on the southern edge of the Alps and is marked by the Brenta, to which some beautiful bridges in the old town are indebted. Besides the typical flair that small Italian towns exude, Bassano is filled with life. As a university town, the numerous restaurants, cafés and bars really come to life in the evening. Aperitif celebrated. Once the belly is filled with fine food, the self-respecting stroll to the time-honoured wooden bridge. Ponte degli Alpini. Here the bars serving local spirits proliferate and the sunset over the quietly rushing Brenta is phenomenal.
An insider tip not only for gourmets
As the name suggests, there are many grappa distilleries in Bassano and the region that invite you to visit them. In addition to the grape marc brandy, however, various liqueurs are also produced that more than rival the usual aperitifs! The simple rule applies: the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So cheers, meal and cincin!
However, the name Bassano del Grappa offers not only millennia-old cultural assets and liver damage, but also many wonderful employment opportunities for fresh-air fanatics.
From the Grappa Distilleries to Monte Grappa
Monte Grappa - although it was the scene of heavy fighting in the First World War, and houses a monumental ossuary built by fascists in the 1930s. Despite the bloody past, this historic site is worth a visit not only because of the 1600-metre difference in altitude from the valley. The view of the Po Valley is beautiful as far as the eye can see - if it doesn't get too hazy again. The road is also suitable for campers, as long as you give way to the numerous racing cyclists.
Mountain bikers are not neglected here either, but above all the sky is littered with paragliders who take full advantage of the ideal flying conditions. However, along the Grappa Rock there are also some interesting via ferratas as well as sport climbing walls that provide active pastimes.
With the camper through the Conca di Rieti
For us, however, after pizza and a few sprinkles, we continue south. Next stop: Rieti. Some will wonder what the heck Rieti is and others are probably glider enthusiasts or paragliders again. For the former, however, it should be said that you haven't necessarily missed anything if you haven't seen the Latin town of Rieti. We ourselves were only indirectly in Rieti, but preferred to drive through the Conca di Rieti in our camper. A high valley that is closed off between the Reatin and Sabin mountains and, with a little searching, reveals wonderful hiking trails.
Rather on the road in winter
We start in Poggio Bustone, where the village community, whose average age must have exceeded 70, look at us like aliens and follow our feet as far as they can find a path. But this disappears at some point, as the cattle have presumably swerved onto the forest road that we pass. No problem in the light forest and in the slightly frosty conditions we stand on the flat summit plateau of the mountain without a name. The view into the valley takes my breath away, at least a little. Even in the late morning, the cold inversion of the ground does not want to let go of the fog and the cirrus clouds obscure the already weak rays of the sun. The view has something mystical about it and finds a special place in my hippocampus.
Monti e Mare
It feels like half the route is now behind us, but that is no reason to hurry. As I said, a camper's journey is the destination. A brief consideration is to stroll on via country roads, but since from Rome the motorways are actually toll-free...we reserve this for other camper holidays. Instead, we continue via Naples with a detour to Vesuvio and the Costiera Amalfitana onwards in the direction of Calabria.
Hurray for the auxiliary heating!
And every camper, or at least the without own hygiene chamberknow the problem on the road: Showers! We at least have an outdoor shower, but even in southern Italy it gets quite chilly at night in December and the freshly filled well water is no warmer. So it's all the nicer to stop off at an olfactory stimulating spa on the road!
Nose closed and through
Lamezia Terme is rather known in Italy for the high accumulation of 'Ndrangheta, but the marketing of the region and especially of Terme di Caronte is slowly getting off the ground. Besides proper thermal baths with slides and co, the locals have embraced the natural sulphur springs and built a public bath. We arrive at night and are delighted to find that we can not only park our camper right next to the springs, but that the baths are also lit up at night.
Next Stop Sicily
The water temperature - a dream! So we splash around far more than our noses allow and enjoy the now balmy night. The question at the end of the bathing fun, however, is how we don't take the smell of rotten eggs to bed with us. But clever as a fox, we have of course taken precautions. We filled our flexible water canisters of 5 L each with ice-cold well water...and simply bathed together with them! Over the hour, the water was just as warm as the thermal water. At the "shower place" we scrubbed clean, but instead of giving ourselves the full cold treatment, we can shower without batting an eyelid.
Besides thermal springs, Calabria also invites us to many other adventures, but we only make a short detour to Tropea to then head for the ferry to Messina. Sicily here we come!
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