1st – 7th April……….Piediluco
We decided we should find somewhere to be settled in over Easter so we chose a campsite which opened on the 1st of April for the start of their summer season and that was the day we arrived there. The village we are camped near is Piediluco which is 376 meters above sea level and is east of Terni and the camp is situated on the banks of the beautiful lake with the same name. When we arrived we virtually had the campsite to ourselves and we enjoyed the peace and quiet that it gave us. The only other people we saw were people with permanent pitches with a mixture of caravans and large summer houses, who were there getting their retreats ready for the season. The guy running the site is very friendly and lives just across the field in a motorhome with a caravan behind it and in his little compound he has various ramshackle shelters. He does seem to be a bit of a character and when he is in and around his living area he spends all his time talking to his large parrot that spends a lot of the day on a perch just outside his motorhome door. When the bird wants some attention then it squawks very loudly and then it was not so peaceful. The other bird that we heard but never saw was the very loud woodpecker that spent its time somewhere close, doing what woodpeckers do. Whilst the campsite was so quiet; pairs of Hooded Crows spent their days hopping around the field. These crows are just like the crows we see at home but their hind neck, back and lower body are a pale grey and in some lights they are tinged brownish.
As the days went by the camp began to fill up. It is now Easter Monday and the camp is teeming with Italian families. All over you can see smoke coming from the barbeques that are being lit and footballs are flying about everywhere; chased by the energetic children. The woodpecker and the crows have gone……….probably to where all these Italians have come from so they can again enjoy some peace. Even the parrot has remained indoors so the camp is now a non-squawk zone. The little town which borders the lake has some nice little shops and the lakeside bars and cafes were all being prepared for the summer season and the very large rowing club which is the neighbour to the campsite is always busy and rowers are training on the lake throughout the day. Strangely enough there is an Olympic sized, outdoor swimming pool complete with stands just over the road from the rowing club but this was closed up whilst we were there.
On the morning of departure we woke up to flurries of snow and because of the height above sea level of the area then it is obligatory to have snow chains available to use right up to the 15th April. That is the quickest we have ever got ourselves on the road so that we could head for our next destination near to Rome which is a lot less meters above sea level. We were very pleased that the snow showers did no develop into anything because even with snow chains, motorhomes are notoriously bad to drive on slippery roads. It seems bizarre that we had been basking in the sun at 23 degrees on the 2 previous days!!!
The traffic got really busy as we got closer to Rome and the campsite we were heading for is called Happy Village and is just north of Rome’s ring road and the local town is Prima Porter. The site itself is very convenient because they run a free minibus service to and from the local Metro station and the line goes into the heart of Italy’s capital city.
8 th and 9th April………Rome and the Vatican City
We joined the others waiting for the 08.30 minibus run to the station and half an hour later we were out of the station and in central Rome and we made straight for Vatican City. By pure chance; when we got there the Pope was giving an audience and St Peters Square was packed and no one else other than those in the square was allowed to enter the barriers. We stood with a few hundred others just outside the surrounding barriers and managed to get a couple of pictures of the great man himself once he started to walk down to meet the invited who were to receive his blessing that day.
It does seem that the whole population there owes their living to the Vatican. Everywhere there are stalls selling tacky religious gifts and mementos and rosaries could be had with the Pontiff’s image on the box for one euro a time. We were approached countless times by persistent ticket touts selling their tour of the Vatican Museum and the Vatican church enabling the purchaser to “jump the queue.” On top of that you have to cope with the beggars going around the crowds shoving their cups under people’s noses. Then there are the charity workers collecting for this or that charity; all with a good cause I am sure. Seemingly, old ladies would be found everywhere prostrate on the floor, covered in blankets but the nails on the hands clutching the begging cup were pristinely clean and one had perfectly manicured nails complete with perfect nail polish. Of course, Africa must be almost deserted by now as all of its former population are in Rome selling everything from handbags to wooden carvings. Worse than anything are the sellers of selfie sticks. These are the worst of the lot! They were going around in packs selling these extendable sticks with a clamp to hold ones mobile phone so people can take a picture of themselves (why on earth do they want to do that!) in front of whatever monument or historic building they stand in front of. It is bad enough being approached to buy one of these dreadful things but walking around the city means ducking under a sea of raised mobile phones everywhere you go.
We left the square and walked all around the walls of the Vatican City to see if we could enter this small independent country but to no avail. We wanted to buy some Vatican stamps but we were refused entry by the police at the back vehicle entrance. We did see a single track railway line that ran into the Vatican City itself. ( This is Elaine now) Alongside this was an area where the homeless had set up camp, what with this and the beggars we wonder how this is allowed to happen on the doorstep of the richest, smallest ‘country’ (separate state) in Europe, taking into account the phenomenal wealth of the church and the Vatican City. Jack does not want me to write this – but I feel appalled that there are such signs of deprivation; litter ‘outside the walls’; poorly kept gardens and obvious signs of poverty. Perhaps I should have stayed safely inside the walls and not been an observer to the realities of the real Rome.
Jack now: We have seen the Vatican and St Peters Square, The Roman Forum, the magnificent Monument to Victor Emmanuel 11, The Saint Angel Castle, The Coliseum, the Pantheon and of course the Piazza Navona. The main building at the top of the Spanish Steps was wrapped up and covered in scaffold and the Trevi Fountain was being cleaned so when we got there we were a little disappointed as all we could see is no fountain and a lot more scaffolding. We have crossed a lot of the bridges, so beautifully decorated with magnificent statues that cross the River Tiber that meanders its way through Rome. Our second day in Rome gave us a lot more time to see the Roman ruins around the Coliseum.
We walk everywhere so we have seen and visited far more than the highlighted places that you would see on a travel guide. Rome has given us some wonderful views, some magnificent photographs and memories that will last us both forever.
This magnificent statue is on a bridge going over the river. Just imagine the scene, “Give me that ice cream!” ” No, It’s mine!”……” Well it was my money that paid for it!” ……….and the poor bloke being trampled under foot is saying” heavens sake.. all this fuss over an ice cream. If you will let me up and you’ll all put some clothes on, I’ll take you all down to Carlos. my treat.