From Lake Garda, we travelled on to Orbetello which is a small Tuscan town in an area known as the Maremma, in the southern province of Grosetto.
Click here to see the details of the campsites we used.
It lies 35 km south of Grosetto in one of the most unique and wonderful positions on a thin strip of land in the centre of a lagoon.
Unfortunately, we were not very impressed with the campsite at Orbetello as the vans were all squashed in together. There seemed to be a bit more space around the caravans and motorhomes pitched under the trees but we wanted to park up in the sun as at this time of year it can still be a bit chilly in the shade.
The site was right by a busy main road so we could hear quite a lot of road noise. But the biggest problem with the site was that it was about 10 km away from the old town of Orbetello and the same from Porto Stefi. There was no public transport (or so we were told at reception) and only the narrow busy road leading into the towns which meant that cycling was out of the question for me as I am still nervous cycling on the road.
The site steward pitched us in front of a caravan who’s owner told us we needed to move our motorhome at 3 pm the next day so that they could get out. This would have meant making sure we were back before 3 pm if we went out for the day.
The beauty of having a motorhome is that you can just move on if you are not particularly keen on a site which is exactly what we did the next day.
There are nature reserves in the area which are a haven for lovers of nature and keen bird watchers, as well as miles of sandy beaches.
We got chatting to an English couple in the motorhome opposite and spent a couple of hours over a cup of tea talking about where we had all been and where we were going. I think they were as desperate as us to have a conversation with some Brits and it’s always good to pick up tips along the way from our fellow campers.
The next morning we moved on to Rome but stopped off to explore the ancient town of Orbetello first. We were told that there was a large parking area where motorhomes parked just on the edge of the town.
It’s a small compact town where the centre is free of cars. The narrow streets and squares are packed with bars, restaurants and an interesting mix of shops. The Medina Gate is the entrance to the walled city and was built in the 16th century.
Sitting in the lagoon is a small, rustic windmill which is the only one remaining from the original nine. They were built in the lagoon in order to use the power of the water to grind wheat which was then shipped back to the mainland in homemade boats.
We had a quick walk around the town, stopped for some lunch then headed back to the motorhome. As we approached our van we noticed a young lad sitting behind it by the wall having a cuppa. He surprised us by saying hello (we were not expecting him to be English).
We had not noticed when we parked up that we had parked next to a British plated motorhome. We stood and chatted with him for ages then his wife joined us after putting their daughter down for a sleep. Steve and Libbie are travelling for 6 months with their 2-year-old daughter Phoebe. They sold up their home and are travelling around Europe before immigrating to Australia. They were also heading for Rome and catching the ferry over to Croatia so maybe we will bump into them again.
We didn’t think we would make it all the way to Rome that day as we were leaving it late so we picked out a camper-stop which was about an hour down the road but unfortunately it wasn’t what we were expecting and was just an open green on the edge of the village. Somehow it didn’t seem comfortable and we were the only motorhome there. We prefer to camp where there are others just to be on the safe side, safety in numbers and all that.
The next camper-stop which was another hour further down the road was a disaster. Our TomTom told as we only had 3 minutes to our destination then directed us onto the motorway. Once we were on it she said that we were at our destination. Oh dear… We had to pull over at the next services and get the books out again. We had been on the road for a few hours by this time so we made a cuppa and a phone call before getting the books out again. We decided to drive on to the campsite near Rome which was now only another hour down the road. It meant that we arrived a bit later than we normally like to get on a site especially when we still had to cook dinner but at least then we were at our next destination for visiting Rome.
Camping Tiber, as the name suggests is set beside the River Tiber which was a lovely setting. We planned to go to Rome the next day but unfortunately, it was raining and we didn’t fancy walking around Rome in the rain. We have no time constraints either so we just relaxed in the van for the day reading, sleeping and I took advantage of the time to update my website.
The weather seemed a bit better on the Monday morning, although it was a bit overcast, we were eager to get out and explore again. The campsite ran a shuttle bus to the station which was only 5 minutes down the road for 1 euro return. The train into Rome was really straightforward as it was at the end of the line. The journey only took 20 minutes so Camping Tiber was a really good find.
We hadn’t planned to visit Rome on this trip as we had always promised my mum we would take her but as it was so close and on our way to Tivoli we thought we would just take a peek.
We had no map, guidebook or plans when we came out of the station as we just decided to walk and see where it took us. Obviously, next time we come back with my mum we will be armed with a map and guide books and will probably do a Big Red Open Top bus tour the first day to get our bearings then hop on hop off the next couple of days to see the places of interest.
The first area we came across was a big square in the Piazza del Popolo where there was a genuine Egyptian obelisk various sculptures and the twin churches.
From Piazza del Popolo we then found the Spanish steps with the Piazza di Spagna at the base (“The Fountain of the ugly Boat”). The atmosphere in this area was really lively and the flower at the top of the steps was in bloom and really beautiful. The Trinita dei Monti church dominated at the top of the steps.
The Scalinata is the widest staircase in Europe. There are 135 steps in total but I am afraid I didn’t feel particularly energetic enough to climb them and wanted to save my energy for walking around as much as possible although I have read that the views are stunning down into the winding alleys of the heart of the historic centre.
Next, we arrived at one of Rome’s most dramatic monuments the beautiful Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain). This area was really crowded with tourists sitting on the fountain and people jostling to take photos. It was hard trying to get a decent photo here.
We then went to have lunch and do a bit of people watching in a little café on a side street just up from the fountain. After lunch, we headed for the Colosseum but somehow got lost and ended up walking in a big circle. In the end, we decided to stop for another drink and save the rest for our next visit.