Iggy the Hymer is sitting a few hundred metres from the archaeological site of Ancient Pompei. We are at N40.7612 E14.4915, otherwise known as the very hospitable motorhome sosta Agricamper La Giuliana. We arrived here, travel weary and limping, yesterday evening. Five days and many a sight seen, since our departure from Pisa on Sunday morning.
The weekend market was setting up around us for it’s second day as Iggy glided out from our free parking spot. Pisa is a welcoming spot of flatness in a generally hilly Italy, and in the Sunday morning quiet we were smoothly on our way to Grosseto in good time. It was a grey, drizzly day and the landscape from Pisa to Grosseto seemed mostly to match the weather. The flat plains around us should have been a relief from the ups and downs and twists and turns of the hills. Instead they melded with the Sunday morning drizzle.
The motorhome Sosta we pulled into in Grosseto had nothing to say for itself. A grey patch of tarmac, in a grey industrial estate, on a grey day. The town had looked pretty on Google but I was struggling to muster enough enthusiasm to walk in and find out. We were to stay here one night and head for a site near Rome on Monday to visit the city. Checking the forecast there were high winds forecast for the Rome area on Monday and Tuesday. Hmmm…Not being too keen on driving Iggy in strong winds we decided to forget about Grosseto and carry on to Santa Severa. We’d lose a day exploring, but we could chill out there for the evening and be fresh to visit Rome on Monday and Tuesday.
The spot in Santa Severa was fabulous. In the free parking area of a castle/museum and archaeological site, 50 metres from a stunning beach and a nice beachside restaurant. There was even a snack bar in front of the castle selling food and drinks at very reasonable prices. The trains to Rome run regularly from the unmanned station 15 minutes walk away. You can very easily buy e-tickets from the TrenItalia website. 4 euros each way to Roma Termini for the Colosseum or 3.60 Euro to Roma S.Pietro for the Vatican.
Our two days in Rome were an incredible experience. I think I have left part of me behind there. Or maybe it has put something new inside me. It is hard to think I can be the same person that I was before I went. But there is too much to say about Rome to put in a post full of other things. Or even in one post alone. I will write of it later. Two separate posts – one for each day. I will give you Rome as a special treat once I have had more time to choose between the hundreds of photos. To collect myself back into one piece from walking in the footsteps of Ceaser.
For now let’s pass on, beyond Rome, to Wednesday. It was time to get back on the road and continue our journey south through Italy. Pompei was the next big destination we had in mind, but was too far for one day’s drive. Google and park4night time for Fi! The little town of Sperlonga looked ideal. Halfway between Rome and Naples. It looked beautiful on Google images and had a nice looking carpark by the beach that was free in winter. With a reluctant farewell to lovely, peaceful Santa Severa it was “”Hi Ho Iggy! And Away!!”
The drive down to Sperlonga was unexpectedly pleasant.. We’d steeled ourselves for a teeth gnashing time of it as we had to take the ring road around Rome! As we got closer I consoled myself with the amazing experience we’d had in the Capital. While living was preferable to death on an Italian motorway I couldn’t complain. I’d had a good innings! Inshallah and bring it on.
Imagine our delight when the ring road proved to be quiet and easy, zooming us past Rome and on to the road South in no time. Jay was exultant! I thought “We’ve still got Naples.”, but held my tongue. Time enough for Naples when we got there!
The landscape got prettier as Iggy lumbered southwards. Or maybe it was just that the road went through more interesting parts of it. The hills rose higher to our left. Pretty towns hugging the sea to our right. Sperlonga was only a few minutes away and I turned to Jay and wondered if we’d see Vesuvius soon. “Nah. Probably too far away yet.” I answered my own question. Just at that Iggy turned a bend and there it was. The volcano. Lying like the massive, sleeping beast it is, across the horizon. Head watching the waters of the Mediterranean roll towards Italy. The force of the hundreds of miles they’d travelled from Gibralter crashing the waves in constant rolling surf against the shores.
And then we’d arrived. Satnav chose us an interesting route into Sperlonga. We missed our turn down to the carpark, and had to drive right through the village one way system and back again. Hardly a chore as it is stunningly beautiful! On our second attempt we got the right turn, and gritted our treeth as Iggy scraped himself through low hanging olive trees down the twisty, turny track to the bottom.
- HINT! If you’re coming this way keep going past the first exit. Just as you’re just about out of the town is a much shorter, wider road into the car park. You can see it on the map, coming back out of your destination car park on the other side.
Sperlonga is heaven and I could happily have stayed there forever. The whole place feels like being in a romantic 50s Hollywood movie. It’s just so stunning. So perfect. A short boardwalk leads from the pretty, tree-lined car park to a long, curved cove of gently sloping sand. The breakers roll in gently due to the curve of harbour wall away to the right. A perky, white Fort perched on it’s sea end. The kind of beach bars you want to go to, tastefully dot the edge of the sand on the way to the marina sitting beneath the Fort. And there, above them, just off to our right, the old town of Sperlonga grows upright out of the rock it stands on.
It truly is a heavenly spot, and the car park is free off season. Beyond the Fort and the breakwater lies another long beach. The rest of the town, bars, shops, restaurants, hotels, stretches out here along the promenade. It’s a beautiful place, and must be packed out in the height of the summer. I fancy a fair few people visit from Naples and Rome even at the weekends out of season. “Let’s go to Sperlonga.” would surely never be far from the lips of anyone who’s been here. Not if there was a chance to make it come true.
We had a lovely night there, watching the stars fill the sky above us, and I was very tempted to stay for longer. Still, Pompei awaited. The forecast for Friday was for bad winds later in the day so we wanted to get moving. To reach Pompei we had to pass the crowded, sprawling metropolis of Naples. If anywhere was going to be a problem drive this was probably it. With a sigh for Sperlonga, we packed Iggy for the road and went on our way.