After a bit of a sleep-in we had a morning cappuccino at one of the beach bars, then headed off at 10:00.
In no particular hurry we had a leisurely drive generally west and a bit north, passing through Gap, which was a bit of a drag.
The current highway goes right through the city, although they are finally building a bypass. Maybe next time we come this way we won’t encounter the same issue.
Somewhere between Gap and Die we encountered a road incident – several police cars were gathered near a dump truck that hadn’t quite made a curve in the road and had run headon into a barrier at the side – totally smashed the front-end in.
Our last night on the road (this time) was spent at the edge of the village of Le Champs de Raphael, where we’ve stayed before. I recall that last time I set up my tent and spent half the night wondering if I was going to get blown away in the wind.
The view is awesome, and you can just hear the clanking of the cow bells in the valley below.
When leaving in the morning we encountered a ‘deviation’ that was somewhat confusing. After going about 10 km in the direction we wanted we had to turn around and retrace our route almost completely, as did at least a couple of other vehicles.
We eventually joined the road that Colin was familiar with and made it up to Clermont-Ferrand where we turned west for the rest of the journey.
Whether new or old, viaduct or bridge building use the same basic structure….
We stopped for a quick bite to eat at a small park that had some interesting wood sculptures.
Continuing on refreshed we reached Mansle in the early evening. Had a very welcome hot shower and a nice dinner of salmon with new potatoes and green beans cooked by Neal – very good ‘homecoming’.
Antonio had a Festa at the bar on Saturday – it was very well attended. He had two tv screens setup outside for folks to watch the Italy vs Austria calico/soccer/football game.
Dinner was served very late, and were we ever hungry by then. The first course was pasta with ragu sauce – very tasty. Second course, that came some time later, was a sausage/meatball dish and also tasty. The main course arrived, again some time later and was roast pork, served with a bit of salad. This dish will be mostly eaten by the doggies, I think.
The calcio game went into extra time, and fortunately the home team won 2-1 so all the local fans were very happy.
We went for a final ride on Sunday morning, stopping in Vilanova for a cappuccino. We were seated at an outdoor table next to an elderly gentleman who started up a conversation with us.
While he spoke no english we did manage to talk for awhile and understood that he was born there, and that the local calcio team, from this village of only 300 or so people, managed to beat all of the big teams from large cities such as Rimini, etc.
We managed to leave by 2 in the afternoon on Monday, after many long hard journeys with the wheelbarrow (by Colin) with stuff to the campervan and back. Because of the work going on at the apartment building below us we had to go all the way up and around the bell tower to get to the parking area where the campervan was.
The drive north/northwest was relatively good, and we reached Marina di Carrara at a decent time, stopping for the night very near the Sea. We found out that unfortunately the gas wasn’t coming through so couldn’t make a hot dinner – luckily we had alternatives.
After a fairly early night and a very good sleep we were on the road early the next day – doggies like to arise early, go for a quick walk, and get fed, so since we were awake anyway we hit the road just after 6:00.
We started hitting major road works before Genova – in fact it took us hours to get past the city and to the highway north to Alessandria. It’s great that they’re doing work on the many, many tunnels and viaducts, but boy does it slow things down.
After finally passing the major part of the roadworks we arrived in Cavour slightly before 1:00. We stopped for a beverage (coffee for Colin, and guess what? vino rosso for me) and were on the way again mid-afternoon.
We took the pass from Sestriere to Briancon and got by the French border guards with no problem.
After a long day we made it to a lovely spot just outside Embrun where we stopped for the night.
We go for a bike ride every couple of days – the most recent was over 31 km and we leave nice and early before it starts getting too hot. We’ve stopped a couple of times now for cappuccino at a nice little cafe/bar in Spina partway through the ride.
The back road between Mercatello and Compagnano is one of my current favourites – the surface isn’t great but there’s hardly any traffic, and it’s far less developed than some of the other areas.
The view from the terrace is beautiful as always, and I spend a lot of time sitting under the umbrella with a cup of tea watching village life go on.
The fellow that had been doing stonework for ages last year has finally finished – we see him occasionally on his front terrace on a swing-chair. The small house on the right has been sold and new folks are now in – they got a furniture delivery a few days ago. The ducks are back, although there’s only three of them this year, rather than the twelve there were last year.
We both got haircuts a few days ago – it’s the shortest I’ve had mine since a cut I got in Spain four years ago. So easy to take care of now, especially as we’re going to be on the road again very soon.
On Thursday we went to Trevi for lunch and our favourite place, La Vecchia Posta, was open – outdoor tables only, which was great.
For antipasto we shared a selection of mixed bruschetta, and I had wild boar stew for my main dish. It was just delicious, and with a little help from Mo I actually managed to finish it.
They’ve been working diligently on both the Bell Tower and the condo building just below us. I can’t believe how much stuff they’ve hauled out of the condo building – I think when the earthquake happened the folks were given 15 minutes to grab what they could and maybe haven’t been allowed back since.
I’ve been really trying to soak in the atmosphere here prior to our departure – having spent so much time here last year I feel like two weeks isn’t nearly enough time.
Finally allowed to travel – within 5 hours of restrictions being lifted to Italy I had my flights booked. Before the first flight I had a covid test at the airport – waited in the car in the parking lot for the results. I passed! Or was it failed? In any case I got both emailed and printed pages to show I was safe to travel.
The first check-in was actually the longest – the lady at the counter looked so long at my passport I started to worry – but no problem. I had my covid test proof, my Personal Flight Locator forms, my declaration for getting into Italy – I had it all.
After a goodbye to my patient, kind and loving partner I boarded the first of three flights. The plane to Vancouver was packed, followed by a 3 hour wait for the next flight to Frankfurt. Once again I showed all of my papers, and again no problem.
The flight was quite long, and right after serving us dinner they made us close the windows and shut off the lights. I don’t think it ever actually got dark outside the whole way, but it was a long ‘night’ and I didn’t get any sleep.
Arriving at Frankfurt airport I again showed all of my papers, and again no problem. I found my scheduled flight to Rome on the boards and limped a long way to the listed gate. I had a few hours to wait so read for a bit, then decided to take a little nap – there was plenty of space on the lounge chairs to stretch out, and I was at the right gate so knew I’d hear the folks arriving for the flight and all of the boarding calls.
Wrong….I woke with a start at 3:01 – the flight was supposed to start boarding at 2:50 so I knew immediately something wasn’t right. Still fuzzy-headed from my nap I grabbed my backpack and camera and shuffled to the closest check-in gate. A lady in front of me had just missed her flight to Mallorca and I felt bad for her, while just hoping I hadn’t missed my flight to Rome.
I quickly showed the check-in lady my boarding pass and she said to ‘go that way and turn left’ – well, I was at gate A16 and my flight was now leaving from A56 – a very, very long way – in fact very close to the gate I’d arrived at three hours earlier. I ran as fast as I could, given my injured foot, and arrived huffing and puffing and almost crying to find that I wasn’t quite the last one – about 15 folks were still lined up to board.
The last flight wasn’t too long and I arrived safely at Fiumicino a little bit ahead of schedule. I collected my bag and headed to passport control/security – but there wasn’t any. There were several armed guards standing around, but no one that wanted to see my passport or anything. I simply walked out!
Colin and the little ones arrived only a few minutes later to pick me up and we were on our way ‘home’. It’s not that far to Papiano so we arrived at a decent time, although to me I’d been up and on the move for about 30 hours.
I had a very nice welcome from several of the locals, especially Antonio at the bar. I took it easy for a couple of days getting used to the time change and everything.
On Sunday we went for a nice bike ride of 22 km., and another one this morning of just under 20 km.
There are two major renovation projects going on near us. First of all the bell tower is finally being fixed – they’ve had the funds for it for some time but apparently there was prolonged discussion about exactly what to do. It’s now covered in scaffolding and work is progressing.
The other major project is right below us – a mutli-unit building that was damaged in the earthquake five years ago. They started this morning by blocking off the lane way and have started removing debris from the inside.