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Saturday 13th Aug - Stayed the night at the Britannia hotel, north of Leeds. Taxi at 4:40am to Leeds and Bradford airport, first time from there. Fly with Ryan Air to Marco Polo. Good views of Venice as we come in to land. Get a Peugeot 407 hire car, with built in Sat Nav. Head towards Bologna, and then Rimini. Go to a nice beach at Cesenatico, very shallow and warm water. Go to Tourist Information and we are lucky that they find us a hotel in town. We check in to the Hotel Caesar and then have a quick dip in the jacuzzi. Annette has a small problem with getting changed. We order a mixed grill for two, we have a long debate with the waiter to confirm that we wish to share this between us. What arrives is half of the mixed grill for two shared between us.
Annette up early. Eat breakfast outside, facing the sea. Pack up and Check out, heading South. Stop for lunch on the Autostrade near Rimini, pizza followed by fruit cocktail. Drive down to the sea at Termoli. I almost drive off a vertical concrete wall whilst looking for a parking space. Very warm and calm, walk 100 yards out before it is neck deep. Drive on down to Ospedaletto d'Alpinolo, via Benevento. Stop at the Galassia Park hotel. It was a 5 star hotel in the 1970's, but now is a bit tired, and full of old people. Arrive at about 7:30pm. Decide to eat in the hotel, rather disappointed. Have a walk round town, there is a melon festival in progress.
Breakfast in the hotel, decide to head up to the Sanctuary of Monte Vergine, very hot and busy near the top. Have a bit of a look round. Head to Salerno, find a beach, called Liteanu. Envoy a swim and some beer. Drive into Salerno in the evening. Parking to very difficult, we are helped by an Italian woman and a German couple. Eat a good meal, Italian meats to start, followed by beef steak. Back to the hotel for about midnight.
Rather late for breakfast. Set off at 11am, about 45 minutes to Pompei, somehow the sat nav takes us to the centre of the new Pompei, almost no signs to the ruins. Park at about 1:30pm. Have a quick walk round, rather hot. Back to the car park for pizza and beer, we have to spend 50 Euro in order for the car park to be free. Drive to Vesuvius, drive up and then walk the last bit to the top. Great views down into the crater. Good views looking down at Naples and Salerno. Very hot and dusty. We stop for a drink at ristorante Vesum, great views down. Drive back to the hotel for 9:30pm.
Poor breakfast, leave at 10am, head for Sorrento, long queues on the road. Decide to head south to the Amalfi coast, get stuck in some more traffic, the coast road is closed. Head north again. Stop for beer and then head to beach again, swim and sleep. Back to the Galassia Park, walk up to La Juta to eat. It is a fixed menu. I have pizza, Annette has a massive steak. It is served with three different types of salt.
Drive down to Litorena again. See lots of forest fires on the drive down. Have lunch in a beach bar, Annette has very good Moules. Back to the Hotel for 8pm, shower. Drive down to Avellino, doesn't look very good so head back to Mercogliano. Eat in Addo Barone, we have fresh olives for the first time.
Up early for breakfast, away by 9am. Head to Salerno to start with, and then start driving along the Amalfi coast road. Go through Moari, Amalfi and Positano, almost no parking. Stop for a drink at La Terrazze, over looking Sorrento, rather good. Park in Sorrento and walk around, very hot. Stop for lunch, I have carbonara, Annette has moules. Walk round town quite a lot, I have a massive ice cream. Lots of English people have arrive from a cruise ship. Leave at 5:30pm and head for Naples. Lots of cobbled streets with large pot holes, see a few slums. Back to the hotel for 8pm. I am tired, eat in the hotel.
Poor breakfast again, away by 10am, predicted to arrive in Borgo San Lorenzo by 3pm, head North. Eat bread and meat on the move. Traffic jams around Firenze. By 5pm the temperature gets to +44 degs C, very hot. Follow the road to Borgo and on to La Topaia. Have a very nice dip in the pool and then get ready for the evening meal. In the room I sit on the bed and it just collapses, put it back together, only for it to happen again the next day. Very good food, I have the full four courses, a couple of Grappa to end. Walk down the lane and look at the stars.
Rather warm in the room, very nice breakfast at 8am. Leave at 10am to drive to Sienna, there before noon, park at Fortebranda car park. Walk to the main square, Campo, fantastic, decide to do the walking tour. Decide to eat first, share scampi. Back to the Campo and queue for half an hour to go up the tower. Rather claustrophobic on the way up. Great views from the top. Have a quick look at the Civic Museo. Beer in the square, everything seems to be 5 Euros. Walk up Via d'Citta, go to the Passo D'uomo, see the Cathedral. Head back to the car, wash our feet along the way. Still 36 degs C. Back to the car for 8:20, realise that I have only got dark glasses, I drive for the first 20 minutes and then Annette drives. Her first go at driving abroad, she gets pipped by a couple of lorry drivers. Both pleased to get back for 10:30pm. Enjoy a couple of beers in the room.
Drive into Firenze via Fiesole. Go to the Piazza Santa Croce first, watch the street sellers for a while. Eat at Bar Oibo, fantastic lasagne and beer. Very hot, probably over 40 degs C. Walk towards Uffizi Museo, go round the free part. Walk over the Ponte Vecchio and on to the Piazza Pitti. Finally walk to the Pizza Duomo, massive queues to go in. Back to the car and head to the pool.
Drive to the beach at Viareggio, mile upon mile of beach restaurants, which control their bit of beach. Eventually park near the free beach. Very nice sea, warm. Eat in the restaurant next to the free beach. Leave there at about 5pm. Drive via Carrara to the Marble mine, very interesting. Struggle to find our way out. Do a couple of laps via some very narrow streets. Drive to Pisa, arrive at 8:20, walk along Corsa Italia towards the tower, seems a long way. See people stranding on the top. Amazed that we can buy tickets and there is no queue. Very strange sensation walking up the tower. I am amazed that construction started in the year 1137. Kebab on the way back, home for 1am.
ZZT - Not done photos yet - ZZT - A little bit later for breakfast. Decide to go to San Marino, the computer thinks that it will take 3 hours. Go over the Passo Golla, 913m. Mushroom festival in progress as we pass through Ronta. Drive through Faenza and onto the A14 south. Off at Rimini and head to Spinnola, all the beaches are numbered. Park by the free beach, very shallow and warm. Have bread and meat on the beach. Leave at 4:30pm and drive up to the Republic of San Marino, we can see it from Rimini. Park on via della cella bella. Head upwards and keep heading up. Go into the Castle, simply fantastic views of Rimini, very steep steps. It feels like we are on top of the world. Walk to the 2nd and 3rd towers, note a few interesting Heath and Safety issues. Quiet meal at sunset, buy a couple of t-shirts. Leave at 9:45pm, over the Golla pass in the dark, home for 1am.
Head to Massa, north of Viareggio. Nice beach near a Torre hotel, enclosed by a stone barrier, 100 yards out to sea. Beach very busy with street sellers, leave at 5pm, drive to Lucca. Walk along the walls, it scares me how easy it is to walk off the edge. Top Gear had filmed here shortly before. Walk to the Piazza Anfiteatro, eat there whilst they set up for a band. Home for midnight.
Head south to Chianti-shire, follow the route recommended in the book, visit Badia a Coltibuono, drive on to San Gusmè, very nice little place. On to Castelnuovo, eat in Quei 2, enjoy the food and a bottle of Chianti Classico. Ponder if David Cameron has eaten here. Go to San Gimignano, I go up the main tower. Wander round the streets. Buy some Chianti Classico to have at the BnB, home for 9:45, drink the wine in the garden.
Cloudy start, breakfast at 8:15am. Away by 10am. Almost get caught out on the Autostrade near Bologna due to unexpected stationary traffic. I get thinking about ways to detect slowing traffic ahead by looking at the Doppler shift of the mobile phone signals. Drive on to Venice island and park at Tronchetto, get the people mover into town. Walk to the grand canal. Have a bit of a wander round and then settle in a bar, two beers for 16 Euros. Get the ADV water bus back to the car park. Tidy out the car and follow signs to the Airport, after a little while realise that they are taking us to Treviso airport and not Marco Polo. Follow the sat nav a bit more carefully. Take off on time at 9:25pm.
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