We’ve got a bit behind in the blog so this is a catch-up summary – a joint effort between Craig, Sue & Kate (thanks Tom).
Day 17 – 1st Wednesday
Today we left the picturesque seaside villages of Cinque Terre for the olive & wine region of Umbria. Packing up took about an hour and a half, and after an espresso and croissant we left for the four hour drive. We stopped at the services quickly for lunch, then continued our journey into the Italian countryside. As we neared our campsite – a good 1600ft up, the roads grew smaller and more windy. As we ascended, dad renamed himself ‘Billy Goat Bolshaw’ for his bravery around the hairpin corners. He did really well.
We arrived at the site at about four o’clock – a beautiful terraced olive grove. It was still boiling hot and the thought of pumping up the tent in the sweltering hot was not appealing to any one of us. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I guess) there were a few issues when we arrived so we had to wait anyway. The campsite owner had allowed someone else to stay on the pitch we’d reserved, which would’ve been fine because we’d never seen it – mum had sent the dimensions of our tent to him, specifying that we wanted shade and a view. He offered us a few other pitches but they were either way too small for us or on a ridiculous slope. Mum and dad spotted one that’d be perfect for us but the man said that some people were due to arrive there this evening. We were considering getting a hotel for the night and looking for a different site in the morning, waiting for them to arrive, but when they finally did, the owner convinced them to move so we could had the good pitch. I believe the promise of a complimentary ice cold bottle of wine was included in the bargain. I’m pretty sure the owner was terrified of the irritated, dehydrated, ravenous English people. But we got the pitch we needed and put the tent up. In fact w ended up on one of the nicest pitches in the place on a terrace with a great view, lovely breeze and close to the pool. The local pizzeria had the most amazing panoramic view, and the pizza was awesome. Tom and his refined palette had a tartufi (truffle) pizza, saying it was the best pizza he’d had. Ours were really good too. Tired and weary, we went back to the tent to bed.
Day 18 – 2nd Thursday
This morning we went to Orvieto for a big shop at the supermarket and got back for lunch (we made the mistake of letting Kate loose with the trolley so we ended up with loads of goodies of questionable nutritional value). Dad was thrilled when he found Sagrantino on the shelf (favourite wine from our past holidays in Umbria). We had a lovely lunch of bread and cheese followed by a dip in the pool to keep us from melting (touching 40). We played bridge afterwards and Mum and Tom were back on a roll. Tom recreated the pasta dish he had the other day in a restaurant (yum yum), then Tom and Dad went off to play tennis at the local tennis court opposite the site. We finished off the evening with a game of Perudo and finally beat Mr Probability (Tom) with much laughter.
Day 19 – 3rd Friday
We woke to another beautiful day. The pole at the end of the tent is causing us problems by deflating in the night so Dad called the camping company in the UK and they will be sending us a replacement. Kate did some art for her school project while Mum made us all eggy bread. We’re half way through the holiday now and no one is ready to go home! As the evening cooled, Tom and Dad played another game of tennis. We had chicken and vegetables for dinner (which Dad cooked on the griddle). Seems that there aren’t any mosquitoes here but there are loads of ants. Vin Santo and Cantucci biscuits accompanied the Perudo before we went to bed.
Day 20 – 4th Saturday
This morning Dad and Kate went to Orvieto to find a cashpoint, top up food supplies and take a picture of a reflection on the nearby Lake for Kate’s art project. We ate a lovely lunch including some Tartufi cheese and some home-produced olive oil from our campsite (the campsite is an olive grove which they harvest in October). Dad did another painting before making us steak and chips on his sacred griddle. We wanted to see the Olympics tonight so we drove down the mountain at dusk to the country club at the bottom (where there was a wedding on) – no joy. We went into the local bar down the road from us and luckily found the tv on – and joined another couple of Brits (who have a 2nd home here and were surprised to see other English people) to watch heptathlon, long jump and Men’s 10k – 3 gold medals in one night! The family who run the one local bar and restaurant here are so welcoming and friendly. In fact we have noticed how lovely all the people are – we’re guessing because it’s off the beaten track a bit that tourists are still a welcome novelty rather than a pain in the neck.
Day 21 – 5th Sunday
We decided to go out and try the local restaurant for lunch and had a quick game of cards outside the bar while we were waiting for it to open. The restaurant was like someones front room and the only other people in there were a huge Italian family celebrating the granddads birthday. Really good meal. The food was of a really high standard and the service was excellent. Back to the tent for a relaxed afternoon and a light evening meal of bread and cheese.
Day 22 – 6th Monday
Today Mum and Dad wanted to buy some wine and olive oil so we headed for Montefalco, a hilltop town. Carmen sent us cross country over the worst roads ever – hardly any tarmac! We found somewhere to eat and after much confusion had a very expensive and disappointing meal. Dad went to buy some olive oil and came back with a barrel. Then Tom and I were abandoned in a café while Mum and Dad went wine tasting in a local outlet. Surprisingly they came back with only 2 bottles which seemed very suspicious until we found out they had arranged for a case to be shipped back home. We stopped for an icecream on the way back in Todi – a really lovely hilltop town very near to our campsite. Definitely worth a revisit one day. Mum and Dad wanted to go to the Focacia festival in our village (which runs really late every night for a week and which the local bar family had invited ud to. We got there at 9 and it was completely packed. Who knows where all these people came from in such a rural area. The queue to get in was so long and moving so slowly that we gave up and Dad was robbed of the dancing opportunity of his lifetime (we’d had a preview of his warm up and it would only have upset the local Italian grannies if they had witnessed it).
Lost a day somewhere here – ooh, we must be relaxed!