Austria to Spain – Part 2: Italy

After crossing the border to Italy, we drove down the Kanaltal or Val Canale where the river Fella gets bigger with every stream coming down the high mountains on both sides. The toll free road is in good condition and we enjoyed the landscape.

at the Tagliamento river

We wanted to visit Venzone, a little town which was badly destroyed by the earthquakes of 1976, but completely reconstructed afterwards. We missed the official parking, but found a nice place near the bridge over the Tagliamento close to the center. (46.334927, 13.135459)
It’s a lovely little town and you will find some information on the earthquakes in the church and the townhall.

Townhall of Venzone
City Gate of Venzone
The church after the earthquakes of 1976
The reconstructed church of Venzone
Enjoying bella Italia!

The day ended with a glass of wine and cheese on the main square.


In the morning we crossed the Tagliamento and passed a little village with narrow streets before we were on the road down the river. We stopped for a morning walk along the river before we reached the Natural Reserve of the Cornino Lake. There is a parking near the information center (46.225971, 13.019424). The main attractions are the crystal clear glacial lake and the colony of vultures. We were lucky and could watch about 40 of them circling upwards when they got enough thermic from the morning sun.

Lake Cornino

Afterwards we crossed the Tagliamento again to reach San Daniele de Friuli – famous for its prosciutto.
We parked at the free caravan parking and walked into the center. (46.156573, 13.013814) It would have been a nice stop for lunch, but we both had an upset stomach so we soon headed back to our car and drove on.
We crossed the Tagliamento one last time and headed to Bassano de Grappa, where we wanted to spend the night. There is a park & ride area with a designated caravan section. Every 10 minutes goes a bus into town. Very convenient! (45.758292, 11.731312) It was a sunny Sunday evening and the town was vibrant with lots of life. Bassano is famous for its covered bridge, which was getting renovated at the moment. We very much enjoyed the atmosphere of this town.

Near the Bridge of Bassono del Grappa
Main Square of Bassano del Grappa
Bassano del Grappa from the bridge

The next day, we drove on westwards and spontaneously decided to stop at Vicenza. We chose one of the park & ride places and again, it had a caravan parking, where you could stay overnight (45.563444, 11.547726). From there, we took a bus into the center. The instructions on the ticket machine were not easy and we had no idea if we payed too much or not enough, but the bus took us into town anyway.
Vicenza is famous for its palaces designed by Andrea Palladio.

Vicenza – Basilica Palladiana
Vicenza – Piazza dei Signori
Vicenza – Torre del Tormento

We passed Verona and while we drove on, the weather got worse and worse and the streets were quite bad. As it got dark, we reached Valeggio at the Mincio river. We parked at a parking near the center (45.351542, 10.734311), equipped ourselves with every piece of rain gear we have and bravely visited the village and its castle. Up there, it was hard to hold the umbrella above our heads and when we got back, we were soaked. But we had seen a nice open restaurant and a little bit later we headed there and enjoyed the Italian cuisine as we didn’t feel as sick any more. Maybe it was too early and also too much for our poor stomachs. The next day we felt very bad again 🙁 The Giardino Segurtá would have been nice to visit, but also the next morning it was grey and rainy. We ignored the limit of 5 tonnes for the famous bridge over the Mincio and had a short glance at Borghetto, which would be lovely on a sunny day. There is a big caravan parking next to this village.

Borghetto at the Mincio River
On the Visconti Bridge

Our next destination on our way west was the Certosa de Pavia – a famous monastery south of Milano. We reached it just when the monks closed for their 3 hours lunch break. As we didn’t feel well, we parked at the caravan parking and had a nap. Digesting the heavy meal from last night, we slept for hours, but in the evening the sun came out and we finally visited the church of the monastery, sadly most of the other parts were closed for renovation. We would have loved to see the houses of the monks with their own vegetable gardens. We ended up staying overnight at this parking (45.256975, 9.140711).

Certosa de Pavia
Certosa de Pavia

The next morning, we drove first to Vigevano which is famous for its shoe industry. The big parking near the center was blocked by the weekly market so we had to park further outside and walk into town. We came through the Castello Sforzesco, which houses a couple of museums, the covered bridge into the castle, and over the very impressive Piazza Ducale. We visited the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in the castle, which has its focus on the relation between Da Vinci and his patron, Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milano.

Piazza Ducale
Piazza Ducale
by Leonardo da Vinci
Piazza Ducale & bicycle

Finally, we headed into Piemont, one of our favourite parts of Italy. We first reached Asti. It had been market day, but now in the evening, we could easily park at the Piazza Campo del Palio (44.897116, 8.208902).
It was dark and rainy again, but a recommended restaurant was just around the corner. We didn’t needed our umbrella as much as in Italy up to now. This time, we considered our offended stomachs and didn’t order too much. A lesson we learned the last days.
The next day it was sunny and we walked through town and even could enjoy a coffee outside.

Piazza Campo del Palio
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Inside of the Cathedral
The wall comes of next to the confessional
all you need to make pasta
Newspaper Stall

We left in the late morning and took the road to Alba. On the way, we came to a car accident, which blocked the road. Cars tried to get around and it was chaotic. We escaped by driving through a muddy strip of gras between the two lanes. We managed at the third attempt to get through and sighed with relief. It would have been very embarrassing to get stuck there.
Alba welcomed us with sun and a free parking (44.703492, 8.028662). We strolled through town, bought some cheese and bread at the market and some little stores. It’s a lovely town.

Truffle Shop in Alba

Have you heard about Nutella und Ferrero chocolates? They come from this town, and you will see the big factory close to the centre but also many hazelnut bushes growing in this area.

We were now looking for places we know from past visits, so we drove through the hills south of Alba, visiting Barolo, Monforte and La Morra. It got rainy again and we ended the day at the parking in La Morra (44.638754, 7.931708). There is a special caravan parking near a small lake (44.637582, 7.928347), which would have been lovely if the weather were better.

It is dark, foggy and rainy when we walk through the streets, looking for an open wine store, bar or restaurant, at the end we found all in one.

Looking for a good Barolo wine
Tasting the flavours of Piemont

The next morning it isn’t raining, so we tried to take some pictures of the area.

La Morra
View from La Morra

Our plan was to go to Cuneo next, which is the capital of this region, and then via the Coll de Tenda  into France. When we found a webcam of the last village before the pass and saw snow on the streets, the decision was made: We had to take another route. We drove straight south over a lower pass, through mountains and finally to the Ligurian coast at Imperia.

If the street brakes away, just make it narrower 😉

We wanted to visit Sanremo and went to the big parking next to the old train station, but it was blocked by the Sanremo Rally – what a nice surprise! We instead found a parking outside of town and took the bus back.
(43.802715, 7.747972)

Perfect parking near Sanremo
First Stop – Gelati Grom – very very good!
Sanremo from the harbour
Osteria Tipica
Casino Sanremo

Impressions of the Rally:

Race car drivers – a girls dream 😉

The next day we will go to France – read on!

Did you read about the first part in Austria? Here you go ->

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