Italy

 Brindisi to Albenga - Italy
 
Due to the fact that we are enjoying ourselves so much, we are way behind schedule on our mail-updates. I'm sending an update on Italy, but we are actually in Switzerland already. Since we set foot (or shall I say wheel?) in Greece we've been on the move every day. The last 4 days I've ridden by far the best biking roads I've ever ridden, and I mean by FAR, but more about that on the France update. Just wanted to let you all know we are safe and enjoying Europe tremendously.
 
	Italy
left top: Johan  'leaning against' the Leaning Tower of Pisa
middle top: One of the plenty tunnels on Italian Toll roads
right top:  Milestone for the GS, 100,000km
left bottom: The Coloseum in Rome, our 2nd of the '7-wonders of the world'
second left bottom:    Italian Wild Boar
second right bottom: Italy is full of scooters, and even some 3 wheel ones!
right bottom:    One of the buildings next to the leaning tower of Pisa 

Below script is in Afrikaans (Purple), and lower down more English (Black) for the non South Africans
 
Soos ek in my vorige epos geskryf het, die ferrie boot wat ons geneem het tussen Griekeland en Italie, was besonders nice gewees, duidelik in 'n ander klas as Afrika of die Midde ooste. Daar is nie eers 'n vergelyking nie. Met die afry van die boot af by Brindisi het ek 'n grenspos verwag, of dalk net 'n polisie 'check point' wat die paspoorte en dokumente check, maar niks, net polisie manne wat ons aanwuif en toe ek weer sien toe is ons op 'n snelweg in die rigting van Bari. Aangesien dit vroeg oggend was, het ons besluit om maar die beste van die daglig te maak en aan te stoot en so na aan Rome te kom as wat ons kan. Die suidoos kus van Italie is baie soos ons Swartland area, met soortgelyke koring landerye, wingerde en olyf boorde vir 100de kilometers. Die pad waarop ons was was baie goed en ons was teen 12 uur se kant by 'n klein kus dorpie met naam van Vasto, waar ons gekamp het. Dis by daardie einste kampterein se resturant wat ek my eerste regte egte Italiaanse pasta geŽet het, uit die boekke, baie lekkerder as die pasta by die huis. Dis meer ferm, nie so pap nie, ek weet nie hoe om dit anders te beskryf nie. Die lekker pasta kom natuurlik teen 'n prys, so 20 euro vir die twee van ons. Ons het sommer gou ons resturant eet gewoonte afgeleer en maak nou maar weer ons eie kos, dis aansienlik goedkoper. Die kampterein was niks om oor huis toe te skryf nie, en ons moes selfs 30 euro sent extra betaal vir 'n stort, en dan spuit die water net vir so 2 minute, of jy nou klaar is of nie, hy stop so skielik soos daai karretjies en perdjies wat jy by die Hypermarket kry, dan wil jy ook sommer so 'tantrum' gooi soos daai laaitie as die karretjie (of perdjie) by die Hypermarket tot stilstand kom, want jy is nog lank nie klaar gestort nie en jou lyf is nog eintlik vol seep, soos hulle in Dubai sÍ, 'what to do'. (kampterein kos 21 euro per nag)
 
Die volgende oggend vroeg was ons aan die gang op pad Rome toe. Ek het besluit om van die snelweg af te bly en het 'n kleinerigge paadjie deur die berge gevolg. Dit was egter 'n wyse keuse, want ons was geseŽn met 'n fantastiese dag deur pragtige dorpies en kronkelende paaie. By Rome het ons egter besluit om braaf te wees en die verkeer aan te durf in Rome, en het reguit na die midde stad  gery, daar waar die Coloseum en die Vatican is. By die Coloseum en die Vatican het ons die noodsaaklike fotos geneem en daarna afgesuiker kus toe op soek na 'n kamp terein. Daar is 'n nice kamp terein naby die kus, en so 30km vanuit die middestad van Rome. Soos die vorige nag in Vasto, was die kampterein 20 euro per nag, maar die keer was die storte en toilet geriewe gratis en ook baie nice en skoon. Ons het 3 aande daar deurgebring, en een dag net gerus. Die probleem was egter dat dit naweek was, en al wat jong joler is het besluit om daar te kom party hou, so ons het maar minimaal slaap ingekry. Die wraak was egter baie soet toe ons die volgende oggend 6 uur Gospil musiek met die laptop speel terwyl die uitgepaasde raasbekke probeer slaap. Die sondag oggend was ons weer vroeg op en met die trein in na Rome, waar ons al die bekendste monumente van nader af beskou het. Rome is pragtig, en as jy van ou geboue hou, sal jy dae daar kan spandeer. Ter wille van ons finansies het ons nie by enige van plekke ingegaan waar jy moet betaal nie, maar ons het nog steeds die buite kante bewonder en baie geniet. Die interesante deel was egter dat ons voorheen heelwat ou Romynse stede besoek het in JordaiŽ en Turkye, en dit mooi kon afrond met 'n besoek aan die ware jakob, Rome. Die Vatican city het 'n groot square (wat eintlik rond is), wat bekend staan as die St Peter Sqaure, die presiese plek waar die apostel Petrus gekruisig en gemartelk is ter wille van sy geloof in Christus. As 'n Christen was dit 'n roerende ondervinding om hierdie plekke te besoek (Hierepolis, Efesus en Rome) waar seker 1000de Christene gesterf het ter wille van hul geloof.
 
Terug by die kampterein het ons weer 'n lawaaierige nag ondervind, die keer te danke aan die toegejuig van sokker liefhebbers wat die huidige Europese sokker toernooi op TV gekyk het. Hulle het ook natuurlik, soos ons rugby manne by die huis, die uitslag na die game gevier, of dit nou 'n wen of 'n verloor is maak nie saak nie. Die volgende dag was ons weer vroeg aan die gang, die keur al met die westelike kant van die kuspad tot by Pisa. As ons een hoogtepunt van Italie moet uitlig, sal dit verseker die leunende toring van Pisa wees. Langs die toring is egter nog 2 ou pragtige katedrale, maar die toring is 'n ding om te sien. Dis fantasties in stand gehou en skoon. Ja, die ding leun, so wat is die 'big deal'? Ek weet nie wat dit is nie, maar dit was vir my persoonlik baie besonders, en pragtig om te sien met my eie oŽ. Een van daai dinge waaroor jy maar droom om te sien van kleins af. Daar was heelwat toeriste, en een ou het kom vra waar ons vandaan is toe ons die bike nader trek vir 'n foto. Groot was sy verbasing toe hy hoor van Suid Afrika. Toe kom daar 'n polisie man nader gestap en ons maak toe maar spore nog voor hy by ons kon uitkom. (want ons het op 'n taxi parkeer area gestaan en was nie lus vir moles nie).
 
Dit was nog vroeg en ons het aangestoot in die rigting van Frankryk. Om tyd te spaar het ons besluit om op die tolpad te ry. Die tolpad is egter iets om te beleef. Brue en tonnels vir kilometers aaneen. Die area noord van Pisa aan die kus is bergagtig, soortgelyk aan Tsitsikama area. die gewone pad (nie tolpad) is net soos die Bloukranspas, al kronkelend op en af, maar vir 100de kilometers aaneen, op en af, op en af. Dus waarom ons die tolpad gevat het, want die tolpad is omtrent reguit, met 'n spoedbekerking van 130km/h.(nie dat ons so vinnig ry nie) Op hierdie pad, as jy nie in 'n tonnel is nie, is jy op 'n brug, en so gaan dit aan. As ek een ding van die Italianers moet uitlig, sal ek sÍ die ouens mag maar paaie bou. Ja, dis duur om op die pad te ry (so 30 euro), maar ons het letterlik dae gespaar. Teen laat die aand het ons by 'n vragmotor piekniek plek gestop en gesien dis sommer reg om tent op te slaan en te oornag. Natuurlik is dit gratis, hoe wettig dit is weet ek nie, maar dit was ons beste nag in Italie, niks jolers of sokker entoesiaste wat ons wakker gehou het nie.
 

The evening journey on the ferry boat from Greece to Italy was really smooth, we sat in a corner of one of the bar areas as we could order coffee there and we could also watch most of the Greek truck drivers cheering on their football team in the Euro 2008 tournament.  At about midnight the ferry docked at Corfu to pick up some more passengers and vehicles, and in about 20 minutes we were on our way again.  We moved to one of the other quieter sitting areas, took off our boots and lay down on the carpeted floor for the rest of the evening.  At about 6am they told us to get ready as we would be docking in Italy in about half an hour.  We rode off the ferry and followed the trucks and cars in front of us, expecting to be asked for our passports and bike papers... but nothing, just the port police smiling and pointing us in the right direction and the next thing we knew we were on the highway heading for Bari. The road out of Brandisi was not so impressive as it is a typical port city, but the scenery out of the city slowly became more and more pretty as the farm lands spread as far as the eye could see - we saw more olive trees in the first 50km's than we saw in the whole of Turkey and Greece.  Then came the vineyards, with the old Villa's and barns. We found a camp site in a little town on the east coast called Vatso, at about midday and decided to stop early for the day as we had to do some clothe washing!  The camp site was very well organised especially for kids.  After siesta time - 2pm to 4pm - they announce over loud speakers that there would be games at the pool area, then at 8pm they had some of the camp kids put on a show and sing-a-long for the rest of the holiday makers and at about 9am the next morning they had activities on the beach.  We spoilt ourselves and had a wonderful Italian pasta dinner at the camp site restaurant, man that stuff is good! 

We found the camp sites in Italy rather expensive; we even had to pay extra for a shower which worked on a timer.  Luckily Johan went to shower first so I knew what to expect, but he still had half a body full of soap and the water stopped!  The next morning we headed inland for Rome. We stayed off the highway and went through beautiful mountains and valleys, the road twisted up and down.  Johan decided to brave the traffic in Rome and we headed for the Colosseum and Vatican.  It was hot and there was lots of traffic and people.  We rode around the Colosseum and parked fairly close to it and met this really friendly police man - Pieter (he rides a Vstorm and his friend has a GS) he took some photos of us and a movie, real cool!!  Next we headed for the Vatican, which seemed to be miles away but I think that was because of the many traffic lights and the fact that we did not have a city map....  Johan stopped right in front of St Peter's Square and I jumped off to take the snappy and then we were on our way again to find the camp site at the coast which is 30km out of Rome. 

This camp site was also 20 euro per night but at least you did not have to pay extra for the shower and the bathrooms were nice and clean; and they had wifi.  We spent the next day relaxing, Johan worked on the computer and I washed our biking jackets and pants.  On Sunday we caught the train into Rome and did the tourist thing by walking from one historical site to the next.  We started at the Vatican (unfortunately the Sistine Chapel was closed), but it was still amazing to be at the place where the Apostle Peter was martyred and 1000's of others for their belief in Christianity.  It was also wonderful to see so many of the  historical sites still so much intact compared to some of the other Roman sites we visited along our journey as in Hierapolis and Ephesus. From the Vatican we walked to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, and many others in-between.  As the saying goes - Rome was not built in a day - and there is just no way you can see everything in a day, you need a good couple of days to see it all.  The one thing you notice everywhere in Italy is graffiti, not just in the cities and towns, even on the mountain passes - if there is a piece a wall available along a road or railway line there is graffiti. Even on the trains - the outside is totally covered in graffiti.  Oh and another point for everyone to remember, do not go to a camp site on the weekend, it seems that all the way-lead youth and confused varsity students go to the camp sites around Rome on the weekends.  They set up camp, leave at about 9pm to hit the party spots and return rather loudly at about 3 or 4 in the morning. Besides this noise factor, there were loads of people in the bungalows watching the Euro 2008 football games, the cheering and shouting would go on until 1am...  so we did not get much sleep while in Rome!

 

Monday morning, we were up early and headed for Pisa.  This site was by far the highlight of our journey through Italy.  The town is more peaceful, not the hustle and bustle of Rome, the alleys are more colourful and neat and tidy.  We followed the road signs to the Piazza dei Miracoli and then the groups of tourist walking on the side path and eventually saw the leaning bell tower.  We ended up right in front of it and realised that there were no other vehicles in that area, except for some taxis...  I jumped off quickly and took the needed snappy as a police man was heading our way.  We quickly headed off up a side street to find a parking spot for the GS and walked back to the square.  The old cathedral and baptistery next to the leaning tower are almost white in colour like the tower and it truly is amazing to see.   From Pisa we took the toll road towards France.  The toll road is an engineering wonder, the speed is 130km/hour and it is built in such a way that you could maintain this speed even on a turn.  If you are not in a tunnel going through a mountain you are on a bridge going over a valley, fantastic to ride on and it took away a few days worth of travelling along the coast.  The coast area is like Tsitsikama and the road is like the Bloukrans pass for 100's of kilometres, it would take days to get from the south to the north.  We had glimpses of the coast all along the toll road, so we did not miss everything. We pulled into a truck-stop as the sun was setting and decided to pitch the tent up at the back of the pick nick area.  We had a much more peaceful nights rest with no party animals or football fans - and it was for free

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