Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hoboventure: Al Tende

So the great and glorious campsite taught us a few things: Don't set up near lampposts or the loo. The nice spots are packed and pricey. Bring your own toilet paper. And it's really awkward to shower in a dark midget closet. 

We headed out onto the road, which was somewhat "mountainous", but all coastal. It was also the first time we made it onto the Via Aurelia on our bikes. The same Via Aurelia that we'd seen in southern France in December. Since Pisa, the Via Aurelia had been a major highway. But from here on, we would follow it all the way to Rome. I was excited, as one of my old Latin textbooks was about a family's journey along this road to Rome. It was like my own personal pilgrimage. 

The coastal region of Italy is not easily accessible. First of all, the geography ranges from near idyllic sandy beaches to steep rocky sides. Where the coast is nice, it is privately owned. Some of the small close properties have been turned into cafes, with advertised stabilimento balneare. To the best of my understanding, it means a built-up beachfront. Of course, one has to buy something first. There are national parks, with occasional pathways to the water, but it's rare. Along the Via Aurelia, we passed by cliffed plateaus with sunbathers, pine forested dunes and seaside agricultural fields.  

Having ridden to the Populonia turn off, we didn't see a nearby campsite. There were signs to a few beyond, but none close enough to really consider. We pedalled back about 2 km to one that had been flying a variety of flags - only to find that it was closed until May 1st (first we had to ride along a crappy road for another 2 clicks to gather this information). We then passed by an agritourism (with camping) that looked like a shanty village. Near Populonia, we turned along a road to find the advertised campsites. Except what we found was a reception in a sinking trailer with no sign of human habitation. We decided to camp in a parking lot.

There was a bunch of fuss over spot selection. Do we set up in the shadows? Near the disused building or away? By that road or another? It's worse than selecting a house! Eventually, the annoying biting bugs forced our hand to just plop it down here-ish and park our bikes there-ish. We also came up with the great excuse of "It was late, we couldn't find a campsite, and we're stupid tourists". Sometimes the truth is the best.

After set up, we behaved like squirrels - freezing our movements at any sign of near movement. At one point during dinner, an SUV drove right up to the tent, pulled a u-turn, paused, then left. Really weird. Finally, we gave up caring and just went to sleep - the thrum of vehicles our lullaby.

Our wake up call was the garbage truck dumping glass bottles into its maw. Nice.

1 comment:

  1. i like this post, all the little details really bring it to life. also, you are a huge nerd re: via aurelia/latin text (that you even remembered it signifies how much you loved that course)