From Italy’s most famous and stunning Cinque Terre coastline, to Tuscany’s unknown but beautiful hamlet of Giannella and lakeside town of Orbetello.
Distance: 330 kilometres
Diesel: €1.339/litre (across the road and down a little from Valdeiva Marina campsite)
Tolls: €18.50 for about 140kms although the rest is free. However, you’d have to pay motorists to drive on the rest of the highway, as the majority of this run isn’t maintained. Probably the reason it’s free. I’d suggest that the government is probably responsible for maintaining (or not) this stretch of highway.
Managers (owners) of this campsite are the most unfriendly so far. So much so that I’ve included a section below about the unpleasant experience whilst staying at this campsite.
Arrived at this sleepy village later in the afternoon so decided to stretch the old legs with a quick walk after the longish drive. Nothing seems open and not much to see, so far.
Although if you Google Giannella, there really isn’t much information available on this village.
I imagine this would be a lovely quiet place to retire in one’s dotage as there are plenty of walks amongst the pine forest, miles of gorgeous beaches, and a serene peaceful atmosphere.
Day trip to Orbetello and Porto Santo Stefano
Always time for a quick side-trip to explore the area so decide to take in Orbetello and Porto Santo Stefano.
As nothing is open near the campsite I can’t buy a bus ticket. So, manage a free ride on the bus from close to the campsite to Orbetello. Actually, everything seems to be closed in Giannella at the moment – very sleepy.
Orbetello is a strip of land and a pretty 5-kilometre drive across the bridge that connects the small island of Monte Argentario to the mainland. This island is 60km2 in total and part of the Tuscan Archipelago.
Three strips of land forming two lagoons – Laguna di Ponente and Laguna di Levante – connect the Monte Argentario to the mainland.
Orbetello’s Centro still holds beautiful old architecture including the main gates to the town. As a once ancient Etruscan settlement, this town dates back to around 280BC.
Take a long pleasant stroll around the picturesque lake as it’s very peaceful and a lovely spot for a picnic or an espresso.
If you still have some energy after your long stroll, then head to the northern part of the town (Porto Santa Liberata), find a Tabacchi to buy the bus ticket (€2.50) to Porto Santo Stefano.
Porto Santo Stefano
The drive after Port Santa Liberata becomes very winding, which doesn’t stop the bus driver from swerving around the coastline as if he’s in a Ferrari. Italians drive busses like they drive their cars – no surprise there then!
Descending down the the slopes of Mount Argentario and into Stefano is very picturesque.
A view of the yacht marina in front of the town’s multi-coloured apartment blocks built closely together, is not too dissimilar a feel to Cinque Terre. I don’t see any tourists here just locals, although this may be due to the time of year.
At only a short hop of 150 kilometres from Rome, this is a busy get-away destination with locals.
It’s a shame there isn’t enough time to explore this pretty town as it’s late in the afternoon with the sun going down and not sure what buses are like back to Giannella. Typically, bus timetables are non-existent or a rarity. The Port is especially scenic at sunset.
You can catch a ferry or private boat to other neighbouring islands from here…may have to return. Divided into four historical districts, each district has it’s own coat of arms. There’s is also a Spanish Fort to explore…next time.
- Colazione da Tiffany, yes, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (P. ZA Plebiscito, 16) – Great coffee (€1.30) and Focaccia (€3.00+). Indoor and outdoor seating.
- Vecchio Bar Del Ministro (Via Barellai, 8) – Coffee/tea (€1.30) and half a Prosciutto Crudo and lettuce Focaccia (€2.50). Think this small place is a father and son bar. Rammed with other local products that look very enticing!
- Supermercato Barracuda (Via Scarabelli 4/6) – As the InCoop opened too late for the bus back, did a quick run around for the vitals at this supermarket. I found Muesli in dispensers at a per kilo price – Muesli is hard to find in Italy and quite expensive, so worth the stop.
As we don’t find any Tabacchi open to buy a return bus ticket, decide to chance it and be a little ‘creative’ with our previous tickets. This works and arrive at Porto Santa Liberata once more for the next bus to Giannella.
Fun at the campsite chapter
A warm welcoming?
Arriving at the campsite, the elderly owner and his daughter greets us in what can only be called, a strange manner. In fact, it’s hard to gauge whether the campsite is open. The site’s website states yes, the campsite’s entrance sign states yes, but the owners don’t really know. Did I mention Reg is the only soul here?
We’re waved in and asked to follow the elderly owner to a pitch. Registering at reception, a copy of our passport is taken but they also want to keep one original passport. I refuse this and was curtly advised that if it was summer, I wouldn’t have a choice. I’m not sure why as this campsite is electronically gated and no one can leave without reception opening the gate.
Also odd, is the elderly owner kept speaking in a mix of German, Italian, a few English words, and some other language thrown in for good measure – all in the one sentence. Communication is interesting.
When I respond that I can speak in Italian or English, he (and his daughter) continues to speak the several languages. The owner asks us what sort of power amperage we need and responding with 6AMPs, he barks “NO” and motions with 3 fingers “3 AMPs”. He motions that if we trip the fuse box, he’ll pull our plug out and we won’t have any power for our stay, then motioning this 3 times, just so we know he’s adamant.
This is the most expensive site so far: France, Spain, and Italy included. Although it’s lovely with hedges between pitches and newish clean facilities, there isn’t any hot water. The owner advises this will be repaired tomorrow. However, the daughter advises “no hot water in winter”. Who do we believe and do we chance it? We’re here now and nothing else is open. In the summer, a lack of hot water wouldn’t be a problem, but in Tuscany’s chilly December, this is a problem.
So the first night at the campsite pans out even better (note sarcasm). No lights in the ablution block, no water to wash dishes, no hot water anywhere (but we were advised of the latter). There does seem to be water to flush the toilet…so far. So, dinner dishes are washed with only a head torch for light.
Oh and we’re locked in for the night and can’t get out due to the high electric gate (think this is at around 19:00hrs) – at least it’s safe.
The next morning, there isn’t any water at all and no water to flush any toilets.
I ask the owner politely to turn the water on. Rat bag – he knows it’s turned off! Still no promise of lights or hot water today. Decide we’re leaving tomorrow morning, which is a shame as the region is very pretty.
See the elderly owner again, he advises if there’s anything we need, to just let him know. Hot water? Sadly, no, this isn’t to be, he shakes his head. It will be interesting to see if he gives a discount for the two nights.
I see the elderly owner (daughter is missing in action) to pay the bill. Asked for a discount for the first night, seeing there isn’t any water for the toilet or hot water for the shower. In Italian, the owner responds that “it isn’t his fault”. In Italian, I reply that “it isn’t my fault and I’m paying for a service he advertises”. Adamant that we would pay the full price regardless, he then tries to charge us an additional €2/night on the daily rate for city tax. The hide of this guy!
This village is miles from any city. I refuse to pay this charge. He only takes cash and is reluctant to provide a receipt. After an argument, I had no option but to pay the full 2-night’s accommodation. Remember, we’re locked in. He then advises that we’ll get a discount on our next visit! Seriously? It’s a shame as this would probably be a nice site in the summer.
I felt as if he shafted us promising hot water during our stay and knowing that it wasn’t going to happen. And, not giving us a discount for turning the water off, trying to charge us City Tax, then having the hide to ask us why we’re leaving!
A shame but decide to cut the stay short at this campsite and keep travelling south.
Next destination…Ostia, which is situated in the coastal outskirts of Rome. Really hope that the next campsite is a much more pleasant experience than this one.