I have to say, this is one of the best equipped campsites so far on the Eurovelo 5. You can see in the picture that there are nets above the tents to keep things cool in the sun (not sure how they would cope with the rain; hope I don’t find out), but there is more! The washing machine adds its own washing powder (why don’t all washing machines do that?) and there is a loud speaker system that tells you what entertainment there is about to take place (jazz band around the pool at 9.15). Shame about all the mosquitos that have come to dine on me after my own evening meal but I’m sure I’d complain if a crop sprayer came overhead to get rid of them all…. So the campsite in Pisa, so far, wins my seal of approval!
I had two entries in my competition to ‘name that Italian seaside resort’ and the winner is….. Simone! Sorry Richard, you were correct but too slow to answer. Perhaps that’s why you never got the nod from Jesus College to be on the University Challenge team? I feel more competitions to come (perhaps about shoes Zoë so you don’t feel left out).
I digress… Lerici was indeed my first port of call after leaving La Spezia (does that mean ‘space’ on Italian? I saw empty advertising hoardings everywhere today with the instruction ‘spezio libero’ and a phone number…). Lerici was everything you expected from an Italian seaside resort; smart, sophisticated (each hotel seemed to have its own private bathing area), exclusive (no cars apart from residents) with lots of beautiful people sunning themselves on the pristine beaches. It even had an old town with a castle on the headland for when your average well-heeled Italian decided that he or she had achieved his or her desired shade of mahogany. Perfect! No foreigners however. In that respect I felt like Alan Whicker in a white linen suit observing the locals at play. I had just substituted the linen for Lycra. And it wasn’t white, it was black. So I cycled on…
On leaving Lerici I was in for a bit of a long boring ride by the sea. Not that I saw much of the sea; it was hidden behind the strip of parking lots, bars, restaurants, private beaches… On my left as I headed south were either three star hotels (none were 1,2 or 4) or private villas hidden behind metal gates. And it went on for about 30 dead flat kilometres. All but a very few of the cars I passed (and there were thousands all parked up, with barely a gap) were Italian; this, at least, answers the question as to where everyone in the the rest of Italy is in August.
Eventually I arrived at Viareggio. I’ve never been to Venice Beach in California, but this is how I expect it to be. There is clearly a history to tell; elegant buildings that are crumbling, attractions that still have charm bit lack excitement. I liked the place although after so much monotony in the afternoon, even Friar Street in Reading might have resembled the Las Vegas strip.
But more excitement was to come; a dual carriageway that lead me half-way to Pisa! I say dual carriageway but the only thing that told me for certain that I hadn’t got my green and my blue mixed up and ended up on the motorway (easy to do as they indicate the opposite kind of toad if you are accustomed to driving in the UK) was that I could see the motorway just yards away to my left; surely not even the Italians would build two motorways next to each other.
The dual became single and the single became an urban artery into Pisa. The campsite was almost too easy to find and the rest you know.
A very long day but a day that can only enhance my day off tomorrow. Pisa & Lucca here I come! Would love to be guided by your comments as well as the Rough Guide; thanks Basil for your comments about Pisa. Look forward to receiving more before I set off tomorrow on foot and by train. No bike!