4th August: Not quite what we’d hoped for

We packed up and left Cogne at around 10.15. The journey to the Ligurian coast was uneventful… Well, apart from the toll machine shouting at me in Italian because I couldn’t work out where to put my payment card!

The last part of the journey into Savona was a masterpiece of engineering. The two carriageways of the dual carriageway split, and wound their way on stilts high above the orange roofs of the villages, often looping backwards and forwards over each other, and through tunnels through the forested mountain sides. As soon as we dropped from the high hillside, the two carriageways joined again and immediately we caught our first unexpected sighting of the beautiful green blue sea.

We had been told that most Italian beaches are private and incur a cost but that Saracen Bay at Varigotti was free and lovely. However, as we drove along the coast every possible parking spot was rammed with cars, motorcycles and scooters. We have never seen so many two wheeled vehicles in one place! In addition, the beaches, public and private, were absolutely packed: it was almost impossible to walk between the towels. We were having second thoughts about the beach bit of our trip!

We decided to continue to Finale Liguria where we knew there were camper van stopover sites, like the one we’d used in Cogne. Quite by chance, we stumbled across one very quickly. We parked up and connected the electricity. However, on reading the signs we found there were no toilets and that emptying our own toilet, and the waste water tank, would incur extra charges on top of the basic fee. We decided to try and find tourist information and see if they could find us a space on a proper campsite.

We wandered into the town. By now it was about 3 o’clock. The shops were still closed. However, the restaurants were also closing after the lunchtime rush. We hadn’t been expecting that and were starving! We finally managed to find somewhere on the prom and had a bottle of wine and a salad each.

After lunch, we found tourist information and they reserved a place on a campsite for us. It didn’t look too far away. But we were wrong! After doing a runner from the stopover site we had parked on, we zig-zagged our way up the steep hills above the town. The views over the coastal towns and the sea were amazing. We passed the position of the campsite, which the lady in tourist information had marked on the map. We wondered whether we’d missed it but agreed there had been no signs for a campsite. We decided to try a bit further and there it was, at last.

We’ve parked up on the site but have decided that this isn’t the place for us. The campsite is nice, but there are only 3 buses a day down to the beach and it is too far to drive up and down the hair pin bends in the van, especially as we aren’t guaranteed a parking place at the bottom. Neither of us likes the idea of crowded beaches, and while we’re sorry to miss seeing the pretty villages of Liguria, particularly Cinque Terre, August is definitely a bad time to visit. We are going to head back up to the Italian Lakes instead. In the meantime we are making the most of being on a campsite and using their showers, and washing machines.

Both the fridge and the LPG gas bottle that powers the fridge when we don’t have mains electricity are empty so we need to shop and find a petrol station and a supermarket tomorrow. Then we’ll head off somewhere quieter.

Sorry for the lack of pretty pictures today. It’s difficult to take them and follow the map. I’ll try and make up for it tomorrow!

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