5th August: Orta San Guilio on Lake Orta

Last night was really hot and sticky. We slept with every window open as wide as possible and didn’t even need a sheet over us. We rose quite early and John collected some croissants for breakfast while I made a drink. After breakfast we packed and left to make our way up to the Italian Lakes. We have decided to start with the most westerly lake, Lake Orta, before heading over to Lake Maggiore and then Lake Como.

Today’s drama centred around filling the LPG gas bottle which fuels the fridge, cooker and water heater when we don’t have electric hook up. We pulled up next to the LPG pump and the Italian assistant kept waving at us and shouting ‘diesel! LPG not possible!’ We couldn’t make ourselves understood so we drove on to the next service station. Our tactic here was to fill up the van with diesel first, before attempting LPG. After the assistant had filled up the diesel, John opened the gas bottle locker and showed him the gas bottle and the adaptor we needed to use for Italian pumps. He reluctantly agreed to give it a go but, after a half hearted attempt, waved his arms saying ‘no good!’. So we gave up.

Thankfully, it was third time lucky. John again showed the assistant the LPG gas bottle and adaptor and, after a couple of attempts to connect it properly, and with us a bit worried because gas seemed to leak from around the seal which doesn’t happen at UK pumps, he successfully filled the bottle. We we so pleased we gave him a tip which he seemed very happy with.

By lunchtime we arrived in Orta San Guilio and quickly found a camper van stopover at the edge of the town. We then set off on a footpath along the lake shore in search of lunch. Immediately we knew we’d done the right thing in leaving the beach and coming to the lakes. It was so much more peaceful. And just as beautiful as the places I’d hoped to visit in Liguria. People were swimming in the lake, exploring the cobbled streets of Orta or just watching the world go by from the lakeside bars.

After a leisurely lunch we took the water ferry to an island, Isola San Guilio. We wandered its tiny, quiet streets, paddled in the lake and watched the fish swim around our feet, before catching the ferry back and continuing our walk around the town, back to the van. We then changed into our swimming costumes and took our towels down to the lake, where we cooled off with a swim and lay together in the shade until the sun went down. Lovely!

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