I’ll set the scene.
We were young lovers and it was our first holiday. We were carefree and thirsty for adventure.
We threw the tent and our bags in the back of the car and set off into the dark night. Destination Italy. We had no places to stay, no itinerary. We followed our noses, the scent of adventure and home cooked Italian food wafting in the air.
Approaching Italy we decided to head over the mountains into the country rather than through the tunnel. Who wants to see wall to wall concrete when you can experience mountains and lakes? And what a welcome! Morning broke and our eyes were met with mint green lakes and white chalky mountains. We found our first campsite in a forest by Lago Maggiore. Our requirement was simple, picturesque with a spot for our tent and 2 trees sturdy enough to hold our 2 persons hammock (with us snuggled inside).
We are explorers. We have always been able to follow our instincts and discover the most beautiful, remote, interesting places. We always try the flaky painted door slightly ajar or the impossible little dirt track, just to see where it will take us. Sometimes it takes us horribly, horribly wrong (Remember going in search of that deserted beach and ending up having to reverse up a really, scarily steep cliff, thinking this was possibly our last adventure, babe? Me too.) But so often it takes us very right and we find a beautiful deserted monastery or secluded beach as a reward.
Our days were spent exploring San Giminiano, Pisa, Lucca, Volterra, Florence and the surrounding countryside. Our nights, chilling in the hammock watching an inky black sky peppered with stars and listening to the cricket chorus. I’m not sure how we managed to escape the crowds (of other campers, if there were any) or if it just felt like it was just us on the earth.
We moved from camping to camping every 2 days, finding little hidden gems along the way. Hill top sites overlooking the valleys filled with cypress trees, clear streams to swim in, dilapidated houses that we dreamed of making our own. We also stumbled across the best restaurant we have ever eaten in (and we’ve tried quite a few) in a tiny old church with 4 tables. We ate a 5 course meal of the finest Italian food and wine and received a bill at the end for 30 euros! Make that best AND cheapest meal I have ever eaten.
This was my first trip to Italy and the one that made me fall in love with everything Italian, the language, the culture, the food, the people. It was also the trip that made me fall in love with my (now) husband. Fast forward 10 years and we are a family of 3. I’m so looking forward to taking littlelish on her very own adventure this summer.
This blog post is my entry to the Tots100/Al Fresco Holidays competition who are giving away a holiday for one lucky family with (http://www.thomsonalfresco.co.uk/) Wish me luck :) x