It was definitely time for our next trip and since we have our sweet little mobile home, we’ve decided to go on a road trip. We are both in love with Italian food, culture and weather so the decision was easily made. Sebastian wanted to see Tuscany (Florence, Pisa) and I have never been to Sardinia, so we’ve made a plan, packed up some stuff and hit the road.
On the first day we made the way from Berlin to Lindau, which is a city at Lake Constance, close to the borders of Austra, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It was already dark when we arrived so we just looked for a parking space to stay the night and were lucky to find one that was free of charge at night and on sundays („Isch koschtenlos“ – „it’sh gratish“ the locals told us and we’ve laughed so hard – it became our inside joke for the whole trip). When we woke up in the morning, we couldn’t believe, what we saw: our car was parked right in front of the lake with a view on the island! The sun was shining and the holiday feeling came right away!
We’ve made a stroll on the island of Lindau, had some breakfast, enjoyed the amazing views over the lake with the Alps in the background and then hit the road again. Our goal was to arrive in the north of Italy on day two, we just had to pass Switzerland (or Austria? or Liechtenstein?). In any of this countries you’ll have to buy a badge to be able to use their highway and none of them is cheap, so we decided to pass just one of them, which wasn’t easy at all. In this corner you don’t know where one country ends and the other begins, so we’ve spent quite some time figuring out how to drive. Finally we took some rural roads to Bregenz (which is in Austria) and passed the border to Switzerland by Au to continue on the swiss highway. Without many expectations we’ve continued direction Milano, but quickly we’ve had to collect our jaws from the floor. The landscape became more and more beautiful with each kilometer. The highway is surrounded by the Alps and some picturesque villages, lakes, bridges and waterfalls. We made several stops to take deep breaths of fresh mountain air, pick some wild flowers and enjoy views that seemed to pretty to be real. That’s what I call a road trip: the road becomes the destination!
We didn’t have a proper desination that night but once we started to arrive in the area of lake Como (right behind the swiss-italian border), we knew we wanted to stay somewhere around. We’ve looked for beaches and places to stay around the cities and big lakes but just gor more and more into traffic and city stress, so we finally decided to find a camping by a lake. Not so easy! Finally we’ve found Camping Class in Eupilio – not exactly what we’ve imagined (big, organized, family friendly), but we were hungry and sweaty and it had a beach, a pool and a restaurant. And shower, oh yes, of course! 🙂 After all we’ve (again!) found a place with a view on the lake and the Alps and enjoyed our stay there very much!
On day three (after a long swim in the empty swimming pool!) we took the road direction Florence. Sebastian has never been there and I was so lucky to have seen it several times and to know that it’s absolutely stunning! We’ve made a tourist walk to admire the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore) with Giotto’s bell tower, the Uffizi Gallery , passing many other amazing buildings and sculptures to arrive at Ponte Vecchio.
Finally it was time for some proper apperitivo! We were lucky to stumble across Antica Sosta degli Aldobrandini – a centrally located wine bar which served a buffet of small side dishes complementary to the drinks. It was a big selection of italian aperitivi: delicious! Totally justified the price of 9€ for a Spritz ;). It was time to look for a place to sleep and we just decided to drive into the tuscan hills and look for some place in the nature. The next day, we spontaneously planned to see Volterra, so just took its direction and stopped somewhere on a tuscan hill, in a tuscan field for the night 🙂
The next morning we woke up to a beautiful scenery with a agricultural area nearby, where we immediately bought some homemade wine and olive oil!
On the way to Volterra our hearts jumped – Tuscany is just unreal! How not to become a painter, living there? Volterra itself is tiny and very romantic, with an amazing view, small streets and a rich history, definitely worth a visit!
It was day 4 and we couldn’t wait to see the sea and chill on the beach so we drove straight to the seaside. By chance we’ve spotted a free parking space under the trees, near to a wood, which, as we discovered soon enough, led us directly to the beach. It was a great place and at night we were completely alone, so after an afternoon of beach we could cook (finally some fish, shrimps, wine, olives..ahhh) and even try out our outdoor camping shower (basically a bag filled with water and a tube with a tiny shower head, hung on a tree). Recommended impro-camper place! Gratish! :))
On the next day it was time to move towards Livorno to take the ferry to Sardinia, but not without another bath in the sea and checking off one bucket list item of Sebastian (he wanted to see for more then 20 years!): the Leaning Tower of Pisa! We spent some hours in Pisa, going for a nice lunch, finally getting a gelato (ice cream) and doing that photo, of course 😉
Taking the night ferry (corsica ferries from Livorno to Golfo Aranci) was a good idea on one hand (you don’t loose a day on a ferry) a not so brilliant one on the other hand (try to sleep on a bar couch on a loud ferry during stormy weather!) but all was forgotten by the moment we’ve reached Sardinia!
Our first destination was Valle della Luna: a magical place where people live in caves! You have to go through some stone paths and climb a bit to finally arrive at the beautiful sea surrounded by oddly shaped stones. There is a totem, a hippie bench, some caves, groups of people with dogs making fires, it is just wonderful. Unfortunately that day it was so incredibly windy, we couldn’t camp there (we could barely eat, hiding behind some stones) but we took in all the magic of this place and went away with full hippie hearts. We’ve found a parking space nearby, on a local surfer beach and watch the pro’s jump and fly over the water.
On the next day we started to drive south on the east coast and as we took the street that was closest to the seaside, we’ve found ourselves on some crazy mountain curves. Again the mountains „surprised“ us and we had to pick up our jaws from the floor. At some point (we were at 1000 m height) a goat slowly passed in front of our car and we could even stop and talk to it, cause apparently we were the only crazy ones taking this street.
My birthday was on the next day, so we decided to look for a camping, where we could cook and have a nice evening. And we found a very nice one – Vilaggio Camping Le Cernie, a nature camping in a small forrest next to the beach. We were welcomed very friendly and the people were super chilled. It was still incredibly windy, so Silvio, an elder italian man, helped us to put up our tent (screwing nails into the ground with a screwdriver!) and we could make a wonderful dinner and have a toast on the beach at midnight. I even saw a falling star!
By chance we found out, that Sebastians friend, Valentina was on a beach nearby so the next day we headed in her direction, to Porto Frailis. The water and the beach were amazing and Valentina gave us such a warm welcome with gifts and tips and help and talks, it made us want to move to Sardinia immediately! 🙂
By chance there was a festa (tiny festival) in the small town of Arbatax that night and we decided to stay and have a look. There was a street full of market stalls where we bought some local sweets and souvenirs and a stage with live music in the small port. But most of all the was a long line for something…food, of course! We decided to mix with the locals and promptly got to know our line neighbors which invited us to eat at their restaurant nearby on the next day (more about this later). This evening we had some tiny fried fish with bread, wine and water (for 5€) and celebrated my birthday a little bit more.
Valentina showed us a perfect spot for sleeping (gratish!) and we had a wonderful night! With a lot of names of beaches we need to see (!) we drove even more south on the next day. Mariano, a friendly Italian line neightbor gave us the name an vague direction of a restaurant at the beach of Golfetto the night before, so we tried to go and find it. The beaches around Golfetto are just amazing! Golden shimmering sand, clear blue water, view on the mountains…breathtaking.
Finally we found Stabilimento Street Food 4 mori but forget about street food! With a view that brings you to your knees, we’ve been served typical sardinian food which made both of us tear up. I am not exaggerating! This was one feast and the taste buds exploded from joy! Grazie, Mariano!!
Woken up by a sunrise over the sea, we decided to stay in this area for some more time.
We drove down Costa Rei and one beach was mor beautiful the the other. One must see is Scoglio di Peppino which (besides being situated in front of a snobby golf club) is a beautiful beach with stones in the water with you can climb for breathtaking views (I know…it’s all breathtaking and amazing in my description, but it really is, I promise!).
Continuing south on the next day, stopping for views, beaches and swimming in the sea, we’ve arrived to Villasimius, which became our probably favorite place of them all. We’ve found a free parking spot at Spiaggia del Riso in front o of a small port, with a beach, great water, beautiful stones and nobody to bother us for the next 2 days. We parked with a view on the sea and had a fantastic dinner on the stones. Most probably this was a parking space for a huge camping that was just next to it – no problem for us, we had fresh croissants in the morning, clean bathrooms and some funny party music in the evening! It was so wonderful to go and have a swim first thing in the morning and we’ve seen the most postcard-ish sunsets and a full moon! We’ve driven around to see some more beaches (i.e. Porto Giunco) on the next day but came back to the exact same spot for dinner and sleeping the next night. It has some good energy!
We have been invited by Valentina to come to Cagliari, where she lives and works and we headed this direction the day after, stopping by another beach (Torre delle Stelle) of course. That was one too many beaches, I tell you! I have burned my butt and it was supposed to be driven back home soon! 😀 But first: Cagliari! Valentina was the sweetest host again and took us to a apperitivo, showed us the city and invited us for dinner. We started to discuss moving to Sardinia more seriously! 🙂
Our ferry back to Italy’s mainland was going the night after, so we needed to head back north on the next day. This time we took the highway, which leads from Cagliari to Olbia and makes an S shape to the west coast in the middle. We jumped out for a quick view – we’re gonna come back and check out the west coast and north another time – and went to Olbia.
We still had some time to kill, so we had a walk through the city (or the touristic part of it), had some food (amazing Panino con Polpo at a street food stand in the beginning of Viale Isola Bianca), bought some more souvenirs from market stalls and went to the ferry (Grimaldi from Olbia to Livorno).
This time we were smarter, took some sleeping bags and pillows and run to find a place on the ground to sleep (like we observed everyone did on the first ferry) and the night was much better than on the way back (although Corsica Ferries was a actually much nicer). In the morning we were thinking about making our way towards Genova and suddenly had the idea to pass by Cinque Terre – another item on both our bucket lists. We visited Riomaggiore – a sweet, romantic and colorful village with beautiful views and had some lunch there. The next village – Manarola – appeared to be the one with the view you’ll see on every picture of Cinque Terre. It was really beautiful but also so incredibly crowded and touristic…that we became a bit tired of it and continued direction Genova.
Genova is crazy! It is so massive, with lots of ugly skyscrapers around and lots of huge, beautiful buildings in the old town. The vibe of the city was somehow stressful and aggressive (especially in Maddalena), but also very lively and interesting. On each corner there was another building surpassing the greatness of the last one. We had some great homemade pasta and headed out of the city in need of somewhere much more quiet for the night.
We’ve tried to aks around about interesting and beautiful places on the way from Genova to Milano, but were answered „outlet centre?“ and decided to just go ahead and have a look ourselves. Finally we ended up in a tiny village with 473 inhabitants, making the locals wonder what the hell we were doing there, sitting in their only bar and speaking german :D.
Before driving out of Italy on the next day, we made a stop at a supermarket and went completely crazy…we needed some edible reminders of this trip and are very happy every evening to catapult us back with their taste and looking at some pictures.
The ways back through the Alps was beautiful again, we were driving into a rainbow and had some last amazing stops to take deep breaths and enjoy the fresh air. Our last night was in the same parking spot, as our first night. We had a delicious 4 course meal from a part of the shopping we did, cooked on a tiny gas cooker on the parking lot and eaten in front of the water. The moment we swallowed our last bite it started raining really heavily and we knew: the road trip is over.
I think it was the most beautiful travel, I have ever made and we really miss Italy and Sardinia so much already! Sebastian started to learn italian and we are dreaming about going back soon (and maybe for longer).