186: Gubbio – The Gubbins

185 – 23rd October 2015:  Gubbio – the Gubbins

A crack of dawn start and a walk to the hospital.  A 20 minute wait and we saw the dentist … he was not able to help as J needs an Xray and serious repair!  He can only fix small cracks!  Pleasant enough … but tooth problem still needs ‘crowning’.  Perhaps Naples!

Quick hoover – J and identify some possible overnight Parkings in Assisi – K and we were off by about 11.  The guide book made Gubbio sound good, so we set this as a via point on Brad, the Sat Nav.  Perhaps I should explain … We had an incident with Sally, the Sat Nav.  Suddenly she became Afrikaans and we could not understand her.  About to re-set her back to Sally and thought we could do with a change of voice, so we now have Brad …. male American.  Brad as in Brad and Janet in the Rocky Horror Show, as he sounds like an all round nice guy, but a bit dim.  Sadly he does not say rout for route.  A slight digression …. Brad decided to take us the most direct rout(e) – over hills.  Lots of hairpin bends and hill towns with castles atop.  Pretty but slow driving.

As we pulled up to Gubbio it was really striking: a Roman amphitheatre in the foreground and layers of a glowing white stone town behind.  Banners proclaimed that the white truffle festival was on.  At the TIC we asked about the main sights, the truffle festival and an overnight Parking with water.  The Parking was only about a half km from where we had parked, so it meant we could wander at will and not worry about getting onto Assisi, which will keep till tomorrow.

Roman Amphitheater

Roman Amphitheater – the first sight as we arrived.

Our rout(e) around Gubbio included several of the truffle festival stall areas.  There were not many customers about and we were pressed with samples to consume … managed to come away without buying the EUR300 truffle I was kindly shown.  But did buy a tuna and pistachio paste, nougat for Maddy, a small lump of cheese and a bottle of very green pistachio cream (alcoholic!) … no  truffle products though :(.   Apparently to keep the truffles, you place on kitchen paper, which needs changing daily and place in a glass jar in the fridge.  I was told the Japanese often buy large ones which are unusable due to lack of care in the keeping.  My truffle guide unscrewed the lid on one truffle jar and the scent was very heady … almost tempting!

The historical part of our rout(e) was equally rewarding.  The Palace of the Consuls traced the history of Gubbio … prehistoric, redesigning under the Romans and then retreating up the hills when the Byzantines and Goths came as it was then easier to defend themselves from there.  As part of this redesigned city they used the latest technology – toilets and water pipework to fountains and really impressive huge arches to support the Piazza Grande.  The Palace also contains the Eugubine Tablets – 7 tablets with inscriptions on brass.  These date from 1BC and were undeciphered until the late 1800’s.  They provided evidence of how people lived in Umbria before the Roman Conquest.  The part I read (yes, translated into English) was about the detailed rituals for sacrificing a goat.  As well as art and stone, there was also a superb viewing gallery at the top.

We wandered the streets and somehow found ourselves in a bar enjoying a rather pleasant red.  More wanderings and stalls and back to Chardonnay.  Our neighbours are all Italian, but it is quiet and only EUR5 for water and waste etc.

A fantastic afternoon – one of those moments in time….

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The Plazzo dei Consuls with the Piazza Grande supported by massive arches.

The Plazzo dei Consuls with the Piazza Grande supported by massive arches.

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And this is what has held up the Piazza for hundreds of years

And this is what has held up the Piazza for hundreds of years

Shops were classy: truffle and other local food products and ceramics. But even so ... we still saw bows and arrows, a crossbow and a leg trap.

Shops were classy: truffle and other local food products and ceramics. But even so … we still saw bows and arrows, a crossbow and a leg trap.

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The Eugubine Tablets

Sunset over the amphitheater as we return to Chardonnay

Sunset over the amphitheater as we return to Chardonnay

184 – 185: The Power of the EHIC and San Marino

184 – Wednesday 21st October 2015:  Ospedale Rimini and San Marino

We had googled that to invoke the power of the EHIC we needed to present ourselves at a state hospital who would refer us to a state dentist.  We had had a superb experience of the power of the EHIC in Slovenia and assumed that we would have a lesser experience in Italy.  A 40 min walk to the very large and modern hospital.  Found Pronto Soccorso aka A&E and presented ourselves.  The receptionist had a few words of English and asked us to wait.  A translator arrived!!!  She did the initial registration and then we were through to waiting room number 2.  A lot of people with much more serious injuries and obviously in pain arrived, so we expected a long wait.  James was called in just under an hour :).  The Dr spoke English and referred him to the the onsite dentist.  Being so vast we were guided part of the way to the green corridor and then asked for help, only to discover we had missed the dentist by about 10 mins … he shut up shop at 12.00 and would not be back till 9.00 on Friday.  Our helper who spoke OKish English became very animated when the subject of football and Liverpool came up … funny that!

A few Rimini Pix, I meant to upload on the last blog … blame the slow wifi … as not a drop of alcohol in me!

A Rimini fountain ... not often you see horses snorting from their nostrils!

A Rimini fountain … not often you see horses snorting from their nostrils!

James looking dead cool

James looking dead cool

But then, also a dodgy geezer with my hand bag! In front of the Fish Market, built in the main square to denote the importance of fishing.

But then less cool, in dodgy geezer mode, with my hand bag! In front of the Fish Market, built in the main square to pay homage to the importance of fishing.

Tiberius Bridge

Tiberius Bridge  – one of my fav pix

A typical frontage along the beach ... imagine hundreds of these ... does not make for an attractive stroll along the shore.

A typical frontage along the beach … imagine hundreds of these … does not make for an attractive stroll along the shore.

We walked back to our Rimini parking and had lunch.  The original plan had been to go to  San Marino (RSM on number plates), so we did.  San Marino is the oldest and smallest republic.  It boasts a football team, the F1 used to happen here but the motor racing championships still do.  An older Italian chap we met today described the San Marinese as criminals and rich!  It is a tax haven and very wealthy … a government surplus.  Apparently a law exists to protect the rich elderly male inhabitants from scheming female money grabbers … all female domestic staff have to be over 50!  I’d just qualify, but don’t want a job thanks!!!  Plus, I already have my older man, thanks.  Shame about the rich part!

The Parking I had identified was a) free and b) 5 mins up a path to the bottom of the cable car that goes up to San Marino historic centre.  We had thought we would go up tomorrow, but we were told that it only took about 2 hours to go around and so it proved.   Monte Titano is striking in that it is very rocky, steep and sticks out like a sore thumb in the otherwise rolling landscape.  Whichever angle you view the Monte from, you can see the fortresses and town walls.  The cable car was only EUR4.5 return and a short hop, compared to some we’ve been on, so J did not suffer having to study the cable car floor!

Pretty to walk around and you can see the Adriatic.  A castle, churches, walls, fortress towers and an open air theatre which used to be a quarry.  BUT full of restaurants, cafes and tourist shops selling leather, guns, and knock off designer brands.

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This young man is not catching a bird but an airborne camera. It flew off up and around one of San Marino's towers. Talking to the upper crust young English men it can fly 2 km away and compensates for wind etc.

This young man is not catching a bird but an airborne camera. It flew off, up and around one of San Marino’s towers. Talking to the upper crust young Englishmen it can fly 2 km away and compensates for wind etc.

San Marino art? What are these dragonfly up to?

San Marino art? What are these dragonfly up to?

J unimpressed ... lots of guns for sale.

J unimpressed … lots of guns for sale.

I had to bribe him to sit on this ledge ...

I had to bribe him to sit on this ledge …

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View from the top as the sun went down.

View from the top as the sun went down.

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And a superb sunset from our terraced overnight parking.

 

185 – Thursday 22 October 2015:  Borgomaggiore and Sort-Of-Sorting a Door Locking Problem

We knew we had to return to to Rimini tonight to see the dentist early on the morrow, so we decided not to stray too far.  We walked from our Parking into the largest town, Borgomaggiore, which really was not very large.  It had a market so we bought some veggies; I plan to do the unctuous veggie sauce I did on the cooking course in Tuscany in August again.

Lunch at the parking and finally found the motorhome services, which were on a lower terrace to us.

We had spotted a motorhome sales garage on our way up to San Marino and decided to stop off there on the return.  We have a few niggles that could be sorted or could wait, but the problem with the habitation door lock cannot wait.  One of the locks is stuck in lock mode which means the door will not quite fully close and of course is potentially easier to break into.  We had to wait 20 mins for the staff to return from their 3.5 hour (!!!) lunch.  As Chardonnay is a Bessacarr i.e. English made and not known in Italy, they could not help.  However, the owner rang a company who may be able to help.  It took us about 40 mins to get to the industrial area environs and then about another 40 mins to find the place … grrr!  Helpful chap again, but no, he did not have the part either, but fiddled and showed us a trick to unlock it.  We will have to check its position each time we close the door, but at least we are back to full security.

Back to our parking in Rimini … other than the CamperStop in Ljubljana which we returned to 3 times, this is the only other time we have been, stayed away one night, and returned to the same place.  Dentist tomorrow … fingers crossed.

A few pictorial Italy observations:

Made us chuckle ... on a small Fiat ... is there room? P'raps we should have this on the back of Chard?

Made us chuckle … on a small Fiat … is there room inside? P’raps we should have this on the back of Chard?

Some interesting roadside advertising ... we thought of Route 66 and the giant plastics.

Some interesting roadside advertising … we thought of Route 66 and the giant plastics.

Every town has one. A pawn brokers; they take silver, gold diamonds and dental gold! Out Tuscany tour guide told us the Italians are about making sure they have the latest and could not possibly admit to having no money. I wonder how many of Granny's jewels have gone this way?

Every town has one. A pawn brokers; they take silver, gold, diamonds and dental gold! Our Tuscany tour guide told us the Italians are all about making sure they have the latest and could not possibly admit to having no money. I wonder how many of Granny’s jewels have gone this way?

Health and Safety: we watched as this rubbish was thrown down into the street. There was a spotter at ground level, but the rubbish landed and remained nicely balanced on the wall mounted lamp ... for now!

Health and Safety: we watched as this rubbish was thrown down into the street. There was a spotter at ground level, but the rubbish landed and remained nicely balanced on the wall mounted lamp … for now!

146-148: Moving along

146 – Saturday 12th Sept 2015: Exercise, Doctor and a Pretty Drive

K ran and pilates and then showered in the plush facilities.  Although we were right next to the water park, it did not open till mid morning so we were not disturbed … we find it increasingly a rarity to get up early!  We also emptied and filled Chardonnay … it was actually nearing mid day by the time we left.

Our expensive stop ... still managed to get a load of laundry done!

Our expensive stop … still managed to get a load of laundry done!

The 2013 addition for the water park .... not our cup of tea at all

The 2013 addition for the water park …. not our cup of tea at all

The receptionist told us about a 24 hour doctor to check J’s leg and we set Sally for this.  Yes, Slovenia has 24 hr Doctor / light A&E facilities in lots of towns!  Sally took us down a dead end – again, another really helpful Slovine put us right.  J seen within minutes and again no charge.

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On the way into the town, K had spotted a church with lots of smaller chapels in the path up .. we had a quick look at this (from the bottom) and then repaired to a cafe.  J caught the last 10 mins of Latvia beating Slovenia at basketball; cheering on SLO with the locals.

We drove pretty much hugging the Croatian border to a small and basic campsite outside Novo Mesto.  The campsite at Otocec was extremely pretty and along the river Kyka: we parked along its were yards from anyone else; our nearest neighbours a family of 4 swans who bedded down on an island metres from us.  And we BBQ’d 🙂  So lovely we decided to stay two nights.

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A beautiful spot and … yes, more laundry drying!

Perfect evening light

Perfect evening light

147 – Sunday 13th Sept 2015:  Boozy Bike Ride

We set off south of the river to Novo Mesto, but part of the track was uphill, so we performed an exercise, called “pushing’.  It became a bit of a Bike Booze Cruise, as we had a glass of wine when we arrived at the town, several with lunch (EUR10 for 3 courses and salad, but indifferent quality), and two wine stops on the return leg!

Wine stop number 1

Wine stop number 1

Free paddle boarding ... if we had a change of clothes, we would've given it a go. I know the idea is NOT to fall in ... but ....

Free paddle boarding … if we had a change of clothes, we would’ve given it a go. I know the idea is NOT to fall in … but ….

So we had a go on a swing instead ..

So we had a go on a swing instead ..

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Not sure the cycle helmets were entirely necessary!

 

148 – Monday 14th Sept 2015:  Back to Ljubljana and more Slovine Kindness

K ran part of yesterday’s cycle route to Otocec, crossing over the wooden bridges and ran the furthest she has ever run – 4.7KM, but the steep hills were walked!  Being Monday, we knew all museums etc would be shut, so we followed the Krka River valley.

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Large rebuilt fortress in Zuzemberk

Large rebuilt fortress in Zuzemberk

Used for markets, concerts etc. Mostly rebuilt as flattened in WW2

Used for markets, concerts etc. Mostly rebuilt as flattened in WW2

Lunch stop at Sticna outside the Monastery.  K was blending soup when David knocked at the door – he is the local tourism rep.  He kindly telephoned the Monastery to see if anyone was free to give us a tour … we would have been in luck, had we spoken Slovine :(.  We have his telephone number and if we find time to go back there, he has offered to point us in the right direction to best explore the area.  Yet again, another example of Slovine friendliness and helpfulness.

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I just love the barns – is this a medical condition?

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A renovation project? Most of the properties have been done up and look an indeterminate age.

We arrived at our second home …. Ljubljana CamperStop mid afternoon so K did some MORE washing and we did a van interior clean.  This is our this stay of two nights and our host welcomed us – we will enjoy the EUR8.50 supper.

Tomorrow we take Chardonnay for the first of her maintenance / repair work…. the 40,000 KM BIG service.