Thursday, 3 May 2007

Torino (Turin, Italy) Day 1

2nd May
Savines Le Lac (France) to Torino (Turin, Italy)

Arrival 47782 km

I took the N94 / SS24 from Savines Le Lac over the Alps and down into Italy. There was a fair bit of snow on the mountain at the summit of the road just before passing over the border, and the road was very twisty both on the ascent and descent. It was wierd seeing a 38 tonne articulated lorry coming down as some of the bends really bouble back on themselves. I'm assuming that the driver didn't want to pay the toll on the autoroute. The scenery on practically the whole journey was excellent. From Savines, it reminded me of the landscape between Kinlochleven and Ballachulish in the west highlands of Scotland (one of my favourite places), only the mountains were that bit taller.

On arriving in Turin, I had set Maisy GPS for a camper stop listed in the book. Unfortunately, the co-ordinates listed must have been off, as I ended up in a narrown uphill cul-de-sac and had do back out all the way down again. According to the GPS co-ordinates, I would have been camped on someone's front lawn! I had spotted a signpost for 'Camping Villa Del Rey' on the climb up to the aborted stopover, so I decided to back track andc see if I could find the campsite.

Following the signs brought me up another very narrow and winding road and I began to wonder if I was on the right road or not, but on rounding the final hairpin bend, there was a caravan parked up in front of me, so I reckoned I had found it. Unfortunately, the gates were shut, as the office didn't open until 3pm and it was only 2.20. I needed to back up Hermione into a parking space, but she had decided to throw a strop and was in one of her 'non starting' moods. I had to resort to the old tried and tested trick of the extra cable directly on to the battery terminal and she fired up. I had tried to just roll her back into the space, but with the engine not running, no power steering and the servo not working for the brakes, it was too awkward to attempt.

The guy from the camping came out and opened up the gates, showing me to a decent sized pitch which I had to turn around on, as it was on a bit of a slope. Thats the one good thing about this van. On a level surface, she sits slightly 'nose down' due to the Alko rear axles sitting a bit higher, and campsite pitches are generally never quite on the level, so I can usually face one direction or the other and be fairly level inside the van without the need for levelling blocks, which I had a bit of a disatrous time with in Madrid when they got stuck between the back wheels of the tag axle and I ended up having to jack up the back of the van to get them back out!

The campsite sits in the grounds of an old villa - judging by the name 'Del Rey', I'm guessing that there's some connection with royalty along the way. The house looks as though it's in the middle of a restoration. New windows have been fitted and there was scaffolding up inside one of the downstairs rooms and someone at work restoring the room. It looks to be an original villa with two wings added on, 4 storeys - pretty large. I don't know what the owners plan to do with it, as it's too big for a family to live in as one house.

Not long after I got settled in, the rain started and another thunderstorm which continued for nearly 3 hours, then the sun peeked through and the rain stopped. I decided to make my move and head down to the city to try to catch some sightseeing before dusk fell. I walked down the steep hill and into the city centre, which took around 15 minutes to get to. There is a tram stop at the bottom of the hill, but I had no idea what tram to take, so just hoofed it instead.

Torino, on 1st impressions, is impressive. I arrived initially at a really large square, 'Piazza Vittorio Veneto', and walked past the shops which are sheltered by covered, arched walkways. Very clever, in what I imagine is a fairly rainy city. I continued on up street, again more walkways and covered a roughly square walk around the main part of the centre, dodging trams, buses and crazy drivers that don't seem to think there is a need to slow down for you while you're crossing at one of the many marked road crossings. You need to have your wits about you, as there is sometimes a need to break into a sprint at the last minute!

Dusk had started to descend, so I decided to head back for the van. Torino is an easy city to navigate in, as it's layed out in square blocks off the river, so I found my way back without any problems, not needing to consult the tourist map I'd broght along. As I neared the campsite, the rain started again, and I was only inside the van about 5 minutes when it really started pelting down. It continued to rain all night and didn't ease up until about 5am.

As I'm writing this at 10am, the sun is making an attempt to come out, but it's not looking all that great. As long as the rain stays off though, I'll head back for the city again in a bit.

No comments: