Leaving Monaco meant we were about to venture into a country that neither of us had been but always wanted to go (once we managed to get out of France).
Once we left Monaco, we had to go back into France to then head to Italy, so we spent a few hours just cruising in and out of the mountains (and I would imagine we were cruising between France and Italy a lot too). I would say this part of the journey was quite isolated, with towns and villages being few and far between, so I would suggest to make sure you have plenty of fuel along with food and water for yourself. There are some perfect stops to pull over and just admire the scenery around you, we took this opportunity to stop off and cook some food. This was a great stop as it was a big parking space and there was no one around for miles expect for the few cars that would be travelling through. There was nothing but mountains rising up above us and below you could hear the faint sound of the river flowing past us. We slowly cooked some food and took our time to just enjoy what we are doing.
Cooking on the side of the road
I’ve added this little bit in to give you the reality of choosing to do this. A heads up if you don’t have a camper van or RV, I would imagine it’s a lot easier, but we have a Ford Focus so we don’t have the luxury on this journey. It’s important to realise you can’t just stop anywhere and get a camping stove out to cook, so here are a few rules to guide your journey around.
- Watch out for the signs that tell you don’t light any fires (these are more common in hot countries where fire can spread easier)
- Have everything you need to cook in one place (this will make it easier when you have to get it in and out of the car)
- Have a back up plan if you can’t find somewhere to stop and cook (we didn’t and have had an awful lot of McDonald’s as a result)
- Don’t be worried what other drivers think (the speed they do they probably won’t see you and if they do they won’t think twice and so what if they do they won’t see you again)
- Respect your surroundings and put everything in the bin or take it with you until you find a bin
- Trial and error – don’t give up, it will take a few go’s to work out what is best to cook on the road (we are finding out that packet food that you just need hot water for is best)
These are just a few tips and we are still learning, so I’m sure these will change, or more will be added, but just be sensible and use you common sense when travelling the road.
So where were we? Ahh yes cooking on the side of a road in France. So we packed everything up and we carried on along the mountain (just a side note, we don’t let our satnav take us down the toll roads so be aware if you are using a gps system), we knew we were very close to the border so we carried on for a few more miles before we hit a tunnel. I say tunnel but was more like a journey to the centre of the earth – we were in this tunnel for a while! The funny thing was is when travelling through the tunnel, we would see signs for France one way and Italy the other so it was quite clear we were about to hit the border. And when we were right half way through the tunnel, there was a big welcome to Italy sign!
And we finally made it to the country we always wanted to visit!
By the time we crossed the border, it was getting late so we stopped at a service station just outside of Turin and got a good nights rest before our first full day in Italy.
Rule number one when in Italy, watch out for the names of any towns and cities, we have names for these places but Italy actually call them something different (not sure why we changed the name of their places and didn’t just call them what they did but oh well). So basically we are going to Turin but its actual name is Turino.
This is our first stop in Italy so we wanted to make sure it was going to be a good one and we weren’t disappointed! We drove to Turin and parked up. Soon as we got out of the car we knew that it would be easier to get around Italy with our two boys, the first person we bumped into stopped us to say hi to Monty (after all their cousin is an Italian breed so who can blame them). After that we started our walk and to make sure our boys got a bit of energy out first we went to the park. When I say park it would be nothing like our parks we have in Britain, the entrance was a Roman tower called palatine towers, with statues outside and after it opened up to a green area there was then an archaeological site in the middle for you to just go and explore (from then we knew Italy was going to be amazing).
We started walking and after passing numerous Roman buildings already (it is impossible for me to name them all every time we see a Roman monument, just assume every street we walk down has such a building) we came to a big square. The square had numerous statues including statues of bulls scattered around (Monty and Oscar were not sure about these at all) but because we are good for picking days of importance we happened to stumble upon a festival. There were stalls lined up everywhere and you could hear the hustle and bustle of everyone in and around the city who had come to shop around. It was wonderful to walk around a festival and see all the fresh breads and pastries and pasta on every stall for you to buy. After we pulled ourselves away from the main square we carried on out tour. You can research all the places you want to see in Turin but we discovered so much more, going down the side streets there were so many churches and historical buildings for you to see that are not pointed out online. My best advise is to walk around and get lost within the side streets and discover for yourself what it has to offer. We could have spent all day doing this and we even came across a Egyptian museum (yes Egyptian, it happens to be the largest outside of Egypt). We walked around all of the shopping areas which are within the centre and weaved in and out all of the cafe along the squares. We started to get a little peckish after smelling all of the food around us so our next decision was what to eat for our first meal in Italy?
Well it was never going to be a touch decision me and Simon love pizza and we are in the home of pizza! After some research Turin is famous for a deep dish style of pizza which is very different to what the traditional pizza is, so we had to try this out. We decided to take out so we popped in the car and drove the a pizzeria just outside of the city. We went to Dessi and oh my it was worth going to this place. You could sit in or take out so we bought one small pizza each and off we went. It was beautiful thick crust pizza we had ever tasted (they call them deep pan and yes they are thicker than usual but after tasting a Chicago pizza in the city itself nothing compares to a Chicago deep pan pizza, sorry Italy!) and was the perfect choice for our first meal.
On the way out we bumped into the building which film fans may recognise as the building that Michael cane famously drove up in the Italian job and we couldn’t go without saying hi to the Juventus Stadium.
It was a good first day in Italy and may it continue………..