This is the continuation of our camping holiday in Italy (see the previous post).
After approximately 1200 miles (unscheduled detours excluded!); sat nav issues; a ferry crossing; one night without sleep and a refreshing stopover in an hotel, it was now Tuesday lunchtime, and all three families had arrived safely at the campsite. The campsite, like many I’ve visited, had an entrance barrier which closed at particular times of the day to prevent ‘traffic’ around the site. The gates on this site closed between the hours of 1pm and 3pm. We arrived at 2pm!
This gave us time to check in and ensure everything was in order with our booking. A booking we had only made some six months earlier! Our request was for four large pitches together. We didn’t mind whether these were all in a row or a square, as long as they were together. And it was very important that they were large, as all four families had big tents with gazebos. As a part of the original booking, we had to state the size of each tent and all quoted 6m x 8m. We also all added a comment about being next to the other families (all listed by name).
The booking confirmation was returned to us by the end of January. This confirmation from the campsite, actually showed the tent size and, in bold, the request for the pitches to be next to each other. They had got the message.
Or had they?
When the first three families checked in, we were told there were no large pitches available and there were none together!
Our host, a short Italian lady with a mop of dyed straw coloured hair, decided to walk us round the site to choose our pitches. However, before she did so, she wanted to check that we were not Irish. A strange question and one at which we could quite possibly have taken offence – not because we wouldn’t want to be Irish, but the question sounded a little racial. The reason for the question was that the last group from Ireland who stayed at this site were a bit rowdy, got drunk a lot and started fighting. She had to ask them to leave, and never wanted any one from Ireland back on her site. She came across as a bit of a dictator.
We assured her we were not Irish and would not fight! We never promised her we wouldn’t drink – enough said!
So, playing ‘follow the leader’, or Vileda (after the mop!) as we affectionately nicknamed her, we set off round the site. At out first stop, Vileda pointed to two small pitches and said we could have them both for one family. The fourth family, who were not due to arrive for another five days, had already been assigned a pitch, which was diagonally opposite the two we were currently looking at. What didn’t seem to make sense was, why did they have a pitch assigned when they were still days away from arrival and yet we were standing there with tents at the ready and no where to go?
Moving on, Vileda took us to another lane and pointed out one pitch which she suggested two families could use. Admittedly, it was a large pitch, but it didn’t look big enough for two families. Spotting our lack of enthusiasm at this idea, she took us to one last pitch.
In terms of location, we couldn’t have asked for a better position. It was over looking the lake, with no other pitches next to it. It had a large barn behind it giving it some shelter. It was perfect.
Well, almost perfect! There were a couple of issues with the pitch. Firstly, the area immediately in front of it was effectively the beach and was absolutely crowded with sun worshippers meaning that from the moment the sun came up to the moment it set, we would have been surrounded by all sorts vying for the best spot. We would have had no peace whatsoever. And secondly, the pitch wasn’t available until the next day!
Vileda suggested that the three families all slept in one tent for the first night and took the pitch the following day. We responded that whilst we were all good friends, and had large tents, they were not spacious enough to fit that many people in! So we opted to squeeze the two families with small persons on to the single pitch and let PC Bob and Wife Upon The Wicked Stage have the double pitch. It seemed to make some sense at the time!
We returned to the office to try to negotiate better pitches whilst we waited for the gate to open at 3pm. Whilst in the office, Vileda was dealing with a couple who had just arrived. Although we had not overheard the beginning of their conversation, it was very apparent that Vileda had just told this couple that there were no available pitches for them. They obviously protested, especially as they, like us, had booked in advance. Vileda was quick to point out that they may have booked in advance, but only two days in advance! Obviously booking in advance, however long, didn’t count for anything.
We decided not to rock the boat; we had come this far and did at least have somewhere to pitch our tents unlike the other couple. We should have been grateful as we watched the other couple drive off to look for another campsite in the area. So, with a polite little salute suitable for a dictator of small stature, we accepted the pitches.
A few hours later, PC Bob and Wife Upon The Wicked Stage were settled on their pitch, whilst Welsh Weeble, GAY Cabs and their boys and my family were squeezed onto our pitch. We were unable to put up everything. We managed to put up one gazebo for all eight of us to share. We squeezed a kitchen area between the two tents, but were unable to negotiate our way round the tents as they were hard up against each other and those on the pitches either side of us! We were not allowed to keep our vehicles on this part of the site, not that there was any room to, and had to take them to the car park. We couldn’t take the trailers as they had become trapped between tents and trees.
And with that, we settled down and made the most of what we had been given. This was to be our home for the next three weeks.
Or was it … ? (Find out)