Saturday 8th June 2013
I Won’t blog the last two days of our road trip it was a day in the apartment on Saturday, an overnight drive to Calais and a return to our home in Malvern by 3 in the afternoon on Sunday. Instead, let me end our Mille Miglia road trip with some concluding thoughts about the trip and each of the stops.
First it was far enough from Port Cogolin but not too far to drive. We loved it for a one night stop and thought we had enough time to explore the city and get a feel for it and enjoy an evening meal. It was perfect for our first stop as we were excited about the trip and while it did not disappoint it was not the highlight stop on our trip.
The Hotel – Albergo Orologio
This proved to be a lovely hotel full of character plump in the heart of the city and just off the main piazza where you see the Mille Miglia cars gather. Central locations are essential when you only have a limited amount of time in the city. Yep we would book this hotel again without doubt.
This is a stunning city perched on the top of a mountain and beautiful. Everything was just so with not a blade of grass out of place. In truth it is quite a small place and a one night stop is enough in our opinion. Yes you could see more than we did but a friend of ours -Andy Williams – coined a phrase “cappuccino tourism” light and frothy and this style suits us and we saw as much as we needed to. I can’t stress enough though what a gorgeous place San Marino is and with a marvellous drive as you approach it. I would love to revisit and share this place with friends.
The Hotel – Hotel Rosa
Perfectly located just about as high as you could get in the town with fine facilities, again we would use this hotel if we were to come back.
This was a lunch stop on the way down to Rome. It was a beautiful place to visit, famous for being home to St Francis of Assisi and in truth warranted an overnight stop to allow you to see a little more and enjoy an evening meal in the town.
If we did this trip again we would add this in as an overnight stop. First the town is worth spending the extra time in and secondly, this would mean you could reach Rome the next day sooner than we did.
We made this a two night stop and rightly so. Each day we seemed to up the ante, San Marino trumped Brescia, then Assisi proved to be a surprise gem and now Rome!
Now I have made the point in my blog that I did not find Rome to be a beautiful city. It’s not, it’s full of cars and noise and chaos things that are non existent in car free places such as Venice or as on this trip, San Marino, Assisi, Siena and Portofino.
However, it is a city full of beautiful things and excuse the pun – monumental tourist attractions. I loved doing the whole city thing, moving around on the metro and enjoying the sites. Obviously it is well worth two nights to visit.
Doing it again I would be much more focused on doing the full tourist thing and plan exactly what we wanted to see etc. I think we meandered in our light and frothy way and Rome demanded more than this somewhat casual approach.
The Hotel – Hotel Roma Tiburtina
Located in the suburbs 800 yards from the metro. It was perfect for us arriving in the city by car. We drove to the hotel and parked up safely with ease and used the metro to quickly get into the centre. It was a lovely hotel and it really worked for us and yet again thumbs up to Peanut for finding yet another hotel we would happily use again.
This was a coffee break on the way to Siena. It doesn’t warrant an overnight stop but it was nonetheless a lovely and very real Italian town and definitely doing the trip again, we would pause here for a break.
There was a trend developing with this trip with each place trumping the last. Ok Rome was different its beauty not an inherent part of the city itself but if Rome were a face then it was one with a lot of beauty spots. Siena was just a beautiful face and we loved it. Eating and drinking in the cafes that edge the Piazza del Compo is simply a wonderful thing to do in the bright Italian sunshine. Without doubt any tour of Italy should include a night in Siena. Yes you could spend longer there but to be honest a full afternoon and an evening sufficed for our cappuccino style tourism.
The Hotel – Albergo Moderno
The hotel was last modern about 20 years ago and is on the cusp of needing modernisation. However, there was a style to its faded grandeur and the room was nonetheless very nice with fine bathroom facilities.
For us arriving by car it was the perfect location. Siena is a walled hilltop town with very little car access inside its walls. The hotel was just outside the walls with a series of escalators just by the hotel which in minutes took you to the centre. The Piazza del Compo being a ten minute stroll – no more. A+ for location and B+ for ambience. And yet as I write that I feel mean as in truth I did love the hotel and we would definitely choose this one again.
Brescia, San Marino, Rome and Siena had gone before so clearly Modena was never going to be up there with such evocative destinations. However, in its favour, we were here to visit the Ferrari museum and our evening did end up with us having our nicest meal out on the whole trip in a restaurant on a piazza in the old town centre. It would still be on the agenda if we repeated the trip but what we would change is this… If the weather was fine we would drive there as we did on the back roads as it would be a beautiful drive. If the weather was bad as it turned out for us, we would go there the fastest way and use the extra time to visit the Lamborghini museum as well!
The Hotel – The Castello
This is where the genius of Peanut comes in, as she compensated for Modena’s ordinariness by going the extra mile and finding a wonderful out of town hotel set in its own grounds for our overnight stop. The room was huge and lovely, the grounds were beautiful and nicely manicured – perfect for an afternoon drink in and the breakfast here was the best of all of them. Yes this is the hotel to choose without doubt.
From Modena we headed home to Port Cogolin, 5 km from St Tropez and we broke the drive up with a long lunch stop in Portofino. This worked out well for us because it did not matter what time we got back to Port Cogolin, as we had a few days there before heading home.
We got the whole afternoon to see this delightful port which surely epitomises Italian chic at its best. It was so picturesque that we would always make this a lunch stop coming back to the French Riviera from Italy. If we could change anything we would spoil ourselves with a stopover here but we think the hotels might be too pricey for our pocket. If so and we got the chance, then we would settle for a stopover in the town you pass through to get there. It was just lovely and to enjoy an evening meal in one of the restaurants that surround this tiny port would be a delightful treat.
So there you have it – our road trip discovering Italy, by following the route of the famous Italian road race, the Mille Miglia. Follow our route, use the hotels we used, add in overnight stops in Asissi and Portofino, top and tail the trip with your own route to Brescia and home from Portofino and quite simply you have the perfect Italian road trip, with the right balance between driving adventure and having enough time in the places you stop to feel their beauty.