Barbara and Tony were waiting for us when we arrived in Bologna. We’d already booked the campsite when they arranged to join us, but luckily it did chalets so they could join us on site. Unfortunately the flights didn’t quite line up though, so they had a day to explore Bologna before we rolled in to town.

The campsite was an ex municipal site, so was pretty close to town, but also pretty basic. It did have a decent pool, and it turns out a surprisingly good restaurant. Despite being peak season, it appears to be mainly a transit site and was pretty quiet so we had our pick of pitches, including shady ones! Unfortunately as we manhandled the van on to the pitch we were swarmed with mosquitoes, who it appears also don’t like the blazing sun. After being eaten alive in minutes, we spent the rest of the week slathering on the repellent – but at least we were a little cooler here. It was also much easier to set up camp when we could send Evelyn off to the pool with Nana and Grandad while we got everything sorted.

Barbara and Tony were off home on the Sunday, so we only had two full days to spend with them before they headed off. They’d previously mentioned wanting to visit Florence, and we had planned to return later on our trip, having visited when I was pregnant with Evelyn three years earlier. Except now we weren’t heading down Italy and therefore passing on the way back up, so if we wanted to go, now made the most sense. So the next day we all bundled into the car.

A seven seater hadn’t been on our list of requirements when we bought the new car, but we needed a big car and it turned out that quite a few of that size had them. So we ended up with two extra fold away seats in the boot, which came in handy. With Barbara wedged between the kids in the back, I took my place in one of the boot seats, wedged next to the buggy and other child paraphanelia. But at least I wasn’t being kicked and prodded for once!

Florence was our favourite place on our previous Italian road trip and it was great to go back, and to share it with others. We explored the food market, stood in awe at the cathedral, wandered the piazzas and crossed Pont Neuf. It was so hot, and so busy!

We headed for a late lunch in a trattoria we’d loved when we visited last time, and had a huge feast of cured meats, cheeses, salads, baked aubergine and grilled meat. Not content with the huge meal we’d just eaten, Simon then headed to the sandwich shop across the road to get a takeaway for supper. The sandwiches here had been his highlight of the last trip, and their infamy causes queues around the block. They’re that popular in fact that the local council has had to introduce a ban on people eating in the streets in the local area. It hasn’t worked though, and all the spare walls and kerbs down the road were crammed with people tucking in to the huge sandwiches.

After a long day out the previous day, we spent our second day with Nana and Grandad having a lazy day by the pool so they could spend time with the kids. There was a restaurant on site, but we didn’t hold much hope as the campsite was very basic. But with the kids, it was an easy option for a goodbye meal without worrying about bedtimes. How we underestimated it, the food was delicious! We certainly ate well on this stop.

With Barbara and Tony dropped off at the airport, Sunday was another lazy day after the excitement of the previous few days. Swimming and balance biking for Evelyn, and furiously researching route options for us.

After originally looking at options that took us back around the Alps, but then still followed our previous route up through France, Simon came up with the brilliant suggestion of coming back via Spain instead. That way we could escape to the mountains for a few weeks to hide from the heat, but still chase the September sun in the south of France and northern Spain where campsites were more likely to still be open in to October. I’m ignoring the fact this involves a 24 hour ferry home! The last long daytime ferry (7hours) we took back from Corsica, I spent most of it lying on the floor in the corner of the cafe trying not to feel seasick. We looked at me flying home instead, but that would mean juggling the two kids not just for the flight, but for the two days after that it would take Simon to get home. For some reason Simon wasn’t keen on taking the caravan AND the kids while I flew?!

While we still didn’t have a route sorted, we knew the general direction and committed to it by booking the ferry home and cancelling our other campsite bookings. We weren’t far from Cinque Terre and I’d really wanted to go there, so we managed to find a campsite with space the next week, before then heading to the Aosta Valley. We’d never even heard of this area, but it was repeatedly recommended on travel groups when I asked for ideas, and it was on the way to Annecy, another area we still really wanted to visit. From there we’d have about six weeks to get to Bilbao and would work the rest out later. It was a huge relief to not be heading in to southern Italy where the forecast was currently 36 and humid!

We spent our last day in Bologna visiting Bologna itself. I’d been to Bologna before, in the same trip I’d been to Venice with El, and in a small twist of fate it turned out we were staying at the same campsite too. I had a good idea of the main sights to see, then we escaped to a park looking for shade and somewhere for Evelyn to burn off steam.

So now rather than heading off to San Marino and then Assisi, we cut across to Liguria and the Italian Riviera.

Where we stayed:

Camping Citta di Bologna

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