Part 2 (4 March - 17 March) From Monaco to Cinque Terre, Italy

Part two of our journey was scary, exiting, challenging and great fun!


Monaco & Monte Carlo


We thought it would be fun to drive through Monaco & Monte Carlo with our 3-ton truck as we passed it anyway on our trip from the Cote d`Azur to Milan. And fun it was, but mainly pretty scary as the roads have narrow hairpin turns up and down the mountain and are filled with cars that cost the same as the average house in Holland. So we were aware of the fact that if we would crash into anything here, we would have a very displeased insurance company.  But Nicolette did a good job, a few close encounters with a nun and a suicidal moped driver, but not an (additional) scratch on us or on any of our fellow road users and we were rewarded with breathtaking views of this movie-set-like country/city/town/centre-of-the-universe (whatever they like to be called). 

Imagine, we had to turn right up here
Imagine, we had to turn right up here
Nun taking a leap op faith
Nun taking a leap op faith
View of Monaco / Monte Carlo
View of Monaco / Monte Carlo

Italy - Milan


We crossed the Italian border and the sight changed into a true Italian landscape instantly, the change in just a few km`s is amazing. We drove to Milan where we planned to spend the night and visit the city. Nicolette has been in Milan many times during the period she worked at IDC, and her impression of the city was not very positive. How wrong she was. The city turned out to be great fun and beautiful if you just know where to look. We got some advice from the friendly camping owner which areas to visit and where to grab a bite, and decided to follow his instructions. We discovered a part of Milan off the beaten track called Lombardy with a surprisingly cool restaurant called "Le Striatelle" where the food is not too expensive and so typical Italian. We found many people in the streets, bars, restaurants, all very lively,  Loved it!

Drive to wintersports


Next morning we drove to the airport to pick up Loes and Sebastiaan so we could drive to Val Gardena (Ortisei) for a week of winter sports. They had reserved a rental Panda prepared for snowy conditions but at the collection Hertz decided in all their wisdom to give us a car with summer tires. But no worries, winter tires would only cost us a measly 20 euro per day extra ( which for 7 days rent adds up to double the rental fee). Unacceptable, so this turned out to be a heated 2 hour discussion, which we won in the end, and we were awarded a Panda 4x4, which turned out to be the best car we could have hoped for.

Navigation showed Ortisei as a 4 hour drive, in normal conditions, but this was the day the mother of all snowstorms decided to hit the Alps. It already rained heavily all the way to the mountains and as we gained altitude the rain changed into snow and visiblity turned to near-zero. So we drove slowly and steadily.

Because we started our trip 2 hours later than expected, it was dark when we reached the mountains which was also the moment the snowfall got worse, a lot worse. Then at the worst moment possible, we took a wrong turn which made us go up a steep, snow covered mountain track where we had to turn after 2km of climbing. Going up was no problem, but within 50 meters on the way back down, Nicolette lost control over the Toyota and it started sliding. She steered towards the mountain wall to prevent the car from sliding down the mountain, luckily the car stopped just before hitting the wall. Jeroen then engaged the 4 wheel drive and took over. He did great (going down at an average speed of 6kph) and got us back on track safe and sound. 

15cm before crashing into the wall coming to a stop, thank god!
15cm before crashing into the wall coming to a stop, thank god!
Snow plow coming to the rescue
Snow plow coming to the rescue

Going up the correct road we noticed many 2WD cars at the side of the road stranded, we were still ok. Then we saw some cars at the side of the road which had crashed into each other or into some other obstacle, we were still ok. Then everything came to a grinding halt as we had to climb a 14% incline which had almost 10 cm of snow on it (with only 8km left to go). There was a chain of stranded cars on our side of the road blocking our way, not able to go up or get back down. We thought we would get stranded there, but the next moment a snow plow came to the rescue, we jumped in our cars and followed it in its tracks all the way to Ortisei. Many other cars tried the same but couldn’t follow and got stranded. Our next challenge was that the apartment was situated on top of a 20% little street, no possibility of parking below, so we took a leap of faith, put the pedal to the metal and made it, sooooo happy and relieved that we and the car were undamaged that evening. Both our cars did great considering the circumstances. Panda 4x4 did better than many Audi’s, BMW’s and Volkwagens. 

Crashed Porsche on the side of the road, ouch!
Crashed Porsche on the side of the road, ouch!
On the right you see the steep snowy road we had to go up
On the right you see the steep snowy road we had to go up

Wintersports in Ortisei


The next day we could start to enjoy our winter sports week together and it was great! Lots of fresh snow, sometimes limited sight due to clouds, but overall good conditions and more importantly, no broken bones or torn ligaments. In the evening we played Ligretto and Wazabi, which (especially Ligretto, go look it up, it is one crazy card game) brought out a highly fanatic side of us. We celebrated Loes her birthday on the Friday with a delicious restaurant dinner.

Stuff we left behind
Stuff we left behind

Before we left Ortisei we gave up many luxury items from our car realizing we enjoy our space more than the comfort these items provide. You should have seen the face of the owner of the apartment when we offered to give her our camping toilet (never used!). We left it all with them and already fear that we will regret leaving the toilet behind, but it saves so much space that we are convinced we made the right choice. 

The trip back to Milan airport fortunately was a lot less eventful then the week before and we made it just in time for Sebas and Loes to catch their plane back to Holland. Next stop for us, Cinque Terre!

Cinque Terre


After a week in the snow we could use some sun & sea so we decided to head for Cinque Terre. These are 5 villages situated on the coastline of the Italian Riviera a little to the south of Genova, and are an UNESCO world heritage site. People used to be able to walk along 4 beautiful trails connecting all 5 villages, but in 2011 2 of these trails unfortunately were taken out by massive landslides, so we were able to visit 3 villages with a nice view on the 4th. The walk was quite tough with lots of uneven Inca-trail-like steps carved from the rock, but look at the view, spectacular!

Time for some culture, we`re off to Pisa, Florence and Siena.

Reactie schrijven

Commentaren: 5
  • #1

    Maud (dinsdag, 22 maart 2016 12:59)

    Fantastisch om te lezen! Wat spannend die weg in de sneeuw. Gelukkig is alles goed afgelopen :) Veel plezier in Pisa, Florence en Siena!

  • #2

    Siep en Annemiek (woensdag, 23 maart 2016 00:18)

    Kippenvel bij het lezen van jullie sneeuwrit! Prachtige foto's bij een boeiend verhaal! Geweldig om jullie zo te kunnen volgen!

  • #3

    Erik (zondag, 27 maart 2016 17:47)

    And..... Great again.. 15 cm is overigens genoeg ruimte hoor ;)

    Looking forward to the next episode! Keep in contact!

  • #4

    Vlo (zaterdag, 02 april 2016 10:19)

    Wow wat een avonturen, spannend en mooi!

  • #5

    Marc Engelen (dinsdag, 05 april 2016 19:05)


    Ben benieuwd naar de verhalen zodra jullie de 'beschaafde' wereld verlaten.

    Ga zo door :-)



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