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  Pompeii Rally 5th - 12th & Lake Garda Rally 17th - 24th July 2014  

Buongiorno e benvenuto a Pompeii e Lago di Gar 

    Having travelled from England by various routes, 11 vans arrived at Camping Spartacus in Pompeii on 5th June, to be welcomed by Jean and Dave Hollingsworth (assisted by Peter and myself).  Our route took us through Germany, Austria then short stays at Verona and Florence.  The site was a little ‘compact’ but it couldn’t have been more convenient for the entrance to the ruins.  It comprised a number of touring pitches for motorhomes and quite a few bungalows, which it became apparent during the course of the week were used for shall we say ‘non-camping recreation’?? which caused considerable amusement among the ralliers.

    For those of you who have not been to Pompeii I think the first thing that hits you about the ruins is the size – its vast, and entry is free if you’re 65+ so people wandered around at their leisure.  Two guided trips were organised – one to Vesuvius, where we walked to the crater, to Herculaneum where our guide Nancy escorted us through the ruins…and on to Naples.   

    On another day we had a boat trip around Capri, where Dave kindly offered to help out (left a bit!  mind that boat!!) Then we were left to our own devices for a couple of hours to explore.  Nancy proved a very knowledgeable and amusing guide who enhanced these trips no-end. 

    We had a communal BBQ one evening and it was great to sit out so late in the evening and still be warm. 

    The weather remained glorious throughout the week and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, in fact 10 of the 11 vans were moving on to the rally at Lake Garda (the ralliers we were losing had been in the area the year before).

    We had 5 days between rallies when Jean and Dave spent some time in Rome and Peter and I chose San Marino and Ravenna, both vans arriving in Lake Garda a little early; which is just as well as we lost part of our Heki during an overnight storm in Ravenna and spent some time at a local caravan dealers trying to get it replaced.  No luck, but it gave us no problems and will be fixed shortly.  

    The weather at Lake Garda was equally hot but a little more humid and it being the World Cup there was gentle rivalry between nations on the site accompanied by some vociferous cheering from time to time (why do they get so excited???).  Peschiera is a pleasant stroll along the lake from the campsite and Peter and I took a boat trip to Sirmione, which boasts some stunning roman ruins at the end of the peninsula and a fort in town.  After hearing our enthusiasm for the place Dave & Jean decided to visit on the Monday - unfortunately it was closed!  Other ralliers hired boats for themselves, or took ferry trips around the lake.  One couple cycled 75 km along the river one day, but when we tried walking part of the route we had to give up as we couldn’t compete with the hundreds of cyclists.   

    I think these rallies were fairly unusual in that we had a total of 8 first time ralliers; one couple being fairly new to motorhoming and never having taken it abroad before.  Because of this they chose to go direct from rally to rally, rather than touring around, Dee was nervous of going off the main roads.  However, by the time we left them at Lake Garda she seemed more relaxed and I’m sure we all wish them well for the rest of their stay on the continent. 

    So there you have it, our sojourn in Italy.  I think Jean was very brave organising these rallies remotely, on sites she was unfamiliar with, particularly as these rallies followed on closely from one they had organised in Cornwall (about 4 days turn around I think) and both of them were unwell during that time.  They breed  ‘em tough in Yorkshire….. 

    All that remains is for me, on behalf of everyone on the rallies, to say a huge THANK YOU to Jean and Dave for all their organisation and hard work; these things are never completely stress free.  Here’s hoping you have time to draw breath before the next rally you’ve organised at Fort Paull.

 Rally report & photos courtesy of:  Chris Mawdsley.