We’d always wanted to try further south in Italy, we’d heard quite a lot about it but never visited much further south than Rome.

Hmm, Rome – now there was an idea! We’ve been before, of course – once on one of our three honeymoons, this, in fact before we were married, but hey, you don’t need to share that! We think Rome is magnificent – every corner you turn there’s some staggering beauty, amazing architecture and so much history too.

Also, Pompei, where we were desperate to visit was too long a journey in one go, well for people who aren’t in a hurry, and Rome was sort of on the way. Done!

What we didn’t realise was that, unlike London, Paris and more capital cities, no doubt, it only needs a 15 mins train journey out of the centre and you are suddenly in the countryside – no sprawling urban landscapes, lovely green fields and, actually, sports facilities too.

We found this out by lucky coincidence – our camping book told us of Flamino Village Bungalow Park – Campground, bragging a 15 mins simple train journey from the nearby station to the centre, to Piazza del Popolo in fact. We couldn’t imagine it, wondering how it could be that a campsite was stuck in the middle of such an expanding city. We didn’t know that we had struck gold again!

This huge camping and mobile home/bungalow facility must be very well populated in the summer months (too much, perhaps?) – of a normal year – because of its location and its beauty too. In February there were just two other campervans, and only for a short time during our stay, so we enjoyed almost complete privacy. There are very many mobile homes, some very elegant, and some of these were occupied, by young sports people using the impressive adjacent facilities as well as, by the looks of it, business people, some military/police personnel, aircrew etc.

It was very quiet and peaceful but there were apparently sufficient clients for the campsite restaurant to remain open – wow, this was a real bonus for us, as we, in common with most of the world, hadn’t been able to go to a restaurant proper for quite a while! Plus, for an ex-PE Teacher/sportsman/footy coach like myself it was a real delight to see tennis and padel games being played as well as some coaching for some kids’ football teams, of which I’ve done rather a lot in my time! Also the Zumba/Pilates music blaring out was, mostly, appreciated!

The weather was excellent, tracky bottoms off, shorts on for the first time for our lovely walks around the perimeter.

Although open for the winter there weren’t sufficient actual campers to justify opening the shower/loo block – which in fact worked to our advantage. They gave us the keys to one of the nearby mobile homes which were were able to use for hot showers and the loo, too!

Claire had plenty of work to do so we made sure she was settled with her wifi needs for her online teaching before we ventured into the centre of Rome! As I’ve said we loved it, the history, beauty etc, plus, although in many ways it’s very sad, Rome was very quiet – bet you’ve never seen that before! So, moving about was easy, and not at all Covid dangerous – there were police and army stationed all over the place. Social distancing was in place, masks were worn by all, sanitizers stationed all over and so on. Restaurants were open for lunch and we enjoyed the Roman version of Spaghetti Carbonara, plus a chilled white wine as well.

I needed to film a Thirsty Thursday Wine Review on Video and we decided to do so the next day, or so, at the famous Trevi Fountain – what a beautiful location and well appreciated as there were eventually approaching 900 views on the three social media platforms I use! I talked about a Chateauneuf-du-Pape red on the video, from Domaine La Célestière. I sent the link to our new friends Neil and Beatrice, co-owners of Domaines Dalmeran & La Célestière (see below) and he commented that perhaps it would have been interesting to have tasted their wine outside the Vatican – dear me, we hadn’t thought of that! Bringing Chateauneuf-du-Pape back to the ‘new’ home of the Popes!

Of course, I’m not sure how well that would have gone down (very well in terms of my tasting!) with the authorities as we’d encountered a little bit of polite and pleasant, though obligatory ‘move along please’ from the Carabinieri when we’d sat on the side of the beautiful fountain to film – it isn’t allowed. It was ok a little higher up though – you can see the video on my Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/100009478376720/videos/2931164940542756/

We chatted about it the next day and thought that maybe we should go and see St. Peter’s Cathedral, Neil having mentioned the Vatican, at least from the outside as we expected it to be closed. However, we were amazed to see that in fact we were able to enter this stunningly beautiful, quite amazing cathedral and wonder at how it was constructed and decorated. Religious or not, it’s exquisite and quite takes your breath away – plus, there was no fee to enter. Amazing.

Another real highlight on our brilliant journey!

“Early morning yesterday, I was up before the dawn.

Well I really have enjoyed my stay, but I must be moving on.”

Supertramp, and our mantra!

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