Italy, North and South

Just over the border into Italy via the Mont Blanc tunnel (13km long and 57€ toll) is the Aosta Valley, a beautiful area of impressive peaks and green valleys. A distinct roofing contrast from France where red pantiles are the norm, here they are usually very thick stones slates, making the houses look quite different and almost growing out of the mountainside in the well cared-for villages. 

The first night stop in Italy at Morgex, with some beautiful walks along the adjacent river.
On a steep walk above the river at Morgex, vibrant spring colours in the new growth of the trees clinging to the almost vertical mountain sides.

Further down the Aosta, at Fénis, the village castle with a wintry backdrop.

Crops growing on the farms around Fénis and new shoots at the castle.
A very windy night stop on the east coast south of Bari.
Urbino, in the Marche region, is a remarkably well preserved town, probably best known as the birthplace of the artist Rafael, one of the 3 great Italian artists of the time, with Michelangelo & Leonardo da Vinci.
The Duke of Urbino, and benefactor, Federico da Montefeltro, was responsible for most of the major buildings, including the Duomo (Cathedral), above. Although originally dating from the 15c, this front, looking a little out of place amongst the other, rather more mundane buildings, was added after an earthquake destroyed part of the building in 1789. It’s said that the Duke’s Duomo was, at one time, going to be larger than the Vatican. That is, until the Pope found out, and transferred the money, he had original offered to Federico, elsewhere!

On the Palazzo, rather plain, but handmade, bricks embellished with ornate stonework. (but please don’t ask are why so many brick buildings there have holes in them – I never found out!

All the side streets are extremely narrow and, with most of the buildings being at least 3 stories high, seem quite claustrophobic. Note the obligatory scooter/motorbike!
Trani has a lovely atmosphere, with the harbour’s busy bars and restaurants, and an accordianist entertaining the tourists outside the cathedral. 
Parking in the cathedral square, next to the castle, was unusually not free, but 2€ seemed reasonable for an overnight stop!

Centred around Alberobello, in the Apulia region, are thousands of these dry-stone houses with their distinctive conical roofs. Most are still in use, with additions and modifications.

….. and many are newly built for local and tourist use.
Further south, on the south coast of Italy’s heel at Muraggio, an traditional old castle has the more modern addition of a German WW2 pillbox. Fishermen out early and a lizard on the hunt.
At Brindisi, on board the ferry to Greece, where one stays in the motorhome for the overnight crossing. Very convenient for a good night’s sleep.

This has been a very interesting first visit to Italy. There is wonderful scenery and so many interesting sites to see. There seems to be yet another old town, with original tiny streets still in use, around every bend! 

The only down side being the state of the roads, particularly in the north around Milan, where the traffic was also non-stop. The amount of litter can also be a problem, just dumped in every lay-by and parking spot. However, these are things to ignore, and I feel a return visit coming on! 

The route:

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