As we head south west more stunning castles and tombs appear out of nowhere. We attempt to visit Pitigliano but the road restrictions don’t allow vehicles over 3.5t, so we trundle along. As the road winds up the hill behind Pitigliano, it passes a complex of ancient tombs and catacombs extending right across the hillside. Most of them fallen into a natural state of disrepair. Those classical carvings, vaults and headstones that haven’t already been looted lie around under weeds and fallen branches. Surrounded by flocks of sheep and herds of goats picking away at the scrubby grass that covers them.
We are heading to the beach and Mac n Tosh sense our plans. They are giddy and hyper. We stop at a small Coop on route and stock up with liquid refreshments for a few days at the beach. 10L of water for me and 10L of wine for Craig, oh and a few small tins of sardines for the dudes. It is Friday lunchtime, extremely hot and everyone in Italy is heading to the beach, so we need to make a dash.
This stretch of the west coast is excellent for rock but not necessarily great for the beaches. We travel along the coast road in seek of a beach place and its not long before we arrive at Montalto Marina. The places feel familiar and as we drive around to the motorhome parking the memories come flooding back. We stayed here in 2014 amid a thunderstorm, click here for a laugh. We drive around the sosta in seek of a shady spot but all the best ones are taken by the ‘here for the summer’ crowd. We line up along a small bank of bushes, wind out the awning and pull out the chairs before we grab a half day parking ticket (€3.50).
Our Bumble paid motorhome sosta at Montalto Marina GPS position: N042.329887, E011.578872
We head to the beach with the dudes and we are all excited. Along the way, we pass a pharmacy sign, which flashes 39 degrees and confirms our thoughts…blinking hot. The beach shops and promenade has not changed since our last visit but the beaches have. They are all private. We pace up and down in search of a communal section that permits dogs. Mac n Tosh are eager to get in the sea but all we can do is hold them back. Our search is unsuccessful and even the small section of communal beach near the harbour is off limits to dudes.
Not quite the same but we take the dogs for a walk along the pier and plonk on the rocks. The cool sea sprays splashes and cools us down a tad. Mac n Tosh whimper, poor little things don’t understand. As we glance up the coast the extent of the crowds becomes clear…a beach of bronzed bods. We sit and people watch for a while. However, turn your head north and the scene is very different.
Literally, just a few kilometres down the coast sits the Montalto di Castro Nuclear Power Station. It is a massive plant that you really can’t miss and a big unused blot on the landscape. The abandoned nuclear power plant was nearing completion in 1988 when the Italian government decided to close all nuclear plants. It never operated and remains untouched. It is ugly and to be honest, a little off putting. Nuclear power and chilled beach life somehow don’t seem to go hand in hand.
We stroll back along the sea front and take longer than usual to check out the odd tourist attractions. An old tower, half a boat and a marina bench. Clearly most folk don’t come here to check out the historic attractions. A bit of eye candy maybe but not anything older than 21 years! The promenade offers an array of fast food cafes and ice cream parlours. Quick fixes after a day on the beach or a night or party. Beach bars and discos line the top end of the resort, whilst park benches line the bottom end. Simple but nice restaurants are far and few.
We arrive back at the sosta and OMG. What happened? There is not an inch of ground without a camper. Packed in like sardines with literally inches between them. One camper is even parked half way up a tree root system, who cares about being level? I am so glad we arrived when we did.
We ended up staying at Montalto for 3 days. We figures we might as well join in the Italian cultural experience, which actually turned out rather good. Chatting with Italians, strolling through the pine forest, people watching and generally joining in the weekend beach life. Once you ignore the nuclear power station, the swarm of people and the kiss me quick hats it doesn’t feel too bad. Oh and of course, the oodles of lush Italian ice cream.