Motorhome and Away

  Italy 2006 - West via back roads


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Italy to France  - via back roads

Setting off from Lago d'Iseo we drove on good roads through many industrial towns via Rovato, missing Brescia and Bergamo and on to Crema which has an historic centre, probably worth a look but as it was getting hotter (30ºC+). We continued west towards Pavia turning off to cross the River Po on a very long girder bridge, intending to stop at a nature reserve marked on the map but couldn't find it! We pulled into a motorhome dealers, the first we had seen in Italy, to browse around and maybe pick up some accessories but they had just closed for their two hour lunch, so on across the very flat countryside to a shady square in a small town Broni, for our short lunch break. We then joined the autostrada heading west towards Turin - not very busy, mainly lorries, many parked under the bridges for shade. Bypassing Alessandria we took the turning at Asti East to Alba where the roads became much busier, and on to Bra where an aree di sosta was listed. We eventually found it after driving through the rather run down industrial town, at a petrol station virtually under a new motorway flyover and it definitely wasn't appealing as an overnight stop. So we continued further west on very straight roads across more flat countryside to Savigliano and Saluzzo, commuter towns for Turin, and turned north to Cavour where another aree di sosta was listed. 
We found the service point well signposted in the town centre next to a municipal hall on a main road but after a long hot drive decided it would be ok for one night. After tea a couple of Italian motorhomes turned up to use the service point so we asked if there was a better palace for overnight parking and with a difficult conversation in mixed English and Italian they said follow us and led us to a small shady carpark by the market square in the town centre on Corso Gi Marconi as listed in the aires book, where motorhomes could park overnight (with an official MH parking sign!). So we had a peaceful night on our own in a pleasant spot - until 5am the next morning when cattle trucks arrived to use the ancient public weighbridge and market vans started arriving, so after a quick breakfast we headed for France!

We headed north to Pinerolo along with the fast morning commuter traffic and then on a good but slow road behind a couple of trucks to Sestriere, another ski resort with empty apartments and huge carparks. This was followed by a long downhill drive into the next valley with views across the mountains, to Cesana Torinese where the main road from Turin joins and another steep climb through very dusty roadworks and tunnels to the French border, over the Col de Montgenévre (1854m) and down to Briançon and suddenly we felt more relaxed!
Aree di sosta at Cavour
Aree di sosta at Cavour

Cavour market hall
Cavour market hall

Briançon is a fortified citadel town that is worth an explore with a large free car park just before the town walls. Inside the old town the steep main street is lined with tall hoses and a mixture of craft and gift shops and cafes, many being refurbished for the main season. There are good views down the valleys from the city ramparts and three forts overlook the town.

Briançon tall houses
Briançon houses

Briançon town walls
Briançon town walls

Continuing our journey and once again in a more leisurely drifting mode we turned off the main Durance valley road just after Mont Dauphin to Guillestre in the Queyras regional park and stayed at Camping St Jean about 1.5 km from the town for a couple of days.
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Queyras regional park >>

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