1971: May 30, Bressanone – Venice (Punta Sabbioni)

Had a marvellous night’s sleep and looking forward to a shorter day’s drive this time. Clocks put forward for Italian summer time. (Who said we were the only ones in Europe to retain this odd idea?) Had rolls, apricot jam and coffee for breakfast. Children had cold milk this time! Then Sarah played with the hotel kitten – a diminutive tabby called Schmidt. Paid our bill £10.50, including the evening meal, which we thought very reasonable. Drove off through pouring rain of course – there is a conspiracy against our enjoying nice weather on this journey. Couldn’t really see much of the beautiful Dolomites, obviously a pretty area – what we could see of it.

Stopped for coffee in Cortina, teeming with rain, everyone looking very cross under their umbrellas. Saw the Olympic ski-jump, it looked terrifying. Continued through the cloud-swathed Dolomites, descending continually through increasingly Italian places – near the border, dual place names used (Italian/Austrian) and German seemed as important as Italian, but from Cortina onwards, much more Italian, and buildings that had that scruffy Italian look about them. Getting hungrier and hungrier, and eventually bludgeoned David (whose bodily comforts seem to follow a quite different pattern from at home) to stop for lunch at Vittorio Veneto, at a local cafe (not tourist). Loo was the ‘squattie’ type, Sarah intrigued of course, I was less fascinated. After some complicated negotiations in mixed languages, got our lunch. Clear soup with ‘envelopes’ of pasta (rings with meat in) the roast veal with rosemary – tomato salad – Andrew had cold, rare, roast beef, all very appetising, and red wine. Then Sarah had some ice cream and Andrew a fresh fruit salad. Gareth had eaten nothing but bread sticks, red and some beef…

NB Much use of plastic roofing in these Alpine villages, effect odd but not too garish.

Well, on we went, still through rain, coming down from the mountains in the very flat Piare valley. Vines much in evidence – we were on the Strada de Vin Rosso and the road was embanked – obviously an area liable to flooding. And so, as we got in the Venice direction, the weather brightened, could hardly believe it in view of what we’d had en route. Followed the signs for our campsite, dozens of sites along this road, all trying to entice you in. The NSU looked like everyone’s idea of a German camp, organised to an incredible degree – even the horse riding was along straight lines up and down the trees. I wonder if they get any British campers there.

Our site – Marina di Venezia very gay with flags and handsome virile looking young wardens – bet they cause chaos among the unattached female visitors… Site is vast, lots of trees, and right on the beach – all sandy, and a line of little trees between beach and site. Found a suitable pitch, handy for beach and toilet/washing block, and children shot off to sands immediately. We put the tent up in the warm sun, in fact had to change to thinner clothes, and managed to get everything reasonable by tea time. After tea  (crab soup and bacon sandwiches) explored the site – facilities are very good, with a larger supermarket, various shops, including ladies and gents hairdressers and large first aid post. Lots of restaurants – pizzeria, cafeteria, sea food restaurant, bar and proper restaurant. The nearest town is some way off so I suppose it’s not surprising a site this size should be so well equipped, but it’s quite surprising even so. Walked along the beach – weather quite warm even late, and saw a cruise ship, all lit up going out of Venice harbour. Several ships about, mainly tankers. Water is surprisingly clear after all the gloomy reports of the polluted Adriatic.


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