A week-long cross-country road trip is something that I have never done and when the opportunity arose I was so excited to hit the road! My partner has an old fashion Volkswagen van that he fixed up and set a mattress in the back, with a small retractable tent harnessed to the top. Itching to get on the road we packed our bags and were off.
Our first destination was a seaside town where a Vans skateboarding competition was taking place. We drove through the countryside and seeing the landscape change from rolling vineyard hills, to flat farmland, then to mountainous terrain and after five hours of driving, we reached the sunny seaside of Riccione.
The competition was right on the beach! So we parked the van close by and headed downtown with our little Graciella bicycle we brought with us and cruised around checking out the local shops and restaurants. Riccione is a very cute little beach town (it reminded me a lot of Santa Cruz, CA.) After exploring the area we headed to the festival where we met up with some friends, found good seats and to watch the event. It was awesome seeing all the international skaters show us their skills.
The highlight of the night was getting to meet American skater Grant Taylor walking down the street. My partner was very excited to see the winner of the 2011 best skater of the year and gave him props for his performance earlier. I must admit it was cool to meet a famous American skater all the way in Italy. It was a sort of surreal feeling. We chatted with him a while then parted ways.
The next day we got back on the road and headed west to the opposite coast where we stopped at the most lovely beach I’d ever seen: Cala Violina. The parking lot was two miles away from the beach and since it was such a hot day the hike was well worth it. Once we hit the sand we ran into the cool Mediterranean water – I have never seen such blue water! The sight of this beach was so lovely, my eyes weren’t big enough to take in all of its wonders.
Our next stop on our road trip was the Saturnia hot springs. I had never been to a natural hot spring before and I was very excited to see what it was like. When we got to the stadium, it was completely crowed, hoards of people sunbathing and swimming, so, instead, we decided to get some food and wait for people to clear out. We had bought a portable barbecue stove and a few pieces of steak and veggies. The only problem was that we weren’t supposed to have an open flame out in public areas. Feeling paranoid we grabbed our supplies and headed down next to a river.
Getting that darn stove hot enough was pretty much impossible, we probably worked on getting it going for hours. Finally, we had small results but luckily we had steak, and luckily I like my steak rare. We ate happily and felt accomplished at overcoming the grills’ stubbornness.
I quickly fell into a food coma so we headed back to the van to take a nap. We had parked the van right in front of the hot springs and when we woke up it was midnight. With no one around we decided this would be the perfect time to get into the water. I will never forget the smell of sulfur, the full moon and the hot steam rising from the warm water; as we had the whole place to ourselves it was truly a magical night.
The next morning we woke up early and decided to take another dip in the water. Let me tell you, sitting in a hot spring is definitely the right way to start your day. It was so calm in the early morning sunlight. I felt like I should do yoga and meditate for an hour, but we knew that the crowds would soon be coming to over-take our sanctuary, so we left.
From one body of water to the next we went to Lago di Bolsena. Here we rented a camp space to park the van, then rode the bike into the nearby town to buy more food to barbecue. This time since we rented a camp spot we had a safe place to grill the meat we bought from the macelleria (butcher shop). My favorite activities are hanging out in good company outside, eating, talking, drinking, dreaming, planning our next adventure.
Our last stop of the week was a unique spot called Il Parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo (Park of Monsters of Bomarzo) also know as Sacro Bosco. A natural park styled with basalt statues dating back to the 16th century. Pier Francesco Orsini, a patron of the arts, and greatly devoted to his wife Giulia Farnesestarted.
Upon the death of his wife Orsini, in his grief created this magical garden. Between the 19th and 20th century the garden was neglected and overgrown until the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí made a short movie about the park. In addition to the painting “The Temptation of St Anthony” based on the park in the 1950s.
Thanks to the Bettini family who implemented a restoration program which lasted throughout the 1970s. Today the garden remains private property and is now a major tourist attraction.
Moving through this green park with larger than life statues looming over those who pass through. The entirety of the park portrays mythological animals, deities, and monsters.
After this road trip I realized that this was all I ever wanted to do. I want to travel the world never stop, seeing more, learning more, exploring more I never want it to end.