A flooded coast sends us back inland to Tuscania

We must have been at least 100 vans sitting abandoned in fields, red brown mud marking their sides

Dave the motorhome is breathing a sigh of relief, he’s seen sights today that no motorhome should witness. Fortunately he’s now safely parked up and plugged into, yet more, free electricity at a sosta in the small town of Tuscania (N42.42229 E11.87516).

Looking at our databases last night we were stuck for where to go next, there doesn’t seem to be much between here and Rome, where we need to be on Sunday. In the end we decided to follow our old rule of ‘if in doubt, head for the coast’. Despite being on a slope the hour in the thermal spring had worked it’s magic and I slept like a log, the sound of the water gushing over the rocks just a short distance away.

The free thermal spring, toasty warm and in the middle of nowhere. We slept on the road to the left of the picture – handy!

This morning as Jay opened Dave’s door to take Charlie for a walk the smell of rotten eggs flooded in, we smelt it when we arrived, but hardly since then, now it was back with a vengeance  The cloudy sky soon released its rain and as the mud wall next to us had already partially collapsed, we sensed it was a good time to leave.

We stopped for a top up of LPG as Dave’s tank was getting low, and the heating is going on with ever increasing frequency, then made our way west. Thick red mud littered with trees and branches marked where the rivers had overflowed a couple of weeks before, our road happily ran alongside at a safe height away from the destruction. As we neared the coast the road grew red with sticky wet mud, it had lost its position of safety and was now level with the fields and river. Around the landscape changed from green or ploughed fields to a smooth flat expanse of mud, the only break in it being the odd tree sticking up at an angle it shouldn’t be at.

Home on the way into Albinia

Nearing the town of Albinia the bright orange netting, you’d normally only see on ski slopes, cordoned off the edge of the road where it had been washed away, the crash barrier a twisted metal ribbon lying in the mud. Houses either side of the road filled their driveways with possessions, coated in the same red mud, dark lines on the walls marking its height. Cars sat where they had been parked, crumpled, broken and tainted with mud, a semi-cleared car park had become home for the emergency services – police, fire and electricity vans filled it. The rain was falling again, large puddles forming. People clearing out their homes dressed in the white all-in-one uniform of a scientific police officer looked at the sky, concerned.

Car and pipes for pumping the water out of Albinia

Our target was once an island jutting out from the Tuscan coast, now permanently connected to it by three umbilical cord roads. Arriving on it we were greeted with a large sign informing us that we were not allowed to park up and sleep anywhere on the island except a campsite or official parking. It’s late November and the coast next to the island has been flooded, so we weren’t very surprised that none of the campsites were open. The official parking places we knew of now had new official ‘no motorhome’ signs, so feeling very unwelcome we turned around and left – but only after Jay cheekily nipped into one of the closed campsites and emptied our loo!

The road back to the mainland took us through the town of Orbetello. It hangs suspended between the mainland and island with only a narrow road connecting it to either. As we entered the town we spotted a sign for motorhome parking, and as it was pointing the same way we were going we followed it, joking that the sign was probably a con to get you out of the town and back over to the mainland. We’re not sure where the car park actually was, the signs stopped as we reached the mainland, perhaps it was a con after all.

The road into Orbetello – what is the town standing on?

We followed the motorway south, tracking the line of the coast, before turning off at Montalto di Castro on the promise of a place to park at the nearby marina. Nearing Montalto Marina, a small holiday resort of campsites and holiday apartments, the thick red mud was back. The resort was unlucky enough to be in between two overflowing rivers, the vast expanse of smooth red mud surrounding it. As we drove into the town we passed fields of muddied cars, overturned caravans and boats resting on mud banks. The free motorhome parking had been turned into a collection point for ruined belongings.

One of the campsites which bore the brunt of the flooding
We must have been at least 100 vans sitting abandoned in fields, red brown mud marking their sides
More caravans moved from a campsite down the road which is still underwater

It was now 2pm so we found a place to park and had a bite to eat. Charlie had caught a sniff of the sea and was going nuts so Jay took him for a quick explore of the beach. Its black volcanic sand was covered with pale wood, trees and branches stripped of their bark. The rain got heavier, Jay and Charlie retreated and we agreed that the coast was not a place to be right now.

Charlie does love a good beach, but he’s not sure about black sand!

We made our way to Tuscania, only about 20km from where we stopped in Montefiascone a few nights back, and were relieved as we pulled into the empty sosta. The rain was still coming down, thunder and lightning now joining it, but the town is high up and not a river or patch of mud in sight.

Dirty Dave. Fortunately his lights were so covered in mud he couldn’t clearly see the destroyed caravans and motorhomes.

Dave had changed colour today, his normally off-white finish was splattered red/brown with mud so a quick wash was called for, followed up a big clean out inside – the last of the sulphurous egg smell from damp clothes finally banished. The heating is plugged in and the wine open. It’s been a strangely emotional day. We’d planned for some seaside fun, but instead my heart went out to all the people affected by the floods. It sounds like the same thing is happening in the UK at the moment, I hope everyone reading this is safe, warm and dry.

Ju x


    • I guess seeing that bad makes us appreciate the good, and in this case stops us moaning about the little bit of rain we got!



  1. Hello Ju , Jay and Charlie
    We follow you on twitter and your daily blog has become our bedtime reading,don’t miss a day or there will be trouble at t’mill. We close at Christmas until 1st March and are this time off to Spain/Portugal,maybe Morocco if weather iffy.Could you let us know what camera you use as we are great admirers of your snaps,we a are not David Bailey it would hopefully be point and press type.Stay safe and try and get to warmer climes, we know what it’s like having spent Jan/Feb this year in Germany where it was never above day or night .
    Kindest Regards Ian&Steph and Charlie & Izzy(the hounds)

    • Hi guys

      Thanks for getting in touch, although we’ve tweeted many times I’m not sure we’ve commented before! The power of social networking :-D

      Your message was very timely as we’re thunderstormed in at the moment. With the spare couple of hours I wrote a review on our new camera.

      I’ve tweeted it, so you should see it there, if not it’s in the sites information zone on the review page (under the heading of leisure), sorry replying on my phone so I can’t add a link to it.

      We bought it when we were back in the UK for Dave’s MOT and we love it. It can be point and shoot, or has loads of other fun options if you fancy getting a bit creative.

      Have a great winter get away. Hope the weather stays good for you.

      Ju x

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