A Straight Line South to Acqui Terme

St Francis church, Acqui Terme, which appeared to be filling up for a 6pm service.

Dave the motorhome is in an official town sosta (N44.66517 E8.47043), just over the Bormida river from the town of Acqui Terme, Piedmonte, Italy. For a grand total of €5 per 24 hours we have electrical hook-up and the use of a full service point. Oddly, if you decide not to stay the night but just use the service point, the cost is still €5. Even more odd, the service point is completely open, so unless you’re English or German, you can just use it for free. The town’s really nice, we’ve struck sosta gold!

Decathlon boots after a year on the road. The soles are detatching themselves at the front in a fetching smile. Sadly this means there IS a hole in my shoe YES, it is letting in water.

Last night as we guiltily unhooked Dave from the town marketplace electricity supply, the fridge conked out in retribution. It refused to light on the gas supply, the little clicker light wouldn’t flash. Removing a panel from the back of Dave in the dark and sopping rain, we couldn’t see anything wrong so rather than waste all our food, we dispensed with our morals and hooked back up again. This morning the fridge resumed fully functioning again. Could have been our leisure battery being low on juice; it’s taken a beating the past few days with no hook-up, little direct sunshine on the solar panel and mainly 2nd and 3rd gear driving so probably not much charge from the alternator.

Druogno this morning. Miserable. The railway line and church bell failed to keep us awake!

Drizzle and fog put paid to our plan to continue along the road to Locarno in Switzerland, which we’d been told was a great drive and the valley above was a beauty. We’d see nothing, and as the weather so grim, we knew were were going to be stuck in the van for a while so decided to use the time making tracks south. Out came the map, guidebooks and database of sleeping spots. Much deliberation and we decided to stick Acqui Terme into the sat nav, which showed as over a 3 hour drive, and stop somewhere along the way, wherever looked nice. As it turned out, once were past Lago Maggiore, nowhere along the Po valley looked nice, just a steady stream of run down towns, fields and the odd maniac driver. Luckily the roads were like stretched elastic, running dead straight between the towns, almost like the Romans built them, erm.

The Po valley: Italy’s industrial heartland, but a pretty uninspiring place for us.

After a couple of hours we pulled in for a breather and to let Charlie out as he’d started to roam around the van bored.

We stopped off for lunch outside a huge out-of-town (as they all seem to be) cemetery. The graves mostly have photos of those passed away, which freaks us out a little.

Another hour or so brought us here. The town’s provided a brief Italian experience already, as we walked in to eye it up and to top up our Italian Internet SIM. We found the Vodafone shop and were pleased to see only the two assistants only had one set of customers each. Half an hour later we’re still stood smiling at it all, the shop now packed with foot-tapping punters behind us. One guy was even braying like a horse in frustration. As expected, there was no queuing system, although one lady did see we had waited longer and allowed us in front. This assistant spoke no English, so we folded ourselves back into the mass to wait for the other. She was serving a chap who was buying an iPhone, slowly, and with much discussion. I almost cracked up as he requested various covers to be brought to him and closely inspected each of them, with half of Italy behind him chomping at the bit! Once he’d finally done a collective sigh of relief whooshed across the shop, and Ju magnificently elbowed a potential queue pusher out of the way to get a served in a couple of minutes. Loads of paperwork was involved, photocopying, signing in duplicate, good stuff!

St Francis church, Acqui Terme, which appeared to be filling up for a 6pm service. Tourist information was nearby, manned by a very friendly English-speaking old lady.

Blinking in daylight we found La Passeggiata in full flow, the Italian evening wander where literally every man, his wife, children and dog wanders the streets eyeing each other up. It felt great to be amidst so much life when we’ve grown to expect small(ish) towns to be generally devoid of people in the evenings out of season. Charlie even made a friend with a brother from another mother:

Charlie meets Arto on La Passeggiata! Arto, it turns out, does a mean play-dead when he’s shot with a finger-gun. The locals here all seem very open, easy going and friendly, except the nipper who insisted on speaking Italian to me despite my protests of Scuzi, no Italiano!

And we scolded ourselves in the roasting hot water:

75 degrees C, freebie hot water in Acqui Terme. We’re taking our hot water bottle into town tonight.

Yep, that’s right, we’re going out. On a Saturday night. Without Charlie. Ju’s even had her hair straighteners out amid much excitement. Only problem is it’s only 8pm and town’s just a few minutes walk away. Will any of the trattoria or pizzerias be open yet?

Cheers! Jay





  1. Ciao signore e signorina, come sta in Acqui Terme ? Dave molto bene, photografica stupendo in montagna !! bello giornata !!
    Ju, not being critical of your Italian at all, but
    next time you cannot understand the lingo try this phrase: “scusi signore/signora, sono Inglese, Io non parla Italiano, come si dieci in Inglese per favore” ? hope it helps.
    Continuare in Inglese si grazie !
    Hi folks, just to keep you informed, winter is blowing in back home this weekend, with North winds and the first snow in East Leake overnight. 0.7C @ 08.00hrs and just a sprinkling of the white stuff.
    We’re of to see the Autumn Colours at Westonbirt National Arboretum in south Cotswolds tomorrow, expect it to be cold but hopefully fine.
    Fitted new vents complete with winter covers for the fridge compartment in Bessie today, originals had developed cracks in rim, and leaked.
    New interior ceiling lights with 45 bright LED`s & 6 blue ones for night light, all in the same unit is the next job to do.
    Have a nice weekend yourselves, hope weather is kind to you.

    • Hi Mike, thanks for the Italian lesson, we need all the help we can get, and the ‘I’m sorry, we don’t speak , do you speak English?’ phrase is the first one we learn, so you’ve done us a double favour. Are you fluent in Italian? How did you learn it?

      It’s currently -11°C on the Grimselpass and snowing. Seems we accidentally timed our run through the Alps well. It’s been raining heavily here all night and into today, but we’re snug in Dave with our Halogen heater on and I’m just about to cook up a late scrambled eggs and lardons. Pizza last night was beautiful and inexpensive, we’re loving Italy as we did the first time.

      Hope the Cotswolds proves fun, I have to admit to never having been there, I think? My geography of Europe has come on leaps and bounds and now probably far surpasses my knowledge of the UK, weirdly?

      Our LED strip lights are fabulous. The idea of having a few blue ones embedded in them for the evening is genius. Ours can be dimmed with a remote control but reality is if one of us gets up at night and there’s no light coming through the skylight, they go on and light up the entire world…

      Cheers! Jay

  2. Enjoying reading about your trip. I have looked at several of these type of tours but great to follow a “live” one i.e. you’re still on the road. We’re planning on doing a grand tour ourselves in the next couple of years so you’re experiences will help greatly in deciding what to do/where to go.
    Spooky but like Mike who posted a comment we went to Westonbirt Arboretum on Saturday as well. Blue skies, brilliant colour in the trees especially the maples. Day only spoilt by the hour queuing to get in (some idiots had managed to contrive a 3 car smash just inside the gates)!

    • Hi Kevin, thanks for the comment, much appreciated. Good to hear you’re planning on a grand tour, we’re really enjoying ours, ups, downs and all! Switzerland was incredible, as many people had told us, and we were incredibly lucky with the weather – the same blue skies you got at the arboretum! Unlucky with the traffic – from our experience the UK’s roads are the worst in Europe in terms of being packed out with cars. Even Italian roads haven’t (yet) matched up with the chaos on the M25… Cheers, Jay

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