⬆️ A look at the van (yet to be named)—& Cheese from Parma!
⬆️ Our previous RV—“the Spaceboat.” A 28′ 1989 Winnebago Itasca Sunflyer gifted to me by my papa. The spaceboat and my papa’s memory both live on in the van 😌
Van life: Venezia > Parma > La Spezia
Amanda and I were lucky enough to get our hands on a Fiat Ducato van. It’s 6 meters long with a 4 cylinder, 6 speed manual turbo diesel motor—it’s amazing! It seemed like an absolutely ridiculous idea at first, but after thinking and discussing—and with the addition of Pinotto—we thought ease of travel and savings on hotels / bnbs would be worth it over the course of a few years. We’ve also seen these vans tend to hold their value. This one has low miles and was left in fantastic condition from the previous owners. We’re hoping when our time comes to an end in Italy we’ll be able to get some money back on re-sell…we shall see.
Sooo…we went big on our first trip, striking out literally hours after signing the paperwork. Having lived and worked from an RV in the past (final medium format photograph above) operating out of the van felt natural. The van is a smaller than our last RV, but it has all the same components (just newer thankfully 😅) so operating it felt both do-able and familiar from the get-go.
We used an app called Park4Night to find places to sleep that were free. This was surprisingly easy, but I will say some of the spots were spectacular, but not easy to maneuver into. Driving a larger car in Italy in tight spaces is a stressful endeavor—particularly on holiday weekends in destination areas, such as the Cinque Terre area we ended up in. In order to get from place to place we had to get comfortable with super tight space tolerances—at speed and moving slowly. We started by driving from the Venice area to Parma, where we stayed for the first night in an overnight space near the city center. Parma was spectacular to walk and the food was absolutely incredible. We are hoping to go back soon to spend some more time there. From Parma, we hopped on the Cisa Pass (SS62), where we stayed overnight in the mountains for one night (cold and windy, but incredibly beautiful). We cooked an amazing meal in the van from groceries we bought in Parma—hand made pasta, aged Parmesan, fresh vegetables etc… We drank Prosecco we saved from our last trip to Prosecco hills—it was all so insanely good—and we are so insanely lucky!
We finished the trip staying a night literally on top of a mountain outside of the port city of La Spezia. The view from the mountain was incredible, but getting the van up there on a dirt road was pretty stressful, lol—we barely fit, but we made it happen. That said, the sunset that night and the view from the open back doors the next morning made it all worth it. We learned a ton from trip 001—see more phone snaps on the IG post embed below. We’re hoping to spend as much time in the van as possible this summer—cameras will be in tow. I might add more to this post later, as this trip was a lot to process on top of a trip I’m on now in the US. I’m looking forward to being back in Italy soon and am currently sitting in the Gainesville, Florida airport. Time to get on the first plane of three for the 20 hour journey back to the FVG—ciao.