Saturday 15th October
Yesterday was a big wash out on a number of fronts. It rained all night long and if anything got worse in the morning. Lucy slept in until 11.30am, she thought she had – our clock picks up the radio signal from Rugby if you’re close enough, from some other city if you are far enough east and I reckon that the extra 2 hours it had added must be Moscow. Last night we had worked out exactly where we were going in Croatia so I dialled in the co-ordinates and Stella came back with 260 miles and 6 hours driving – WTF! Our desired destination meant us driving down most of Croatia and then coming back on a spur of land. I don’t fancy driving that far on a clear day, a rainy day was a no no so we hurriedly looked around for somewhere closer.
Either very poor reviews or outlandish prices (€63 in one case) made us start reconsidering, so after 10 seconds thinking time we are on our way back to Italy. Diesel is cheap in Slovenia but LPG isn’t so we fill up with diesel and leave the LPG for the Italians. Lucy had spotted a town called Aquileia and it had a sosta so taking it easy in the rain we headed off. I don’t think I’m going to get used to the siestas, all the petrol stations are closed for hours at a time, mainly when you need them.
We arrived in Aquileia at the costa but it was still raining, the costa wasn’t that great and it was €10 just for parking so after lunch we found a sosta at Grado, to the south. Travel to Grado was interesting, I didn’t measure it at the time but scaling from the map we had to drive along a man made causeway 6km across the lagoon to reach the town. Aquileia was the main trading port in this area but it was inland and when the rivers silted up and it had been attacked a number of times the trading port was moved to Grado which was much easier to defend.
It was still grey and miserable but it didn’t stop us going for a long walk along the beach (you have to pay to go on the beach in Summer) and returned to Frankie just before the heavens opened again. Lucy got her own back on me in the evening when I tried to go to bed at 9.30pm thinking that it was 11.30pm. – how we laughed.
It’s only a short hop to Aquileia and bypassing the sosta and the paid parking we snuggled in to a small car park to the north of town. Next to the parking is a lavanderia, the first that we have seen for 6 weeks so our bag of grubby clothes went straight into a machine while we wandered into town.
The old railway track has been turned into a cycle / foot path so off we strolled hand in hand and reached the Lato Orientale and obviously if you have a Roman ruin you put a road straight through the middle of it. It looks like a bit of vandalism until you realise that the road has been there for 2,000 years and has just been upgraded. Aquieia was a very important trading point for the Romans and at one point was the fourth largest city in Italy. Emperor Augustus received Herod the Great here in 10BC. Aquileia was sacked by Attila in 452 and again by the Lombards in 568. It regained some power in the 11th century but soon lost out to Venice.
Walking along the cycle path I saw this view which I thought was particularly Italian especially with the Cyprus trees.
The Campanile was erected in the 11th century by Patriarch Poppo and he rebuilt the basilica next door.
This is the Basilica, rebuilt four times due to earthquakes, always building on whatever had been left
And this is why we had to go to Aquileia, the largest Paleo Christian mosaic in the world making it a World Heritage site. Created in the 4th century and only rediscovered 100 years ago.
The details are amazing.
Stone sarcophagus of one of the four virgins of Aquileia, outstanding craftsmanship.
And a detail from one of the dividing walls.
The barrel vaulted ceilings are richly decorated and you can see cracks in the walls due to earthquake movement.
Across the road is the posh part of town. At the back is the amphitheater, not too easy to se in the photo but there is a tree in the middle of it which looks like a bush from this angle. There are six houses here dating from the 1st to 4th century.
Another of the mosaic floors
As mentioned before, Aquileia was a trading port and therefore it needed a harbour. the harbour was about 400m long and is on two levels to allow for the flood tide. On the right is a raised walkway put in after the port stopped being used so try and imagine that not being there and the wall with the steps is actually the side of the port. The harbour was 400m long by 50m wide.
Another view of the harbour. Storehouse can be made out to the left. It has been redesigned many times to try and cope with some of the later attacks on the town.
We had a good look around the town, the sun was now shining and it was getting hot so we looked around for our evening sosta (not forgetting to pick up our clothes of course) and headed off into the wild blue yonder.
On the way we managed to head but a number of large insects – any bug experts who can identify them? I wouldn’t mind but Frankie is big and white and has his side lights on, surely they must be able to see him a mile away and take avoiding action.
We ave stopped in Passariano outside Villa Manin. Beautiful sosta holding 50 units and we are by ourselves. It’s free but you need a token for the electric and water. Our electric is still working brilliantly, this is the fifth night without hookup although we haven’t needed the heating for the last two nights. The gauge is showing 85% and all the lights are on.
Since we didn’t have a beer photo for yesterday and we know how much Clive Brooker worries about us we set off into town to find a bar. A two mile walk in the blazing sun bought us to the town of Rivoltan which has a shut down supermarket, a closed bar and a bell tower – nothing else except for really big Locusts (i think). It was big, about 3” long with hobnail boots and a scar on his left cheek.
After walking all the way back (return trip 3 miles) we found a bar 200m from where we had left Frankie.
You nearly didn’t get this shot – we were both so parched and it was cold and lovely (and bloody expensive). We’re visiting Villa Manin tomorrow so I have kept back some photos – you should be impressed. Part of the Villa is closed to the public for remedial works but the parts that are open are free to visit – that’ll offset the beer price then.