Fabulous treasures and romantic Italy

After a wild night at our Croatian campsite when our camper van was shaken fiercely in the wind and the rain hammered down on our roof, we set off for the port city of Rijeka.

The wind had blown the rain clouds away so by the time we were on the road, the sky was a piercing blue and the sun was shining.

On the road again with a piercing blue sky

After about an hour or so following the glorious coast road we turned inland. As we climbed upwards through the rugged countryside we could see snow capped mountains in the distance.

We turned inland after following the coast road
We could see snow capped mountains in the distance

We drove along a high plateau – it felt like we were driving on top of the world! Then we caught sight of the shimmering fjord-like inlet called Zavratnica – a 900-metre-long and narrow body of water located at the foot of the Velebit Mountain Park.

The shimmering fjord-like inlet called Zavratnica

Gradually we wound our way back to the winding coast road and once again were thrilled at the sight of the sparkling waters of the Adriatic.

Back on the coast road
The hairpin bends kept us in our toes
The sparkling waters of the Adriatic

As evening had begun to draw in, our minds turned to finding a place to spend the night. We were on the outskirts of Rijeka and had found a couple of likely spots on-line but it was impossible to get to them due to road diversions that took us all over the place except the camper van parking areas!

A rather nice building opposite our parking spot next to a not so nice abandoned building

We ended up finding a spot with lovely views – but outside an abandoned building (which wasn’t quite so lovely.)

The view from our parking spot was lovely…
….so was the blossom next door
Wonderful to see spring has sprung!

On the road again the next day we crossed into Slovenia briefly before arriving in one of my favourite countries – Italy.

Into Slovenia we go – but not for long!
Not too much traffic in Slovenia!
The signpost was inviting us to Prosecco – and why not?!

The first town we visited was Udine about which we knew nothing but were totally taken with once we were there.

Udine was our first stop in Italy

We parked in a carpark a short walk away from the the city centre that had a number of places specifically designed for camper vans. We were the only takers that day!

Walking into town we saw the magnificent mansion
We also went past some amazing topiary

Just outside the old city gate we found a tourist bureau where a delightful lady with excellent English suggested we headed for the Museo Diocesano e Galleria del Tiepolo before exploring the city centre.

Heading for the tourist bureau

This was such an excellent tip as the museum was fantastic! Housed in the stunning Patriarch’s Palace which was built in the 16th Century and added to between 1708 and 1725, the museum contains many fabulous treasures.

Inside the Museo Diocesano e Galleria del Tiepolo
Each of these doorways had a gallery to its side

The building itself was a museum – sumptuous rooms, intricately designed timber floors, gorgeous wall paintings, fabulous frescoes and a sweeping grand staircase.

The building itself was a museum….
…..with sumptuous rooms….
….fabulous frescoes (and below) ….
….intricately designed timber floors…..
….gorgeous wall paintings….
…and a sweeping grand staircase

Probably the most important of the treasures inside are the eighteenth-century frescoes by Giambattista Tiepolo, who decorated the ceiling of the Grand Staircase, the Guest Gallery and the Red Room.

One of the most famous Tiepolo frescoes in the museum depicting Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Another of the eighteenth-century frescoes by Tiepolo

Another highlight was the patriarchal library – the first public library in Udine. Many valuable books are preserved there including some of the first books ever printed, illuminated manuscripts and rare first editions.

The Patriarchal Library
One entire floor is dedicated to wooden sculptures
A wooden sculpture of St Christopher

We lingered in the museum until closing time and then walked to the Aquileia Gate which was completed in 1436.

On our way to the Aquileia Gate

Passing through the Aquileia Gate we wandered into the beautiful Piazza della Libertà as the sun started to set to the sounds of an accordion being played.You can’t get more romantic than that!

The player was sitting on the steps of the Fountain which was donated to Udine by Emperor Francis 1(1708 – 1765) to commemorate the peace treaty of Campoformido.

The accordion player sitting on the steps of the Fountain

The town hall (Loggia del Lionello) built in 1448–1457 also stands in the square and opposite stands a clock tower very similar to the one in the Piazza San Marco in Venice.

The town hall (Loggia del Lionello)
The clock tower was built in 1527

Despite the cool weather people were sitting outside enjoying a meal or glass of wine.

Udine had many wonderful buildings
A lovely street in Udine
Even though it was cold people were enjoying eating outside
The heaters helped of course!

Finding ourselves back at the Piazza della Libertà , we discovered we had arrived just in time to see and hear the clock tower strike 6pm and the accordion player was still playing.

The accordion player was still playing while the clock struck six

What an excellent and ideal way to end our short exploration of Udine!

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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