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Road trip to Italy to pick up our brand new 2017 T-Line 590 Camper

So it's time to travel from Exeter to Pisa and San Gimignano in Italy; to pick up a brand new shiny Fiat Roller Team T-Line 590 from the factory. This is going to take me a couple of days and will involve trains, ferries, walking and driving. It will be worth it for the mountain views, sunsets, pink snow and of course the lovely new motorhome which I will be sleeping in on the journey. 

This map shows the route back from Exeter to Pisa!



Day 1


It’s a definite murky start to this week's 3,000 mile round trip to collect our new T-Line 590. Okay, I'll admit only half of it will be done in a camper van. It's a quick train from Exeter St David's to Gatwick - and lunch with a view overlooking the runways. Hopefully I'll be in Pisa by this afternoon!


So after a quick but busy flight I made it to Pisa and it's a balmy twenty degrees, in March! I’m ready for some much needed sleep and food ready for the long drive ahead of me tomorrow - that's if I can sleep with being so excited! But there's always time to have a look around this lovely place and take in the sights.


Day 2


It was great waking up in beautiful Pisa, knowing I'll be picking up a shiny new campervan from the factory! I woke up very eager to make my way there and to meet our newest member of the fleet; first I need to get a train to the factory near San Gimignano before jumping in the brand new T-Line!



I’ve inspected and signed off the new motorhome, fitted the number plates, queued up the iPod playlists, and readied my sunnies - and I’m about to hit the road! It feels great to jump into the driving seat for the first time, and I'm looking forward to driving home from the factory in our brand new 2017 T-Line 590 camper. Just over 1000 miles across Europe to go!


The journey...

I covered six hundred miles in around eleven hours; some great scenery.

The van never missed a beat - cruise control activated, built in sat nav keeping me on the fastest route for traffic, iPod playing my favourite tunes and some beautiful driving weather.

Emerging from tunnels near Genoa to get tantalising glimpses of the sparkling Mediterranean in the Spring sun in between each mountain peak, before pulling north past Milan and into the Alps via spectacular valleys.

The Alps were a bit misty at that time of day, but I was fortunate enough to see Mont Blanc as the sunset hit the summit, plumes of seemingly pink snow being blown off the peak in the wind. There wasn't much snow about at the roadside, but I stopped to take a look at the mountains in the moonlight and I could see the piste bashers grooming the slopes overnight in the distance ready for the late season skiers.


After a quick photo opportunity, I drove through the enormously long Frejus Tunnel beneath Mont Blanc (and its 58 euro toll!) with its blue illuminated entrance and into France and the Chamonix Valley - by which time it was dark - and up the Autoroute Blanche towards Lyon. It was easy driving by now with the motorways quiet and mainly just lorries driving.

By 11pm I'm getting quite tired, so I pull into a truck stop, drop the blinds and switch on the cabin lights for the first time. It's like my own hotel room on wheels. A quick button press and the electrically lowered bed drops into place - out with the sleeping bag and time for some much needed kip!




Day 3
 I slept really well on the comfy drop down bed and woke ready for a coffee and a pain au chocolat and ready for the five hours to Calais!
I emerged from the motorhome to see the sun breaking through the early morning mist, and was quite surprised to see that most of the several dozen lorries parked nearby overnight had already disappeared. And I'd not heard a thing!
With a quick check around to ensure all was shipshape, it's back on the quite quiet motorways to the Channel Tunnel. This section of the journey was mainly open agricultural land - I travelled through champagne country in Epernay passing to the East of Paris, via Reims. No quaint little fields with high hedges to be seen here - huge rolling open spaces of gigantic fields, punctuated by the incredible sight of the TGV trains streaking bullet-like across the landscape.
I arrived at the Channel Tunnel in good time and went through check-in procedures - having enough time for a quick bite in the terminal before being called for boarding. For those of you who haven't been in the Channel Tunnel; it's quite a strange experience driving a van through a giant opening in a train carriage, to then drive the length of the train and park up by the fireproof doors. The carriages are closed up, and we're off! 

Understandably, there's not a lot to see when you're on board - so there is just time to catch up on a few messages and to start removing protective film and packaging from the interior of the camper to make it ready for hire. In only half an hour I'm back in Folkestone, and grabbing some diesel for the journey home from Kent.
I finally arrivied home after a trip along the A303, seeing Stonehenge at dusk and passing through the normally pretty Blackdown Hills in the dark. Scrubbing the flies and road grime off the van will have to wait until tomorrow...


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