Pizza, pasta, pesto, gelato, breakfast buffets, nutella, focaccia
That pretty much sums up the 12 days we spent in Italia on a bicycle. Good thing I’m on a cycle tour, otherwise I doubt I would still fit into my pants.
After we made the steep descent through the Italian Alps, we found a nice camping spot. Hidden just off the main road, which also turned out to be next to a train line. We were extremely happy to finally be in Italia on a bicycle and were looking forward to treating ourselves to a well-deserved pizza and beer combo. The following day looked grim. It wasn’t long before it started to rain. We also forgot it was a Sunday, and many places were closed. We did however manage to find an open pizzeria, where we took shelter for an hour, before heading off in the rain again.
Wet days on the bike
After spending the entire day cycling in the wind and rain, I discovered that my pannier rain covers, weren’t really that waterproof. Undies, socks and various other things were soaked. It was at that point I felt a bit defeated. We were just outside Turin, it was still pelting down with rain, and there was no sign of a suitable camping spot. I was wet, cold and exhausted, and there was no end in sight. To cheer ourselves up, we decided to find a cheap hotel in town, to rest, dry off, and start again in the morning. For 20 euro each, we found a 4 star hotel with complimentary buffet breakfast (which was also cheaper than the cheapest hostel dorm room in town). The weather was still rubbish, but things were definitely looking brighter.
“You never have the wind with you — either it is against you or you’re having a good day” – Daniel Behrman @CycleTrekkers
First crash of the trip
On the way to the hotel, I managed to get my front tyre stuck in a tramline, and sent myself flying across the road. The wind was knocked out of me, and I unfortunately hit my bad knee, as well as injuring my wrist, arm and shoulder. Yep, 1 week into the cycle tour, and I’ve already managed to stack it on the bike. Luckily a car pulled over and an Italian couple jumped out. They offered to drive me to the hospital or the hotel. I opted for the hotel. Once I arrived at the hotel, the reception organized a free doctor to come to the hotel and look over my injuries. If you ever have an accident in the province of Turin in Italy, the local government actually provides a free doctor service – handy if you’re clumsy like me.
Hotel Diplomatic was absolutely amazing! If you happen to be in Turin, I recommend them. They also said that if I was to return, or if anyone else that I know stays there, the hotel would be able to offer the cheapest rate, plus a 10% discount on top of that (whether this is true, I don’t know, but might be worth testing out if you’re in the area).
We decided to stay a day longer in Turin, mainly to regain use of my arm. When we did set off, the sun was out, and it looked like it was here to stay. It did, for most of the day. Then the rain returned. Followed by some storms. One thing about cycle touring, weather is completely unpredictable! We had a couple of days of sun (and wind), followed by a couple of days of rain (and more wind). One thing is for certain – there is always wind!
After Turin we made our way further east towards Piacenza.
Then South East through Parma, Reggio Emilia (loved this town), Modena, Bologna (also a lovely city), Imola, Folic, and a few other smaller towns and villages. Finally we arrived at the Adriatic coast, where we spent a couple of nights in the coastal resort town, Rimini.
Cycling through the small Italian towns and cities was probably my favorite part of exploring Italia on a bicycle. Each place so cycle-friendly. Lots of beautiful old Italian buildings. Some towns even had a Tuscan vibe (though we didn’t actually cycle through Tuscany), and a well developed café scene. Who can complain about $2 cappuccinos? The countryside was also beautiful, and at times reminded me of the peak district in the UK. The towns and cities had character, and I could have spent hours just sipping on a coffee, people watching in a plaza.
Admittedly, the cycling has been hard at times. Especially when you have a day or 2 of cycling on main roads, in winds and rains, and in peak hour traffic. You just learn to push on through, and try and gain motivation from simple things. Much like running a marathon, you just take each step at a time. I remember having a rather bad day of cycling, I was waiting to cross a road, when I noticed a young boy was waving at me out of the car window, I waved back, and he gave me the thumbs up. That small act brightened my day and somehow got me through the following 3 hours of cycling. Chocolate got me through the rest.
When we hit the Adriatic coast we were on such a high.
Our longest day of cycling, plus hitting the 900km mark and successfully crossing our first country on a bicycle. We celebrated by checking into a ridiculously cheap hotel (got to love the low season), which included a complimentary buffet breakfast. Have you ever seen cyclists at a buffet? It is actually worrying how much you can eat when you’re cycling. It’s like your stomach turns into an endless pit.
From Rimini we headed south down the coast to the port town, Ancona. From here we caught the overnight Blue Line ferry to Split, Croatia. Overall, Italia on a bicycle was an awesome experience!
Italia on a bicycle stats:
Longest day: 103km
Accommodation: 6 nights wild camping, 4 nights in a budget hotel, 1 night in a B&B, 1 night on a ferry
Average spendings per day: 14 euro ($20AUD)
Total kilometers cycled in Italy: 725km
Total kilometers: 1025km
Days in Italy: 12 days
Total days: 18 days
Pizzas consumed: 4
Buffet breakfasts plundered: 4