Crossing the border this morning, we transformed into real tourists. Here we are in Italy, the country of pasta and of talking loudly with your hands (that was for the stereotype part)
First glance : it smells like salami! I can here those saying that we have gone completely mad... Well we are feeling very well, and it is really smelling like salami!!! Every morning this mellow smell invades our nostrils and makes us want to puke. If someone knows what that smell is, we would be happy to have an explanation!
Second glance : there are a lot of cyclists! They take over us very fast and smile at us with a ''ciao''!
It's not easy to get used to this new country. On Musclor (my ride), I am repeating over and over the phrases that Virginia sent us, in order to be ready, if needed, to ask people for water, directions or for a place to set the tent.
The landscapes are not very interesting since we crossed the border. Always the same mountains diving into the sea, which could be nice if there weren't towns every 500 meters. Since the border, it feels like beeing in a continuous city!
Some spots like Noli's cape are beautiful though.
We got to Genova after 3 days. Thanks to the website Warmshowers, we are sleeping in a real bed, at Gelya's. Our host is not really there for us, but fortunately her friends take good care of us! Local people find it strange to meet travellers here. Apparently there is nothing special about Genova. But we like this beautiful and big city. It's nice to walk in the small streets, to taste focaccia and to admire the 'trompe l'oeil' on the walls.
We almost forgot to tell you that we passed the 2000 km on the way to Genova!
After Genova, we jumped on our bikes and hit the road to Pisa. The landscapes are becoming more interesting : a little less towns and a little more mountains (our legs can feel the difference), forests, nice architecture. We wanted to go through Cinque Terre national park, but the road is fil of dark tunnels too dangerous for us. The secondary road through Lerici, Montemarcello and Ameglia was worth the choice!
It is not a piece of cake to switch to Italian... and sometimes we feel lost and shy. It became more dificult to chat, laugh with people, ask for help, find nice camping spots. But anyway, we are learning a little more each day, and we hope it will go better and better! With our few words we had a space in a garden for the tent for the first time!
Autumn came without notice, like a slap in the face. In the countrside, the mediterranean flora is disappearing, and the oaks forests are more humid and cool. Temperatures are definetely going down, and we had our first real rainy day. Feet soaking inside our shoes we rode 75 kilometers in pouring rain from Montemarcello to Pisa. We did this only because we had in mind the nice bed waiting for us at the end of the day.
Massimo welcomed us warmly in his house, and prepared some delicious Pasta al polpo and some Knödels, and a nice espresso with grappa and grilled chestnusts. With our bodies and minds all warmed up, we went to bed in the hut in the garden.
The clouds were bumping into the montains yesterday and were pouring gallons and gallons of water, but today the clouds are gone and the sun in shining. Pisa is wonderful. The Arno river, the Duomo, the pending tower, the small streets, the bicycles. Yes, bicycles are everywhere. Young and old, everyone is riding a bike and it is really pleasant!
In front of the pending tower, tourists are posing to get THE picture, the one where thet pretend to hold the tower... We find this funny so we take pictures of them posing.
This morning, we are leaving Pisa. The sun won't be appearing today, that is for sure and instead, we will have rain. After 30 kilometers we are soaking wet and we decide to take a train.
The train will take us to Florence where we decided to stay and dry up in a youth hostel. For two days, we enjoyed this wonderful city, its history, and the nice hostel we are staying at. At the hostel, we met Adam, american and history freak who spends hours or even days in museums. On our side, we take good care of our stomachs with focacce, gelati, caffè, pasta, and we just walk around the city, trying not to get ran over by bicycles.
Tuscany is also about wine, and in particular about the delicious 'chianti classico'. The Chianti area is as nice for the eyes than for our crave for food. The hills are covered in yellow and red vineyards, and we enjoy the downhills! It is so nice to be on the bikes again even only after a two days break.The wind in the face, picnics in random places, and the necessary moment, at dusk, when we look for a camping spot. We are kind of good at this game now, and more and more people accept to have us set the tent in their gardens.
Siena is a charming medieval town. Clean, organized, bicycles-free, and foggy. We have to be in Citta di Castello tomorrow night, where Luke and Dawn are waiting for us, and an autumn festival is held in the village with truffle, new oil, new wine and chestnuts. We have to hurry a little bit and we visit Siena pushing our bikes, have breakfast with delicious walnut focaccia from Sclavi's.
East of Siena, the 'crete senese' road is waiting for us on top of the hills. Nice 20% uphills and beautiful scenery. It's probably the most beautiful road since the start of the trip... the colours, from greens to browns and the sunny weather made the bloody fog go away.
The way to Citta di Castello is longer than we thought and we won't be able to see the autumn festival. We have to spend one more rainy night in the tent. The next day Luke and Dawn welcomed us warmly, and they know what it's like to be on a cycling tour because they rode around the Pacific ocean twenty years ago.
The last days in Italy are going fast. The Bocca Serriola pass and the dices games at the pass' bar. The sun is back and makes the 70 kilometers of downhill even better. The autumn colours are getting more and more noticeable going from light yellows to oranges, reds, rust, and some patches of greens. The vineyards lost all their leaves from shiverring too much during the chilly nights.
Italian landscapes are definetely beautiful, in Tuscany as well as in Umbria and Marche, and our contacts with the locals are very pleasant. Once again a lady lends us a garage so we don't have to sleep in the cold.
And then comes the adriatic coast, disappointing and frustrating. From Fano to Ancona, stuck between the sea, hideous hotels, the railway and the motorway, the distances seem to be longer. It's a pity that we end our stay in Italy like this, but it's not far from home and we will be able to come back another time. Tomorrow, 13th of november we will take a ferry boat to Croatia, but this will be another story.