Monday, March 25, 2013

Italy - Montagnana is a Gem

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Andy enters the city walls of Montagnana beneath the hostel.
54 miles - Saturday, October 8

A chilly 48F greets us as we crawl from the tent. It’s sunny however, a beautiful start to the day. Andy and I are confident that we’ll make it to Florence or possibly Rome now that we carry camping and hostel guides.

Heading southwest from Venice we pedal along the Brenta canal. Sprawling brick and stone houses line both banks. We presume they're inhabited by old money families or are farms, or could be second homes or retirement places for the wealthy. We maneuver through Mira and eventually through the Padova's city center. We slow down, rolling over the narrow cobblestone streets while gazing at 3-4 story homes with shops at street level. Fountains spout water beside cherubs or curly-haired Roman statues. The old cities warm my heart. We've only been in Italy a few days, yet the atmosphere makes us want to read Shakespeare plays, and delve into Roman history.

A bump on the hazy horizon surrounds Teolo, a village on Italian cyclers' training route. We wave and try “Ciao!” to greet skinny Italians in lycra as we spin in low gears over the summit. Unfortunately, most are non-responsive. We joke that they are breathless, concentrating on hills and speed.

A snippet from my journal. The hostel has their own stamp.
Once on the flat plains again, we pedal through Noventa then aim for Montagna where a hostel becomes our goal for the evening and according to our guide it's supposed to be inside a castle. By 5 p.m. a stone wall appears on the horizon. Andy and I look at each other as a kilometer later we move through an arched opening, entering an astonishing city - completely unexpected. We head for the piazza (central square) for directions. It's too good to be true. The hostel is inside a multi-story structure above the same opening we'd entered the city – a castle turret attached to the walls.

View of city from rooftop.

The kitchen in the hostel.

A drawing from my journal, showing the hostel attached to the wall.

View of buildings within the walls.
We are grinning as the hostel host hands us sheets and we follow him up black spiral stairs to our room. The private room has two new pine-smelling bunk-beds, whitewashed walls, with two keyhole-shaped windows with custom metal- framed glass. It's not easy to gaze outside, however, as the openings are authentic and deep silled, better for protecting against 12th century weapons. The kitchen room opens to an exterior circular courtyard for views of tiny Fiats and Renaults buzzing below us through the arched opening. One flight above, always climbing or ascending the spiral staircase (it's a narrow building) Andy and I emerge outside on the roof. It's a gorgeous view of the red clay-tile roofed dwellings. This little city is unique, a dreamy village all within walls.

Another view of the hostel.

It's a gem of place - only a sign identifies it as a hostel – and by far the most interesting stay of our trip. It has all the ambiance of Roman castle with hostel comfort. In the 1960s the interior was renovated to house 60 beds. It only set us back 26,000 Lira (18.00 USD). Andy and I are smitten. We'll explore more of Montagna by daylight.


  1. I stayed at a youth hostel south of Rome that was in an old castle. It was great and such an historic place to stay. I met others who were from my country and we spent a lot of time sight seeing together, we all had a great time. Vicki

    1. It's nice to know there are more of these special hostels.


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