Click here for the Introduction.
We left Ferrara early. Andy and I felt as drab as the overcast sky. The weather affects us more than we might otherwise have guessed.
By noon we enter Bologna. I love the name, picturing lots of meat products, but we tend to avoid those items, not only because of Andy's diet. I wouldn't know how to preserve any leftovers, nor would I cook it in our shared pots. It seems best to avoid meat altogether. We both crave fresh vegetables, love cheese and bread, though the airy Italian bread is pretty lightweight and doesn't fill our bellies as much as we hoped. Andy says, “The crumbs alone might solve the world hunger problem.”
After Bologna we start climbing towards the hills. The change of pace feels good. It's been a long time since we spent hours spinning in granny gears. If our map is any indication, tomorrow's ride to Florence (Firenze) should be full of exciting, twisting roads.
I made a tasty zucchini and garlic red sauce, adding fresh basil for pizazz. We bought a Gaz stove in Venice. These are popular in Europe because you can buy fuel canisters most anywhere. It's incredibly easy too. A single match ignites the burner with instant blue flame. It's a quiet stove also. I now enjoy cooking, once again.
With days hovering around 60 F., we straddle seasons. More rain would be disheartening. We'll check into hopping a train from Florence to Rome.
Tuscany at last!
We left early after a disappointing evening at a 4-star campground. No hot water meant no showers. It was also expensive. Best to look ahead and pedal towards Florence.
We climb from one valley to another, riding along an open hillside. It's good to test our legs again. My fanny is less sore, pedaling hilly terrain. I tend to shift around on the seat, or maybe my mind is preoccupied, wondering what's around the next corner. It's a welcome reprieve.
Villages cluster on the horizon in every available open space. Red roofs. Tan or white walls. Newly plowed fields darken the landscape in a patchwork pattern. Tractor engines rattle. Wine bottles pile in a corner of a yard, like fisherman's floats. All the while, vineyards appear like umbrellas above and below us on the steep slope, or guard houses. The vines are barren; leaves edged in brown hang lifeless. Netting has been lifted, signaling it's past harvest.
The air grows considerably cooler as we ascend 1800 feet and stop at an obvious summit. A hazy skyline displays a church silhouette. I wondered how anyone could get to it, then was reminded of the network of roads, with steepness nary a concern. We tentatively let up on the brakes, testing our inertia. Going uphill on impossibly narrow roads wasn't a problem, but descending is another thing altogether. And then there are the drivers zooming uphill, engines strained, vehicles leaning, two outside wheels mainly gripping the asphalt. It's exactly like those sports car commercials where drivers screech around tight corners. Fortunately my heart no longer leaps to my throat. Driving fast in Italy is a way of life. We take it slow. Hold our line. Listen for honking drivers signaling sharp turns. We laugh on our lunch break as the honks echo up the valley.
By day's end, after an incredible twenty mile descent, we leave the mountains behind. It is warm tonight, if not quiet. Our intended campground turned out to be within 100 feet of the Milan to Rome Autostrada, Italy's equivalent to an interstate. However, we can sleep most anywhere.