07.01.09

Impressions of italy

Posted in Italy, The journey journal at 8:15 am by Administrator

Well now that we’ve left italy I should write a bit about our time there and what we saw.

We were joined in Nice by Nic’s brother, Dan and his girlfriend Christal. They weren’t verz experieinced bikers but thought that thez’d give this touring caper a go.

The journez from Nice went along the riviera coast and their first daz on the bike involved riding through a whole country. We had lunch in Monaco and watched the rich and ludicrously rich wonder by.

The french coast is stunning and very up and down. Down to each town and then up around the next point. Then we hit the Italian border and, WHAM, we weren’t in France or anything that even closely resembled it anymore.

I have the impression of Italy that they have overdeveloped and ruined every part of the country that thez could. The only bits that have survived are those that are too steep to ruin, are too old to have been pulled down or are too swampy and yuk already. I mean every square inch of sand along the coast is covered with horrible umbrellas and deck chairs and all the beaches are private and owned by the bars and hotels that put out those chairs. Also all of the rivers that come to the coast are channeled into uglz concrete chutes. The buildings are all terribly rundown and cramped together and the only ones outside of the few historical cites that are slightly nice are those that have had old style looking facades painted on them.

The few bits that have survived the Italian’s need to overdevelop are pretty great. Some of the coastal road is so beautiful and awesome to ride along before genoa. That is until they randomlz block a tunnel on the bike path and you have to back track or there is a rockslide and so you have to ride over the mountains around it but even that was pretty nice. The cinque terra is a gorgeous area, especially looking down at the towns from above. We topped out at a 545 m climb that was at the end of a sustained 8% grade ride at the steepness of tose hills was pretty tough but the views at teh top were worth it. We only rode down to one of the towns and walked into another as the thought of the 300 plus metre climbs out of them wasn’t that thrilling. Dan and Christal took a short break from the ride just before Cinque terra and zipped down to Rome for some sight seeing and rejoined us in Florence.

After Cinque terra we had a few good flat dazs into florence and stopped along the way to do the cheesezy photo thing in Pisa. Pisa is not much of a stop as there isn’t much to see there other than the leaningish tower. I kinda like the tower’s lean cos of the geotechnical coolness of teh problem but I’m sure that most people just like it cos its pretty.

Florence was a good 2 days break and we drank a little too much on the reunion with Dan and Christal and so the sightseeing day was a little less vigorous than it could have been.

I think that Lyon could beome a lot like florence if the French stopped caring about how their buildings looked and how the city was laid out. Its got so much potential to be more beautiful. I still like it but it could be more. One thing is that the florentines and tuscans do know how to cook and to eat and no trip to tuscany should be completed without a nice big local steak (minimum weight 700 grams) and some chianti (mmmmpasta as well).

After Florence it kinda got a bit hillz and we ended up doing 3 1000 m climbs in 2 days, ouch. Dan and Christal did really well to complete the days even though they were pretty stuffed by the end of them. The hilly areas were nice and rural and quite steep. There were plenty of wineries but we keep coming across the problem that we hit the wineries on a sunday when nothing is open or during siesta time and so we’ve missed some awesome looking wines. Doh!

The 40 km downhill into San Marino was a sweet ride een though it was raining a little and then we climbed up to San Marino. It was my 49th country and I’d always wanted to see it but by the time that we reached the bottom of the cable car to the old town the clouds had settled in and so we couldn’t actually see the views and the only things that we could see in the old town were the millions upon millions of shops selling terrible and glitzy touristy crap that even most grandmas wouldn’t want. We were all pretty underwhelmed by San Marino and we glad to be on the way down the hill back into italy and a bunch of flat days into venice.

I’ll leave it there but we’re now in Slovenia and loving it soo much. I’ll go into more superlatives later but its ace and we’ve got one more day here before hitting croatia.

Hugs

Tc

PS sorry for the Zeds everywhere in teh text but the slovenian keyboard has swapped the y and z and I keep missing them.