Travelling by Pedalling


Italian hospitality!

I have to say.. beforehand we found it a bit scary to get on a bike in Italy. We had no idea what it would be like. We did drive through Italy by car and then we found out that they are firmly on the accelerator and only anticipate late. We are used to the Netherlands and have cycled through Germany and Austria, but there are many cyclists and cycle paths everywhere.

When we leave Milan, we are surprised. There is a new bike path that follows the Naviglio Martesana. It is a wonderful bike ride and the miles fly by. But when the cycle path stops and we take a turn, we enter a different reality. Very busy roads with no cycle path. One car gives you space and the other hurtles right past you. This is kind of how the rest of the week goes. Lots of nice quiet roads, cycle paths that suddenly stop and cycling on roads where cars are allowed to drive 90 kilometers per hour.

The first days are cloudy but nice temperature. The nights are not too cold.  Later in the week the sun comes out, the temperature drops slightly and the wind picks up. We cycle for three days with full headwind. Mentally we are doing very well, we are comfortable. We occasionally ask each other if the other is drinking enough and make longer days than we expected. But physically we still have to get used to it a bit. We wake up stiff and in the morning we have to start up slowly, we feel the saddle pain but know that this will get less as we have more kilometers in the legs. We feel little aches here and there but overall we feel good.

This week we discovered Brecia, which is a very nice city. We had breakfast along Lake Garda on Q’s birthday after which we continued to Verona. We spent the night there so that we could celebrate Q’s birthday in the city. And we spent a full day in Venice.

The day after Q’s birthday we had a tough day on the bike. We leave Verona and cycle with a strong headwind on gravel paths, on busy roads and we arrive in hilly landscapes. At the end of the day, Q finds every patch of grass he sees a good place to set up the tent, but I push him to go a little further. Just a little while… just a few more miles. We stop between the hilly landscapes where we try to find a good spot for the tent out of the wind. We start cooking when a man with two dogs walks by. He only speaks Italian but makes it clear that we have to come with him. He finishes his round with the dogs first while we quickly pack our things again. We arrive at a house with a piece of land. There are chickens, goats, pigeons and beehives. He gives us a tour of the house. Told about his (which we only understand later) son who lives in Amsterdam. He says we should call him. We think it’s a bit crazy but we do it. His son does not understand at first when we try to explain the story that we are with a friend of his in Italy. But soon there will be more clarity. He will be our interpreter for a while.

The man, named Ottavio, continues the tour after talking to his son. Gets some eggs for us from the chickens, takes a lot of food out of the cupboard. Switch on the wood-burning stove in the kitchen and for a hot shower, he also turns on the stove in the bathroom. He keeps talking to us in Italian and we don’t understand a word he is saying.

Moments later, Ottavio tells us to call his son Patrik if there is anything wrong and he leaves. Only now do we understand.  He was preparing everything for us. It is the house that once belonged to his parents, but he does not live there. How sweet of him that we can be here.  Meanwhile, Patrik has summoned a friend to bring him pizza and beer. So we don’t have to cook anymore. We put our mats in the kitchen and sleep wonderfully warm next to the wood stove that night. The next day we say goodbye and we get a lot of food from Ottavio. It’s heartwarming how generous and caring Ottavio and Patrik are!