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May 5th 2006
Published: April 15th 2010
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My First ImpressionMy First ImpressionMy First Impression

So many scooters

Italy - 22 Days

Diary extracts in italics

“Day 24 - 49.5 miles (€10)
So my first impressions of Italy
- Fluff loads of scooter/vespas
- A good-looking bunch, although the lads all look like chicks
- Seems poorer i.e. more run down
- Much more considerate drivers
- Romans invented the road and I rekon the Italians invented tunnels - much better than climbing big hills - nicer cycling

Some really nice towns along the picturesque and scenic coast (Cervo and Celle stood out) I noticed an abundance of balconies, and love the style of these Italian houses, and their nice simple architecture esp. the churches.”

After Genova was quite a bit hillier so I didn’t make as much progress as intended but I was at least 2 days ahead of my plan so no need to panic.
Food in Italy was more expensive, more than double France so I ate Mackeral and banana sarnies, yoghurt and cheap biscuits, compared to France’s delicious museli, baguettes and cheap tuna.

I went through some cool tunnels until a rozzer told me I couldn’t, instead he made me climb, from sea level , up and
The Italian CoastThe Italian CoastThe Italian Coast

They used tunnels in Italy rather than the French which go up and over any hills
over a 900 metre pass. Shortly after that, on day 28, I entered the gorgeous ‘cinque terre’ national park.

Day 28 - 64.8 miles - (€3)

A beautiful mornings cycling through the national park - I stayed up top along the mountain road, didn’t bother descending to any of the five towns - Monterosso, Vernazza, Cornelgia (spelt wrong), Riomaggiore and something beginning with an “M” - I couldn’t be arsed with cycling back up and there was no reason to go down to them.
Shit-hot scenery - wicked rocky coastline and nice forest, tiered farming - proper nice.

Pisa was Cool but touristy, some nice buildings.

Florence was quality, and I wrote:

The ponte Vecchio was quality - lined with only goldsmiths, 14th century and the only one the fucking nazis didn’t manage to destroy. The cathedral (the worlds 4th largest) was again a work of art, so detailed, taking 150 years to complete which they started in 1294. Some famous artists contributed including one of the turtles - Donatello. The battistero, opposite the cathedral, was built between the 5th (Firenzes oldest building) and 11th centuries and had wicked bronze doors. The palazzo Vecchio impressed me, again intense detail and had a copy of Michaelangelos’David’ sculpture outside - very famous but a bit blah. The piazza della Signoria was full of sculptures including one with the dude holding Medussas head aloft. The whole duomo - centre was simply impressive - narrow streets, ancient buldings, a very nice city.


From Florence to Rome was about 200 miles and took 3 days; It was hilly but I got to visit some very nice towns.
First was Greve - old with a nice piazza.
Then Castellina - a castley old town. This whole area is covered in castles and fortresses that now function as towns aswell.
Next was the really nice Monteriggioni - an old castle/fortress/town, now a tourist magnet.

Siena was a lush city with a really nice shell shaped piazza and a labyrinth of really cool gothic buidings - a very cool and unique place.

The countryside was really nice - green hills, dotted with villages and castles, typical of Tuscany.

“Day 34 - 51.7 miles

I entered Rome and was outside the Sistine chapel munching on 78 cents worth of

Typical colours and balconies
bread, mackerel and a nana at 2:15pm. The cue to see the St peters Basilica was ridiculous, as was the number of tourists, but again a very impressive place - I really liked the piazza San Pietro with its 4 column wide semi-circular colonnades. So now I´ve been to Vatican City, with its own postal service, radio and apparently.
I spent the day wandering and getting my barings and like Firenze I was dumbstruck by the number of waspy ants (tourists) and the beauty of this city - the Trevi fountain, Piazza Navona, colosseum, Pantheon, the huge monumento Viltorio Emanuele II all jumped out and will be further explored. Apparently there are 900 churches in Rome so I may have to skip a couple. I am about to camp in the dodgiest place ever. I searched for somewhere in the centre but couldn’t find any parks or areas with enough trees to hide me in, so I am basically on top of a wall leading down this alleyway, proper dodgy - I had to dig and try and level it off a bit.

Cobblestone streets are very nice and old and that, but a right fucker if you have heavy panniers on a bike.
BOLLOCKS tomorrow’s Sunday and I have nothing but sugar to eat.

Day 35 - 24.7 miles - (€11)

I did stuff in more detail today - starting well early with breakfast outside the coloseum.

The Roman forum was ace, the Pantheon amazing. Michaelangelo had a huge input towards modern day Rome, designing dome, plazas, paintings - you name it. Including piazza Campidoglio (there was a fountain where I filled my water bottle that I think was holy water as a few people got upset and people were rubbing it over themselves and taking photos - tasted good though). Just pottered around in lovely plazas and streets - a wicked city.
I left up the SS3 towards Terni, a relief to leave the city.
I had a bad nights sleep due to the sleeping aon a wall, I hope to do better tonight - my neck and left shoulder have been aching all day - they fecking kill.
Quality - the crickets are banging their knees. Annoyingly didn´t manage to find a supermarket to stock up for food for sunday.

Not much happened between Rome and San Marino although Urbino was a nice town - a Unesco world heritage place, very nice medieval and gothic with slopey streets much like Siena.

Day 39 - 55.3 miles - (€7)

It rained the entire fecking day so I am soaked and my feet wrinkled up worse than my grans must be. Little actual progress was made towards Venice due to a big 44km detour to jut inland and visit San Marino, I can add another country to the list of countries I´ve eatan corn flakes in. Sadly my memory of this republic will not be good - it was at the top of a huge mountain that I had to struggle through rain to get to. When I got to the capital, of the same name, it was in the clouds so I saw fuck all. It looked nice, another castle town, with no tax, so cheap goods like fags, alcohol, perfume and samarai swords for some reason. There was a nice ‘statute of liberty’ but the whole country thing is bullshit - its basically a provence in Italy - I had the Italian mobile networks but everybody spoke San Marinian, an interesting language. I love the
A shortcutA shortcutA shortcut

The tunnels the police stopped me going through
place for the hilarious goal they scored against Graham Taylor’s England.

On Day 40 I spent little time in Ravenna, famous for its mosaics, stopping at one church, where I got a couple of post cards. After Ravenna swamp country began - which was pretty but loads of fecking mossies.

Day 41 - 51.8 miles - (€11)

Now this was a fucking eventful day.
A really bad night as it feckin’ proper pissed it down - all night. I slept through my alarm but woke when this old guy working in the petrol station, I slept next to, shouted out something’s in Italian. I was basically lying in a puddle and everything was soaked, I grabbed everything and ran under the petrol station roof. The old guy was the type of guy that should be president of the U.S instead of that fucking monkey - he sat me down gave me a croissant, cappuccino, 3 bags of pizza bread things, some fruit drinks, he gave me tissue to dry off, let me use the toilet and phoned someone and found out local hotel prices for me and shook my hand about ten times
- SIMPLY DA MAN. We talked the two international languages, hands and football, being an Inter fan he’d heard of Pompey. I ended cycling for most of the day as the rain calmed down then I slept in an abandoned house, the type of day that makes travelling worth while - Random.

Day 42 - 32.4 miles - (€1)

Venice is annoying to get to on a bike, I had to piss around to get from the SS309 to the 4km long bridge but I was happy. I read Venice has 400 bridges and the first load I saw had steps so I locked up the bike (for the first time) and walked around. So Venice is cool - loads of tourists but not too bad due to the weather - its wicked having no cars and the mix of roads and canals lined with bridges makes it very pretty. The main plaza di San Marco was quality and like a cake, the gondolas were cool - a few had those blowy organists on, there were loads of mask shops - for its world famous carnival. I just missed the carnival by 4 days, like I just missed the San Marino Grand prix. The boats on the waterways drive on the left.
A very nice city but you need money to be able to stay in a hotel and afford rip-off prices for food e.t.c. I intend to return one day and hang out for some time, when I win the lottery. Now I’m about to camp in a posh park at the other side of the bridge.

Day 421/2 - 1 (ish) mile

So the price of trying to camp in posh parks is the security.
It was getting dark when I found, what looked like a quiet secluded corner until I got there and disturbed “Barky” and his hundreds of mates in this dog kennel. I thought they would shut up so I set up camp anyway, talked to dad, then settled down to sleep when two cars came and moved me on. I threw all my stuff in a bin liner and luckily found some swampy-type land not too far. A nice crescent moon tonight.

I spent a couple of days cycling inland to the Dolomites, a really pretty mountainous region before continuing towards Slovenia, on Day 45 I was about 30km from the border camping in a field eating some mackerel sandwiches.

Day 46 - 0.6 miles - (€5)

Well I have spent the whole day lying in a field groaning and sleeping. Last night I was kept awake most of the night with the worst stomach pains - I puked 3 times, violently - the last time proper emptied my stomach. In the morning I pissed through my arsehole many times, which was nice. The 0.6 miles was the trip to the ‘Interspar’.
All day my stomach has been dodgy, my diabetes fucked up and I´ve been well dehydrated, I´m not sure which one came first - I did eat some cheap mackerel and an apple after changing my tyres but I was thirsty last night sin agua and my insulin is funny (18 units took me from 15.3 > 12.2).
Had an interesting talk with a licence inspector dude who thought I was fishing and I fought the ants all day.
God I feel shitty.

On day 47 I managed to cross the border into Slovenia but the cycling was very difficult, I had to stop on a regular basis to lye down and soak up some pain.

Additional photos below
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The main plaza

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