We crossed the Mediterranean sea from Barcelona on the Grimaldi lines ferry to Civitavecchia after living and working there for 17 months. Civitavecchia is situated just North of Rome and so we were kind of preparing for pick pockets etc. as some Southern Italian towns are well known for petty crime. The ferry ride was much better than our previous one from Newcastle to Amsterdam, and we were quite pleased not to get sick on the 20 hour crossing and also enjoyed the hospitality of the Italian crew.
In Civitavecchia we had to wait until the morning to catch the regional trains to Rimini as you can not take a bike on any other service + you must purchase a ticket for your bike (3.50€ each), valid for a 24 hour period.
As we wanted Wi-Fi we went to McDonald’s, but now you need an Italian mobile phone number or a credit card number to log in to their Wi-Fi! Luckily we found a bar across the road with much simpler set up. Civitavecchia is a pretty town and not too busy, people were friendly and we slept in the open air near the beach with the bikes locked together under some shrubs next to us. We felt safe and despite reading that wild camping is illegal in Italy we didn’t get bothered at all.
The bike carriage of Trenitalia trains in Italy are equipped only for city bikes or small mountain bikes as we found out when we could never fit our wheels or bikes in their racks even though there is an extra charge to carry your bike on the train! Hopefully one day they will improve this. The staff were always kind, letting us just strap the bikes outside the pathetic bike racks.
We spent 5 days in Rimini at a friend’s house, enjoyed catching up with friends and just generally enjoyed the summer atmosphere and heat. Of course as good Italians we never missed the Cappuccino and cream filled croissant breakfast and as we are in Italy we are making sure not to skip this awesome custom, knowing once away from the lovers country we will just be able to dream about croissant filled with cream, chocolate, hazelnut cream etc. Of course not to mention how many gelato we are eating! Luckily we are cycling them off!
We also briefly visited a friend near Chioggia and spent the day with her. Chioggia is like a small Venice with canals and gorgeous bridges all around. It’s a pity it’s not as well known as Venice. We then met our friend Thanujah in Verona who is joining us for her first cycling trip until probably Croatia somewhere. She is using my Dawes Kalahari bike that I used on my first trip from Amsterdam to Barcelona. We sent it to my friend in Montagna (BZ) where we actually began our cycling trip properly.
We spent 2 days in Montagna with a good friend of mine and 3 days in Val di Fiemme (Trentino) visiting friends and admiring my beautiful mountains (I lived and worked 3 winter seasons here).
From Montagna to Cavalese was mostly all on cycle paths, with 500m ascent. So it was our first mountain to climb (preparation for the Himalayas!). It took us 5 hours to get there but we made it!
I just love the Dolomites and the whole valley, it’s just beautiful! We stayed with a friend and left the bikes and panniers outside behind the house barely locked and no one touched them. It’s a very good feeling to be able to leave things unlocked without worrying someone will steal them.
Then the dillemma of which road to take to get across towards Croatia. We had to decide between 2 mountain passes and a less steep road but possibly full of trucks, so we opted for the latter (less hilly). We had a mix of bike path but mostly road. The scenery was amazing! We arrived at Borgo Valsugana and took the cycle path towards Bassano del Grappa. Along the way we also treated ourselves with a swim in the river to cool down. In the evening in Colicello we asked some locals if we could camp in the main park near the gazebo they use to have fests. In the morning we were invited for breakfast with coffee, bread and home made fig jam! Yummi!
We have been to Bassano once before so we just ate a quick ice cream and off we went to Castel Franco Veneto and wildcamped outside the city in an industrial area.
We had breakfast in an multi award winning pasticceria outside Treviso, (super tasty croissant!) and a regular customer there, paid for our breakfast without telling us, so kind!! The customers and barista of the place were really friendly and very interested about our trip! Be able to do what we want and follow our dreams makes us feel so lucky!
We didn’t find Treviso particularly attractive so we quickly moved on and enjoyed washing our hair in a fountain outside the shop of an angry hairdresser!
We now wanted to reach the coast but we all 3 agreed we don’t like Jesolo so went to Caorle instead and rested for 2 days along the beach. Caorle is very pretty, the houses are so colorful, people are friendly and gelato was good. We also went to say hello to an ex colleague and ended up staying the night at her house (thank you Clara and Freddy!).
From Caorle we rode to Torviscosa in the late afternoon and at that time we would have done anything to eat an ice cream. So we asked some locals for an open gelateria and were directed to Bar Bianco in Torviscosa and we literally made it as they were closing the doors. Thankfully they were kind enough to let us get a gelato each. Their gelato was very good! Shame we could not get another one. We camped under some trees in the park in front of the shop for the night.
In this period sunrise is around 5am so we are getting up sooner to enjoy riding in the cool of the day because by 9.30 am temperatures are already in the 30s. Such a big change compared to our first trip where sunrise is around 8am and sunset at 4pm! On average we are doing 60km a day as we stop for breakfast in a pasticceria, (only while in Italy) and cooking some healthy lunch during the hottest part of the day. Finding spots where to camp has been always quite easy except for 3 days ago where at 11pm our choices were narrowed down to an old massive church garden in the dark with a few old graveyards or a truck parking in the high grass. So we opted for the latter one and spent a ghost free night. Since we arrived in Trieste we have already had suggestions on a bike path towards Croatia.
This morning a local guy told us about things to expect in Croatia and further south. Things including:
- Bears exist a little inland
- Watch for mines if wild camping in Bosnia
- Croatia doesn’t use euros
- Water is much more expensive than beer, so get water from cemeteries! Public water fountains are very rare and a bottle of water could cost as much as 5€ per litre
- Croatia gets more beautiful the further south you go
On our way out of Trieste, after eating the last gelato and buying up on Italian goodies we followed the road Maps.me gave us to Muggia and at one point we found ourselves at the bottom of a very steep hill. At the traffic light luckily enough a guy on a motorbike stopped us to say hello and asked us where we are going. Because he is a truck driver and cyclist he knows all the roads and suggested a much better route, more flat and direct. We are amazed at how many wonderful helpful people we have met so far! It does restore faith in humanity!
So here we go, today we leave Italy and hopefully sleep somewhere on the Croatian coast tonight.