For several reasons, we ride and spend more time thinking about Italy, than the Croatian countryside that I currently cycle thru. My wife is gone, and I have departed south along the shoreline, headed for a coastal town called Split. I’am really looking ahead to Italy and the Appenines. Mainly because in my mind this body of water that we call the Adriatic is that symbolic barrier between myself and home. odd when I think about it, I know the Atlantic is far bigger, but the Adriatic is the wall that I mentally have to get over. And second, as far as reazons to be thinking about Italy. My older brother Niel will be coming to ride with me if all goes well. And that will be a blessing. And third, I have already been to Italy and know that it has a lot to offer in the way of natural beauty and plenty of artifacts of historical significance…..and I love history.
Riding south along the azure Adriatic coastline, it reminds me to look and think about the beauty of home. I tend too lean towards thinking that home is not as beautiful in it’s own way when indeed it is. While I cant explain why a person would fly away from this sort of beauty, or the beauty of where I live…..so that they can see Los Angeles or San Franciso. Thats a hard one for a guy like me to figger. Leaving Zadar about 10am, kissed Colleen and we parted ways till Christmas if all goes well. she is back home and already shipping boxes out, I just talked to her this morning.
Right now I am in Split and waiting to board a ferry over to Ancona Italy. Rode across the Adriatic, slept out on the deck in my bag of sleep to save a few bucks, glad that I did. Arrived Ancona Italy at about 6:45am, depart the boat and pretty much head uphill from the shoreline. Had a beast of a time reading my Google maps, the darned little roads all blend right into the maps background color. I’ve had to resort to borrowing all the reading classes at the retirement home just to read the darned map. We are riding the tiniest white roads shown on Google, and POOCHY MAGGIE, do those roads get steep. Seen some real beautiful country by taking the back roads, a lot of farming on very inclined pitches.
While not tall by mountain standards, the old roads that traverse the Appenines are indeed steep. For sure when climbing up thru the Appenines, you will be required to sweat your way to the summit. This, my second visit to Italy, I had forgotten just how loud a simple conversation over a cup of coffee can be with just 2 or 3 Italians engaged.
I am armed with a road map as well as full google map service, and I feel on the verge of lost every moment of the day. Several things lead me to this destitute feeling. When asking the Carabineri (police) which roads I can ride upon, I get 3 different answers. Signs, well in Italy…..signs are an issue. I swear, its the only place where you can come to a 4 way traffic circle and have signs for 9 different countries and 47 different cities/villages…..and non of them will be on your road map. I have also come to a 4 way traffic circle and found my desired town on 3 out of four of the roads that make up the traffic circle. Pretty sure that I spend darned near as much of my time double checking my google map as I do peddaling. Not complaining, just making note that going forward here is far slower than I had anticipated. Totally unlike rolling thru anything country prior to landing in Italy
Also finding that wild camping is much harder to do now that I am in Italy, as most ground has iether a house or farm product on it, so finding that just right spot has been pretty tuff do do. And yes, to answer that nagging question you have in the back of your mind……does he ever just ask permission……YES, but only when I see an adult male out in the farm yard somewhere. Never stop if its just a women or kids, to much hassle and to likely it could go south. And never stop and knock…..the home owner may not be home……but I bet the sleeping farm dog is. And we sure dont need to wake him up now do we. Tonight, I am pitched in a olive orchard, not my fav because they are usually ant infested places. This ones not bad actually. My days have been averaging just 50 miles per, a little lower than Balkans region average.
One last thing of note, fellow bikers DO NOT STOP, even if you holler and wave your arms……they are far to busy winning that imaginery time trial going on in there mind. Tried three of them now, as I needed directions…..they seen me, they made eye contact and kept right on rolling like nothing was said. That seems rather odd to my way of thinking, as back home and most other places we have been up till now, when cyclists meet they most often have a quick visit. Not sure of the whys and what fors, but it struck me as odd.
I made it Florence, not such a bad trip all in all. Finally figured out I can switch views on my Google map, and that has helped in a huge way. I find so far at least, that the drivers are quite polite and for that Iam very grateful. I was down to the last 30 miles coming into the busy city of Florence, and would’nt ya know it someone put 3 small stiff climbs in there just for fun. A little dissappointed that my route was based entirely in getting here for my brother and precluded any time for sightseeing. I missed several hill top fortifications that Italy, or better yet Tuscany are renowned for, for another day another visit. Think I will wrap this one up and say goodnight to you all, be well and be blessed. Better yet go out and be a Blessing.