We left off in Meran, where we stayed for 3 nights refuelling and relaxing. Meran was an interesting blend of cultures as Meran is a part of South Tyrol and main language is German, this blends with pizzerias and well dressed italians.
During our rest days we sort photos and write here on the blog, as now just from Bologna 🙂 In Meran we felt like exploring the mountains on foot so we asked around. We found out there was a frequent leaving bus going to Falzeben, a small place in the mountains near Meran, where people go to ski or hike as us. The bus was a great experience as the local elders also went hiking this day so a great mix of people on the bus. On the mountain we had a great walk with great views and a snack in one of the ski huts “Kaiserschmarrn” great but quite expensive as expected. We enjoyed and walked on. In Meran we also had time to think of our journey which sometimes feels unreal. Susanne was contemplating things a bit with the whole thing so we used time on us and focusing on why we have made this choice. It is good to have thorough reflections and discussions once in a while.
Here is a small overview and see all photos here: Hiking of Meran 2000.
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We left Meran ready for more adventures. The first day we pushed good 96km and reached the outskirts of Trento, first real northern Italian area and we had to find a place to pitch our tent. We wanted to see if we could stay in a garden or next to a farm so we would meet some locals. After 10km of biking around the area we had had enough of “No,NO” and went back to a place between the Adige river and the highway, not ideal but good enough, of course the rain was also keeping us company. We had expectations of welcoming Italians and did not yet find hospitality.
The Garda lake was next up and we had a day of mixed weather and rain being a part of our days. It is less fun but we keep our heads up and pedal on. We reached the lake Garda at lunch time and had lunch in the sun next to the lake. It was great with some sun. We followed the lake south past the great holiday places and campings which were all closed. Crazy to see tourism places at low season. It proved to be a bit of a challenge for us when we were looking for a place to pitch the tent. Martin always says during this time “It always works out”. After searching for a good spot along the lake we found this small garden across the road from a closed hotel. We don’t think people often get the chance to camp so close to the lake as we did. We enjoyed the biking along the lake with great views and a beautiful sunset, so a nice day on the road.
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On the friday of carnival we passed through Verona, a nice city and filled with people due to the carnival, which made it a bit stressful in the city, also our first bigger city in some weeks. We went past the Arena and the balcony of Juliet from “Romeo and Juliet” so some touristic places along the way. This night we had better luck with the local experience and found a nice farmer which welcomed us and we could stay in their workplace. The language was italian which we both do not understand or speak. So the language barrier was apparent and hands and feet were used. Great to improvise and still be able to communicate. We could sleep inside, only later we realised that the room was the place where cows were made ready for sale. The blood was stil on the floor.
From Verona we went on through some of the most deserted areas we have seen until now, many deserted houses “Great for wild camping :)” not so great for the feeling of the places. We noticed that houses all have big gates and fences some also cameras so a great mistrust is real in this region of Italy. Rain and grey weather has not helped on our experiences on the plains of the Po river. The cycling was flat but not so interesting as it has been. We have also had nice experiences as we went through the city of Ferrara a UNESCO protected city center where people had some interest in us so that was great. From Ferrara we went further south.
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We reached Bologna where we would meet our Warmshowers hosts Marco and Margherita for these next 2 days. Warmshowers is great for these meetings between cycle tourers and getting some local knowledge and language knowledge. Especially because it has been hard interacting with local Italians until now. Bologna has turned out to be a very nice city. It is definitely worth a short city trip. The old center has a lot of interesting buildings and history and the University is the oldest in Europe. Luckily when we arrived the sun was shining and we could relax at Piazza Maggiore, buy lunch at the local shops in Quadrilatero and enjoy being in Italy.
Next up there will be some climbs before we reach Florence. Keep on listening and we try to share our stories along the way. Have a look at the Photos from the last days Meran to Verona and Po valley to Bologna