We left Bologna after having a great evening with Marco and Margherita, our Warmshowers hosts. Wine had been flowing and we new we were heading for an ascent, but we weren’t fully prepared for the day that was waiting for us. Slowly we headed up the hills and down the hills to reach the top of Passo della Raticosa. Again we were surrounded by snow, which was a small surprise to us this far south. It had taken longer for us to get there with a slow start and slight hangover. So we decided to camp on the hill and not go further for the day. Also the top in the Apennine mountains never really is the top, it is always followed by two or three more descents and ascents.
We had a good preview of what was to come. we climbed another mountains pass on our way to Florence and had a great view of the city cycling down. Martin had had problems with his front break so we decided to see if a local bikeshop would be able to fix it for us. They didn’t have the spare parts but they filled it up with new oil and hopefully it will take a while before the problem shows up again.
We were a little bit stressed for time and unsure if we should stay in Florence (Firenze). We knew that other cities such as Sienna and Rome were waiting for us and cities are not the easiest for us to travel to on a bicycle. Also because we have a budget to consider. We decided to cycle on and see what the next days would bring.
The following day we reached Siena and here we wanted to spend some time. Because of the hills taking more time than anticipated we had the option to either cycle out of the city straight away or spend a bit of time. We chose the last option. Although a little bit expensive, but it was nice to enjoy some Tuscan culture and to have a look at the city with enough time. There was even an opportunity for Martin to practice his night photography that he is interested in. We were lucky enough that when we were there the yearly classic Strade Bianche was held. A cycling competition with top cyclists with the finish in Siena. So we checked it out and saw them and their busses from closeby.
Leaving Siena we knew that we were heading for Rome. This gave us extra motivation in the hills that we were crossing. Also cute little villages such as Montalcino, Sorano and Pitigliano made it worthwhile to follow our route. We also came by two lakes, Lago di Bolsena and Lago di Vico which gave us tremendous views to the other side of the lakes.
Camping has been easy some nights and hard on others. Mainly we camped in orchards, in fields but also at an ancient Necropolis close to Tuscania. We were discovered by a dog in the evening and he wandered off as if he hadn’t seen us at all. It was a funny experience. We have also seen foxes and heard wild board very close. Regretfully we have also seen a lot of dead animals on the road because of the fast Italian driving, not so nice. We would like to give a special mention to the Italian roads. Some roads have been really nice, but most roads have been severely damaged and fixed and damaged and fixed. This makes cycling hard, bumpy and makes that we always need to have a look out for our front wheel.
The last section cycling into Rome was a dream. We had a fifteen kilometer bike path which was flat as a pancake and very well maintained. So it was very smooth. It lead us almost straight onto the Vatican square where we had a small celebration that we made it to Rome. Shortly after we were already approached by a guy who wanted to rip us off. Welcome to Rome and the Vatican (luckily we saw the Scam City show on discovery about Rome)…. Well the scammers are smart we are just smarter.
From here we will decide which way we will take to go to Bari in the South of Italy and we will keep you updated about what we experience along the way 🙂