Today started with a slightly monotonous ride along a very straight, very flat, seaside road. We passed hotel after hotel, cabana after cabana, and beachside cafe after beachside cafe, all being painted, renovated, and generally cleaned up by their various owners in anticipation of “the season”. It felt very seasonal out, with the thermometer reaching around 20C.
The day’s ride was short and uneventful. In fact, the whole day was rather dull. Highlights were getting to meet Lorenzo, our contact in Ancona who took delivery of our GPS doohickey. The doohickey arrived safe and sound and we can now locate ourselves on our iPad even without WiFi (note to future travellers: get the iPad with 3G as it has built in GPS that works when offline. The WiFi only model does not). We then got tickets for the night ferry to Croatia. I loved Italy, but am excited to get to a new country where we’ve never been before.
Finally, a major lowlight was falling hard off my bike as we were approaching the ferry. We had been crossing recessed tram tracks the whole way along, with me being very careful not to get my wheel caught, until I wasn’t careful, my wheel went in and I went down, yelling “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” the whole way. I cannot control my potty mouth in such moments as these.
Some kind folk helped lift my bike out of the way and then I was rescued with a sweetie and some friendly words by fellow bike travellers Collette and David. Thanks you two! It was lovely to get a good dose of sympathy in my time of need.
As we’ve been travelling, I’ve been interested in noticing how Italians deal with the environment, and how it differs from North America. Here are some observations from our short time here.
Solar panels are everywhere. We have seen fields and fields of them on our rides through the countryside. They were also in use to power the cabins in various campsites we’ve been to, and to create hot water at one hostel we stayed at. We’re happy to see the Italians are using their sunshine for more than just tanning.
We’ve also noticed that light sensors are ubiquitous in public restrooms, building hallways, and other public areas. So, instead of leaving the lights on all the time, they flicker on just when you walk by.
Almost everywhere we’ve been, there has been at least some effort to get people to sort their trash into recyclables. The facilities available vary, so it’s obviously not heavily regulated. Personally, we’ve been struggling with the amount of stuff we’re throwing out these days, since almost everything comes wrapped in paper and we have seen only a few places to recycle paper products.
The hugely wasteful habit in Italy is for bottled water. Restaurants do not serve tap water, and lower-end restaurants serve bottled water in plastic bottles. Many places we’ve visited caution against drinking the tap water altogether, and we’re still having trouble discerning the real warnings from the urban myth kind. One visible result of this bottled culture is that the highways are lined with discarded water bottles unlike in the US, no one here seems to be picking them up and returning them for cash.
Farms and Food
We have just cycled across the whole country and haven’t seen a single farm that could in any way be described as industrial. I’m not saying industrial farming doesn’t exist here, just that small farming still has a major foothold. We didn’t see any vast swathes of cash crops, nor did we see more than 30 chickens in one place, let alone 30,000 like we have at home.
The emphasis in almost every restaurant is on local, fresh, and organic ingredients. This doesn’t only apply to Umbria, the home of slow food, but even happens in the beachside villages on the West Coast. And, of course, there’s no GMO here at all, so hurrah for that. ♥