We have been in Italy for four days and have so far cycled 15km. Today we plan to bike 40 more, from Tarquinia to the beachside campground where we are meeting our friends from Torino. I’m very excited to get on the road, to see how our mapping works, to see how we handle the weather (forecast is for rain all day), and to see what we see.
(Nothing like that time we were nearly washed away in a flood in Hungary →)
Tarquinia is an ancient Etruscan walled city (we are in the heart of Etruscan walled cities apparently) and before leaving town we went to visit the Necropolis, 2000-2500 year-old tombs not unlike ancient Egyptian tombs – the walls covered in detailed paintings of events from the lives of the Etruscans – hunting, fishing, dancing, singing, hanging out with lion-headed women… their lives were so similar to our modern ones!
Heading out of town, Jane’s chain comes off but fortunately chains go back on quite easily. My chain and gears are making an odd noise and seems to be slipping with every pedal stroke, but only in certain gears. Not sure what is wrong, but after a half-hearted attempt to fix it I decide not to use those gears today and deal with it later.
We ride out of town through the hills and countryside, past beautiful palazzos, sheep, horses, peacocks and field upon field of artichockes, to the freeway.
Yup, freeway riding today. It is nothing like the packed, slow LA freeways we’re used to; the cars whizz by us at 100km/hr mere inches away, or so it feels at that speed. Jane is a little nervous at first, but soon it just seems normal.
(Much less scary than the roads in Indonesia, as it turns out.)
Thankfully, the promised rain has yet to materialise and the sun has appeared just enough to take off a few layers.
Just outside Montalto di Castro we manage to get off the freeway for a ride on dirt roads winding through spectacular farmland. Montalto di Castro marks our half-way point for the day, so we stop at a Pizzeria Rustica for lunch.
We get back on the road just in time for the rain. Fortunately it never gets too heavy and only lasts for about an hour. Also, we have had a nice tailwind the whole ride, so we can’t really complain.
About 6km out of Capalbio, Luciano calls to let us know they have arrived at the campground. As I am talking to Luci, Jane’s chain comes off again, but I am looking down at the phone so I don’t notice and ride right into her. It’s just a minor bump rather than a major problem.
A few minutes later Luci calls again. His friends just passed going the other way. We’ve gone too far, but only by a few kilometres. Sadly this means turning around so our tailwind becomes a headwind. This is what we get for mapping our trip to the general area of our destination rather than to the destination itself. Lesson learned.
The campground is right on the Mediterranean and we are staying in a cabin (the Italians call it a cassetta) that is part mobile home, part New York apartment (everything reachable without leaving your chair). It’s terrific, and we are sharing it with Alex and his wife Kasia. We haven’t seen Alex for 10 years and we haven’t met Kasia before.
We make a small outing to Italy’s first WWF site, a salt-water lake which is home to native plants and animals. Our visit included a rare wild rabbit sighting, which created some excitement for the kids (Lara, 3 and Mia, 9). Apparently wild rabbits are very rare in Italy.
We then drive to our second walled Etruscan city of the day, Capalbio. We stand around in a windy, cold, ancient square for an hour, before it was almost late enough that the Italians can enter a restaurant without having citizenship revoked.
Our dinner, sitting around with old friends and new friends, drinking red wine and Maredsous, catching up on each other’s lives. We are also introduced to the brilliant dessert Nutella Pizza (sadly, not vegan, but we eat some anyway).
We also find out that Kasia and Alex have started going to an Anusara yoga teacher in Torino, Yves, which makes me incredibly happy.
I am quite glad our bike trip wasn’t any longer today. I was exhausted by the end of it. We have another day of rest tomorrow so we can recover before we begin our bike trip in earnest. ♥