All aboard the Appenine Express to Ancona.

Nick kindly dropped me off on the main road at Favro and after just a few initial wobbles I made my way through Umbria with the sun beating down on me. 

During my downtime I had made some trip adjustments. Rather than loop back north to Venice, Trieste and enter the Balkans through Slovenia I had decided to head east and take the ferry to Split from Ancona. 

It meant sacrificing the dubious sweaty charms of high summer gondolier-ing and the doubtless beauty of lake Bled but c'est la vie.

The roads were straight and true with occasional climbs to break the monotony and before too long I found myself at the feet of Assisi with a hard but beautiful climb in front of me. 

The pink stone of Assisi mined from the hill it nestles on lends the city a fairy tale quality quite in keeping with the Saintly legends which permeate it.

I joined flocks of tourists and pilgrims entering the city for an evening wandering churches and, if the souvenir ship lined streets were anything to go by, buying little religious icons and knick-knacks by the dozen.

I'm not quite sure how the asceticism of Francis squares with the papal grandeur of the churches and monuments posthumously erected around Assisi but there can be no denying that it makes a fine sight for a visitor.

Having drank in my fill I continued the hard climb up into the hills and as the sun dipped became a litle concerned as the narrow road seemed to offer few spaces for camping. Eventually I capitulated and asked a local home owner if there was anywhere up ahead a tired cyclist could camp. Fortunately there was and on a well kept church lawn I settled down for the night ready to tackle the mountains of the Apennines proper the next day.

Before I could do that however I had to make my way along some barely there white roads.

Tarmac optional

It was tough going and just when I thought I had crested the final hill I would find views like this greeting me

Still some climbing to do then

With only a small distance covered but having built up quite an appetite I stopped in Nocera Umbra for a lunch of brazed rabbit and Raviolli followed by a massive half watermelon.

I was feeling a little listless and lonesome. Seeing friends and family in London and enjoying the company in Allerona had perhaps reminded me that there is more to life than pedaling. 

An invigorating climb to the top of the mountain pass at Bagani where I found a lovely little spot to camp helped distract me from such thoughts. 

Perched right at the top of the hill with commanding views of the surrounding valleys I watched as an electrical storm raged all around me. The storms passed over the summit with little more than a few drops. I woke to another glorious Italian summer day.

Soon I was feasting on the lovely countryside views trying to soak up as much of Italy as I could before my imminent departure.

This field brought me to a screeching halt as the sheer number of butterflies was incredible. thousands of fluttering white beauties. Naturally the camera failed to pic up more than a couple of creamy smudges.

The sunflowers were more forthcoming. The big show offs!

My route had me follow the Potenza river out of the mountains ensuring a gentle downward trajectory allowing me to cover the distance across the Marches to the sea in excellent time and before long I had my first glimpse of the Adriatic.

Italy from coast to coast with only a couple of weeks rest and a flight home to London in between... impressive

The hill up the coast in the picture above proved a tough challenge. The solw toil of the climb meant I didn't enter Ancona until 20:00. Leaving me only a few minutes to race to the ferry terminal, buy my deck pass and board.

Arrivederci Italia!

Ps. If you get a chance, give me my bloody stuff back!

No comments:

Post a Comment