Bree: After the crazy day we had yesterday, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the prospect of heading out of our cozy hotel his morning. I didn’t even really want to be awake due to the jet lag that I’m still fighting – the same jet lag which didn’t touch Ben a bit. Further, I could hear the traffic already roaring outside our hotel window and the thought of rolling into it on my heavy bike seemed overwhelming. Still, I didn’t dare stall any longer because of all the things I really wanted, it was to be out of the city.
Ben: We kicked of the morning by weaving in and out of the morning traffic, navigating the tangle of roundabouts and one-way roads relatively easily, thanks to our GPS. I can already say, after only 3 days, that the GPS is truly our most valuable possession.
The bustling, shouting city of Novara slowly gave way large rice paddies and fields awaiting their flooding for the season as we pedaled southeast toward Pavia. We were delighted that our route took us through village after tiny village – many which we crossed through on the order of minutes or even seconds. A few in particular caught our attention.
Terdobbiate, for instance, seemed to be overrun with pigeons. It was almost difficult to have a conversation over their incessant cooing.
In Tornaco, we turned up a narrow street to check out a very old wall and town center. As I paused at the top of the hill to wait for Bree, an old, short Italian woman with few teeth left came hobbling up the road, yelling at us in Italian. As we made pathetic attempts to communicate with her, she kept repeating the term “non ho capito”, or “I don’t understand”. We finally had to give up and be on our way, which seemed to appease her. As we continued to the town center, what few people there were in the streets walked along, all while staring at us. As is the case almost everywhere, we are somewhat of a spectacle and it is apparent that staring is not considered rude here, as it is in the states. We often find people doing triple takes as we roll our loaded bikes through the various towns. The good news is, though, we are never presumed American. It is always either English or German.
Not feeling the warmest of welcomes, I was ready to get out of the town. Bree, however, snapped a few pictures before we did.
The miles began rolling by more quickly now, as the villages became fewer and farther between. As we approached a crossing of the highway, we noticed a scantiy clad lady standing next to a concrete shed on the side of the road. 100 meters later, another. Finally, as we crossed the highway, about 20 stood scattered along the side of the road. Prostitutes. I’m not sure how good business really is at 1:00 on a Friday afternoon, but there they were.
There was one last town before we reached our campsite located just out of Pavia near the bank of the Tocino river. We rolled into Vigevano with the expectation that it would be similar to any other Italian town – with slightly busy traffic, a lot of graffiti, and a sort of charm that is not seen back home. As we converged on the town center, however, the paved roads became less smooth as the old cobblestone base started to peek through. Eventually, the roads became entirely cobblestone as we approached the old Italian church and piazza. The piazza was awesome – a large, cobblestone square lines with shops and headed by the cathedral (duomo, I think it is called?). As is the case in what seems like every Italian town, raspy bells sounded the time as we stopped at a local bakery for some loaves of bread and pastries for lunch.
Wanting to get to camp early so that we could have a more relaxed evening then we had thus far encountered, we left Vigevano and wove our way through the tree lined one-laned roads that follow the Tocino river. This is more like what we were hoping for when deciding to cycle Italy – hopefully now that we are out of the big city we will have more days like this.
Bree: We attempted to light up our stove for dinner and got nothing but an open flame that wouldn’t die down to anything worth cooking on. One of our campground neighbors who was observing our plight happily came over to see what we were doing and offer his own stove to us! With his stove, we had dinner easily cooked in 15 minutes and we never made any progress at troubleshooting the stove. Hopefully we will get it figured out soon or else we will be eating a lot of bread, cheese, and fruit!
Tara and Tyler at Going Slowly had a commitment while cycling Italy to eat Gelato every single day. We have decided to follow in their footsteps once again. Today’s flavors: nocce, yogurt, and limone. Yogurt and nocce win. The gelato here kicks Utah gelato’s butt. No questions asked.