After a really cold night, we got up and started getting camp packed up. As I opened the panniers for breakfast, I realized we were running pretty low on food, so we ate the last of some cookies and bread and hit the road.
Like yesterday, we were bundled pretty warm just to be able to be outside, much less riding in the chill. I had on as many clothes as I usually wear to ride outside in Utah in late November!
Gratefully, all was quiet on the roads this morning and we quickly hooked back up to the cycling path that we’d used yesterday. The first parts of it ran us up and down the sides of the narrow valley we were cycling down and some of the hills were pretty steep both up and down that ultimately weren’t helping us get anywhere. We concluded that whomever was responsible for building this amazing trail had never ridden a bicycle because it was some tough riding – we saw as high as 19% grades marked, quick 90* turns, and even metal posts keeping cars out at the very bottom of very steep hills. We bailed off for a while and followed a fairly quiet highway to stay on some slightly flatter roads.
The valleys were beautiful and the mountains on either side displayed many lovely castles all along the way. Even for as many castles as we’ve seen over the past few months, I still marvel at what these people must have been thinking when they constructed these huge structures high up on the side of the hills without the aid of any motor vehicles. We know exactly what it is like to climb up mountains like that under our own power carrying a lot of stuff, and undeniably it is a lot of work!
We were a bit amused as we rode along because although we are back in Italy, this region seems to have a bit of an identity crisis going on. The signage is in Italian and German and the architecture is an equal mix of the two as well. It is hard to know who will speak what language here at all.
As usual, it seems, we were running on fumes in terms of our food capacity but the stores were closed up tight, given that it is Sunday in Europe. With a very limited capacity as to what we can carry (and since we lack refrigeration), it is often feast or famine for us depending on what stores are available and open on any given route. We snacked on some bread and fruit from a fruit stand and were elated when we arrived at a McDonald’s that was open – seemingly the only open business in the entire city of Bolzano. We fueled up on french fries and ice cream, knowing that it would be a while before we got to camp and would have a way to cook our pasta and vegetables for dinner.
By this point, the day had gone from pretty much frigid to absolutely miserably warm. We’d slowly peeled off all but the first of our many may layers as the day had worn on. By afternoon, we were ready to get showered and in the shade pretty much immediately.
Our nutritionally terrible afternoon snack pulled me out of my afternoon slump and propelled us the last few kilometers to where our intended camp would have been. Unfortunately, Camping Wasserfall was closed up for what appeared to be forever, but there was another campground just a couple of kilometers away that seemed to do just fine.
It is interesting how the Europeans make use of what space they have in order to contribute to the bottom line. We are camped at a hotel which had some extra land, so they converted much of the lot to campgrounds. Along the walls and scattered throughout the pitches are various fruit trees and other fruit bearing plants which are bound to frames and trellaces. From our pitch, we are in arms grasp of an apricot tree, carefully managed raspberries and blackberries, and are shaded by a tree with some fruit that neither of us can identify. Two pitches over is what appears to be a vegetable garden which has been squeezed cleanly next to some RV sites.
I also am surprised at how “southern Utah” this part of the Italian alps feels. Bolzano reminded us large of a much larger Cedar City, while the geology is largely the same. Purple and brown cliffs line the mountains, and are scattered with wild, scrubby trees. This place does not seem to be a desert by any means, though given the heat that we have experienced today I can’t help shake the feeling that we are in Southern Utah during spring.