We arrived in to our tranquil setting and have been impressed with how few foreigners we have seen. It means that I've had to dig in to the vault to use my Italian and that we are getting great at flapping our arms around to let the Italians know what we'd like.
The day after we arrived in Italy, Stage 2 of the Giro was starting from Asti, the closest "city" to us. We decided to drive in to Parma to catch the finish of the stage and sped on to the Autostrada. Cruising along at 150 km/hr we started to see Team Cars on the highway ... Rabobank, Sky, Lampre .... it was so cool seeing them fly past us on their way to the feed stations. Once in Parma we stopped for lunch and who should come strutting down the street? The LION himself, Mario Cipollini! I was so busy getting Angela's attention and pointing that I didn't even think to call his name and ask for a picture.
After lunch we made our way over to the finish line to stake our spot at the 150 meter line. We discovered it was the best spot to get Swag. We got one of everything: hats, bottles, noise makers, if they were giving it out, we got our hands on it. Holding firm to our spots and not letting anyone squeeze us out we watched in awe as the peloton flew past us. Petachi won the day with Cavendish in second. We may not have seen them cross the finish line, but we did see Cav's bike on our way back to our car.
The next day we went in to Torino and explored the closest city to us, what a great city. Since Angela got pneumonia the week before we left we decided to take it easy and do some shopping! On day 3 we went for a great ride of our countryside, traveling through a new town every 5 minutes. It really is a stunning locale and we explored the local hills and vineyards before driving in to Asti in the afternoon for some shopping and people watching from a cafe in a square. This was when we learned of the death of Wouter Weylandt at the Giro d'Italia. What a tragic and awful accident. Our thoughts are with his family.
Angela was on a mission to see mountains with snow on them, so on Day 4 we loaded up the car and went in to Torino to explore the local surroundings, had some lunch and then drove in the "real" mountains. We drove up Col de Lys and I once again amazed Angela with my driving skills on these narrow, curvy, and twisty roads ... good thing she doesn't get car sick! Once at the top, we decided to ride down a bit and then turn around and ride back up. What a great climb, need to remember this one!
We have learnt during this trip that just because you left a town on a certain road, doesn't mean it will be the same road you return on. For the life of us we can't figure out why it is so easy to leave and yet so hard to find our way back! The car rental place was out of GPSs so we have been navigating the old fashion way, map and street signs. Italy is pretty good with signage, but with road names often too far away to read we end up doing a lot of u-turns when we realize we are no longer headed in the right direction.
Unfortunately, Day 5 had me sick in bed, so Angela explored our small village, it really is quaint.
Our last full day in Italy we had a fabulous ride in to Alessandria, which was surprisingly flat. It was another gorgeous day, sunny and over 30 degrees, as it's been all week. It felt good to really get out and ride and we maintained a good speed over our 110 km distance. The quiet country roads really are a dream to ride here.
We left Italy for France, and after spending about 60 Euros on the Autostrada on Day 2, decided to stay to country roads as much as we could. It amazes us how long it takes to travel here. With the roads being so twisty and curvy and going up and over hills and mountains, traveling 200 km took us something like 4 hours - and that's with me driving like an Italian!
Next post will be about our first few days in Aix-en-Provence. Thanks for reading!