Venice and Milan: what says “Italy” better than art and food?

IMG_20150905_182319Saturday (5 September), we checked out of our four-star hotel and rolled into a brilliant sunny day. The Bologna Centrale station lay less than 400 metres away, but we ran into a problem with the train. Whoever assembled the train failed to include a bicycle car, even though the train was scheduled to handle bicycles. The capotreno refused to let us on board. “If I let you on, I have to let everyone, and the train is not equipped for bicycles,” he said, eyeing a large American family with a half-dozen bicycles at the end of the platform. While we waited for the next train, the family disappeared. Continue reading

Cortona, Firenze, Bologna: something old, something new

IMG_20150831_174205Monday, the last day of August, found us hoisting our bicycles onto the train in Arezzo. It would have been relatively easy ride down the fertile Valley to Cortona, but time was short, so we opted to use the train for detours like this. Cheryl had been south of Cortona to the town of Castiglione del Lago on Lake Trasimeno, and had always wanted to visit the mysterious medieval town-fortress that dominated the plain. It is a beautiful part of Tuscany, rich with vineyards and farms. Continue reading

Rimini to Arezzo: the Northwest Passage

IMG_20150829_153844Back in the hotel Friday night (28 August), Cheryl saw a picture of the Gola del Furlo (the Gorge of the Furlo River). She wanted to ride there, and then go to Arezzo, which, according to her, was as interesting as Ravenna. Besides, I could go to Ravenna later, while I was riding up the Adriatic Coast. And we both wanted to go to places neither of us had seen. Continue reading

Bari to Rimini: back through the Middle Ages

The ferry docked in Bari on a sunny Tuesday morning, the 25th of August, 2015. The ride to the gate in the middle of the port area had become familiar. Soon we were riding straight across town to the train station. 2015-Bari viasparanoshoppingLike many Italian cities, Bari has turned two of its main boulevards into pedestrian zones, with upscale shops, benches and fountains. In other cities, merchants who blindly oppose change cannot accept the hard data that increasing pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and eliminating parking in front of their stores and restaurants, dramatically increases traffic into their establishments. Continue reading

Bouncing ‘round the Balkans: Budva, Belgrade, and Bar

IMG_20150818_115713Tuesday, 18 August 2015. Finding our way back to the main road to leave Budva did not pose a problem, but a hot sun awaited us when we cleared the buildings. The highway hugged the rocky coast like a glove, giving us many switchbacks to climb as we snaked our way to Bar, the next major town. We planned to reach Ulcinj, an Albanian town inside Montenegro, 73 km from Budva. Continue reading

Cavtat to Budva: the Black Mountain

Saturday, 15 August. As we cranked our way up the cardiac hill leading from Cavtat to Highway 8, I saw the sun shining like a halo around the 1400-m peaks beyond the Dubrovnik Airport. We rode a ridge road on the western edge of a broad plateau at about 200 meters. 2011-Dubrovnik Airport on Hwy 8No wonder that the airport occupied the plateau: it had to be the only piece of flat real estate in the whole country big enough for an airport. As it is, someone had chopped off a small hilltop to complete the site work. Continue reading

Korčula to Cavtat: a gourmet bicycle tour.

IMG_20150813_103139Thursday, 13 August (53.3 km). We took an early ferry from Korčula to Orebic. As we debarked, a carload of Polish tourists dickered with the crew of a fishing vessel trying to offload their catch into a waiting truck. I remember buying fish that fresh when we lived in Gaeta.  Continue reading