Days 549 to 556 Malcesine to Monetier les Bains (France)

April 12th to 20th. 499km

Malcesine was a nice trip down memory lane. We spent our few days there relaxing, eating and drinking by the lake, and reminiscing about times spent there with friends and family. There’s a cable car which runs up from the town to the Monte Baldo ski area, so we went and had a bit of a walk round up there. Not much snow left though, so no skiiing for us (…..maybe later). When we left, we retraced our steps down the eastern side of the lake, as the road on the west side is mostly in tunnels. Our first day took us into the countryside just south of Peschiera, where we found a place to camp in woodland.

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Days 539 to 545. Florence to Malcesine

April 2nd to 8th. 368km

It’s hard not to like Florence. Sure, it’s expensive and touristy, but a real pleasure to walk around and explore, with beautiful buildings and piazzas down every alley. We had a really nice few days catching up with Suzi and soaking up a bit of culture. We even went to an art gallery! Well, Clare and Suzi did. I stayed in the hostel to do some work on the bikes. On our last day, we had prosecco and cornetti beside the river (if only all cycling days started like that!) then went our separate ways – Suzi to the airport, us to the north into the hills.

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Days 529 to 535. Montopoli to Florence

March 23rd to 29th. 330km

Well rested from a very lazy day off in Montopoli, we set off late for a short afternoon of cycling. With the benefit of Google Streetview/Earth, we’d scoped out a place to camp next to a river not too far away. It turned out to be mostly downhill from Monotopoli in the hills, so we arrived with the sun still high in the sky. Luckily we were well hidden from the road so we were able to get the tent up and chill next to the river for a couple of hours before we made some dinner. A grand total of 22km on the clock for the day. We didn’t sleep that well, thanks to dogs barking through the night. It seems like wherever we camp, no matter how far away from houses or farms, we almost always hear dogs barking. Who knows where they come from, but once one starts, all the dogs for miles around join in.

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Days 522 to 527. Napoli to Montopoli in Sabina.

March 16th to 21st. 336km

 

We said farewell to Todd and Vicky in Napoli as they couldn’t be persuaded to join us on the bikes. Something about jobs and lives back in the UK, and not really liking cycling that much. They took the easy way home, on board a British Airways 737, while we got back on our Long Haul Truckers and rode out of town. We didn’t want to ride far on that first day, as its always a bit slow leaving a city and cycling through the suburbs. We’d arranged to stay with a Warmshowers host about 30km away in Santa Maria Capua Vetere. As expected, it was a slow ride, busy roads and numerous traffic lights hampered our progress, but we arrived at about 4 o’clock as planned. Our host, Cristian, was still at work, but he’d arranged for a friend, Annalisa, to meet us and show us around town. There was a big amphitheatre which we looked around, and then a museum with a large exhibit about the Appian Way, a route we’d followed for some of the ride from Bari. Later in the afternoon we followed Annalisa back to Cristian’s house where we were spoilt with a delicious meal prepared by his mother.

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