Mike In Europe: Not Bike Touring Around Italy – a Mid Tour Break
Leaving the bike behind and hopping on the train for a non pedal powered trip to see family and a few favorite Italian places.
Having slogged up and down the Swiss Alps I figured it was a good time to take a mid tour break. Arriving at Lago Maggiore and experiencing the heat of Mediterranean Europe in late July Italy seemed the perfect place to get off the bike and do some not bike touring around Italy.
While stunningly beautiful, the ridiculous prices in Switzerland had left me with the sudden urge to evacuate early and a few extra days to kill. Looking for a way to spend several days I pulled out the map and estimated it would take me three easy days to get to Parma. I picked Parma simply based on the fact it is the home of Parma ham and Parmigiana cheese, good enough reasons for me. In the end these were three of the hardest days, if only mentally, of my tour so far. The heat and humidity coupled with the fact nothing is open on Sunday in rural Italy made for an unexpected challenge to get through the Po River valley. The abundance of cheese more than made up for it in the end.
After two nights in Parma my riding in Italy was basically done for two week. I hopped on the train with my bike to Torino and my first experience Warmshoers.org. I was extremely lucky to be hosted by a really great guy who along with several other were just about to leave for their own tour of Indonesia. I was treated to great food and wine and even better conversations about our past, present, and future bike travel. I was also lucky enough to get to have lunch with my cousin Matteo before he left for vacation as well. After several days in Torino I was off to visit my grandfather’s side of the family in Bagnolo, Piemonte and surrounding areas. It was great to see the house and village where my grandfather was born and meet more family. Thanks to Patrizia Rolando and her family for showing me around and feeding me such wonderful food.
Leaving my bike behind I traveled by train to Rome for a few nights. Rome is great, so much to see, but my true goal was Naples. One of, if not my very favorite cities I’ve visited. I was there three years ago and always told myself I’d be back. There is nothing like it in the world in my opinion. Not only is the city one of the most alive place you can find but the hostel, Giovanni’s Home, is also my favorite and most memorable. If you are to go to only one city in Italy I would suggest Naples. With apologies any family or friends from other parts of Italy I just don’t believe you have really been to Italy unless you have been to Naples. I had originally only planned for two nights here but ended up spending four and still not even denting the things I wanted to see. You could easily spend weeks in Naples. I could go on for longer than anyone would like about the interesting historical and current aspects of the city.
I have to leave tomorrow and will be on the train all day to get back to Pinerolo and my family in Campiglione-Fenile. I’m not excited to leave Naples, but after two weeks I am really ready to get back on my bike and start riding again. My general plan is to get to the Mediterranean Coast of Italy and cycle through Southern France and then up the West Coast before returning to England. I usually change things up so we’ll see. Regardless of where I go from here, not bike touring Italy has been a welcome break in my tour.