Lido Venice to Passo Pomposa 70km
To Rimini 103km
To Marenella 72km
To Ancona 60km
Yesterday I cycled across my thirty second country, San Marino, a very small independent republic, nestled in the hills in Central, eastern Italy. I could have followed a dual carriage way into San Marino, but have been having so much fun on the smaller roads, I decided to follow some "lanes".... which involved some short, steep, winding roads, through some beautiful countryside, past some very "Posh" homes, surrounded by vineyards, and small village churches. It's amazing how little off the main drag you need to go to see amazing stuff.
Cycling out of Venice had been the same. I followed some very narrow islands, between 100m and 200m wide, and seven km long, hopping on ferries between islands. People live here, protected by a three metre seawall in the east, and only as far as you could lob a tennis ball, just over a cluster of houses, is the west coast. I missed the first ferry by 30 seconds, but that's no problem, it comes every twenty minutes, except for this hour....it's 60 minutes, and the wind is cold. The second island seems a bit deserted. There is a sign at the ferry jetty. .." bicycles allowed at the Captains discretion, according to number of passengers...." Shouldn't be a problem, as there are only four of us...... The ferry docks. It's chocka. It's Market Day in Chioggia, where I'm heading, and it seems the whole population is returning, stocked up with fresh veges and groceries. Luckily I'm heading in the opposite direction.
Chioggia was amazing. A very busy fishing port. Cobblestone streets and colorful fishing boats.The whole main street is blocked by the Market, and not a tourist to be seen, just locals and me. I love it. I thread my way through narrow lanes to find a road that will take me along the coast.
I'm cycling along cycle paths that follow the beach. Everything is closed. There are bars with beach volleyball courts, and some sort of court that might be for some sort of bowls, but they're all fenced off and locked. It seems like it would be difficult getting to the beach in the summer without passing through these areas. Hotels are closed as well. I'm done for the day. The town I've arrived at has three hotels, a lot less than most. One has a "Full" sign, but no sign of life. Another looks like it was abandoned years ago. The third wants me to pay $75 without breakfast.... Nope. I call into a bike shop. The owner drags his elderly father out, and instructs him to show me some B&Bs, on his E bike. We visit six, but none are open. Bother. I cycle out of town looking for somewhere to camp.
It takes a while to learn how things work in each country you visit. In Iran, Service Stations, serve petrol and diesel, and nothing else. In Turkey they often have a reasonable supermarket attached, often a restaurant, and sometimes even rooms. In Italy many have a Cafe/Bar, so drivers can have a few quick shots, alcohol or coffee, and a large parking area for truckies to rest up. They're also happy for me to camp in a quiet corner. Great.
Many years ago, when my kids were about 7 or 8, we were in Paris, strolling the streets, and stumbled upon a "redlight" district. The kids were fascinated by all the ladies "all dressed up" but not going anywhere. I think we explained they were waiting for visitors. They might ask similar questions about the "dressed up ladies" standing at road junctions and waving at the truck drivers. They might also ask "why is that truck driver not turning of his motor in the middle of the night?" And " why have they left their balloons all over the car park?" My corner campsite wasn't as quiet as I thought it might be.
Following another coastal cycleway, and it's weekend. Heaps of people out cycling, skating, walking and running. My tent, sleeping bag, and clothes are really damp from a couple of nights camping, so when I find a nice spot, with a bit of sun, and a breeze, I decide it's good for drying stuff out, and perhaps making camp. I usually try and camp discreetly, but sometimes it's impossible, so it's a balance between discrete and obvious. Tonight I'm obvious, but as it gets dark, the cycle path and beach clear, and my campsite becomes discrete. Just the roar of the very speedy trains zooming past every 20 mins or so. I crawl into my now dry sleeping bag. 10pm, a "club" opens up, about 100m up the beach. Beat Box music, loud....... until 4am. Then the party makers hit the beach. Luckily, I'm almost invisible in the dark, and I'm not disturbed. I get another couple of hours sleep, before the early morning fitness nuts start cycling, running and skating past.......
Heading across Italy in the next couple of days...... to Roma.