Ponte della Lama to Rieti 74km
To Roma 80km
Five more kms uphill, and my legs are really feeling it. Did I really just have twelve hours sleep. It feels like I haven't been off my bike. It's cloudy, but the all night breeze has ensured the tent is dry for packing. I just hope it doesn't rain.... or snow. And I need food and water..... The cake I had for breakfast is not going to do my energy levels much good.
And then the downhill starts. Oh my. Gloriously smooth Italian roads, sweeping endlessly downhill. In 20kms, I pass two uphill vehicles. Any downhill traffic can't keep up. The pain in my legs disappears. Then a village.... "Is there a market (Supermarket)?" "Yes. 100m up there." It wasn't even steep cobblestone, but it felt steep, and it was cobblestones.... Outside the market was a guy selling fresh bread rolls, with pork or chicken. I'll have two of them thanks, and a litre of juice. A local guy joins me. He only has half a roll, with a glass of wine..... it's 9am. He explains that one wine is okay, two not so good, three and he won't do any work today. He is fascinated with my journey. His buddy wants to see what kind of battery I have in the trailer. They are enthusiastic and supportive, and decide on a second wine to celebrate..... do I want one? But maybe not, as cyclists get breathalised in Italy.
Oh bother. Some more uphill. Only slight, but it hurts. And it heads up into the clouds. Damn. But mercy me...... it is only for 5km, and it didn't rain or snow, and there before me is a long, long, deep valley. There's only one way the road can possibly go.... down. And it does so for 30km. Bliss.
Italy is a pretty cool place to visit, but even better to cycle. There's so much to see. In the last 48 hours I've cycled through coastal towns and villages, up an amazing gorge, through a glorious National Park, and through fantastic inland villages, with really old buildings, and even past an old Roman stadium. Around every corner is something new to create interest and amaze, that seems to call out.... "Come and explore....". Yep. I'm enjoying Italy.
I cycle into Riete, looking for a hotel. The black clouds are looking threatening. There are three hotels on my map. The first is Four Star, so way out of my price range, so I cycle away, and get lost in a maze of tiny alleyways and streets. My phone gets wet, and my map app won't work..... bother. I stumble upon a Three Star hotel. He wants $75 plus $10 to house Fiona...... you've got to be kidding? I loose myself again. With some help I find the Blu. Its cheaper, by far. There are about 30 African men hanging out. They are all refugees, and have just finished their daily Italian lesson. One helps me get registered, as he speaks English. He is Gambian. He has been in Italy 18 months, having traveled overland through Africa, then across the Mediterranean on a very decrepit boat. He's hoping for a better life, but can only get a car washing job, lowest pay scale, but he has no documents..... A huge challenge.
Siesta times in Italy, anytime between 1230 and 1630. Don't bother trying to do anything. The whole country closes down, except for the Tradies, who work on through....... "Salt of the Earth". But if you're hungry, and trying to buy food..... tough.
Freezing rain overnight, so I'm glad to be in a hotel, and there's a very cold wind blowing as I set off, but it's a tail wind, behind me all the way to Rome..... woohoo. Traffic and navigation in the city itself, was not as easy, but I'm here. 34,000km from home, in Roma, waiting for my lady, and some Romance..... and sorting my USA visa......