Author: Chris and Gabs – October 31st, 2018
Cycling for… 126 days
Pedaling over… 3916 km
Through… 7 countries
Currently… in Sardinia!
Raising so far… £3,674.60
This month we’ve visited… ITALY!
We started in Lake Maggiore then on to Gorgonzola, Lake Como, Lake Garda, Brescia, Verona, Venice, Bologna, Montepiano and Florence where we are now. We plan to be in Italy for quite a while!
The most beautiful area has been…
We were met with the beautiful Lake Maggiore just across the border with Switzerland. The area has fewer tourists which makes it easier to wild camp and swim in the lakes. It’s not as built up, the roads are quieter and the people are so welcoming. We felt more alone in this area… but in a nice way.
The most bizarre experience has been… more and more coincidences!
Montepiano is a very small village high up in the mountains. Here we met a lady who was visiting from Florence for the day with her husband. They were very interested in our story and introduced us to the local Priest who kindly allowed us to stay with him.
A few days later when we ventured south and arrived in Florence, the first person we spoke to in the busy square was that same lady from Montepiano! She saw us and came running over – now what are the chances of that?!
The day before we arrived in Florence we knocked on the door of a house and stayed with a lovely Italian couple called Luca and Marielle. We said our farewells and a few days later pedaled 90km to Siena to watch the Palio. In a crowd of over 40,000 locals…who did we bump into, yes Luca and Marielle! Unbelievable. We spent the afternoon with them and the locals learning about the Palio.
The most challenging part has been… the mountain passes!
We are currently doing our Venice to Pisa coast to coast and there have been some seriously tough climbs. We had planned a slightly easier route from Montepiano to Florence but Priest Arian recommended ‘a much more scenic’ route with ‘not many mountains’.
The route was horrific! We’ve learnt never to listen to anyone that doesn’t cycle. What a wicked sense of humour he has, maybe that’s why he is laughing so much in the video. It was a spectacular route, even though it almost killed us!
Some special highlights this month…
In general, how friendly the Italians are! Many people have cheered us on, welcomed us into their homes for food and showers and pulled over in the street or highway to take photos of us.
Without our bikes we blend into the surrounding tourists, but the minute we have our bikes, its like we are superheroes!! Its unreal, people would rather take photos of us with our bikes than the architecture of Florence – now that’s a good feeling!
Also…broccoli is back on the plate! We were missing it a lot in Switzerland as it was over £9!! It’s only 50p in Italy which is much better!
A special moment…
There was an exhibition in a church in Bologna, ”Camminamente” (shoes that talk about paths, paths that tell stories). It was a display of around 40 pairs of shoes from people that have walked the world.
We will be donating ours to them in 7 years! When we were walking around the exhibition reading the stories of people that have done these remarkable challenges, it confirmed to us that we will never stop our world tour, we want to have a story to tell in the future, Chris and Gabs World Cycling Tour!
We arrived at Florence quicker than planned, so are relaxing the muscles before we head to Pisa where we plan to cycle some of the Tuscan Islands. We’re very excited to see Chris’s son and Gab’s Mum (pictured right) will be flying out to Pisa to stay for a week in mid-November.
How do we feel about the next places…
We can’t wait. Once we start heading East after Italy we get closer to the gateway of the world… Turkey.
As soon as we leave Europe, we’ll be bombarded by harsh environments, and that’s what we love. The harder the better for us. We’re looking forward to filming and sharing our journey…
Thoughts and feelings…
Gabs had a medical concern recently that turned out to be a water infection. Luckily, we carry medicine with us and she took some antibiotics which cleared it up, but I (Chris) did worry that it was cancer related and was ready to put her on a plane back to The Nightingale Centre… funny how I can overreact at times.
Italy is our favourite place so far. Everyone is so friendly and kind. We cycle on the busy fast roads, but the Italians are very patient, we’ve not experienced any blasting of horns or road rage, even though they do pass you as close as 1 inch away! Instead they wave and cheer at us.
Italy is greater than we expected which is why we have extended our stay here. We were originally only going as far as Venice, but because we love the place and people so much, and we are getting so much interest and awareness for PBC, we may as well do the whole of Italy as we won’t be able to come back for at least 7 years! Who knows, maybe we will come back in 7 years and live here…
How’s it going Gabs?
‘Brilliant, everyday is exciting! I love looking at the tracker and seeing how far we have come. I’m even more excited to see where we are heading, especially once we leave Europe, which will be before the UK does!’
How’s it going Chris?
‘I am enjoying it and love the challenge. I’m especially looking forward to winter, all this warm weather makes it much easier, we want to start using all this heavy winter equipment we have been carrying around!’
We have found that the longer you are on the road the easier it gets. It becomes a way of life, not a chore, every day is so different. We love not knowing what the next day has to offer, where we are going to sleep, who we will meet etc. We are excited to see what the next chapter will bring and look forward to sharing it with you!