Hello Italy! - Via Aurelia

A little over a year ago, we were cycling on a Roman road, Via Claudia Augusta, and Thomas proposed to me. For our honeymoon start, we are once again on an old Roman road: Via Aurelia.

Well, okay, we didn't calculate that, but it's kinda pretty, right? For the record, this Via Aurelia was built from 241 BC. In 13 BC, it links Arles to Rome; it enabled Julius Caesar to travel from town to town with his escort in just 8 days!

We arrived in Italy a week ago. The rest day at the Sanremo campsite-banana plantation-zoo was very beneficial to us, we refueled, which allowed us to cycle for 5 days in a row.

The road and the landscape

3 and a half days of hill, 1 day and a half of mountain (and there for the moment we had a lot of climbs - watch out for the pun). The coast was sometimes a bit busy in terms of traffic, but superb. We passed through lots of small villages with colorful houses (but always green shutters! Anyone know why all shutters in Italy are green?). It's rather hilly: there are hills, and in between, a river mouth around which the village is built. Between two villages, a superb road by the sea.

Let's talk about the sea! Blues ranging from turquoise to midnight blue, calm like a lake most of the time, and probably within 25 °. It is super easy to swim in it, it's really great after a day of cycling! On the other hand, we always notice that there is a shower nearby because the Mediterranean is really salty !! And it's not great to pedal all full of salt ...


A beautiful little island ...

Since last weekend, we feel that the season is over here despite the great sun we have. The campsites are almost all closed, we see people dismantling the huts and small beach restaurants. It sometimes looks sad; but it has the advantage of having very few people in superb places!

Mountain side: Thursday afternoon, we climbed 600 m of vertical drop in about 2 hours, over 10 kms… Hard, hard, instantly! We spent the night up there, next to the Passo del Braco, it is the first pass of our journey. In the morning, we saw (and heard!) A few ibex in the distance. We then enjoyed a morning of gentle descent. We were in the countryside, sometimes a few villages, but we felt like we were in the middle of the Alps. It was really cool!



Small passage in Genoa (Genoa in Italian) Wednesday: we were surprised! After entering the city quite ugly and unpleasant - as is often the case with large cities on cycle tourism - we found a well-maintained old town. A maze of tiny alleys near the port, a cultural mix and a feeling of a lively city even in tourist areas. In short, it's worth the detour!

In Genoa and the surrounding area, we looked with attention and amusement at the facades of the houses: they are almost all painted with trompe-oeil! It gives the impression of super luxurious and elaborate facades when in fact, ... well, it's all flat. But it's quite an art to do that around here, and it's kind of up to whoever makes it as real as possible!

Yum, yum - what about the food?

We often have the question ... So yes, we eat very well!

Comme on vous le disait la semaine dernière, on continue à se faire de bons petits plats. Aubergines, courgettes, poireaux, tomates, etc. accompagnent nos plats de pâtes, riz et autres mélanges de féculents. Du coup, il faut faire un peu de courses tous les jours, mais c’est mon petit plaisir de découvrir les rayons des magasins, observer les allées entières de paquets de pâtes,…
Our pride in cooking this week: we made pancakes !! Okay, for our Breton friends, they might not be as good as those of your grandmothers; but it was really tasteful to be able to eat pancakes at a campsite with a small gas stove and a non-stick pan! To do again!
In our culinary experiences, there is also the breakfast of champions: a hot mixture of muesli-bananas-spices-honey. Very effective in keeping us up until noon!
Two recipes from our cooking bible on bicycle, you will imagine!


Pancake workshop!

Mais découvrir un pays c’est aussi découvrir sa gastronomie. Les pizzas et les glaces sont réputées en Italie : eh ben nos expériences cette semaine nous montrent que ce n’est pas pour rien 🙂

- Two different pizzas: a super soft dough, a real pizza taste, we kept exclaiming while eating them!

- And an ice cream: lovers, Italy is for you! Well already, we have chosen the cone: the large cone of 4 balls is… 3 euros! The saleswoman just apologized to our astonished air, saying “yes, it's true, in France it's more expensive” (and all in French, please!). Then, ice creams as much as sorbets have a real taste, full of flavors in each scent! Anyway, I can't wait for the next one !!

- The cafes: here the espresso is very… small! The elongated corresponds to our French espresso. But we taste it with great pleasure, they know how to make good coffee these Italians!

- Our surprise / disappointment: heavy cream does not seem to exist here! We didn't find any at the supermarket, and our host warmshower confirmed to us that he didn't think he knew, and that they cook everything in olive oil here. No crème fraîche, a blow to the adopted Norman that I am!


If we had to remember just one thing from this week, that would be it ...
Tuesday, it is gray, a few drops of rain are falling. In a village, a cyclist calls out to us for some grease for his chain. By talking a little, we learn that he is English, and is going to Rome by bike. We are going in the same direction so we decide to go for a bit of a road together. 3-4 kms later, at the edge of the road, 3 other cyclists: two Croatians and a Spaniard. We stop to exchange a few words, when 5 minutes later, 2 young Americans arrive, also cyclists. It's incredible ! We are out of season and we meet very few cyclists in normal times. And there, in the space of an hour, we find ourselves at 8! We are all going to Genoa, so off we go all 8 in a joyous cacophony in English, all happy for the beautiful chance that made us find each other.
After a somewhat epic search for a place to spend the night, we find a picnic area on the heights of Genoa, with several stone barbecue areas. It is the best ! And even the rain that starts to pour during dinner (which we spend by the fireside), then a good part of the night, does not hinder our good mood. The next day, we leave with the two Americans until noon.
In short, even if we don't necessarily all have the same rhythm, it's really nice to go a long way with others sometimes! We hope there will be more opportunities!


In the funny anecdotes level encounters: twice when we were looking for our way, people explained the road to us then ended up saying “I can show you”; and here we are following a scooter or a motorcycle on a bike! Well yes, here everyone seems to be riding a motorbike or scooter!
The parking lots are awesome! We will try to get you some pictures.

Otherwise people are super nice when they see us with all our load. We no longer count the number of “ciao” the horns with big cuckoos from the hand, the little words of encouragement from the people who pass us; and it is especially the cyclists on road bikes or mountain bikes (really very numerous in the area: more than 100 cyclists in 40 minutes counted this Sunday morning)!

Well, I may be a little too talkative this week! But we live so many things in a short time and we want to tell you all about it!


Great first week in Italy!!