We awoke in our tent at Le Fontanelle to find wet conditions, with the weather promising more rain in the developing morning. Our laundry hadn’t dried – in fact, some of it was wet and the winds had blown a few things onto the grass, including my bike helmet.
We packed up as quickly as possible (never quick enough) and grabbed some bread and pastries from the pizzeria / tavern. Bert had leftover pizza from the day before.
We deployed all our rain gear and some warm clothing. We were still at a higher altitude in the Trebbia Valley and the rain had additionally broken the heats of the past days, so it was a bit chilly. We weren’t cycling long before it started to pour.
Nevertheless, the views were incredible and the descent was great. Luckily, the rain cleared up after not too long and we could begin to slowly remove extra layers. Every turn revealed another amazing view of the valley and we were in constant awe of nature’s beauty.
We stopped shortly at a small town to stock up on supplies and to get blister bandaids from the pharmacy. My toe had been bothering me for days off and on and I wanted to prevent it from getting any worse. When you go on a long trip like this, various parts of your body are going to have trouble. Bert popped into the church to light some candles.
Then it was time to get back on the bikes and continue our downward journey out of the valley and towards Milan. The beautiful sights continued to reveal themselves; truly, the SS45 is a wonderful road to take in Italy. I would recommend it to any cyclist.
Eventually, we had to leave the valley and head more directly to Milan. This began the slog part of the trip, where we cycled and cycled through mostly nothing for the rest of the day. Sorry, but the beautiful photos are over – until we get to Milan.
During a break, I had focaccia for lunch from that small town we stopped at, to which I added butter, ham, and pecorino cheese. The focaccia was amazing (amazingly oily!). I’m still dreaming about it. I need to go back to this region just to eat it again. I also had bought canestrelli at the same shop and had leftover grapes from France.
We later stopped for a coffee and juice, on one of many bathroom breaks. Since we had endured that cold and rainy night, I was looking for any source of vitamins and, in general, my selection process for juices was pretty forgiving on this trip. The most important factors are vitamins and anything that will fuel me. As long as it isn’t banana, I’ll drink it!
We got back on the road and continued cycling through rather boring places for a long time. Later on when we looked back, there was a huge rain storm in the direction we came from but, luckily, it never caught up to us.
It was a lot of biking through some rather uneventful roads but the payoff was big when we got to Milan. It was slow-going with the traffic once we entered the big city but we eventually made it to the centre, where the Duomo awaited us. Bert remarked at how we had thus far gone from Paris to Milan. I thought about how we had indeed made it to two very major fashion cities and how probably neither of us could appreciate that.
The main square in Milan is absolutely incredible. It’s not just the beautiful Duomo but the square is amazing in all directions. It’s too bad we didn’t have more time to take a look around (although, I’ve been a long time ago with Andreas) but we were there long enough to soak in its wonder. Bert took his time to go up and get close to the church, while I watched the bikes. There are a lot of shady scammers in the area, so I was a bit stressed, but Bert thankfully didn’t take too long.
Since it was so late and Bert still wanted to check out some stadium where some Milan teams play football/soccer, we decided to stay at a cheap hotel across from said stadium. I suggested that the first one to find their soap and towel would be the first to shower, only to realise moments later that we were no longer living like bums in a camp but that we had soap and towels provided for us. Amazing! It was time to live large, for 67€ a night. Later, we would also marvel at the comfortable pillows – but now it was time to eat.
I ordered tagliatelle to start, followed up by focaccia with some kind of lard from Lombardy and a calzone. Like the previous night, it was a lot of food, but since we had just cycled a record-smashing 157.29km, I’m sure my body was in dire need of calories. The food went down without any trouble and, as you might imagine, it was delicious. Bert ordered a cold glass of milk, which the waiter found confusing and humorous. The restaurant was called La Barchetta – good prices and good food!
It was a long day of cycling, with a boring middle section, but it was bookended by amazing sights and experiences. The rain never returned and we ended the day in comparative luxury. The Alps were getting closer – and we were ready.
Did you miss a previous day’s tales or are you looking for an easy overview? Then check out the European Biking Tour 2019 page to get a list of all the days and reports from me and Bert!