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Italy September 2018

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Italy September 2018

Old 02-25-18, 06:02 PM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by Brian25 View Post
I am in the planning stages for a tour in Italy. I have read about tourists riding along the coast. Flat and eventually boring. Since Italy is sixty miles wide (wider at the top than bottom) I think that it would be cool to zig zag my way down Italy and loop around Sicaly (how do you spell that??) I would start the day on one side of the coast, spend the day on smaller roads, climbing up and over and descending to the other side. Just a thought.

Not exatcly sure what coast you are are referring but the northern west coast is very hilly and far from "boring".
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Old 03-06-18, 02:29 PM
  #52  
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I admit to having biked only one day in Tuscany, and it was great. I noticed a couple of things that might help plan your routes: It seems that all the small, scenic roads go to little towns at the very top of steep hills (protecting them from Visigoths in 1420?) Beautiful, but really hilly...and built before engineers decided that 25% grades were not a good thing. The modern roads that connect larger towns are heavily trafficked, fast moving, and have a shoulder 3 inches wide. Or less. The food is great, as everyone has said. Yes, there's plenty of beer. No, there's not much ice.
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Old 03-06-18, 08:41 PM
  #53  
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I cycled northern Tuscany (the Gar***nana), Liguria, Corsica and Sardinia in 2012 on a 7 week tour; I cycled Sicily in 2008 for five weeks and I cycled southern Tuscany and Umbria for three weeks in 2006. All of those paces are great places to cycle. Tuscany is very scenic, with a fantastic amount of history. The Gar***nana is a very rugged, scenic part of Italy, and most of the tourism revolves around hiking and climbing. Corsica is very pretty, but there's also a fair bit of rural poverty. The FLNC (Corsican liberation front) was still somewhat active when I was there, with a fair bit of separatist graffiti and bullet holes in French language road signs, which got a little tedious. Corsica gets a lot of tourist traffic from Northern Europe in the spring and summer, and the locals seem to get a little tired of tourists. Sardinia is very scenic, with great cycling roads and (IME) locals who are more welcoming to tourists and visitors then anywhere else I've been in Italy. Sardinia and Corsica also get an amazing amount of motorcycle traffic from Northern Europe. The Sardinian police seem to enjoy talking to the motorcycle crowd whenever they get a chance .

The pattern I saw was that there were loads of campgrounds along the cost in Italy and Corsica, but not nearly as many when you went inland. I did a mix of hostels, campgrounds and the occasional cheap hotel, and had a great time. My impression is that wild camping is not appreciated by the locals.

If you want to see Sardinia or Corsica, consider flying into Pisa and taking a ferry to either island. Corsica is 4 hours by ferry from Livorno, and Sardinia is a full day's boat ride. I took the overnight boat from Sardinia back to Livorno, and slept on the deck. All the passengers brought sleeping bags and just sacked out wherever they could find a spot. If you do fly into Pisa, make time for a day in Florence, it's a beautiful city with a lot of history.

I used TCI (Touring Club Italiano) and National Geographic Adventure Travel maps for Italy and Michelin maps for Corsica. All of these are excellent maps.
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Old 03-07-18, 08:16 AM
  #54  
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A few years back Corsica hosted some stages of the TdF that went into the interior. It looked absolutely gorgeous.
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Old 03-08-18, 07:22 PM
  #55  
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If I added up all of my Italy visits, I'm sure it would add up to over a year. Mind you, this was all in service to the US military. I was stationed in Germany, but ALWAYS had some form of temporary duty in another country. I served lots of time in Sardinia as well. Love it. Love it. Love it.

I've ridden my motorcycle all over Italy, even Rome. Some places are absolutely stunning in their beauty. Italians have a flair for life that is unequaled anywhere, and their passion shows in everything they do.

Back in the day before the Euro, the Lira exchange rate vs the USD was so good we used to splurge is weird and flamboyant ways. My friends and I would find some seriously-fine restaurants, go in, and order EVERYTHING on the menu. It was fun, and as long as we had cash, we lived like kings there. Probably not so much now with the Euro.

Be careful in Rome and Naples and other large cities. There are some wicked little kids there that will steal you blind and you won't even know it. Pickpockets are heroes in Italian subculture, and many of the world's best pickpockets come from Rome.

Water: Mainland public water is reasonably safe, but while in Sardinia I recommend drinking bottled only. While you are in Sardinia, take in Cagliari. Its a gorgeous town on the water. Friendly people. Be sure to get yourself a piece of Pizza al Taglio.

Coffee: Its been talked about and I agree with what everyone has suggested, but if you want a decent amount of coffee, ask for a "doppio".

Beer: Some of the best beer I've ever had was in Italy. Plenty of beer there, so no worries, however, the wine is cheap and good.

Lodging: Some places are pretty small, and the rooms are small and the beds are small. I'm 71" and the bed I had was short by about 6". My feet hung over the end of the bed and I fell asleep chuckling every night.

Hope this helps, and LUCKY YOU! Much envy!
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Old 03-09-18, 01:26 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
Back in the day before the Euro, the Lira exchange rate vs the USD was so good we used to splurge is weird and flamboyant ways.
I did the whole backpack around Europe for two months thing back in 1985. One day the Lira got devalued by 10%. The exchange rate rose to 2,200/U.S. dollar. Only time I will have ever walked around with a quarter of a mil in my wallet.
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Old 03-17-18, 11:56 AM
  #57  
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your setup

Before you settle on your setup, try those Ortleib's mounted on the front and compare the ride and handling. You may be surprised.

Originally Posted by paulthepyke View Post
Last night while looking at a map I had the thought of maybe doing the three seas: start from Rome or Naples ( I haven't bought my plane ticket yet so I don't know where I will be landing) then go to the Adriatic coast towards Bari or somewhere close to there after that I would go to the Ionic coast in the arch of the boot then back to where I started. My uncle that lived many years in Europe back in the eighties told me that I have to go to the Amalfian coast so I will try to go there, he also told me that when my mother went to visit them, she fell in love with the city of San Gimignano and if it turns out that I decide to go in Tuscany during my trip I will have to go there, after all one of the reason that I am going to Italy is because of my mother's love of that country.

Maybe I seem confused but I am just thinking out loud, all I know is that I took one month off without pay in September and I am going in Italy and I will probably go where the wind blows but I really appreciate everyone's personal experience. I will probably bring my camping gear because I don't like to rely on other people and I know how comfortable my camping stuff is, that way my expectations are not deceived, once in a while I might get an hotel room for luxury.

For the ones that are interested here is a photo of my bike as of now:
-Surly Cross-Check
-Ortlieb back-roller city back panniers
-Schwable Marathon 700 X 35 tires
-Brooks b-17 saddle
I will probably change my derailleur for a long cage and my cassette for a 11-32 teeths so it will be better for the mountains and I will add a granny gear too. I have to buy a front rack, I have small old panniers for the front rack, I have a couple of dry bags that I will strap on top of my back rack. I have a mechanical background I can do most of my work myself, but I don't have tons of knowledge in the technical side of biking, all I know is I can pedal, my legs will take me anywhere I want to go.

Cheers
Paul
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Old 03-22-18, 09:41 AM
  #58  
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Hey guys thanks again for the feedback of your experiences in Italy, I haven't posted in a while, very busy with the family life. I am sick today so I can take a few minutes from being sick and write a bit. It's so relaxing being at home alone!

Lately my concern is navigation: gps or paper maps, I am not much of a tech freak, the only device I was planning to bring is an I-pod to send e-mails to my family once in a while and to listen to music; and as long that I get to the airport on time at the end of my trip it dosen't matter that much if I get lost during my tour it's only part of the adventure, but a little voice inside of me is telling me to consider a gps (if they werren't that expensive I would consider it more).

The other thing I am considering is a water filter, i am probably going to either Sicilly/Sardegna or I am doing southern Italy on the main land (Puglia, Calabria, Campania, Basilicata). How is the water quality in southern Italy? My filter (MSR water filter) is not that heavy but it's a bit bulky and if I can do without it it would be better but I don't want to get sick because of bad water.

Pedals: clipless or plateform? that is the question. I want plateforms for the ease of not having a second pair of shoes to bring on tour but clipless are very efficient specially in mountains and they have a lot of that in Italy.

Some friend that went to Naples many years ago told me to watch for pick pockets and other types of similar crime. I am a bit innocent, I like everyone, I like to think that everyone is nice but in reallity that's not true so I guess I have to be vigilant for that. They can spot a tourist from a mile away so I guess the trick is to not look like a tourist (pretty hard when you have a loaded bike).

I can' wait for the snow to melt away and start training and get ready for my trip, my bike has been in the bike shop for the last 4 weeks to get a new transmission (front and rear derailleur, chain, granny ring and bottom bracket) I know I said that I could do it myself but I prefer to leave it to experts since I am going to be living off my bike for a month it' better to have it professinaly done, plus they don't charge me that much for the installation. I was told that they are the best shop in town but they are not fastest. All I need to complete my bike for touring is a front rack and maybe a bar bag.

Ciao
Paul
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Old 03-22-18, 10:44 AM
  #59  
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Michelin makes some damn good maps of Europe. I planned a seven-week tour in Andalucía using only a guidebook and the Michelin map of Andalucía. It showed even the tiniest of roads in the territory. See if it has detailed ones for your areas.


The Camorra (organized crime) aside, Naples has a decent amount of crime. See, e.g.:


Why no one wants to travel to Naples - Business Insider


You can always skip the filter and buy bottled water, as I am sure many people do.
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Old 03-22-18, 04:46 PM
  #60  
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Last summer during my 3 month tour to Italy, I only used Michelin maps for navigation, as I always do on any European tour. Get the regional maps for your area, they are usually 1:200,000 which I find is plenty good.
Don't worry about the water, do as Italians do, buy bottled water it's cheap and ubiquitous. I wouldn't bother with a water filter, you're never that far from a shop and they all sell bottled water.
I visited Naples last summer, lots of construction down in the port area, but not too bad. Like any big city being reasonably cautious will serve you well.
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Old 03-22-18, 05:23 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post


You can always skip the filter and buy bottled water, as I am sure many people do.
Italians drink bottled water by the case load. Kind of disgusting since the tap water in much of Italy is just fine. Northern Italy gets it from the Alps and it is fantastic. There are water public fountains everywhere.



Add that to their pausa where they drive to and from work twice a day. Americans get criticized for their waste but Italians aren't much better,
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Old 03-22-18, 05:41 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Michelin makes some damn good maps of Europe. I planned a seven-week tour in Andalucía using only a guidebook and the Michelin map of Andalucía. It showed even the tiniest of roads in the territory. See if it has detailed ones for your areas.
Touring Club Itlaliano had very good maps also. I have a couple of well worn maps to prove it.

https://www.touringclub.it/


Tourist offices (Uffici Turistici / Uffici Turistico) will provide free maps (mappe / mappa) that are typically very detailed. The nice thing about their maps is they are small and you can discard them once you get to the next region. Some offices provide really nice bicycle maps that show bicycle paths (pista ciclabile).
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Old 03-22-18, 05:44 PM
  #63  
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Here is a major tip. If you see a bunch of signs with an arrow that say "Senso Unico". Don't follow them like a friend of mine thinking they will take you to some special tourist attraction. They aren't a tourist attraction at all. Senso Unico, is Italian for One Way.
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Old 03-22-18, 06:43 PM
  #64  
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Here is a major tip. If you see a bunch of signs with an arrow that say "Senso Unico". Don't follow them like a friend of mine thinking they will take you to some special tourist attraction. They aren't a tourist attraction at all. Senso Unico, is Italian for One Way.
. In french one way is sens unique so I was laughing while reading your post because I had a feeling it would end in a funny way. Today right after writing my previous post the bike shop called to tell me that my bike is ready, I am so happy right with the result. I probably don’t have top of the line stuff but it’s good enough for me plus it didn’t cost me a fortune, they put Shimano Sora 9 speed derailleur, I did a quick tour of the block and it feels good.

Ciao
Paul
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Old 07-30-18, 05:19 PM
  #65  
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I haven't posted in a while and maybe no one cares but I just want to keep my post alive, I had a couple of setback this spring and summer that kept me from training as much as I would have wanted but I feel that even thought I haven't biked as much as i would have wanted the trip is getting closer and I know that it will go well. I hurt my back twice while playing in my beer hockey league this summer so I only did around 500 km on my bike this summer (I was planning a lot more) but I am a very active person so I am not so worried about my level of shapeness i.e. I am pretty sure I will be o.k.

I don't know if I wrote it in any previous posts but I am pretty sure that I am going to Sicilly, if anyone has ever gone to Sicilly on bike, any tips about touring there be would be welcome, nothing has been booked other than my plane tickets and I plan on planning day by day. I am on vacation right now and me and my family went up on the north coast of the St-Laurent seaway in the province of Québec (village of Les Escoumins) and rented a cottage along the coast and like I wrote earlier I am in love with the sea and all that comes with it. We went whale watching and saw some Beluga whales, Humpback whales and Fin whale (rorqual commun in french), but the energy of the sea is so amazing. I will try to post some pictures of where we were so that the the ones that are interested can see how nice our situation was, the cottage was not that luxurious but the view and the energy was amazing(i know I wrote about the energy of the sea twice but I am not very much into all the yoga and spiritual stuff). I saw a lot cyclo tourists over there.
I am pretty sure that i will be o.k., two of my hockey team mates have told me that they would like to come with me but I declined their invitation to come with me because when I planned my trip it seamed much easier to go alone and I know both of the guys and I don't see eye to eye the world tike they see it (i.e. they are red necks plane and simple I really like them and I respect there point of view but I have knowned them for many years and I know that after a while it would not work out.)

Anyways any commentarys about cycling in Sicilly would be very appreciated.

Ciao!
Paul
Paolo

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Old 10-17-18, 08:56 AM
  #66  
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O.k. so I have been back from my month in Sicily for a week now and here are my comments of the trip.

I started from Termini Immerse wich is about 50 kilometers east of Palermo and I followed the coast and went west. It was my first bike touring trip in 26 years and my first time in Europe so I didn't know what to expect. I tried to stay mostly on SP roads (provincial roads, less traffic) and sometimes on SS roads (more traffic), I did my navigating with google maps and even though I am not crazy about technology I believe that it was the best way to go, I had my Michelin paper map but I never took it out. I was equipped for camping but I only camped twice, the temperature was very warm 35-40 celcius every day and rent was pretty cheap, 30-40 Euros per night for furnished appartements with a kitchen and a/c, most of the place I rented were super clean so I brought my camping equipement for nothing, I busted my buget a bit but I will probably do a lot of overtime this winter like every year so everything evens out. I really enjoyed my trip but there was one thing that really iritated me to the point where I felt like quitting and going somewhere else at some point, the garbage all over the country roads was really really really bad and it really stunk, once you get to the villages it is very clean and like I said earlier they keep they're house spic and span, but the roads between villages looks like someone dumped all over, and I was told that it was even worse a couple years ago! Supposedly that the mafia is in charge of garbage disposale so probably that explains that. There is almost no recycling in Sicily so it's hard to throw away a bottle of plastic or glass in the garbage when for 30 years of your life you have been putting it in the recycling bin.

In general the Italians are nice, they are reserved at first but when they feel comfortable around you they open up, especially when you talk about family, whenever I showed my family photos, they seemed to have more respect towards me. Most of them do not talk very much english (in Sicily) but they understand it a bit and if you know the key words, verbs, and a nice smile you can manage to communicate with them. The food was outstanding, once in a while I would treat myself to a restaurant and the price was reasonable especially in small villages compared to bigger cities, for 20 Euros I had a pasta plate, a meat plate two glasses of wine and a dessert. Breakfast was a bit harder to negociate, I usually eat cereals but pasties were offerd everywhere for breakfast, so I settled for dry toasts, peanut butter and fruits, once in a while I would eat a pastrie but it's not the best thing to eat in the morning before biking all day. The coffee was the best and it is available almost at every street corner at almost anytime of the day so I was delighted for that.

So I started in Termini Immerse and followed the coast westerly, very nice mountain views, I biked for 2 weeks and a half to Gela, I did about 800 km, I took my time, I took days off once in a while and I felt good the whole way, the purpose of this trip was to relax and enjoy life and that's what i did. The solitude was hard the first couple of days (especially for the fact that I could not even talk to strangers because no one talked english or french) but after about a week I was comfortable with my solitude and I would call my wife and kids every 2-3 days and that made me fell good.

I visited Trapani for 3 days, Erice is a must if you go, it's a medieval village on top of a mountain near Trapani. I went to two Greek ruin sites Selinunte and Valley of the temples in Agrigento and it was breath taking, Agrigento is a very nice town. For the last 10 days I decided to stop bike touring and visit, so I took a train to Palermo and stayed 5 days there and I fell in love with the city, the food, the history, the people, the energy of the city was perfect for the state of mind that I was, really mellow. It's a bike friendly town, so I spent a lot of time just biking around rancho relaxo and just chill. The architecture was amaysing with different styles depending of what era the building was built and everything was well preserved. After Palermo I took a ferry back to Naples for the last 5 days of my trip (I was there the first 3 days of my trip) and even though I had to adapt for the first day because I was so mellow from Sicily and Naples is a chaos city, I really loved Naples, it's loud, it smells, it's disoganised, it's rude, it's crazy but I loved it anyways, you do what you fell like doing in Naples there is no restraints. Traffic is crazy for biking but not impossible, you have to take your space on the road because if you don't someone else will, I didn't bike too much over there not because of the crazy traffic but because of the roads, a lot of pot holes and cobble stone roads wich is not ideal for a road bike, but to enjoy Naples you have to go where the local live not where all the tourist go (well you have to go visit the archeology museum, and the big churches and Naples underground) but to have the real feeling of the city go mix with the locals and don't look too much like a tourist.

Anyways
Ciao!
Paul
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Old 10-17-18, 09:11 AM
  #67  
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Old 10-17-18, 09:35 AM
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Old 10-17-18, 09:45 AM
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Old 10-17-18, 02:32 PM
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I think most Sicilians will tell you they are not Italian. and they speak Sicilian not Italian which could make communication very difficult.

How did you get to Naples? It is no where near Sicily and Sicily is huge enough without trying to incorporate Italian cities.

How hilly was it?

Nice pics

What is the large tree?
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Old 10-17-18, 03:21 PM
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My plane landed and departed from Naples so to get to Sicily and coming back to Naples I took the ferry, it's overnight so you get to the port around 6-7 pm the ferry leaves around 8 pm and the next morning at 6 am you get off the boat, so it's great you don't loose a day of travelling. There was a lot hills except for maybe 100 to 150 kilometers south east of Trapani where it was flat but other than that the hills were many but not that bad, often the road went between mountains. The latin name of the tree is: Ficus macrophylla subsp. columinaris I haven't researched the name in english but I beileve that that tree represents the 150 years of unity of Italy. I was attracted to Naples because as much as I love the country and forests and calm I am very attracted to big citys where everything moves where you can let your crazy side come out, where you can be one in a million and not get noticed, but Palermo was my revelation (in french we say coup de coeur, shot of the heart, heartfelt maybe) I fell in love with that city. That trip was better than any therapy (not that I needed therapy).

Ciao
Paul
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Old 10-19-18, 05:58 PM
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What a wonderful trip! I love the foggy street photo.
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Old 10-21-18, 12:08 PM
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The photo was taken in Erice an old medieval city on top of a mountain so the fog was a nice touch to the ambiance of the moment.
Paul
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Old 10-29-18, 03:05 AM
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What? That’s outrageous. There’s no way I would hand over my passport to anyone except a government official.



Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Another tip. Hotels are required to take your passport. Most will take a copy, so bring some copies so you don't have to give up your passport.
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Old 10-29-18, 03:18 AM
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Beautiful! But no handlebar bag?

Originally Posted by paulthepyke View Post
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