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Old 01-13-18, 10:43 AM   #1
paulthepyke
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Italy September 2018

Hello everybody, next September I am planning a one month solo tour of Italy and I need advice on where to go and what to bring with me.

Where to go: I was aiming to maybe land in Naples and go south. I am interested in going places where I will be welcome by locals but where it is not full of tourists. I have no itinerary set and I don't plan on having one but I am looking for suggestions from people that have been there to have a little idea of the general orientation of my trip. I am very open minded to go almost anywhere, I really like to be next to the ocean, I plan on doing around 60 kilometers per day(around 40 miles). I am very interested in Sicily and Sardinia.

What to bring: Is it much cheaper to go to camping sites or do the credit card touring? I am debating myself if I should bring all of my camping gear or go lightweight. I have most of the gear to bring everything that I need to camp, but this is a once in a lifetime trip and I want to make the most of it and I want to experience what Italy is all about. I know that I can meet a lot of nice people either way. My budget is 2500$ to 3500$ Canadian(my budget for my airplane ticket is separate) and I want to have fun (eat well, have a drink or two once in a while). This is my mid-life crisis, inheritance from my parents that I didn't touch for 15 years, I just finished paying my house, get away from the routine trip, so like I just wrote I WANNA HAVE FUN!!!

anyways if some of you want to give me tips and or opinions I am open to suggestions.

p.s. sorry for my bad english I am french Canadian.

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Old 01-13-18, 05:11 PM   #2
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I cycled southern Italy last summer and I'm somewhat familiar with the area you are looking at. I believe September would be good time to go as the Italian holiday period will be over and the weather still nice. I camped pretty much every night, there are many choices. You'll get to know the joys of Italian camping soon enough. Be aware that southern Italy is hilly, be it the coastal road and more so in the interior, whichever route you take the scenery is fantastic. The roads are generally in good condition if somewhat narrow by North American standards, I never had any problems with Italian drivers - ever. Having said that the road from Naples to Pompiie is almost all cobble stone. I used Michelin roads maps 1-200,000 excellent as always.

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Old 01-13-18, 05:21 PM   #3
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I imagine you've found this site: Italy Cycling Guide
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Old 01-13-18, 07:24 PM   #4
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I prefer the north lake region is awesome. Mountains meeting the lakes is really something to see. The Cento Valli is wonderful too. There is a great bike path that starts in Innsbruck, Austria then goes on to Landeck, Austria. Then another from Nauders Austria to Merano, Italy. Bu the ride over the Brenner into Innsbruck is the best part of the trip.
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Old 01-13-18, 07:39 PM   #5
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Warmshowers is becoming more popular in Italy. Couch surfing is also very popular. There is also hospitality club. Free Accommodation world wide through Hospitality Exchange - Hospitality Club

The hostels are some of the best anywhere. I have stayed in palaces for just around $25 US. Some monasteries have rooms. There are also penseone which are small hotels sometimes even someoones spare room like a B&B

Almost every small town has a tourist office. Just roll into town, find the office and they will try to find you something that suits your budget. They will also provide maps, including bike maps in some cases.

That might be a way to save a bit of money.

To save money on food look for Prezzo Fizzo (fixed price). Meals in Italy are served by the plate. You get a meat plate, a pasta plate. antipasti etc. Prezzo Fizzo will include all plates at a cheap price.

Pizza is also good just about anywhere and pretty cheap.

For lunch seek out the open air markets in town. They will have roasted chicken, pork, fruits, vegetables. all at cheap prices.

My buddy and I would stop in the morning and have them split a chicken for us.


Learn some Italian. Almost everyone in Italy speaks some English but many won't admit it. If you learn a few words and try your Italian, they will open up and speak English. I would imagine it is the same if they spoke French. They might not admit it but should open up and try their French if you are willing to try Italian.
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Old 01-13-18, 07:51 PM   #6
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Here is a link to the tourism site

Accueil - ENIT - Agenzia Nazionale del Turismo

Somewhere on there were the addresses of all of the tourism offices.

Here is a link for the trains
Acquista il biglietto con le nostre offerte - Trenitalia

You can put your bike on any Regioale (Regional) train. There will be a car with a bike symbol. If the bike car is locked you can place the bike in the companionway between cars. Bikes are free as I recall. Remember to validate your ticket before getting on board. There are boxes at the train station to stamp your ticket. If you get caught with a ticket that is not stamped there are heavy fines.

Any long distance train requires you box the bike.
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Old 01-13-18, 07:58 PM   #7
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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 01-13-18, 09:11 PM   #8
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Wow thanks for the replies everyone I really appreciate it, I will take any information I can get. I checked a lot of the touring threads on this site and i feel more and more confident from your replies, i.e. I have read a lot of stuff that you guys wrote me but it feels good to have the information from someone that has lived the experience. One more question for today; coffee: I need my coffee first thing every morning, I really like espresso coffee, I know they have it there and I know they make it well, but should I bring my espresso stove top pot or should I relly on the fact that they have it everywhere and that I can get some within a short amount of time that I get up(I can manage 1 hour maybe two without caffeine in my body in the morning).

I really appreciate the feedback
Paul
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Old 01-14-18, 01:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulthepyke View Post
Wow thanks for the replies everyone I really appreciate it, I will take any information I can get. I checked a lot of the touring threads on this site and i feel more and more confident from your replies, i.e. I have read a lot of stuff that you guys wrote me but it feels good to have the information from someone that has lived the experience. One more question for today; coffee: I need my coffee first thing every morning, I really like espresso coffee, I know they have it there and I know they make it well, but should I bring my espresso stove top pot or should I relly on the fact that they have it everywhere and that I can get some within a short amount of time that I get up(I can manage 1 hour maybe two without caffeine in my body in the morning).

I really appreciate the feedback
Paul
You may think you cannot live without coffee, but Italians inject it directly into their bloodstream. Unless you are literally in the middle of no where, you will be able to find coffee without a problem. And it's called espresso for a reason, meaning it's ready in a matter of seconds. One thing to remember; in the south, the espresso is very short and strong.
Campgrounds in Italy are just a place to put your tent, they usually have all the conveniences of a city. Restaurant, store, showers, laundry... Once you go south of Naples, the tourism is only in the larger cities. I would recommend being extra careful on coastal roads as that is where most tourists drive with their campers and trailer homes.
Sounds like it will be an awesome trip. One word of advice: Don't overplan/overthink it. Spontaneity is half the fun of touring. A month is plenty time to see a good part of the country.
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Old 01-14-18, 05:54 AM   #10
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If you're biggest concern is the availability of coffee, you're in for a great trip😀
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Old 01-14-18, 06:08 AM   #11
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Wow just wow is all I can say.. Being born in Sicily many years ago.. I visited back there when I was much younger.. U will be surprised any stop u make along the way will be a treat.. U stop at a gas station and think ..oh junk food and slushy and find the most amazing breads and lunch meats and all kind of good food... Enjoy... Never biked there but must be amazing.. PS u may fall in love..
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Old 01-14-18, 07:21 AM   #12
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If you're biggest concern is the availability of coffee, you're in for a great trip��


Not really. Most of the coffee is espresso. Not really the kind of coffee most Americans (and I assume Canadians) are used too. Well at least the old farts that don't get coffee at Starbucks . The American style coffee can be had but I can't recall what it is called. It is not cafe' Americano. That is South American coffee if I recall. More like espresso.

Which brings up another topis. Water. Italians love mineral water. So if you order water at the restaurant, you will likely get aqua minerale. If you want regular water you should specify auqa naturale.

Italians love bottled water. But the water right from the tap is actually very good in the north. I do not remember how to ask for tap water. You will find fountains in many towns that have drinking water. Very good and I believe direct from mountain springs so no chemicals added.
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Old 01-14-18, 07:32 AM   #13
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Wow just wow is all I can say.. Being born in Sicily many years ago.. I visited back there when I was much younger.. U will be surprised any stop u make along the way will be a treat.. U stop at a gas station and think ..oh junk food and slushy and find the most amazing breads and lunch meats and all kind of good food... Enjoy... Never biked there but must be amazing.. PS u may fall in love..

Yes they have places like that along with American type supermarkets. But what is really cool is town. There is a shop for everything. They don't have a bakery like they have in the States or I have never seen one there. What they do have is a place that just sells pies, another for cakes and yet another for breads. There are shops that sell nothing but pasta. And of course, nothing but gelato which is my favorite shop.

Another tip. Avoid going into a restaurant in your bike clothes. It just isn't done there. They will be polite enough but you will also feel like you are getting the cold shoulder. Sandwich shops and McDonald's (yes they have McDonald's ) are OK with bike clothes. Or pickup lunch at the market as I mentioned.
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Old 01-14-18, 07:28 PM   #14
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Writing this thread and reading your replies makes me really impatient for the snow outside to melt and go biking but it won't be until probably April at least. I bought some Schwable marathon tires and Ortlieb back roller city panniers that I should receive by mail this week, I will do the annual maintenance on my bike pretty soon, I am really anxious to start training right now, September won't come soon enough.

Cheers
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Old 01-14-18, 07:29 PM   #15
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Thanks everybody for the input.
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Old 01-16-18, 10:26 AM   #16
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I rode from Naples (there is a great warmshowers host in Naples) down to Sicily and then (mostly) around Sicily (journal here). While it was a great trip with some wonderful coastal scenery, I have to agree with Spinnaker that Northern Italy is far more scenic, though without the coastal views. I rode a loop out of Milan that took in several Italian Lakes and a couple mountain passes (journal here). So, you need to decide if you want coastal or mountain views.

Some basic comments:

While getting to Sicily from Southern Italy is an easy ferry ride, getting to Sardinia is not so easy or convenient. I looked into getting to Sardinia from Sicily and it took a day and then I either had to come back to Sicily or spend more time on a ferry to get back to Naples. In the end, it wasn't worth the effort so I skipped Sardinia. Frankly, it is hard to believe that Sardinia is all that much different than Sicily.

I don't camp. I stayed in a combination of warmshowers, couchsurfing and hotels. I was there in April and many of the places were still closed for the season. This made for some inexpensive (in my calculus) but fabulous rooms! I had no trouble finding places to stay using Booking.com.

Choose your routes carefully, especially along the coast in Southern Italy and Sicily. Going inland, away from the fast roads, often involves climbing coastal hills on circuitous roads that don't always go where you want. Taking the SS roads means narrow shoulders and fast traffic. While it is scary, the Italians are good drivers. My advice would be to avoid SS roads at all costs.

If you decide to start at Naples, be sure to allow time to see Pompeii and Herculaneum. Also, the Amalfi Coast is a must!

The Italian Train system is excellent. Since you have a limited amount of time, I suggest you incorporate trains into your trip so that you can skip the "boring" parts and get to the more interesting areas for cycling.

Random thoughts after my Northern Italy ride: A Touring Journal Entry

Random thought after my Southern Italy ride: A Touring Journal Entry
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Old 01-16-18, 01:28 PM   #17
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I loved your random thoughts on northern Italy.

I note on Buongiorno. It is only to be used till a certain part of the day. My friend that hs lived in Pavia all his life gets so confused by the rules on Buongiorno and Buongo Sera, he dispenses wit those and simply uses Ciao all the time.

There are public toilets at train stations by the way. There are two different ones at the Genoa station. One a more modern one with these funky ultraviolet lights. Makes you feel like you are in a scifi movie. The other has Turkish toilets. Watch your step!




Here is another one.

Don't try to get anything done between 1 and 3PM. This is La Pausa or The Pause. This is the time people eat their main meal of the day or at least take a break.

I saw one odd behavior on a Sunday. The men assemble outside of church and BS while the wives and kids attend church, This was an amazing thing to see as I reasoned men have been meeting outside of church for hundreds of years, passing the practice from father to son.


And I agree 100% with the trains. Make use of them. The one thing you should note is be prepared to get your gear off of the bike. You will need to lift it up into the car. But don't take your bags off too early. Italians are notorious for changing the platform for the train. And DON'T try to cross a track. Use the tunnels. If you speak to a guard they might escort you across the tracks if you ask nicely.
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Old 01-16-18, 01:54 PM   #18
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In 2013 I spent nearly two weeks at the Italian Cycling Center in northern Italy. We did day rides and stopped for food and/or coffee and pastries nearly every day. No one gave us a second look because we were in bike clothes.


We even stopped at the Sala de The at this luxurious place:


Hotel 5 stelle | Follina-Treviso | Villa Abbazia Relais & Chateaux


In the hall there we photos of Sandra Bullock. She apparently stayed there when she was in the area.


And we were not the only ones. So many people ride in the area where we were that it's common to see establishments patronized by folks in bike clothes. Maybe things are different in the south?


One funny thing was that a couple of the places were borderline shocked when we stopped for lunch and declined wine. One place actually forced a digestif on the GF and I. Fortunately, we didn't have far to ride back to the residence.
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Old 01-16-18, 04:15 PM   #19
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And we were not the only ones. So many people ride in the area where we were that it's common to see establishments patronized by folks in bike clothes. Maybe things are different in the south?

Wow not my experience. I would rarely see anyone on the roads. Bike paths a bit more and weekends a bit more on the road. I went into a restaurant in LaSpezia with my bike clothes. You could tell they were not happy but still polite.


Oh and that is another one. Make sure you have change. For some reason Italians don't like making change?? My buddy and I were chased out of a restaurant in Como by a screaming manger, when we gave him 2 twenties for a 28 euro bill. We still laugh about that.

It is a tall order to have change because the ATMs give 20s at the smallest but often give 50s. I think it is some kind of conspiracy.
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Old 01-17-18, 06:37 AM   #20
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September is a perfect month on the mediterranean coast

Have a great trip!
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Old 01-17-18, 11:05 AM   #21
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Wow not my experience. I would rarely see anyone on the roads. Bike paths a bit more and weekends a bit more on the road. I went into a restaurant in LaSpezia with my bike clothes. You could tell they were not happy but still polite.


Oh and that is another one. Make sure you have change. For some reason Italians don't like making change?? My buddy and I were chased out of a restaurant in Como by a screaming manger, when we gave him 2 twenties for a 28 euro bill. We still laugh about that.
Me thinks that your restaurant confrontation was something else rather than big bills.
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Old 01-17-18, 02:46 PM   #22
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Parli italiano? Almeno un poco italiano?

It has been a couple of decades since I was there. However, everyone in the big tourist areas spoke English. Nobody in the little towns and communities spoke English. One could normally convey thoughts about food by pointing, but it still would be a good idea to study some Italian if you haven't already. If you have some free time in the summer, there are often "Crash Courses" at the universities where one will learn a whole year's worth of language in 2 or 3 months.

I wild camped in Northern Italy. There were few fences, and I'd find a secluded spot at dusk, and was up at dawn, leaving no trace but matted grass behind. No fires. And nobody ever bothered me.

Many towns had designated campgrounds, but they were expensive (for me, at the time), and I never found them acceptable.

I did hit a heavy frost, maybe Late September or Early October. Whew, that was a cold night!!! Plus a few days of heavy rain.

I never toured the southwest, although I did get down to a small town called Uggiano La Chiesa, on the southeast. Interesting small town. Personally, I never encountered any crime, and everyone I met was kind, both in big cities, and small towns. However, at least when I was there, there was a lot of prejudice against southerners (Napoli).

If you get tired of mountains, the Po Valley in the North is almost completely flat, and has some wonderful off the beaten path tourist areas including quite a few small castles, as well as being the home to Ferrari (ok, not cycling related).
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Old 01-17-18, 04:46 PM   #23
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Parli italiano? Almeno un poco italiano?

It has been a couple of decades since I was there. However, everyone in the big tourist areas spoke English. Nobody in the little towns and communities spoke English. .
I covered this above. Almost everyone anywhere speaks at least some English. They just might not admit it at first. I think they are a bit embarrassed of their poor skills. But if you are willing to embarrass yourself first they will open up and try English. Between your poor Italian, their poor English and some hand gestures you get the job done.

One thing I learned is don't try to to get them to explain directions. Hand them a pen and paper and say "Scriva una mappa, per favore". Even if you have somewhat a command of language or they speak English, they talk so fast, it is hard to keep track. Sempre direto, Sempre direto. Always straight, always straight is what they like to say.

What I don't like is many times the GPS and maps will show the full name of the street but the street sign will have an abbreviation.

A mother's favorite word for the kids is basta! Enough! You will hear that a lot. I was in La Spezia. My hoel had a little balcony. There was some kids, screaming and screaming. He would not shutup! I went onto my balcony and yelled "BASATA"! It got quiet almost immediately.
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