Roman cities and the lake tour in Italy
Suprise in Padova
Getting amazed in Verona
We managed to get hosting in Verona too, our next bigger city we wanted to check out. We had no idea about it, other than it was the town of Romeo and Juliet, the only reason I wanted to go there 😀 So when we got close, we were quite surprised to find a roman style city, with a beautiful archaic oldtown, a big authentic city wall and a Colosseum in a better shape than the one in Rome.
It was a middle aged couple who accepted us, Gloria and Gianni. They were really cool, shared their dinner with us on our first night and agreed on a second night after we decided to check out the city a bit more. They have an interesting way of discovering the world, as Gianni has a unique part time job, where he works two normal months and then off for two months, so they used that time to travel somewhere and check out the country on bikes.
On our tourist day we walked around the city, just taking in the atmosphere and having a picnic at the castle, where we could see the whole city from the hilltop. It really felt like we traveled back in time as we looked down on the rooftops below us.
Before arriving back to make dinner for our hosts, we had to go and check out the Capulet house, but of course there was a million people there, tons of souvenir shops and the wall was full of graffiti, which made the whole thing a bit pointless and disappointing. The truth is, we go to must see sights inside cities, because there is a reason why so many people go and visit them, but we really prefer untouched nature and natural views, where you have to also struggle a bit to get your prize.
As we had enough of cities for a while, our next few weeks were spent mostly in nature, starting with checking out some lakes.
Chilling at lakes
If you look at the northern part of Italy, you can notice that there are quite a few big lakes, all the way until Switzerland. So we thought it would be a nice route to take, have a peak into Swiss territory, and then turn back around lake Como to cycle through the Alps and the Dolomites.
Our first destination was lake Garda, where we spotted a nice wilder part on the western side of the lake on the map, which seemed less touristy. When we arrived there, we had to go through a cute little ancient village, which reminded me of the “real” Italy, with narrow roads and typical Mediterranean building style. The area we arrived to was really stunning, with a high cliff looming over the lake, and technical small hiking routes covering the whole rocky-forest. I even ventured to run a bit on our rest day, but had to resort back to getting to the village and feel some asphalt under my feet, as my ankle is still a bit shaky over this kind of terrain.
As we both like to climb (ok, Alan is leading on that by a mile), we took the harder but more scenic route to lake Como, and visited to less know lakes called Idro and Iseo. Taking small roads gives you the opportunity to stop all the time to take in the view and shoot some nice photos, and although there’s a lot of sweating involved, at least not so many cars bother us as we make our way uphill. This is especially important in Italy, where drivers can be a bit too eager to push their pedal and pass way too close to comfort.
As we cycled to Como we tried a few shots with warmshowers and couchsurfing in the area, but unfortunately had no luck finding a host. So we stocked up a bit in Italy, as we knew the prices in Switzerland will be exorbitant, and crossed the border to see our last lake, Lugano. We made a curve around the northern side of it back to Italy the next day, going back to lake Como, where we planned to go north on the west side.
We knew there was a lot of tunnels carved into the side of the road, with some climbing involved, so we were a bit afraid of it, since most drivers like to go super fast here. Luckily we discovered that on the side of almost all tunnels, there is a cycle path, giving an awesome view to the lake as well. We even camped along the lake on one of these, which was the perfect spot, since we had access to water and no one would bother us, although it was a bit too thorny for my taste – and my tire agreed with me on the next morning.
Finally we turned east and started the highlight of our Italian journey, as we entered the the first valley between the Alps. And that, is gonna be the focus of our next post.