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July 2013

Part 9: Pisa - Foligno - Greece

I wake up hangovered at Genova. That cheap Grappa I had last night really made the difference over the fine Italian wine resulting in an ultra dizzy head on the brink of a headache. And that's only because my head is kinda ache proof - otherwise I'd be in terrible pain. I manage to put myself together somehow, load my bike, set the route on Google maps on my phone and time to leave Genova behind. Well, not as easy as it sounds. Even for Google which at the moment is definitely much sober than I am. Remember that spaghetti of streets around Genova I talked about in my previous post? Embarrassing enough I just can't find my way out of dead ends without violating one way streets. Luckily I see two girls on a scooter so I ask them for help with a "sorry for my incompetence" face. "Don't worry, even locals fail on that" they say with one voice and a pair of smiles. "We also go out of the city so just follow us". Betcha I will! Just to give you an idea about how narrow the backstreet I met them is, I have to do a few maneuvers to make a U turn on my loaded bike. The street's width is almost the length of my iron horse.

After a few minutes we make it out of the city where I thank and wave goodbye the two smiley girls as I make my way South riding on the SS1 for the most part. The hangover is getting worse so I'd better say "trying to make my way" instead. My head is too busy struggling with that chemical turmoil to enjoy one of the oldest routes in the world by the sea. Summer traffic doesn't help either. I stop at Passo del Bracco (one of the lowest ever) to regain some strength and hydrate myself:

That's all the view a low pass like this can offer:

Weather is threatening me with rain but I guess I look so pathetic that mercifully enough it doesn't except for a few bits.

I have a strict appointment with my next AirBnB host cause he has commitments so I try my best to arrive as early as possible. However, as I arrive at the bridge of Fiume Versilia I see road works. I ask the workers if I can pass and they tell me no. I try to tell them I go to Pisa and one worker with a smile like "oh poor boy" tells me I have to go back to Marinella and there reroute my way to Pisa. Thank you...just what I needed... I do so and manage to arrive at the place where my AirBnB is supposed to be only a couple of minutes before my host's deadline only to find out that there's no street number at the houses there. I see a boy selling fruits, try to explain him what I am looking for but doesn't understand me. Neither bothers that much to be honest. I drive up and down and find out there's a series of houses at a slope over the road connected by a gravel trail so I follow it and finally see what looks like the house I'm looking for. My host is fortunately still there, a German guy with high appreciation for the ancient Greek heritage. Rather friendly guy, offers me some delicious cherries he had just picked from the forest and this makes me forget his rather mediocre place. He also proposed me to cancel my two days stay in case I wanted to stay only one as usually bikers do. Gives me directions to the local supermarket and off he goes. I go there consuming my last bits of energy left to buy some necessary stuff and I return ASAP. I say goodbye to the sun and fall to bed hoping for a good sleep here by the river Arno:

Next morning give me just what I needed: less alcohol in my blood and more fitness to explore Pisa. I wake up in almost perfect shape, on a perfect day, I take my bike, park it outside the historic center of Pisa, walk behind the wall and see... this:

I mean... I couldn't believe that the most popular destination of my trip would be so impressive in real. How many times had I seen pictures of the leaning tower of Pisa before? Like most of you countless. But when I finally get myself there I went speechless to the sight of that thing. You don't believe how much it leans till you go there to see for yourself. It feels extraterrestrial, a word that my host later agreed 100% with. The only gross thing is the insane amount of crowd trying to take all these silly poses pushing the tower, leaning against it etc. Other than that the historic center of Pisa around Piazza de Duomo is small but amazing:

Left: Capella dal Pozzo (also down left). Center: Cattedralle di Pisa (also down right). Right: Museo delle Sinopie

Baptistery of San Giovanni

Cattedralle di Pisa

A walk at the Botanic garden of the local University doesn't hurt me at all:

I walk up to Ponte di Mezzo and it rewards me with such a sweet view of Arno river:

Next day means Pisa time is over and my trip comes closer to its end. I have to make my way South East to get closer step by step to the port of Ancona from which I'll take the ship back to my birthplace. On that rainy day end of June I find myself at Passo del Muraglione...

...and later at Rocca San Casciano just for an overnight at Silvio's family BnB which I have already tried in this previous trip of mine. I flip the sheepskin of my saddle to spare it from overnight's rain and go in to have a dry rest:

Umbria is next on my way and Foligno is about to host me for my last hours in Italy before I reach Ancona. It's a classic Umbrian city with its medieval old center:

Some streets are quite narrow:

If it doesn't look narrow enough to you maybe this does (camera facing up):

Parco di Canape offers me a very relaxing moment at its benches:

I fall in love with this house:

A fall on a rather funny scene as the missing leg of this horse statue attracts the locals and the police:

As I'm done walking around exploring Foligno I go to the local supermarket to buy some fresh pasta and put my cooking skills in action back at my AirBnB. This is the last Italian dinner of the trip. Next morning, on a nice hot(ish) weather I ride all the way up to Ancona to catch the ferry to Greece. Around 20 km West of the port, I stop. It's time to split with my motorcycle boots. They are too worn. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for this lovely pair that rode with me through all the trips of mine you've read so far:

I left them watching the sunset. Are they still looking west? Or someone else is now walking in my boots? I only wanna thank them for following me that long. As a payback I took them to so many places that they sure have stories to tell.

I make it on the ferry and as I walk out on the deck I see a brilliant idea from this cool British family:

As you can see in next trips of mine, it sure gave me food for thought. Except that I faced the same issues as they did: teenagers playing with your tent at night. He put a good fight. Next year I had to do just the same. I can't recall when it was the last time I screamed to someone else like that. Probably during my service in the army.

The Adriatic Sea is cool as an empty pool giving me a series of sweet images till the sun sets for good:

Next morning, early July I see the first Greek image in weeks :

All I have to do is wait for the ferry to reach the port of Patra and then ride all the rest couple of hundreds km back home. That's how my trip ends after 5000km in 5 countries experiencing one of the coldest days in June that some places had ever seen (locals bitched more than I did).

See you on the next one!