Part 4: Torino surroundings - Verona - Greece
Torino is surrounded by amazing places and great rides can get you to them. After Antonello's suggestion (my dear host) I decide to do Pian della Mussa, a beautiful plateau North West of the city. The ride is nice and the place as well without any doubts.
My eyes had enough green, my bike had enough bends on tarmac and a bit of gravel by the river, the weather looked like it could rain any time soon so I decide to make it back to Torino. Luckily I do so without much drama.
Speaking of drama, Antonello had some as he had lost the keys of his house. Well, probably more stolen than lost: He left them on the key hole outside with both hands busy carrying his shopping bags and hours later when he remembered to pick them they were gone. The only choice giving him piece of mind was to order a new lock. Unfortunately the one that could be a straight fit had a delivery time of several days making our plans to do the famous Assietta route together far from possible - couldn't leave his house while (probably) someone else also has its keys. However, bikers stars aligned and he got a call right that his order had arrived just one day before the last one I had available at Torino. Next day, Assietta, here we come!
We are leaving Torino in the morning heading West. As soon as we reach the National Park of Orsiera Rocciavre we take the gravel road that climbs up the mountain. We soon find ourselves at a considerable elevation on misty gravel switchbacks.
I was too busy being happy for doing it to allow any negative thoughts hence the fear of potential rain while riding a heavy bike on gravel with street tires didn't bother me. Besides, I was told that this route is part of Giro di Italia so if guys do it on bicycles I wouldn't dare to play the adventurous guy riding a motorised one. We made it up to Colle delle Finestre at 2176m:
We continued higher until we managed to reach the Colle dell'Assietta @ 2472m:
We were still happy and fortunately dry. After we filled our eyes and memories with epic views we started the way down to more sane temperatures and roads with better grip. Still we had to do a significant part of downhill gravel.
All great except that the first drops of Assietta's rain didn't hesitate to appear to kiss us goodbye. We were praying that the clouds had no thunders to offer at least. No fun to experience something like this up there riding a big metal thing. The road started feeling muddy while we still weren't close enough to the tarmac. At some relatively steep part, I loose the front wheel as it dipped in a puddle of mud. The handlebar goes full right, I put my foot down and save it last minute from what felt like a guaranteed fall. Without further drama we finally reach the tarmac and make a stop at Sestriere:`
Torino days were over and as sad I was to leave good friends back there I was excited at the same time to have Verona as my next destination being my first time there. This would be my meeting point with Alexandra, a beautiful, kind, introverted and self prisoned Croatian eager to take the train from Padova and show me around. I arrive first, try to find a place to stay but in the heart of summer everything is booked. A kind receptionist calls another hotel to ask their availability and I end up there with an overpriced room. Cheap and Verona don't go together anyway. Fancy and Verona do. That said, I am impressed by the amount of African prostitutes attacking me in broad daylight. I meet Alexandra at the train station and she starts guiding me around.
The above bridge is definitely worth a visit. you walk through these passages...
...and you're rewarded with this view:
Later she decides to offer me a treat and we visit a cheese store. I won't forget the gross way she was treated from the owner, only because the quantities she bought were too small for his fancy (?) place. I mean, if you manage to get upset by Alexandra, the most kindly kind walking soul on earth, it means you should spare the world from your presence. We take the goodies and consume them with a view:
Alexandra being religiously religious leads me to Basilica di san Zeno maggiore and I'm glad she did as it is a masterpiece. As we arrive there it is closing time but her ultra kind voice melts the receptionist who actually allows us to enter the temple for free!
Pity you can't hear the pacifying sound of the church organ in these images:
Don't miss Piazza delle Erbe for no reason. Small and ultra cute square, of course always crowded as well:
Time is running out so I have to escort Alexandra up to the train station where we kiss goodbye and I make my way back to my hotel as early as possible. Next day I have to ride all the way up to Ancona to catch the ferry back to Greece and the traffic is expected to be a nightmare as Italians would rush to reach the beaches. Next morning I am the first to make it for breakfast, I put half of it in my pockets to save time and eat them later, jump on my bike and start my time trial. Yes the traffic is heavy but I manage to arrive early enough. As soon as I step on the deck I take a last picture of Italy. Thank you bella Italia, see you soon:
The trip is on calm sea and the deck offers me 50 shades of sunrise as we enter Greece. Here's 3 of them:
3 hours after that sunrise we reach the port of Igoumenitsa. Not a bad place either:
However, I disembark at Patra instead since I have to ride up to Athens. Semi exhausted but happier and richer than when I started this trip I leave the ferry and ride the last 230ish km back home.