I’ve just received this email from Mark Rowland which contains lots of useful tips and hints;
Good luck on the route – you may recall we exchanged emails some time ago.
A friend and I set off on our own Italian adventure at the start of June and cycled from London to Rome. Just like you we followed an approximation to the EV5 route – Calais – diagonal to Strasbourg – straight down to Basle – picked up the north south Switzerland bike ride (route 3) down (or rather up to the Gotthard pass and then down) to Italy by pass Milan then flipped over the Italian hills at Bologna to Pistonia then Sienna and onto Rome.
Our trip was great and your posts are reminding me of the great times we had – the biggest problem we had was the heat – cycling after 2pm most days in France and Italy was energy sapping…
Your trip looks altogether more epic as you are taking far more luggage with you and have your own tent (we had the luxury of staying in hotels – so I took only 7.5 litres of luggage – basically a handlebar bag and a small rack bag)
Most of our route I would recommend – the bit from Charleveille Meziere to Metz / Strasbourg and then the trip over St Gotthard pass was fantastic at the time (by the way the cobblestone pass down over the St Gotthard pass was still closed due to snow when we went over on 7 June – so we went over the old road on the way down which is a perfectly good route even if it has a tunnel in it (all down hill though at this point).
The by pass round Milan that we took was quick on fast roads but there are very busy roads (heavy trucks etc competing for space) from Milan to close to Bologna. Once we turned away from the industrial heartland of Italy we were rewarded by fabulous roads and my favourite days ride ever was the rolling tuscan landscape from Sienna to Bolsena (which by the way has lots of campsites). Cycling into Rome is best done when you are wide awake as the traffic is as bad / mad as everyone warns you (and I have been commuting in London for 17 years…)
Also if you are planning to travel to Piacenza bear in mind they are doing some major road works – like knocking down the major bridge over the river and redirecting the traffic over pontoon bridges that we were not allowed to cycle over – very strange alternative of putting our bikes in the back of a passing camper van…
Good luck and keep posting..
Thanks for all that Mark. extremely useful.