I started writing this last night but eventually gave in to the weight of my eyelids shutting…
How could I not take a day off in Venice? That’s the plan for today but before that, I need to catch up on yesterday’s events, cycling day 23.
I have spent many, many nights in a tent over the past three decades but none of those nights can have been anywhere near as uncomfortable as the night I spent last night on the municipal campsite in Caorle. The heat alone would have been bad enough, but earlier on in the day I had come to the conclusion that my camping mat had sprung a leak and was giving me no comfort whatsoever. The perspiration being produced by my body was being soaked up by my down sleeping bag (bad choice for the Med.) leaving me to lay on an increasingly damp cushion of moistness that provided the icing on the cake for my night from hell. I needed no encouragement to get myself out of the tent at the first opportunity, pack up and leave.
The plan was to meet Simone – my Italian contact in Venice who I had met back in 2010 when he lived in Pavia – in a town called San Donà di Piave – at 11am so I had plenty of time to cycle the 30km from the coast to the inland town about half way to Venice. I arrived about 30 minutes early so found a café just off the main square and sat down for a coffee. Simone himself had done the same thing but rather than sit and relax he had continued to cycle in my direction in the hope of meeting me head on. A couple of messages on Facebook sorted the problem and we were soon shaking hands at the café. It was good to see a familiar face after four weeks of seeing nothing but unfamiliar ones and we spent an hour or so trying to catch up despite the large number of elderly people in the café whose volume was drowning out even the noise from the nearby busy road. In Italy, that’s saying something. I put the large number of people in the café down to our arrival coinciding with chucking out time at the large duomo (church) on the other side of the street. Something really needs to be done about this increasing social nuisance!
I followed Simone all the way back to Venice and the flat that he shares with a friend from when he was a student in the city. Venice is probably the most beautiful city I have ever visited. I say this on the back of a previous visit to the lagoon around ten years ago rather than this current trip as I have yet to see much of what the city has to offer. The area on the mainland however is in stark contrast the the historic splendour of Venice. A ghastly mess of roads, railways & industry (both in use and sadly derelict) through which we had to cycle before we were able to arrive at the long 3km bridge that would eventually allow us to access the world famous heritage site itself. As you can imagine the crowds were abundant to say the very least and it wasn’t easy to push our bikes – especially mine laden with the four panniers – through the throng of people around the coach park, over a modern bridge that didn’t contain a ramp, past the railway station & along the main funnel that then feeds the myriad of paths, alleyways, squares and bridges that hold the buildings of Venice together. Once through that funnel however, we were able to escape the crowds and within five minutes were at the flat in the northern part of the city. Fantastic location and air-conditioned!
Sightseeing will be today, Monday so I made the most of the remains of Sunday afternoon to catch up on some essential jobs. First and foremost was a solution to the camping mat issue and Decathlon came to the rescue. We returned to the mainland via bus and Simone’s car that he keeps parked in one of the industrial areas to pay the store a visit and I found & bought a new mat along with a linen sleeping bag which will be far more suitable to Mediterranean nights that the thick down bag that I have been using. Back at the flat I also tried to sort out a route to follow over the next few days. One thing is certain; I won’t be in France for the 1st August and my schedule is beginning to creep into the danger area that does put at risk making it all the way to Portugal before the end of August. But I can’t squeeze distances or make my bike go any faster. Well, I suppose I could do the latter but… So, the plan is as follows;
Monday – day off in Venice
Tuesday – Venice to Verona via Vicenza (120km) – accommodation ???
Wednesday – Verona to Cremona via Mantova (102km) – campsite
Thursday – Cremona to Voghera (100km) – WarmShowers contact
Friday – Voghera to Asti – accommodation ???
Saturday – Asti to Cuneo/Limone – campsite
Sunday – Cuneo/Limone to Nice via the Colle di Tenda – hotel & day off (Monday)
Some of these destinations are fairly tentative and I’m not completely happy with the balance of cycling between the different days but I will, as always, be as flexible as I need to be. The climb over the Colle di Tende at 1,870m looks like a highlight. There is a campsite (according to the map) at Limone which is itself at 1010m hence the uncertainly of the Cuneo/Limone reference. A night of cool camping in the mountains would be very welcome after a week of much higher temperatures down on the plain. As you can see there are a couple of accommodation questions so if you are able to help out or suggest anything (campsites, people etc…) please do.
Yesterday evening we ate pizza in the Gheto which is just around the corner from Simone’s flat The Gheto is very much smaller than I imagined; just one small island of higher rise buildings than those that surround it and much of that taken up by a large square. In the quiet, dimly lit evening I could very much imagine Shylock creeping around looking to make his next deal…