May I first of all start with a public plea to the sign makers of Italy; sort it out! I experienced the same problems back in 2010 and am having to cycle through the frustration of the same signage ‘idiosyncrasies’ in 2013. I’m being polite. How difficult can it be to work out how far it is from say Chercaso to Cuneo or Cuneo to Limone Piemonte? Just get in a car and drive between the two if you really can’t figure it out, use a map. Take the distance that you note down at the start of our journey away from the distance that you write down at the end of your journey and the difference between the two is the distance you have travelled. I know it’s a tricky concept to grasp but come on, you are a country that has built some of the most beautiful and spectacular buildings in the World, you founded an empire that stretched across the Mediterranean basin and beyond, you make cars that invoke envy in all that see them vroom past on the road. OK, your political system is a bit screwed up and we all have a laugh at Berlusconi (you no doubt do the same) but please! Working out the distance between two places isn’t akin to painting the Sistine Chapel.
I’m glad I’ve got that off my chest .
First up today was a visit to the post office in Cherasco to relieve myself of the guide book (volume 1) that covered Greece to Italy and other assorted maps, leaflets, business cards etc… that I have collected over the last couple of weeks. Writing ‘Crossing. Europe on a Bile Called Reggie’ was an afterthought and by the time I came to put pen to paper (well, I never did in this modern age but you know what I mean) nine months later I would have been delighted to have all the accumulated scraps of paper that I could have collected laid before me. It’s my intention to have them available to me this time but I don’t fancy carting them around Europe so they are getting sent back to the UK in bundles. One day I shall donate them to the British Library who will no doubt categorise them under ‘miscellaneous crap from travel authors who never quite made it…’
It was 45km from Cherasco to my first destination of the day, Cuneo. Or was it 40? Or indeed 43? Take your pick. The sign makers did. Cuneo didn’t get a mention in the Rough Guide. Why not? It’s quite a substantial place with a handsome square, some formidable 19th century architecture to surround the aforementioned square and an imposing position at the foot of the Maritime Alps. Here in Italy, finding the town centre is easy; you just follow the three concentric circles on the sign and you get there. The designer of this brilliantly simply signage innovation should then have put his formidable talents to working out accurate distances. But I digress… That said, on approaching Cuneo I was confronted by two directions, each pointing to the town centre with their concentric rings and each telling me that I had to cycle 3km to get there. Decisions, decisions (it can be exciting navigating your way around Europe…). I chose the wrong one which first led me down into the valley and then up the other side. The alternative route would have been across the bridge. Goodness. That was a boring anecdote. I’ll leave it in. It might make everything else sound interesting…
I had lunch on the handsome main square and then set off for Limone Piemonte in the mountains. I was expecting something a little more challenging than what I actually got. If you cast your minds back to 2010 (once again), when I crossed the Alps via the Gotthard Pass most of the leg work was done on the previous day as I cycled from the valley bottom up to Andermatt. The cycle from Andermatt to the pass was quite tame in comparison. This is not going to be the case as I cycle over the Tende Pass tomorrow morning as the cycle this afternoon was very gradual. I was surprised when looking at the route profile that I had actually climbed to over 900m as most of the route seemed very flat indeed. Perhaps I had been helped by my newly inflated tyres that a helpful chap in Fossano had pumped up with his hydraulic hose in a bike shop. It’s surprising what a difference such a simple thing can have to the ride quality. This is very tedious tonight, sorry. I am fermenting a post entitled “Ten Things A Touring Cyclist Needs From A Campsite” which might be more interesting. I feel it may have to wait until after a little wine.
On the subject of which, it’s time to eat. I fancy a pizza. How else could I celebrate the last night of my trip in Italy?