Across Tuscany, we managed to dodge the worst of the rain. In this last stretch across Italy, we didn’t dodge quite as successfully. In fact, we reached the Adriatic at our wettest yet.
2014/11/16: to Fossombrone, Umbria
We dodged the ongoing market as we left town and headed steadily up to a pass over the last ridge of the Appenines. A mountain biker was walking his bike downhill with a flat tire, and we gave him a new inner tube to improve his chances of taking advantage of what for him would be a glorious downhill. This still left us with a spare, as we had two. One of his tubes was riddled with holes, and another had a faulty valve.
We continued upward, stopping for coffee at a tiny stone building at the top before beginning our descent to the Adriatic, steep at first and then more gradual as we followed a river through narrow valleys.
After more coffee and a break from the drizzle in Aqualagna, we headed toward the narrow canyon of Gola di Furlo. Signs indicated the road was closed to cars, but open to walkers and cyclists. This meant a quiet ride through this narrow slot which had had a major road washout in December 2013. It is part of the ancient route of the Via Flaminia, a road built in the third century BCE from Rome to Rimini by Gaius Flaminius during his censorship (220 BC). I hesitated to intrude on the scene with a camera, but I have a visual memory of three nuns walking through the peaceful canyon in grey drizzle, each with a colourful umbrella.
We found a large and somewhat industrial hotel a bit further along to dodge the rain.
2014/11/17: to Marotta, Marche
Our mountain biker friend from Arezzo had said the last stretch to the coast would have little to say for itself, and he was right. Trying to add interest, we turned off on what might have been a shortcut if it hadn’t involved steep climbs. When the heavens opened as never before, we dove indoors for coffee and focaccia and were told we wouldn’t find rooms till we reached the coast. We piled on clothes to barrel downhill to the coast, and dove into a tiny place where we hung all our clothing on radiators.
2014/11/18: to Ancona and boat to Greece
There was no hotel breakfast, so we cycled a few kilometres to find coffee and croissants, but morning orange juice remained amiss. Just a little further along, as we rode alongside the beach, we saw freshly squeezed juice combos on offer. We felt spoiled as we slurped a combination of pomegranate, orange, and grapefruit juice.
Onward we rolled to Ancona and the ferry terminal, stopping first to buy a new inner tube. The bike shop was run by an older man who showed us photos of his glory days in the Tour de France, who I would trust to build a perfect wheel in his orderly workshop, and who came outside kick the proverbial tires of our bikes with knowledgeable interest. That stop was about more than an inner tube — a good last interaction in Italy.
Last minute tickets were cheaper than any online offer. The enormous Minoan Lines ferry was almost empty, and there was no charge for bikes.
Arrivederci e grazie, Italia.