Author: sallymckenzieblog

Santo Stefano al Mare and….Milano-Sanremo from The Poggio!!

We found out as we left Cavour that we weren’t actually at the Sosta site, but other than the noise no one had bothered us or asked us to move.

F70BDBF1-7A2E-4FE4-9A86-2D640E74B3CCWe again took the paege, making our way south to the coast then west along to Santo Stefano al Mare and to a campground that we’ve stayed at before.  I can’t say how lovely it was to have a nice hot shower, and on top of that – clean laundry!

1634C19F-49FE-4BC6-BB55-E2244986EA8EThere are several resident kittens that quickly became my dear little friends since I just had to feed them – doesn’t make up for how much I miss my own Sly guy back home, but helps a bit.

6C0EC53A-B5EC-4BFC-9359-BEDFFDE280BFI had wi-fi for the first time in a week so tried to catch up on emails, etc, and even posted a blog, but it seems to not have worked.

008862D2-C0CD-405C-AE13-2E0E0A8A09B0After giving the kitties a large breakfast the next morning we were on our way to the Poggio.

F1246B11-EF85-4DE2-8D11-F684E1A0964FWe got a perfect spot in the parking lot above the race course right in a corner overlooking the Sea.  (Note about photo:  this was taken through a chain-link fence, so the blurry lines are part of the fence, but this was our actual view)

55EDE91E-8AF0-4B76-950C-9DD84909CDDB38F7F3C5-66D4-477F-B239-00C2CB18046AWe had a delicious cappuccino at the cafe/bar on the corner, and chatted a bit with one of the older gentlemen we’d met here last year.  He asked if we were german – he worked in Germany for two years and speaks a little german, but we managed to have a short conversation with my italian.

A0532A39-A84A-4D98-A7F9-D4D2CCBF38BDReturning to the bar later in the afternoon we had a drink and enjoyed a small complimentary plate of appies before going back to the campervan for a salmon and rice dinner.

5EF89C63-AE94-4956-AC13-82A1F991B693It had been a fairly hot day, but the almost constant breeze from the sea helped a bit and my solo walk in the evening was very pleasant.

D1858227-9CE7-40F3-ACC1-69471036A9A2Race day came with sunshine and blue skies.  We’re somewhat surprised that there is only one other campervan in the parking area – it’s been recently resurfaced, which is great, and it is pretty full, but cars, not campers.  Last year – end of March, of course – there were dozens of campervans.

61F238F9-0365-4841-85AA-E845981C1F98We had our cappuccino at a different cafe/bar, then took a little walk around the village before visiting the wine shop – the one with the hoses in the wall – then the other cafe.

DF21207F-23CB-4BFA-864E-08B8AD9F4240There are some other fans here, but nothing like last year, and we’re all pretty good about the face masks and/or distancing, etc.  To compare I’ve included a photo from last year taken at a similar time race-wise to this year:

As we were testing our camera angles one of the race cops came down to speak with us about Colin using the flash on his camera.  We tried to explain that it really wouldn’t bother the riders, but he went away and down came a cop that spoke rather good english.

4017018E-9896-445D-B724-16162FDE616DHe was very polite and apologetic, but we weren’t allowed to use flashes.  Colin re-located further down and around the corner, but I stayed where I was, just around and down a bit from the crest of the Poggio.

A06E913E-3E6B-46CD-BC94-ED733EE0551FThe tv heli appeared about five minutes before the first racer – Alaphilippe! – followed closely by Wout van Aert (winner of Strade Bianche).

1A7F35B7-3A39-46C4-B397-1016ECEEAC0750867110-C698-453A-BC45-161A21AB4D10There were only a few seconds before more and more riders passed – and I finally got a shot of Nibali.

82B67A62-9CA3-4F6D-A3E0-EB399E44B8A8I also got decent shots of Michael Matthews – who had a torn shoulder – as well as Belgian champion Naesen.

E9775952-D012-454B-8A62-FE8C72165291B38ED702-D032-4034-B9BD-629C1A1591B4After many of the racers had passed I got ready to sneak across the road to watch the end of the race on tv in the bar – just then Colin came up the hill to do the same thing.  The Poggio is just 4 km from the finish, and it’s all hairpin turns downhill then a bit of flat road to the end in Sanremo.

We got into the bar and cheered loudly along with the other fans – again I noticed the difference from last year when we squished in like sardines, while this year we had elbow room to spare.

The finale was thrilling – a sprint between Alaphilippe and van Aert, with van Aert taking it on the line.  Michael Matthews – with the torn shoulder – came in third.

We ended up waiting quite a while before we were allowed to disperse – one rider, who must have had a mechanical or a fall – had yet to go by.  He got rousing applause and cheers as he passed, then the barriers started to come down.

CE76D7D9-2308-4EE4-8ECE-92C378960264Another wonderful race day!

Milano-Torino and La Posta

FA7E4D0A-DC99-4669-BCB7-58FD3E8DEA3CBefore leaving Montemagno we took a couple of short walks up and down the road. 

F16B5C89-A4FF-4086-B2F3-36824CCF8543There are several large homes with great views, and most of them have guard dogs, or at least signs for them.

We left mid-morning to follow part of the route again to pick the best place to watch from.

00068901-A5EA-4D22-9551-0B899278CDE0This year’s Milano-Torino is much flatter than most previous years and we’re near one of the few minor climbs.

6B3D07C1-DE98-4F9C-AE0C-BD6E9719B839We parked at a nice wide spot right on the road with a good view below us, as well as along to the town of Grana.

74C3E7A4-4B22-4D8D-B637-B102E373A63DDCE69076-7091-4CF8-8E47-6804B22B73BCAs usual the racers were preceeded by motocops.

EB3318D8-D974-4C26-AF56-68B530BC2300There was a breakaway of six riders who passed our spot at 4:24, with about a three minute lead.

2FAFC37D-2916-4901-B5FE-8F615153347DThe peloton blew by in one single group – I think it’s the fastest race passing I’ve seen yet – first rider in the breakaway to last of all about three minutes total.

3D57FAAA-FA64-4204-8DE0-0628B358CEC9B1B1BEEA-20C6-49CD-AC80-709B5D457AA99740E375-05E8-4FA0-AFB1-590181937B3AThere was one single rider a little bit behind who must have had a mechanical or something, then they were gone.

6D632642-3ABF-485C-AEF0-2EE10B3EAABEWe were able to hit the road very quickly, having little to pack up, and took the paege towards Torino.  Because we were on the motorway we managed to bypass the end of the race and made it to Cavour in a couple of hours, stopping in Pinerolo for groceries.

Unfortunately the fruit-farm we usually stay at was closed, as was the excellent restaurant next door – Cascina Mombello is usually closed in the summer so we weren’t surprised, but the restaurant next door might be due to covid.  We continued on into the town and stopped for the night at a large park that we thought was the local Sosta (free camping place).

667705D0-F827-48C1-B9CD-2FE89EACC6A0Feeling hungry we decided to go out for dinner – I did remember some of the roads and paths so we were able to make our way easily on foot with the doggies to the town centre.  My favourite cafe was closed so we went next to a restaurant that had been recommended to me three years ago, but I’d never actually gone to.

E5957A8A-F043-47F1-807C-F3A213F7B35F‘Ristorante La Posta’ was worth the three year wait – it was excellent.  We had a lovely table outside, surrounded by beautiful flowering shrubs.  We started with a shared antipasti of salmon tartare on shredded apple, then for my main course I enjoyed the gnocchi with cheese sauce – very delicious, with enough leftover for tomorrow’s lunch.

740AFF65-F6C5-4262-979A-1D93006C6154La Posta has been in existence since the 1700s and has at least one Michelin star, so it’s not surprising it was so enjoyable.

All in all it was a very satisfying day, despite the children playing – ie:  screaming – in the park until well past bedtime – Lady give me patience!C2501C91-A9E5-4A72-A4DC-0C536703FDDE


Zocca, Conzano and Montemagno

After the Strade Bianche and having cleared Siena we didn’t go too far before stopping at a campground for the night.  It was in a very nice area and I got to have a refreshing, although not hot shower.

18CF99A8-923A-4A11-B86C-27C080BF268CThere was a lovely swimming pool just outside a large, very crowded restaurant.  I made use of the free wi-fi for a bit, then had a fairly early night.  Thankfully it was a bit cooler than the previous couple of evenings had been.

47C64275-0300-420B-9DE6-3229BF1DC3B73EB73168-DA8B-4DE2-B71E-134FCF8C014AThe next day’s travel was almost across the Apennines to a campground we’d stayed at two years ago just outside the village of Zocca.  This time we didn’t have quite as frustrating a time finding it, although the gps was, once again, not totally accurate.

73E46F61-C72C-45C4-8BE1-7F7A508799B0The old dog is still there, but is moving a bit more slowly.

063C5F72-BCD5-404E-9FC9-B6674EEFAA43We pre-ordered dinner, and were both very pleased.  I think it’s the same chef who was very new to the place two years ago, and they still have a lovely organic garden for many of the meal’s ingredients.

038DFCB1-A6D4-4567-B961-A6F8D164079DMy lasagna was obviously handmade, and was delicious – no meat or tomatoes, but zuchinni and cream sauce – very nice, and just the right amount.

DBBBEB79-7536-4AED-A565-2B765A1DB061After only one night we were on our way again, this time taking the paege to make better time – although at times we were barely moving because of roadworks and on/off ramp backups at every large city we passed.

We eventually settled for the night in the nice large, flat parking lot of a cemetery at the edge of the town of Conzano, not too far northwest of Alessandria  It was very quiet and much cooler – we had a lovely dinner of salmon teriyaki and another early night.

FACB8DE2-AE74-4719-812C-F5948D7C3661When I went to bed Mo was full across my pillow – as I tried to nudge her over she growled and snapped at me!  After mollifying her and almost falling asleep we were kept awake by a prolonged lightening and thunder storm.

The lightening would flash, then it took forever for the thunder to hit, but when it did it went all around and on and on.  Mo got a bit excited barking to scare it away, but one of the last rolls was so powerful it actually shook the campervan.

9F8173E6-37F7-4D15-A56E-A2A36D5DF503Before leaving Conzano the next morning we had a nice walk around the village. 

BC3A7056-57C9-435A-A2AF-E92F7F2E3B22There’s an art exhibit all summer and the artworks are all over the place – it was very different and made for an interesting morning.

11C5987B-734B-4A33-A673-D84491234321DEB2FFE9-5629-4371-9E69-860BC2D36BE2BFA9A881-F6FB-4787-AB9C-BC5C982C6CF7ECF43210-CC4B-416D-A065-17C59C238B53CD3C4B70-D6D1-404B-82AA-42C2230D8F493E9E1325-E70A-47D9-9682-585E93E776F638433DDC-08FA-4608-81E5-3DF26671BC79After leaving the town we headed for the nearby village of Lu to pick up the course of the next day’s race and see where we might want to watch from.

378BCE9C-9E75-4134-8DDA-BC998993547AWe eventually made a wrong turn – the pink arrows weren’t up yet to guide us – and we ended up in Casorzo, where we stopped for a quick snack just outside the town.

D88FFF63-9E0E-4DE9-A65B-382D8A97ACEDIt was a rest-stop and had fantastic views, as well as some wall art of fairy tales.

327AED95-EB5B-4CFF-B6AF-C076A33FCD6E3E7FD86A-1B81-48ED-AB07-670C83E7D1FAWe then made our way to the town of Montemagno, which has a castle – the oldest part is from the 12th century, with major additions in the 13th and 18th centuries.

F245461A-C738-42C0-A524-934984381C4AWe walked up and around it, but it was all closed up – it did have, of course, more incredible views.

798E25E4-64C2-4A6B-9E6B-EF7F51A8321DWe parked for the night in a large flat parking lot next to a pasta and sauce making place – Colin popped in and checked with them and they didn’t mind us being there.2D504670-D80D-423B-A180-81F68AF65080


Strade Bianche

We left the park-for-the-night in Asciano very early in the morning, and drove to the area we’d chosen to watch the race from.  It was a nice wide piece of fairly flat ground that had views both behind and ahead of us.

476B93C8-950B-4D5F-A886-638E62598B08We got to see the sun rise – it was a very quiet and beautiful morning.

8C3C272A-30A8-4EAD-A9BC-BCADEEB054F7By the afternoon it was again brutally hot, reaching at least 40 but there was no shade or relief to be had.  We put the campervan’s awning out but had to retract it because of the wind.

B5E9C2DF-DF90-4596-AFA4-1857FB69BE8FDuring the day amateur riders did, as usual, come up the road, and more than one rider and car stopped because of our flags.  

07A732F4-6841-4E53-A56B-5B4FD1B92B16One group of three Italian men that stopped stayed for a bit to chat – they even brought out a bottle of local Chianti that they opened and shared with us.  They all live near Rimini and Colin has their phone number so he can call them during the Giro in October and maybe get together.

BB262B1C-D3EC-4588-A29D-F1C0ACD0B3F6The race didn’t arrive until almost 5:30, and the dust was flying.  I got a pretty good photo of Wout van Aert, who was the eventual winner.

0B507258-4FC6-4918-8188-F7F0DA388C06At one point I moved down the road a short way for a different view and was almost run over by one of the team vehicles – a black mercedes – when it came flying over the hill above me trying to pass another vehicle.

10B29609-BE46-42ED-961D-FB18E7EDEEF1I was well off the road as the verge was over two feet wide and had just been cut so I shouldn’t have been in any danger.  Thankfully death was avoided, but – damn!!

03761EED-8004-46C4-9596-63DC97817609I also got photos of a fairly tired looking Peter Sagan, and a very dusty Michael Woods.

EC8FF23E-8B34-4460-9FB7-8565C3357A210BD6EE91-FAC6-4F22-A1D9-88621DFE097DWe started packing up as soon as the last racer passed – there wasn’t much to do.  We’ll have to sweep a bit later as there’s fine white dust everywhere.

We went northwest intending to bypass Siena and be on our way to Piemonte, but were slowed down by the race, which was just nearing it’s finish in the city.  Apparently only 50 of the original 150 racers finished – although 8 of those were outside the time limit.

0818EC15-205A-4BDC-81E3-C75AF1EA2805I did manage to snag a nice pink route marking arrow for my collection – it’s now placed in the left-back window.