Giro, Anzio, Lido di Ostia and HOME

The rain started right on time at 8:00, and many more campervans and cars had arrived during the night and over the morning.  We had tea and breakfast and stayed inside most of the morning but just after noon the clouds parted and the sun came out.

The team buses and cars went past in a convoy up to the finish at the top 1.5 km from us.  We went for a walk down to the bar that’s at the bend below us, following a walking track part of the way.

We had a cappuccino and shared a prosciutto and cheese panini while keeping an eye on the very black clouds that were moving in.

We quickly left but still had a ways to go when the rain hit.  I tucked my camera inside my coat – I had the merino wool long-sleeve on as well as the winter coat and was glad of it – and carried Mo part of the way up back to the campervan.  We got back ok, just very wet and a bit chilled.

The first two racers arrived at 4:13 in pouring rain – an Ineos rider and an EF rider who was wearing their special jersey designed just for the Giro – I find them a bit hard to look at without going cross-eyed.  The EF fellow ended up winning the stage so good for him.

I had a large umbrella with the handle tucked into the pocket of my coat to keep my camera dry while the riders straggled past in small and large groups.  The last few – including Alex Dowsett and Tony Martin – came by at 4:52 looking quite bedraggled and a bit miserable.  PS – huge kudos to Dowsett for winning a stage a couple of days earlier – congrats!

We’d already decided to stay another night rather than fight traffic down the mountain in the dark so settled in and watched as most of the other folks made their way down.

It was a much quieter night than the previous one with hardly any traffic going by.  The next morning we left nice and early – it was a longer drive than we expected to reach the coast near Anzio.  We found a lovely campground that turned out to not be open but they were kind enough to ‘make a deal’ with Colin – we had our pick of spots and got nice hot showers to boot.

Feeling very refreshed we had an early night then headed out again after breakfast the next morning.

Right near the campground we passed a couple of ‘ladies on chairs’ – we’d seen some before and Colin had noticed a group of them on the way here.

One of them was dressed up with a short skirt and high red boots, but the other looked bored and didn’t seem to have put much effort into attracting ‘clients’.

Since we were so near Anzio I wanted to see something from the war – we weren’t that interested in going to the museum so I chose the Beach Head War Cemetery.

It’s a beautiful and immaculately kept place, and is for Commonwealth soldiers, sailors and airmen that fell during and after the Allied landing in Anzio to free Italy from the nazis.

Most of the headstones show dates of early 1944 and I only noticed one Canadian marked with the maple leaf, although there were many showing only ‘a fallen soldier’.

Colin waited just outside the entrance with the little ones – it looked to me as if he was sitting in Henry – haha!

We left the cemetery and drove north along the coast to Lido di Ostia where we planned to spend the night as it’s so close to Fiumicino.  Along the way we passed many beach access places but most of them were closed.  Across the road from one were a couple of young ladies and Colin said ‘oh look – they’re in their bathing costumes – they must have been swimming’ but as we got closer to them I noticed their fishnet stockings and heavy makeup and replied ‘they weren’t swimming – they’re fishing’!  We laughed so hard!

Arriving at Ostia we parked across from a restaurant on the sea and went in for lunch.  We shared an antipasto of mussels, which were excellent, then for my main course I ordered the calamari, although that’s not what I got.

Instead I was given a large platter of assorted seafood, and was it ever good – there were four or five different things that were all very tasty and I needed help from not only Mo but Colin as well to finish it.

After lunch we walked around a bit, stopping at a farmacia so I could get some wet-wipes to wipe down everything on the airplanes the next day.

I think Mo must have sensed that I was about to leave as she cuddled close to me in my bed all night.  Up at 5:00 we had a nice cup of tea and a quick bite to eat then it was off to the airport.  We got there in plenty of time and said a quick but heartfelt goodbye until next year – fingers crossed.

I was not looking forward to wearing a mask for over twenty hours but it wasn’t quite as bad as I’d feared.  Air Canada had changed my flights several times and I was now flying Lufthansa to Frankfurt, then again with them to Vancouver.  The security check in Frankfurt was easy – he just looked at my passport for a minute, stamped it on the last page and waved me thru.

The flight to Vancouver was long – over 10 hours, but I had a window seat and no one had anyone sitting next to them.  We went north over England and Scotland, then across Greenland and northern Canada.  I watched three movies and a series of documentaries about villages in the Alps but didn’t really get any sleep.

Most of the time it was cloudy, but a couple of times it cleared and the views below were awesome.

I had to go thru security again in Vancouver- the fellow was very nice and we chatted about how long I’d been in Italy and why.  He reminded me that I need to quarantine for two weeks once I get home and I was passed thru.

I had to collect my checked luggage as my final flight was Air Canada and Lufthansa doesn’t pass along the bags so after ‘checking in’ again I was finally on my way home.  A very long day of travel by the end, but so good to see my dear sweetheart D waiting for me.

It was a truly awesome trip, and being ‘forced’ to spend so much time in Italy turned out to be a bit of a gift.  Arrivaderci – until next year!

Bye Bye Papiano (sob!) – on to the Giro

The morning of my last day in Papiano was beautiful with a lovely sunrise.  Chairman Meow came to say goodbye – well, he came for food and a pat on the head…ok really he just came for food but I managed to pat him on the head without getting bitten or slashed.

I took a few final photos of the terrace and the view, and we were on our way around 11:30.  

As we passed the bar we waved again to Antonio – we’d said our goodbyes the previous afternoon.

We headed south to Terni, then southeast, passing many sections of roadworks.  It slowed the journey down some but lord knows most of the roads need it.

We stopped just short of our destination, right below the town of Rivisondoli. 

It was a lovely evening although it’s starting to get chilly as soon as the sun goes down.

The next morning was another beautiful one – we took the dogs for a nice walk along a paved path right next to the camper park, then I checked out some sculptures in a nearby park.

They’re made of metal and seem to be used for lighting fires in.  We figure there must be some kind if festival, maybe in the winter – this area a big for skiing, etc.

We continued on past the town of Roccaraso and followed the road to the top that will be the finale of stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia.  We’ve been watching the race every day on tv and this one stage will be the only one we’ll be able to get to in person this year.

The 7 km climb to the top isn’t that steep but it will be right at the end of a long hard day for the riders.

There’s no parking allowed at the very top, but lots of wide areas a km or two down.  Several campervans were already there but there was lots of space so we did get an excellent spot.

We put up the flags and had a quiet afternoon.  The folks that pulled in next to us came over with a cup of espresso for each of us – very sweet but packing quite a caffeine jolt.

New Ride Route, and Dogs Protest

Looking back at the men’s road race I realize that I forgot to mention two interesting things – one involving people we know, and one involving bidons.

The first happened after the race had already passed a couple of times and Colin and I were both sitting on our chairs outside the campervan.  Suddenly Colin said ‘that looks like Alessandro’ and called out to two men walking up the road on the other side.

They stopped and turned around, and it was Colin’s friend Alessandro – he’s an Italian that takes photos and submits from time to time to PEZCycling online.  They stopped to chat for a few minutes then headed back down to where they were parked a bit below us (note – not the road in this photo!).

The second incident happened while I was at the agriturismo getting the wine.  I’d taken my previous photos from across the road and when I was done I’d collected the chair but forgot to grab my water bottle.  It’s an Israel Cycling Academy bidon and I’ve been using it for two years now whenever I ride or travel.  I like the colour, and it’s kind of special to me – the team doesn’t exist under that name anymore so I can’t replace it.

Anyway, Colin had seen a fellow stop and pick it up but didn’t realize what it was until it was too late.  I wonder what the guy thought about the traces of lipstick that were around the nozzle – haha!  I did pick up one new bidon that I didn’t have yet – AG2R – but I think I’ll now use one of the Quickstep bidons we snagged from Tirreno-Adriatico.

It had rained quite a bit during the night but we thought it would be ok getting out – the campervan has front wheel drive and the slope to the road was very gentle – but alas, we were wrong.

We slipped and slid but just couldn’t make it.  We gave up and walked down to the agriturismo to beg for help.  They were so kind – no problem at all, they said they’d be right there.

We returned to wait for them, and were standing near the road when a small 4×4 truck pulled up.  We tried to tell him that help was coming, but he’d already attached a strap to the pull-hook Colin had, but right then the farmer arrived on his tractor.  We thanked the 4×4 driver so much for stopping – it was very kind of him.

The farmer attached his chain and had us up on the road in no time.  I pointed to the tracks we had made in the mud while trying to get out but the older fellow that had also come up told me it was only a minor thing – no problem.  We thanked them profusely – both for getting us out of the mud, as well as letting us stay three nights on their property.

The drive home was mostly uneventful, except right at the beginning the new, fancy gps led us slightly astray and we had to turn around and backtrack several km – we were on the right road, just heading in the wrong direction.

Since returning to Papiano I’ve gone on more bike rides, now exploring the hills to the east. 

Just over the Fiume Tevere (Tiber river) and across the motorway there’s a small road that winds up and over the hill past a deer farm to the next valley – it’s just beautiful.

Colin’s new bike finally arrived – it’s an electric mountain bike with huge tires and an even more powerful battery than mine.  Henry has been to the vet several times now – he is incessantly thirsty, and thus pees a lot.  They’ve ruled out diabetes and are now doing tests on his adrenal glands.

We went for a lovely ride this morning – the first time Colin’s been on a bike since his accident several months ago.

The views everwhere around us are always gorgeous, but the road surfaces often leave much to be desired.

We stopped at Antonio’s bar for a cappuccino on the way back but still got home in less than an hour and a half.  I was the first one in the door and realized immediately that something wasn’t right – there was a smell.

The doggies had both met me at the door so I knew they were ok but I suspected ‘protest pee’ on the floor.  It turned out to be much worse – not only had they both pooped, but they’d also gotten into the garbage can – it was tipped over and the bag was completely ripped apart with the contents spread all over the floor.  They’d even ripped open tea bags!

I laughed so hard I almost cried – neither one of them likes getting left behind and they made it very clear!

World Championships – Men’s Road Race

Quite a few more people walked up the hill past us, and a group of folks set up a canopy complete with an air-horn (which I can’t stand).  The weather was very unsettled – fairly windy with threatening looking clouds.

The racers first appeared just after 10:30 and there was already action – a group of seven had gotten away almost immediately and already had a four minute lead by the time they got to us.

They made the circuit every 50 minutes or so, and I moved across the road a few times for a different view.

I got a decent shot of Nibali…

…as well as Michael Woods…

Before the last pass I hiked down to the agritourismo to see if they could sell a bottle or two of wine – no problem!  Although it did take a bit to track down the right person.  First – it looked like just a large private house – no signs or anything.

I walked all the way around and looked in one open door – it was the ‘restaurant’ with one person in it – he didn’t speak english but he did call for the cook to come out.  She directed me across to the ‘bar’ that had several people at tables drinking and watching the race on tv, but no one that looked like they worked there.

Just then a fellow came in that I’d seen up on the road – I think he’s the one with the air-horn – he spoke pretty good english and understood what I wanted.  He located the right person who opened up the wine room and got me what I asked for – success!  And I must admit that the air-horn wasn’t nearly as annoying as I’d expected – I think they were surprised by how loud it was and ended up hardly using it.

The breakaway slowly began to fall apart, and was eventually swallowed up by the peloton.  There was, of course, more than just Woods riding for Canada – I especially like the maple leaf on their socks.

Then big news – Alaphilippe attacked on the second climb of the final circuit!  After most of the riders had passed I went to the campervan next to us – the fellows were watching the finish in Imola on tv.

I was very happy that Alaphilippe managed to hang on and is now world champion!  Shortly after the finish the parade of spectators coming down the hill started, and all of the cars and campervans around us left.

We decided to stay the night where we were as the journey home was way too far.