Thursday, 8 October 2015

TI3IT-Thru Italy's 3 Islands Trail

TI3IT-Thru Italy's 3 Islands Trail or OO-Obiettivo Ortigia, as sympathetically I like to call it, is intended to be a long distance cycle ride from Milano, where I'm presently living , to Siracusa in the deep South of Italy.
The trip takes inspiration from an old map of the fifteenth century when Italy wasn’t actually existing yet; the northern-central part of the peninsula was indeed divided into a number of warring city-states and the rest occupied by the larger Papal States and the Kingdom of Sicily. 
Corsica at that time was still belonging to the Repubblica of Genova and was put in pledge to France only in 1768 with the Treaty of Versailles . 
Some of the places I’ll pass-through will actually be a sort of a déjà vu … though I’m pretty sure that, this time, most of them will be quite likely seen and therefore perceived under a completely new and unique point of view … also because this time the “adventure” will be “taking-off” exactly from my home doorstep !!

  • 20SEP2015: Home-Milano-Pavia-Belgioioso, 81km/H187m+/210m-
  • 21SEP2015: Belgioioso-Piacenza-Fidenza, 118km/H178m+/181m-
  • 22SEP2015: Fidenza-P.sso della Cisa-Pontremoli, 94km/H1497m+/1322m-
  • 23SEP2015: Pontremoli-Sarzana-Pisa, 110km/H395m+/639m-
  • 24SEP2015: Pisa-Livorno-Bastia, 30km+8km, 4h navigation
  • 25SEP2015: Bastia-St.Florent-Calvi, 92km/H1491m+/1474m-
  • 26SEP2015: Calvi-Porto, 83km/H904m+/931m-
  • 27SEP2015: Porto-Ajaccio, 81km/H1299m+/1318m-
  • 28SEP2015: Ajaccio-Propriano, 73km/H954m+/954m-
  • 29SEP2015: Propriano-Bonifacio-S.ta Teresa G.ra, 65km/H976m+/957m-/1h navigation
  • 30SEP2015: Santa Teresa-Castelsardo, 75km/H883m+/839m-
  • 01OCT2015: Castelsardo-Sassari-Alghero, 74km/H694m+/748m-
  • 02OCT2015: Alghero-Bosa, 56km/H885m+/940m-
  • 03OCT2015: Bosa-San Salvatore-Cabras, 74km/H740m+/751m-
  • 04OCT2015: Cabras-Oristano-Torre dei Corsari-Arbus, 83km/H957m+/671m-
  • 05OCT2015: Arbus-Buggerru-Portoscuso, 74km/H1041m+/1352m-
  • 06OCT2015: Portoscuso-Teulada, 53km/H262m+/230m-
  • 07OCT2015: Teulada-Chia-Pula, 54km/H524m+/565m-
  • 08OCT2015: Pula-Cagliari, 38km/153m+/154m-

20SEP2015: Home - Milano - Pavia - Belgioiso
81km - H187m+/210m-

After a dreadful and totally sleepless night, at the end as planned days before, I left home pretty early in the morning, this time starting the “adventure” exactly from my home doorstep.
Well, actually I might have taken a somehow different shortcut  passing thru minor roads but I couldn't resist to the temptation to take a long detour pointing first to downtown Milano simply for a "symbolic" picture of myself in front of Duomo.
The rest of this first stage has been definitely a quiet cycling day, flat since its very beginning, not really magnificent from a scenery point of view, partly thru cycling lanes and paths the rest along very low traffic roads.
Only about 4 km after Pavia, catching-up with Via Francigena and so far leaving behind some dense populated areas around Milano, the trip changed significantly getting as much better as I was getting close to Belgioioso where I stopped for this first stage.
Just a little bit tired ... though feeling up to the top !!

21SEP2015: Belgioioso - Piacenza - Fidenza
118km - H178m+/181m-

Left definitely behind the not exactly appealing outskirts of Milano, the route of today essentially followed quiet rural roads amidst endless extensions of corn fields and poplar trees. From Belgioioso I took the Via Francigena that, after a few km, started to overlap with the Ciclovia del Po (the Po river cycle path) till Piacenza. From Piacenza to Cortemaggiore it was 20km of normal road with moderate traffic. From Cortemaggiore till Fidenza, my final target today, a very nice and always well sign posted Via Francigena again.

Piacenza, Piazza Cavalli
Piacenza - Palazzo Gotico

22SEP2015: Fidenza- Passo della Cisa-Pontremoli
94km - H1497m+/1322m-

So, resuming the Via Francigena, just after Fidenza the landscape starts to become moderatly hilly with gentle slopes, eventually arriving to Fornovo di Taro passing quite a number of pretty anonymous villages through a road that sometimes appears rather chaotic. Fortunately after Fornovo, taking first a deviation on the left and then joining back the SS62-Strada Statale della Cisa the route changes completely aspect with no traffic at all and some nice climbing slopes at 6% to 10% grade with short very occasional stretches at 12% grade. 
The Strada Statale della Cisa, used to be once upon a time the main connection road across the Appennini, today nevertheless, also because the construction several years ago of an almost parallel motorway, it appears a truly “desolate” road, with few villages and just ... woods. 
Definitely "desolate" ... and in this case definitely spectacular; worth to mention the fabulous descent from Passo della Cisa (1041m a.s.l.) to Pontremoli (250m a.s.l.) that I’d define without hesitation a genuine and glorious piece of a road.

23SEP2015: Pontremoli-Pisa
110km - H395m+/639m-

Left Pontremoli along the Via Francigena, after only 20km and till Sarzana the road has been a sort of a traffic hell. Then, once on the coast, 20-30km of an uninterrupted and definitely very pleasant cycle lane. 
Then, from Viareggio to Pisa an hell again.
Tomorrow Livorno ... and finally the ferry to Bastia !!

24SEP2015: Pisa-Livorno-Bastia
30+8km, 4h navigation

Definitely a relaxing night the last one: an entire apartment, not just a room, only for myself. So I’ve got full advantage of certain unusual facilities, at least for me, for cleaning the bike first and then washing the essential. This morning the day started with a wonderful weather, temperatures around 20-22°C, a blue and only partially clouded sky ... definitely a lovely cycling !! 
Arriving to Marina di Pisa I did realize with a certain surprise and so far with a positive reaction that the entire area of the port and its immediate sorroundings close to the mouth of River Arno have been finally completely redesigned and set-up with elegant and functional urban installations. 
Except for the last three-four km to arrive to the port of Livorno the route followed the coastline along a new dedicated and surely pretty nice cycle lane.
To go from Livorno to Bastia it took 4hrs ... plenty of time to review all my plannings and think a little bit "what to do" next.
Once arrived in the extremely chaotic Bastia in the evening, I could only look for a place for the night that, finally, I could find but not in the town center as I'd have of course preferred.

25SEP2015: Bastia-St.Florent Calvi
92km - H1491m+/1474m-

Quite an hard job to get out of Bastia today! First its infamous traffic till the most immediate outskirts, second an horrible 8 km climbing-up to “Le Col …” (I don’t remember the name...). For the rest a pretty nice day, not very rich of emotions indeed, hot but not so much compared to the past summer, plenty of tourists everywhere in these sunny days of a fantastic September.

26SEP2015: Calvi - Porto
83km - H904m+/931m-

Today eighty km of authentic beauty … c’est la Corse, l'île de beauté !!!
From Calvi to Porto, North to South, the sea on the right side.

Eighty km of a wonderful winding road, narrow and bad paved enough to discourage many car oriented tourists, wild as much as I like, just a few houses, no illegal building around, the opposite of my dear Italy, of Sicily and, perhaps of Sardinia too.

27SEP2015: Porto - Ajaccio
81km - H1299m+/1318m-

Today it's my third day in Corsica, the day of the Calanques de Piana
I've been noticing a certain difference with the same trip of 2010: at that time surely I was five years younger ... but this time, alone and with some training behind I've seen them only for their beauty ... with just a little, or not at all, physical distress.
Unfortunately the morning sun light didn't help to much in getting good quality pictures, but the feeling was nevertheless great.
Now I'm just wondering how those huge coachs could pass through those narrow forks and wondering also what type of feeling might have had those pretty nice tourists trying to take pictures of everything through those fridge type shaded windows !!
I've arrived in the late afternoon in Ajaccio; my intention was to go first to the natal house of monsieur Bonaparte, but a sudden heavy rain discouraged me to do that and convinced me instead that it was time to start to look for a place for the night.
I'm now in a hotel room, Ajaccio and its port are exactly on the opposite side ... maybe tomorrow morning prior to leave I'll go there ... tomorrow ... well yes ... I'll see !!

28SEP2015: Ajaccio-Propriano
73km - H954m+/954m-

Olhando para o mar

29SEP2015: Propriano-Bonifacio-S.ta Teresa di Gallura
65km/H976m+/957m-/1h navigation

After five days spent to go from Milano to Bastia and an additional five days to cross Corsica North to South, well, tonight I’m finally in Sardinia.
I’m very happy to be here, it’s a bit of a strange feeling so far … that’s true.
Can I say that it resembles a sort of an “overleaf” like when you’re reading a lovely book made-up of different chapters, bits of a story that individually go well beyond your immediate interest and at a certain point degenerate in pure passion?

Now, however, I’ve roughly ten days in front of me to dedicate entirely to SardiniaA lot of things to do and see, just one constraint … the ferry from Cagliari to Palermo that in this season makes service once a week !!!
Santa Teresa di Gallura, finally back to italy, that’s a great feeling !!

30SEP2015: S.ta Teresa di Gallura-Castelsardo

A nice bit of a road along the SP90 with a persistent thin but somehow amusing rain. In the middle not too much indeed … till a few km before Castelsardo when on the road I had a nice close approach with Clementina, that’s the fancy name of the donkey female that didn’t want me to pass and go away !! 
Tomorrow and the day after on the entire island is a RED meteo alert !! 
Sometimes I think I'd really love to live on a island, I don’t care which one … just an island !!!

01OCT2015: Castelsardo-Sassari-Alghero

Despite the meteo RED ALERT the first part of today route has been under an intermittent cloudy and sunshine sky … with a permanent pretty much appreciated N-NE strong tailwind !!!
At about 10 km from Alghero however the weather definitely changed and started to pour an heavy rain that I had to bear till my final destination.


02OCT2015: Alghero-Bosa

After a fearful rainy night the weather today seemed shyly to get a little bit better.
Left the appealing cobblestone narrow streets of the old Alghero and its historic buildings, the route took the direction of a pretty scenic road overlooking the sea, alternating ups and downs, until to reach the medieval town of Bosa, the only real river-town of Sardinia, famous for its wine, its embroidery, gold filigree, old leather tanneries.

03OCT2015: Bosa-San Salvatore-Cabras

From Bosa ownards the first 20 km have been a nice climbing, then almost flat till Cabras. Just before Oristano I turned on the right in the intent to visit the small village of San Salvatore that unfortunately showed-up to be not the worth of the 10 km detour to arrive to my final destination: a truly desolated and incredibly littered place, a real shame !!!

04OCT2015: Cabras-Oristano-Torre dei Corsari-Arbus

Flat for the first 50 km … definitely “unflat” for all the rest !!
Very nice coastline indeed but cycling with temperatures “rising back” to summer hot values of 33-34°C wasn’t easy at all.
05OCT2015: Arbus-Buggerru-Portoscuso

... arbus, passo bidderdi, sp83, buggerru, cala domestica, masua, porto flavia, nebida, gonnesa ... finally porto scuso ... etc. etc. !!

Grin and bear it” 

… well, yes, I did it !!! 

ps: funny to say that for years I’ve been thinking of Portoscuso as an horrible place “unidirectionally” associated to its enel/alcoa plants … and nothing else !!! 
It’s instead a lovely place, nice to walk and live in. 

BTW, do you want have a fine lovable dinner? … that's just an example

- insalata polpo e olive 
- spaghetti ai ricci di mare
- vino bianco della casa
- mirto rosso

06OCT2015: Portoscuso-Teulada

… sometimes I’m literally suspecting to be truly and genuinely in love with my Country
… sometimes I’m literally thinking, and so far strongly convinced, that this Country might definitely be, by far, the wealthiest Country in the world ... but unfortunately it isn’t !!! ... why ?? 
… sincerely I don’t know ... here below however is just an example of something that doesn’t work as it should, something that brochures and adverts will never show !!! … unfortunately also “that” is an example of my so much beloved Country !!

07OCT2015: Teulada-Chia-Pula

Once reached Porto Teulada I did follow the coast whole the day till Pula. A spectacular and fascinating route dotted with terrifically beautiful sea spots … also incredibly and surprising clean !!! 
... all that till the borderline with the municipality of Pula where, all of a sudden, most of the places resumed their sad connotation of litter spread all over around !!! 
Despite all of that, Pula itself is quite a pleasant, tidy, clean, pretty alive and worth to visit place. 
And tomorrow Cagliari where, hopefully, I’ll have the pleasure to do one of my favourite Cycle in the Night !!

08OCT2015: Pula-Cagliari

Welcome to Cagliari (...)

Welcome to Cagliari
Pula-Cagliari 38km-153m+/154m-